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the Gauntlet

DIY: Salty and Sweet Facing the Cold

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With winter comes the season of chapped lips, dry skin and financial debt. Instead of giving in to the cruel lack of humidity and high-priced lotions, there are a number of easy-to-make products to deal with that frigid lady, Mother Nature.

Salt or sugar scrubs help to slough away dead skin and oil. Not only do they create a clearer complexion, there is something masochistically beautiful about the tingling sensation they leave behind.

These homemade scrubs are unbelievably simple -- even measuring out the mixture is unnecessary. Before using any scrub, wash face with lukewarm water to open the pores.

Step 1: Use no more than a quarter cup of sugar.

Step 2: Add lemon juice for exfoliation, but be careful not to over dry the skin by using too much. This is up to your personal judgement of how thick the desired scrub is. I prefer a thick scrub so I stop while the sugar still feels coarse. The scrub should mix well and not be too wet.

Step 3: Apply scrub to face or feet. Avoid sensitive skin underneath the eyes. Wash off with lukewarm water.

For a scrub better suited to dry skin and feet, you can use different types of oil, like almond or olive oil, instead of lemon juice. Coconut milk and honey are also good moisturizers.

For a more aromatic experience, add drops of essential oils like invigorating peppermint or calming lavender.

Just like a restaurant's soup of the day, the ingredients for a face mask can change with what is in season. For acne prone skin, strawberries are the jackpot. The salicylic acid found in strawberries is a natural exfoliate. Puree the fruit and mix with yogurt, buttermilk or milk. The lactic acid in dairy also removes dead skin and gently moisturizes.

Step 1: Half cup of strawberries

Step 2: 1 tbs of plain yogurt

Step 3: Blend like the dickens.

Step 4: Cover face until you feel like a finger-painting project gone bad.

Step 5: Relax for 20 minutes. Read that book you told yourself you'd start but never did.

Step 6: Wash with lukewarm water.

If you love oatmeal in the morning, make two bowls: one for your mouth the other for your face. Oatmeal works for all skin types and is a conveniently cheap and common household item. Use one tbs oatmeal and blend with some water. Add one tbs honey and more water until your desired consistency is reached.

There's a do-it-yourself solution for anything. For shiny hair, add a couple capfuls of vinegar to a jug of water and rinse.

Washing with cold water helps the hair better retain moisture, so for those with extremely unmanageable hair a quick polar-bear dip is the right trick.

As for lips, some chap sticks actually dry out lips more and are simply short-term solutions to a seven-month problem.

While bees' wax is one of the best preventatives, a small honey scrub -- made with raw or regular sugar -- rubbed between the lips works wonders for eliminating dry skin. Add almond or olive oil over the newly freshened lips for moisture.

When the onslaught of winter is simply waiting to overcome even those with the most resilient of skin types, you can still show that Mother Nature who is boss -- affordably.

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