Credit: © Blakely Stein

The journey to clear skin isn’t easy when you’re on a roller-coaster through basement city kitchens, high-altitude mountain abodes, jungle tree houses, countless airports, highways, cars and buses. With fluctuating levels of stress and climate, my skin has truly experienced all levels of confusion and agitation.

I’ve tried to cover the monsters with many magic potions, from chemical-laden products in fancy bottles to creams and serums by the most natural companies on the market. All were expensive fixes to a never-ending problem. I’ve given every treatment under the sun a go, including facials, microdermabrasion, skin peels and acupuncture, herbal remedies and a variety of supplements. Most have a time and place.

But why not create our own beauty arsenals? It’s both empowering and exciting to heal and nourish the skin using foods from our own kitchens and gardens. Taking this path will help us all reduce waste, save money and also save time.

As I travel, I love to learn from people who inspire me. I want to know what they eat, how they move and what fuels them. Last year while on the road, I met a lady sitting on a park bench in Sebastopol, California: mid to late 50s; fine, dirty-blond hair; healthy, curvy body; a smile that makes you smile back, and flawless, glowing skin.

I asked her, “What’s your secret? Please, tell me your tips to clear skin and vibrant energy.”

She smiled and said, “I wash my face with water. I won’t put anything on my skin that I can’t eat. Coconut oil heals everything. Take sun in moderation, but don’t be scared of it. And get plenty of sleep.” Here’s the kicker: “Everything I use on my skin comes from products in my kitchen.” I liked her.

So here’s my plea: Let’s take responsibility for the products we’re buying, the animals raised for testing, the plastic that is used and the carbon footprint traveled for that magic potion to arrive on our doorsteps. Here are a few potions to create right in your own kitchen.

(To inspire my creations, I often reference Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, by Paul Pitchford; and Eating for Beauty, by David Wolfe.)

DIY Cleansers

*All will keep in refrigerator for a few days. Feel free to add your favorite essential oils.

Queen Bee: Raw honey.

Instructions: Rub on face along with a touch of water. Allow to sink in for a few minutes, then rinse and towel dry.

Purpose: Cleanses with antibacterial and disinfecting properties. Also great on burns and scars.

Almond Latte: 1 cup of almonds, ground into meal in a food processor (or one cup of pulp from almond milk); 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.

Instructions: Whisk together and gently scrub onto face.

Purpose: Smoothes and softens.

Jungle Pac Man: 1 large aloe leaf (or 2 tablespoons of pure aloe vera gel), 1 cup of papaya (remove the skin and keep seeds), 1 heaping tablespoon of yogurt, 1 heaping tablespoon of honey.

Instructions: Blend all of the ingredients together, then massage onto face. Rinse.

Purpose: Natural enzymes and healthy bacteria help to balance the pH of your skin. Besides being healing and nourishing for scars, it’s also hydrating after exposure to sun, wind and/or snow.

Curried Cleanse: 4 tablespoons of chickpea flour, 1 tablespoon of dried turmeric, 2 tablespoons of water (or use rose water if you have it).

Instructions: Make a paste, then gently massage it onto face. Rinse.

Purpose: Smoothes and reduces puffiness. Great for after a long night or travel.

(Be careful with the turmeric: It stains clothing, but won’t stain your skin.)

Apple Tart: 1 medium-size cored apple, 1 tablespoon of yogurt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.

Instructions: Combine all of the ingredients in a blender. Massage into skin, and rinse with cool water.

Purpose: Brightens, cools, refreshes, hydrates.

DIY Exfoliators

Bright New Day: ½ cup of raw sugar, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of honey.

Instructions: Combine all ingredients in bowl. Gently apply to skin in a circular motion to exfoliate. Be careful when applying to the skin around your eyes.

Purpose: Reduces appearance of scars, plus smoothes and brightens skin.

Body Jolt: ½ cup of ground coffee, ½ cup of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of honey, 2 tablespoons of coconut oil.

Instructions Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Massage into your skin. Store any leftovers in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

Purpose: Exfoliates, tightens. Antifungal, antibacterial, moisturizing.

DIY Masks

Lavendacado: 1 avocado, 6 drops of lavender oil (More fantastic ways to use avocado)

Instructions: Rub on face and hair. Allow it to dry before washing it off.

Purpose: Hydrates and soothes. Great for after sun and wind exposure.

Detox Mud: 2 tablespoons of bentonite clay or volcanic clay.

Instructions: Add enough water to make a paste. Apply to face, allow to dry, then remove with warm water.

Purpose: Purifies.

DIY Lotions and Creams

Coco Love: 2 ounces of coconut oil, 2 ounces of cacao butter, 4 drops of lavender oil (relaxing), 2 drops of tea tree oil (antibacterial), 2 drops of ylang ylang (delightful).

Instructions: Add coconut oil and cacao butter to a small sauce pan and melt on low heat. Cool and add essential oils (any oils you have will work). Massage into body and allow the lotion to absorb before toweling off. Pour the remaining mixture into a glass jar and store at room temperature.

Purpose: Hydrates.

Everyday Shea: Pure food grade shea butter.

Instructions: Rub a teaspoon between your hands until it’s softened. Massage into face and neck. Allow to soak in for 10 to 15 minutes. Moisten a cotton pad with rose water and gently glide over face to remove.

Purpose: Moisturizes, heals. Great for shine on cheeks and under eyes. It’s a perfect lip balm, and amazing makeup remover.