The Household Items You'd Never Know Are Beauty Miracles

Photo: CorbisIf there were a Survivor: Beauty Product spinoff series, then we’d own the show. There are so many ways to turn kitchen and household basics into spa-worthy luxuries, it’s ridiculous. You'll be surprised by all the unusual uses for ordinary but amazing items in your cabinets and around your house — even in your backyard. We asked some of our favorite beauty gurus for their words of wisdom.

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Soda. Rinsing your hair, or spraying it with soda sounds weird, but the sugar in it coats the hair and gives it a great easy-to-style texture that you can create amazing updos with; or just kind of rub a little at the roots for a loose beachy look.
— Anh Co Tran, stylist and co-owner of L.A.'s Ramirez Tran Salon

Dirt. The same way that baby powder or corn starch can be used as a dry shampoo for blondes, I actually have used that very dry, powdery top layer of soil and sand while on a shoot in the desert. I grabbed a pinch of it, rubbed it into the roots with my fingers and brushed it out. It gives the same de-greasing, mussed-look of dry shampoo.
Anh Co Tran

Fresh herbs. For instant outdoorsy perfume, find fresh rosemary, sage, or lavender — any herb with a lot of fragrance, even pine needles — and roll it between your hands for a minute: then run your hands through your hair and pat your neck and arms. The scent will last on you for the entire day.
Anh Co Tran

Salt. Dissolve a teaspoon of table salt and dissolve into a cup of warm water. If you have a spray bottle use that and spritz your roots. Otherwise, dip your fingers into the salt water and rub it through your scalp, liberally. Let your hair dry. You’ll get instant volume and texture. 
Anh Co Tran

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Hands and Feet

Matchbooks. Desperately in need of a nail file? Use the grainy strip on the back of a matchbook as a replacement. It’s light and grainy and soothes away any rough edges.
—Jin Soon Choi, owner of Jin Soon Natural Hand and Foot Spa

Antiperspirant. If your feet tend to get overheated, sweaty and smelly (whose doesn’t in the winter?), try using your antiperspirant on the bottoms of your (clean) feet to prevent the problem.
— Cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson

Black tea. To neutralize foot odor, soak feet in a bath of black tea. The tannins are helpful in neutralizing odor. Add two to three tea bags to water in a foot basin and soak feet for about 15 minutes. Diluted mouthwash will work well, too.
— Ian Ginsberg, owner of C.O. Bigelow
Lemons. Rub a wedge of lemon into nails, sprinkle a bit of baking soda on top, and let sit for five minutes:  wash off. It will give you whiter, brighter, healthier looking nails.
— Ian Ginsberg
Coffee accessories. For an instant manicure, basically hit up your local coffee place: Grab brown sugar, packs of honey, and wooden coffee stirrers. The sugar and honey make a great moisturizing scrub for the hands, then while soaking into skin, use the wooden stirrers to push back cuticles. Wash hands thoroughly and they’ll be soft and well tended to.
Jin Soon Choi

Denture tablet. Fizz a denture-cleaning tablet in a shallow bowl of water and soak your nails in it for a few minutes to whiten and brighten dull, yellowed nails.
— Jin Soon Choi


Buttermilk and honey. Add full-fat buttermilk to a warm bath — a quart is fine for the average sized tub — plus a swizzle of honey, which is really moisturizing and exfoliates the skin. Soak for 15 minutes then scrub with a washcloth or loofah and you'll come out super-soft and moisturized.
— Joanna Douglas, Shine senior fashion and beauty editor

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. This gets rid of any kind of mark in your house, but guess what? It's also excellent for getting rid of self-tanner streaks and splotches. Just wet and rub lightly over the off-color area until it’s faded.
—Charlotte Rudge, Yahoo Shine beauty and fashion writer
Nipple cream. Heal stubborn dry, cracked skin super-fast by using nipple cream!  My brand of choice is Lansinoh. It makes an amazing overnight lip balm too. Even my husband uses it!
—Wende Zomnir, Owner of Urban Decay Cosmetics

Tropical fruits. Natural enzymes found in many fruits play an important role in cellular turnover and slowing the effects of aging. Acai, papaya, raw pumpkin flesh make an amazing face/body treatment to remove dead skin cells. Just blend the fruit (either fresh or frozen) with enough water to create a thick, mask-like texture, leave on for five minutes or so, and then rinse off.
—June Jacobs, CEO June Jacobs Spa Collection


Yogurt and honey. These are awesome ingredients for a reparative mask because the yogurt reduces the inflammation in the skin while the honey hydrates. This mixture is both moisturizing and calming and will leave skin glowing. Combine half a cup yogurt, half an avocado, and a quarter cup of honey in a small bowl, and apply to dry skin with a damp washcloth or sea sponge. Let the mixture soak into skin for 20 minutes, and then rinse it off with warm water.
—  Facialist Joanna Vargas

Bananas. For a luxurious anti-aging treatment, mash an over ripe or ripe banana, and apply it to your face for 20 minutes. Then wash away with warm water, and apply your favorite facial moisturizer.
June Jacobs

Potato. Rest two slices of potato on the eyes for at least five minutes to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and puffiness.
— June Jacobs


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