Self-Care For Poor Folks: Grocery Store Beauty Supplies

Let’s talk about things you can buy from the grocery store that you can eat as well as have on hand for skin and hair care.

Today we are going to talk about some stuff I love -- I am going to try really hard not to nerd out too hard.

First, let’s talk about things you can buy from the grocery store (things that you can get with food benefits if you get those) that you can eat as well as have on hand for skin and hair care.

I cannot begin to tell y’all how much I love coconut oil. Where I live, buying it in stores tends to be on the expensive side so I buy mine two jars at a time from Amazon.

Here is an easy way to deal with hair that is frizzy, crispy, suffering from too much protein, or otherwise just dry and freaking out.

You will need coconut oil, a shower cap or plastic grocery bag, a little bit of water, a comb, and an old t-shirt you don’t mind getting greasy. Optional if you have a lot of hair or long hair: some hair elastics.

OK, section your hair and then get your first section damp. Not dripping -- just damp. Comb it out, and apply coconut oil until your hair is saturated.

Do each section and then wrap your hair in the plastic bag. Or put your shower cap on. I wrap a scarf around my head and go about my day. My hair tends towards dryness so I leave mine in overnight. You can leave it in however long you like.

Shampoo and condition as usual.

A few more easy uses:

1. Treat Your Feet

Soak your feet (or do this right after your bath/shower) for ten or fifteen minutes in warm water.

Use a pumice stone or other dead skin removal device to buff your feet. Then, while your feet are still damp, slather the coconut oil on your feet, wrap them in plastic bags, and put a pair of socks on over that.

Pro tip: you can use whatever oil you have on hand for this. (Olive, jojoba, grapeseed, whatever.)

Wait a while and then uncover your feet, get rid of any more dead skin, and put on a good heavy creamy moisturizer before bed. No more dry ashy feet.

If you have super dry feet do this once every couple of weeks and your feet will thank you.

2. Treat Your Everything Else

I also use coconut oil in my hair during the week to protect my ends, if my cuticles are a mess, for random peely spots on my skin. Basically if it is on my body and feeling dry coconut oil is my go to choice.

Now, let’s talk milk.

We’re talking cow milk here and some ways you can use it in a pinch.

If you have sunburn, make a compress with cold cow milk. It will help ease the sting and help relieve some of the redness.

You can also -- and this sounds awful but it’s not I promise -- use a drop or two of milk in your eyes if they are irritated from chlorinated pools or otherwise dry and unhappy. Take your contacts out first if you wear them.

While we’re on dairy, another thing I think is miraculous is full fat yogurt, preferably with live cultures.

If your hair is frizzy, mix full fat yogurt, the oil of your choice (for this I use jojoba), and mashed banana or avocado. I like to use the ones that are too mushy to still taste good.

If you don’t have enough yogurt to fully cover your hair, add cheap conditioner to the mix to stretch out your mixture. Then coat your damp hair, leave everything to soak in for 15-30 minutes, and shampoo and condition as usual.

Now, before you use food in your hair or on your body: remember that you do not want to rinse with hot water.

Hot water might cook the food in your hair -- and nobody wants that.

Also if you are using, say, a banana or avocado, make sure you mash it up until it is about pudding texture or run it through a food processor. Believe me, getting chunks of banana out of your hair is no fun.

Another of my favorite food items to have on hand is plain bulk oatmeal.

In most places, you can buy oatmeal by the pound. I suggest putting it into an airtight container so you can use it at will.

For those who have sensitive, dry or itchy skin especially as caused by allergies, here is one of my favorite oatmeal based remedies:

Take a half cup or so of oatmeal and smash it until it is pretty powdery. Put it in a bowl and mix it with a few tablespoons of baking soda.

Put all of that into a coffee filter or reusable tea bag (or you can make a reusable tea bag with cheesecloth or muslin), and tie it securely.

Draw yourself a warm not hot bath and drop your packet of oatmeal/baking soda in.

Give the thing a squeeze in the water to dissolve the baking soda and oatmeal (if you are feeling super fancy add some lavender or other scent) and relax.

The baking soda and oatmeal do miraculous things to sooth away itching and hives.

I suggest putting it into a tea bag or coffee filter to keep down the mess. Bonus: If you have tiny humans you can use this for their baths and not worry about any chemical or scent allergies.

These are a very few things you can do easily and cheaply with stuff from the grocery store. Depending on your needs there are probably forty million more tutorials out there, and all it takes is a little searching and a little time.

When I look for this kind of information, I use a search string like “DIY dry skin treatment” in Google. Always remember to take internet advice (including mine) with a grain of salt. None is going to be a total perfect fit for you personally and that’s okay. Use the info you find as a jumping off point.

A couple more tips before I turn it over to you folks.

If you have a vagina do not get sugary things in it. Sugar disrupts the natural pH of your vagina and an unhappy vagina is an uncomfortable vagina is a really bad week. So be careful.

If your vagina or vulva does get annoyed and lets you know with anything from a yeast infection to general skin discomfort, try using plain full fat yogurt on it. Sit in an empty tub and slather it on and sit for 10 or 15 minutes every few days until your issue is cleared up.

Try to avoid using citrus oils or juices in your hair -- it can cause dryness, so be careful with those.

Lastly, this is another of the times when I am all about team work. Team work stuff out, share favorite recipes for at home fanciness. Share experiences, share where (online or off) you find great deals on oils or other stuff.

This went a bit long so let’s stop here. Coming up, by request, I will talk about some of my favorite drugstore cosmetics, dealing with some of the emotional fallout of engaging in self-care and more.

As always if you have specific concerns, feel free to leave them in the comments so we can talk about it.