I’m no longer offended when Colombian men call me a “female monkey” (mona), realizing it’s an affectionate term for us rare natural blondes (most are fake chemical dye jobs). Did any of you darker-haired ladies try out last week’s tip for naturally highlighting hair by recycling coffee grounds? Let us know how your locks look!
Keep on brewing, because this week we’ll continue turning coffee trash into your beauty treasure.
Grounds for Change: Coffee Puts a Spin on your Cosmetics
The caffeine found in coffee is a key component in many cosmetics for its properties that benefit the skin.
Caffeine can wake up not just your brain, but revive your skin. The gritty texture of coffee grounds is an ideal exfoliant, as well.
Unfortunately, in addition to caffeine most cosmetics also contain chemicals like parabens and fragrances that can be toxic to our bodies and our environment.
To help you meet the challenge to have less waste in 2015, let’s start by not buying more beauty products that contain natural ingredients we already have on hand, can easily make ourselves, protect our health, and lighten the load of our garbage bag.
Brew to Bath
Used coffee grounds can be applied in paste form to mimic many store-bought products:
- eye bag cream
- face lift
- face mask
- body scrub
- cellulite wrap
- foot soak
The benefits to your body:
- perk up your skin
- slough off impurities
- close up pores
- clear up blemishes
- tighten up puffy or dimpled skin
The standard recipe to make a paste is simply:
- 1/4 cup recently used coffee grounds
- 1-2 tablespoons of an oily or creamy base
Honey, milk, eggs, heavy cream, yogurt, and oil are common bases, and you could even add cocoa or coconut for added deliciousness. Sure sounds yummy…if I’m going to be baking a cake. I’d rather not waste my grocery budget on my beauty regime, nor deprive others of those nutrients just because we’re ashamed of our imperfections.
My challenge was to find a cream that is inedible, inexpensive, and environmentally friendly. An oil that isn’t better used for cuisine (e.g. almond or olive) or biodiesel (e.g. jojoba or jatropha), and is generally an energy-intensive process. A butter that, while it may come from natural nuts (e.g. shea or cacoa), requires extensive processing and exporting.
Dancing Salsa in the Shower
In my hunt for a more sustainable moisturizer, I had to look no further than back at the coffee fields. Interplanted among the red-specked bushes are green fronds of plantains, yucca, and avocado trees. If creamy mashed avocado reduces butter or oil in my bread recipes, why not on other buns? (Should you suffer from cellulitis, that is.)
I waited until shortly before I’d be using my Keeper, when my hormones were waging full out war on my skin. Right after my morning espresso, I mashed up a dented-in and overripe avocado given to me by my local grocer.
Body Guacamole Recipe
1 avocado of the Hall variety, 3″-long
2 teaspoons of coffee grounds
Makes enough for a full body scrub for 1 person or a face mask for at least 10 people.
The sensation was glorious: the avocado was refreshingly cool and rubbed on smoothly. This was an opportunity for some self-loving by massaging the grounds into my skin from head to foot to get the exfoliation effect.
While waiting for the mask to set and tighten upon my skin, I sped up the drying process of my body’s guacamole by dancing to the salsa blaring from my neighbor’s radio.
After rinsing off my skin felt silky smooth, not dry and tight like usually after showering, with no need to slather on lotion.
1.) All the nutrients went down my drain (plumbing issues?) instead of into someone’s stomach or the municipal compost heap. Was the organic matter “wasted” on my treatment?
2.) Made a mess, requiring more water than a usual shower to clean up the splattered walls.
3.) Avocadoes don’t come free as easily to readers in northern latitudes.
Please share your own ideas using locally available ingredients and successful experiments!
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Carrie is an environmental educator, anthropologist, and translator. She took her passions for ecological, health, and women’s rights advocacy from the offices of Washington, D.C. to the streets of South America. Now in Colombia, she is slowly opening women’s eyes to the wonders of “la copita de luna” (Moon Cup) and Keepers.