As I lay on my back on my bathroom floor, bits of coconut flaking off my skin and worrying that a mixture of honey and almond milk might be dripping into my eyes, I wondered if I had gone too far.
I am endlessly willing to use myself as a Guinea pig, and so to review the upcoming “Natural Beauty Alchemy” by Fifi M. Maacaron, I decided to give a recipe a try. Although the recipe for “Coco-belle scrub” (the first recipe in the book) seemed straightforward, I was filled with doubts as I applied the mask. Was my coconut not grated finely enough? Should I have not substituted royal jelly with honey? Was it supposed to stick to my face more?
Rinsing the mixture from my face dispelled my fears. My skin felt wonderfully soft and moisturized, a welcome discovery in my ultra-dry apartment on a January day.
“Natural Beauty Alchemy” has 100 natural beauty recipes, from shampoo to foot soaks. In addition to the recipes, it has a thorough introduction to what natural beauty care products are, why people would opt for them, and the types of ingredients that are in them. It also addresses the the types of nutrients that are key for healthy skin.
Although Maacaron is a trained pharmacist and has a clear understanding of dermatology, there are moments where the book feels a bit light on medical research. This is not the author’s fault per se—as someone who also regularly writes about natural beauty and personal care, I know that this subject is rich in traditional uses and anecdotes, but poor in scientific study. I would not skip the introduction and first chapters, which provide lots of guidance for personalizing your skin care regime and avoiding any potential adverse or allergic reactions.
Following the recipes, there are a few concluding chapters that provide guidance for buying commercial beauty products. It covers potentially harmful ingredients, animal ingredients, and the various certifications and labels that you might find on natural beauty brands.
While many of the recipes strike me as pretty simple, I certainly don’t already have all the ingredients in my cabinets like I did for the Coco-Bella Scrub, such as vitamin E drops and vegetable glycerine. Vegans should know that there are some recipes with animal products, like honey, royal jelly, cream cheese, and yogurt.
There is a handy chart of suggested substitutions in the back, for harder-to-find ingredients. I swapped royal jelly for raw honey in the face mask, because I couldn’t find royal jelly at my local health food store.
A few of the recipes are probably familiar to those who regularly read natural beauty blogs (like ours). According to the publisher, Countryman Press, Maacaron spent three years testing and tweaking the recipes, many of which are totally new to me. I’m looking forward to trying out the eye-makeup remover, the shampoo recipe for blonds and the winter balm.
“Natural Beauty Alchemy” by Fifi M. Maacaron will be released February 16, 2015.