When we visit second-hand stores, one of our favorite places to search is the old books section. Recently we found a 1981 Reader’s Digest book, “Back to Basics.” There were directions on building cabins, digging a well, installing a wood-burning stove, building a root cellar as well as all kinds of recipes for fruit and vegetables. One of my favorite sections is Natural Cosmetics from the Kitchen.
Homemade cosmetics take time to prepare
and may not last too long, but you know exactly what ingredients are in each one. When making cosmetics at home, be sure equipment is clean. Also, to avoid the possibility of an allergic reaction, test a small quantity of any unfamiliar substance on the underside of your arm, and wait 24-48 hours to see if a rash develops. Complexion health depends on many factors including diet, age, exercise, what you eat and how much you sleep. Some skin conditions may require a doctor’s care, there are some simple topical treatments to cleanse, stimulate and nourish the skin and help preserve a youthful look.
There are fruits and vegetables for every skin type.
Highly acid fruit like, lemons, concord grapes, limes, grapefruit, strawberries and apples can be applied in moderation and used only on oily skin. Tomatoes, peaches, apricots and some varieties of grapes (Malaga, Tokay and seedless) are slightly more acid than the skin surface and are beneficial for most skin types. Neutral ones like bananas, sweet pepper, persimmon, cucumber and watermelon also have health benefits. The least acid ones, like carrots, iceberg lettuce, honeydew melon avocados, and cantaloupe are good for moisturizing dry skin.
Any of these fruits or vegetables can be applied directly to the face,
for example a slice of tomato or cucumber can be used as a cleanser. Making facial masks can include binders with the fruit to make a natural facial to nourish and stimulate your skin. For dry skin, use lanolin, sour cream, honey or egg yolks as binders. If you have it, add a few drops of liquid lecithin as a moisturizer. For oily skin, yogurt and egg whites make a drying binder. If you have normal skin, you can use any of these as well as whole eggs and whole milk in addition.
Before using a mask, thoroughly cleanse your face.
Smooth the mask on gently, avoiding the area immediately around the eyes. Rinse off after 30 minutes or as soon as the mask dries. First wipe using warm water and a clean washcloth. Splash with cool water to close the pores. Rinse off the mask immediately if you feel any irritation. 
Here are some suggestions:
Lemon Cleanser Ingredients:
• 1/8 cup ground almonds (a coffee grinder works well)
• 2 TBS milk or cream
• 1 tsp lemon juice
Directions: Combine thoroughly and use to gently cleanse skin. Rinse well with warm water. Lemons are a natural source of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and antioxidants. It is good for cleansing, toning and exfoliating the skin.
Orange Peel Ingredients:
• 1 egg yolk
• 1 tsp honey
• 1/8 cup fresh citrus (lemon, orange or lime) juice
• 1 packet plain gelatin
Directions: Mix together thoroughly, apply to skin for 20-25 minutes. The AHAs and vitamin C in oranges are clinically proven to prevent wrinkles and fine lines. Egg yolk and honey moisturize and citrus juice exfoliates.
Strawberry Facial Mask Ingredients:
• Fresh strawberries
• Options – organic honey, cornstarch, cream or yogurt, milk, lemon juice
Directions: Mash strawberries to make a paste. Smooth gently over the face (keep eye area clear). Adding the optional ingredients help exfoliate, moisturize and absorb excess oil. Let dry for 5-10 minutes. Then wash off with alternately warm and cold water and end with a splash of cold. Pat face dry with a clean towel.
Peaches and Cream complexion  Ingredients:
• 1 ripe peach
• 1/4 cup cream or yogurt
Directions: Blend ripe peach with enough cream to make a soft cream. Massage into skin once daily. Keep mixture under refrigeration.
Carrot Facial Mask Ingredients:
• 2-3 large carrots
• 4 1/2 TBS honey
Directions: Cook carrots and mash to a smooth consistency. Add the honey and spread over face. Leave for 10 minutes before rinsing with cool water. Carrot juice moisturizes and repairs skin while protecting it from sun damage and toning the skin.
Mint and Cantaloupe Freshener/Moisturizer  Ingredients:
• Mint sprigs
Directions: Blend a few mint sprigs with crushed ice to make a quick non-drying freshener. To moisturize blend in the cantaloupe.
. Reader’s Digest, 1981 (New York), Back to Basics, p. 340-341.
Billie Nicholson, Editor