Food Network Staffer Diary: I Put Food Beauty Myths to the Test on My Face (And in My Hair)
After spending hundreds of dollars on beauty products that promise to make my hair shinier and thicker, and my face smoother and tighter, I am at a loss. I’ve tried $20, basically sample-sized, bottles of products that claim to produce “new hair in two uses!” (what does that really mean?) and face masks that will make my skin “as smooth as a baby’s butt” with nothing but bleak disappointment. So when it came to testing foods that could be a cheap and easy beauty product substitute, my credit card thanked me.
However, this was not an easy road to beauty. It was painful — and occasionally very, very smelly (I’m looking at you, mayo). Some of the beauty hacks I found online were straight-up weird, while others were just wrong. Nevertheless, I tried them all for you. You’re welcome.
Here’s what I started with.
Hair: Thin and wispy shoulder-length, light-blond hair with (fake) highlights. Dry shampoo is in every purse I own, thanks to the oil gods thrusting the oily life on me.
Skin: Normal to oily, few breakouts
Coffee for the Face
The only time I’ve seen coffee in a beauty food hack is when a friend used it as a self-tanner — and she straight-up smelled like a cappuccino for a few days. However, coffee as an exfoliant makes sense. The natural acids are supposed to reduce acne and any inflammation, leaving a radiant complexion.
The blogs I read didn’t specify what type of coffee besides organic ground coffee, but I assumed it be best to avoid any with a strong artificial flavor, as there may be irritants. I chose a standard house blend from my favorite coffeehouse and started rubbing the grounds on my face with just a little bit of water.
The smell was heavenly (for a coffee lover), but I realized it was messy. Also, putting coffee grounds in a sink or tub is asking for a clogged mess, so I closed the stopper in my sink and put a bowl over it for good measure. The result was a coffee crime scene.
The grounds are definitely exfoliating my face, and not too harshly. My main concern is whether the coffee will tint my skin, so after leaving the grounds on for a minute or two, I start wiping it off. My skin definitely smells like coffee (which I don’t mind) and has no discoloration from the coffee. My face is looking a little pinkish red, but I expect that from an exfoliator. My skin also feels soft and fresh.
The Verdict: If you don’t mind the ground-coffee mess, this is a go. The amount of coffee you need for this is so little that it’s certainly cheaper than what you’re using now.
Mayo for the Face
One important note: I deeply and passionately hate mayonnaise. The consistency — the jigglyness — makes me nauseous and reminds me of fat removed during liposuction. However, mayo is supposed to help moisturize skin (because of the eggs) and stimulate your skin cells (because of the vinegar) to leave your skin feeling exfoliated and new. Those two benefits are enough for me to get over my disgust of the white slop.
My generous roommate Camille offers to paint my face with a kitchen brush full of mayo. She definitely gets a lot of amusement out of it.
First off, it smells like it should not be on my face. The entire time I’m focused on not gagging. I can’t lie — the vinegar in the mayo is stinging my face and making me tear up. Is that a good thing? Unsure. I think I can feel my dead skin cells being ripped off. Ew.
Twenty minutes are up, and my face looks like it has Vaseline all over it. Washing it off is a relief, and my face is surprisingly smooth. I wash with warm water one more time, though, to make sure I’m not going to make myself break out with fatty mayo.
The Verdict: The mayo actually worked! My face felt fresh, new, ever so slightly tightened and oh so soft. Well done, mayo.
Champagne for the Hair
Champagne is supposed to shine and brighten blond hair and accent golden hues. As a recent college grad, however, I think wasting bubbly is rude and uneconomical. I nearly cry at the thought of wasting a beautiful bottle, but for the sake of food journalism, I persevere.
The instructions are as follows: Lightly soak your hair with cool water, just enough to dampen it. Pour the bubbly into your hair and comb it through. Let it sit for 20 minutes. Then, lightly rinse, but do not wash with shampoo afterwards or else the shine will disappear.
This treatment sounds very fragile and also very sticky — I’m very skeptical.
I pour a cup of water into my hair over the tub and then pop my fizzy and do the same as I did with the water. I knew champagne was fizzy but OH MY. It feels like Pop Rocks in my hair and is addicting to pour. After I fully douse my hair, there is still a good 200 milliliters left in the bottle, so I polish it off. (Can’t waste perfectly good Champs!)
I sit and wait for 20 minutes with my hair wrapped up. Then, using about 3 cups of water, I lightly wash out the Champagne. The key to this is to leave enough in for there to be a shine but not enough for the stickiness.
After brushing and blow-drying my hair, I notice the ash blond parts in my hair do appear shinier, but there's an added oiliness on my scalp is really flattening out my thin hair. I add some dry shampoo and it’s good as new. However, after blow-drying my hair, I realize the Champagne has dried out my ends. My hair also has a faint scent of Champagne, but it’s nothing off-putting.
