We all know how expensive natural beauty aids and cosmetics can be, and professional beauty treatments are even costlier! Have no fear. You can give yourself a world-class manicure or facial in the comfort and privacy of your own home. And you won’t even have to make an appointment.

Manicures and Nail Maintenance

It’s a wonder how our nails withstand the rough treatment they are always given, whether in the kitchen, in the garden, or nowadays on the computer keyboard. Manicures are key, but an unprofessional manicure can be a nightmare. The first problem with many salon manicures is the use of acetone, which discolors and weakens nails. Acetone also dries the skin around the cuticles. One solution is to put a small amount of oil in your acetone; you can also purchase nail polish remover specifically with an oil base or a product enriched with vitamin E.

Your cuticles should never be cut, as is often done in beauty parlors. Rather, the cuticles should be gently pushed back to form neat semi-circles. Massage your hands and nails with a rich cream, then wipe dry. Nail polish itself should ideally be applied the next day. First, apply a colorless base coat; then apply two wafer-thin coats of color, and dry your nails under a hair dryer.

If your nails are rough or brittle, warm some almond oil mixed with fresh orange or carrot juice, and massage your nails with this mixtures for 10-20 minutes daily.

To give worn hands a vigorous clean up, mix together a teaspoon of vaseline and a heaped tablespoon of oatmeal. Rub well into your hands, as if you are washing them with soap and water, for two to three minutes.

Wipe your hands with a paper towel, and then wash them in a mixture of water and lemon juice. After 10 minutes, wash your hands again in fresh water and apply hand cream.

Do-It-Yourself Facials

A facial is the most vital beauty treatment you can give yourself. A good facial will improve blood circulation, stimulate facial muscles, ease tension, remove the deposits of fat which cause double chins, and bring a fresh glow to your skin.

When you are preparing to give yourself an at-home facial, keep the following items handy: a towel, some cotton balls, cleansing milk or cream, a vitamin-enriched nourishing cream, a face pack or the yolk of an egg, a moisturizer, and a large pot of water. Tie your hair up and away from your face.

First clean your face thoroughly with the cleansing milk or cream; apply generous amounts to the skin and wash off. Then take a large quantity of nourishing cream and spread it onto your face and neck. Using upward movements, massage your entire face and neck; go easy around the eyes. Using the cotton balls, remove excess cream. Then steam your face over the pot of water. To do this, bring the water to a boil, then lean over the pot while covering your head with a large towel so that the steam does not escape.

After steaming, gently remove any blackheads from your skin by squeezing with the towel or a tissue. Never use your fingers. Then cover your face with the face pack or egg yolk, leaving out the eyes and surrounding skin.

Recline comfortably, and place two slices of cucumber over your eyelids. After 10-15 minutes, wash your face thoroughly with cold water. Finally, dab your skin with a moisturizer. Try not to use makeup for at least one day, or your pores will get clogged immediately.

If you don’t have time for such an intensive treatment, you can perform an effective facial by simply mixing two tablespoons of glycerine with half a teaspoon of lemon juice and one tablespoon of rose water. Apply this to your face and neck to prevent wrinkles and make your skin soft and smooth.

Enjoy a long look in the mirror. Isn’t your face glowing, sparkling, and clean?

BONUS: Make Your Own Perfume

Cut a lemon into very thin slices, and set it aside. Then take one part each of almond oil and rose water; mix with three parts pure alcohol. Place the lemon slices in an empty perfume jar, and pour the almond oil and rose water mixture into the jar. Bottle tightly. Shake the mixture once every day for six months. At the end of the six months, you will have your own unique perfume.

Lily Tharoor is a homemaker and mother of three grown children. Having lived in London, Bombay, Calcutta, and New Delhi, Lily now makes her home in Coimbatore, India.