The Verdict: If you have a cup of cheap Champagne that you refuse to drink, go for it. Otherwise, chug that baby; this isn’t worth it. Important note: About two days after this experiment, I realized I'd accidentally used a $40 bottle of Champagne. I wept at my desk.
Ketchup for the Hair
Ketchup is supposed to remove any off tints from blond hair, especially ash blond hair that has gone through chlorine. After reading a few positive reviews, I was naturally intrigued and slightly disgusted at the idea of putting ketchup in my hair.
I’ve used purple-tinted shampoos to keep my ash blond hair from getting brassy, but the shampoos were always so expensive I never could keep up with it. Was ketchup my new secret weapon? I had to try.
As soon as I squirt the bottle into my hair, I think, “This is SO wrong.” Ketchup is not supposed to be in my hair. Someone totally wrote this online just to mess with innocent people like myself. The smell of the high-fructose corn syrup and the look of the fire-hydrant-red sauce are extremely off-putting. There’s no way this works.
I sit around feeling like a french fry and jump straight into the shower after 30 minutes. The entire bathroom is steaming with ketchup — and I’m praying I didn’t just dye my hair. I hop out of the shower and look into the mirror just to see my same mop of hair on my head. Refusing to let this beauty hack be a dud, I blow-dry my hair.
The Verdict: Sorry, folks. This one is a dud for me. It's possible it may just take a few more uses to really kick in.
Egg for the Face
I have heard of people using yolk in home mixes, so I’m not as taken aback by this one. Eggs are also incredibly cheap, so if this works, I’m in.
For oily skin, they recommend the egg white, but since I have normal skin, I’m going to go ahead with a whole egg. It's simple — crack and beat the egg until it's well-mixed and frothy, then apply! Besides the fact that I’m wasting a perfectly good egg, I have no clue how to apply it. It’s like applying water to your face, and I feel like I’m getting more on the floor than on my face.
Once I get a thin layer on, the raw egg starts dripping down my face and chest, so I run to my fan and let the raw egg dry. It is kind of gross having raw egg juice drip on my lips, mainly because I can’t lick it. Also, it smells like this Play-Doh jelly concoction I used to play with when I was in pre-K. Odd.
Now that I’m in front of the fan, I can feel the mix hardening like a clay mask. Once it’s firmly dry, I realize my face is stuck in an unamused expression. Great. After the first layer dries, I add a second just for good measure; again, I go back to the fan to speed up the drying.
After 20 minutes, I head to the sink to wash this off. I’m pretty excited for the outcome on this one. The layer of egg comes right off, and with that, all of the firming and smoothing that is supposed to happen. I’m sad and feel betrayed by my egg.
The Verdict: Nope.
Banana for the Hair and Face
I personally love the smell and taste of banana, so this hack made sense to me. Banana is supposed to soften your skin, leaving it smooth and with a sweet scent. This already sounds better than the ketchup incident.
I take two extremely brown bananas and blend them for about a minute until they reach the consistency of a liquid smoothie. As I start putting the banana goop on my face, my only thought is: “This is totally going to make me break out. There’s no way this is good for my pores.” It does smell like sweet banana, but the gritty juice-like texture just feels wrong on my face.
Next, I slap it into my hair and I realize I am going to smell like a life-size banana.
I decide to wait 10 minutes for my face to dry. Five minutes in, the mask is still pretty wet. After looking in the mirror, I realize I look jaundiced. It starts to smell pretty strong, and maybe it’s because I am starving, but I feel the urge to eat the banana off my face.
After waiting 10 minutes, my face feels a little tighter in the spots where the banana dried, though certain patches are still wet. I decide it is time. Washing it off, my skin feels gritty — as if there is still a layer of banana on my face. I have to really scrub.
Afterwards, my face feels softer and definitely cleaner. But did it make my skin any softer than my face cleanser? Maybe by a little bit, but it did nothing that a facial lotion couldn’t.
When I made my roommate smell my face, she said, “Your face felt very soft against my nose.” So, maybe I wasn’t giving the yellow fruit enough credit.
Twenty minutes later (30 minutes total), it’s time to wash out this banana gunk from my hair. It is starting to feel dried and crusted in spots and wet in others. Washing it out feels the same as washing out shampoo — nothing wild. I don’t shampoo my hair, as I don’t want to strip all of the rich banananess, but I do put a little bit of conditioner on the end of my hair (because my hair is rather brittle).
Then came the ultimate test: the brush. Usually, brushing my hair is quite a dilemma, but the brush goes straight through! If anything, banana is a good detangler.
The Verdict: Yes for your face. No for your hair.
There are some really cheap conditioners and oils you can use for your hair that don’t require you to blend a brown banana and wear it for 30 minutes. However, an overripe banana makes for a great face mask.