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Turn Thanksgiving Leftovers into Beauty Treatments

Although your Turkey Day dinner table holds the power to add a pound (or two) to your figure, it also holds the power to brighten your skin, soften your hair, and tighten pores.

Say what?

It’s true: Many common Thanksgiving ingredients—and even some complete recipes—can double as DIY beauty treatments. So this year when you say no to seconds, you’ll both save calories and have more leftovers to turn into all-natural masks, scrubs, and soothing bath soaks. Whip up these recipes for smooth, glowing skin and soft, shiny hair.

Apple Cider Exfoliating Mask

This fall drink staple brightens the skin by regulating its pH. “A higher, or more basic, pH diminishes the skin’s ability to protect itself,” says Jasmina Aganovic, founder and CEO of skincare line Bona Clara. “Apple cider regulates the skin’s pH, plus it has high amounts of alpha-hydroxy acids that eat away at dead and dull skin.” The oats in her mask have natural cleansers called saponins that help remove dirt, oil, and other buildup, while the enzymes and vitamin C in the fresh lemon juice evens out skin tone and the brown sugar exfoliates.

Ingredients:
3/4 teaspoon apple cider
3 teaspoons ground oats
3/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse brown sugar

Directions: Combine cider and oats in a bowl to form a smooth paste. Add lemon juice and sugar and stir to combine well. Apply to cleansed skin and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes to allow ingredients to work away at the top layers of the skin. Then rub in circular motions to promote circulation and help exfoliate off dull skin cells. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.

Mashed Potato Mask

Surprise! White taters may have a poor rep when it comes to their nutritional standing, but they're a powerhouse when applied to your mug. “Potatoes are known for getting rid of acne, lessening wrinkles, de-puffing eyes, reducing the appearance of dark circles, and evening out skin tone,” says Cara Hart, spa director at Corbu Spa & Salon in Cambridge, MA.

Ingredients:
Mashed potatoes (It’s fine if they contain butter, dairy, or seasonings)

Directions: Spread potatoes evenly over clean, damp skin and leave on for 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water and follow up with a moisturizer of your choice.

Brussels Sprout
Firming Mask

Finally a good use for the veggie you hated as a kid (and may still wrinkle your nose at): These mini-cabbages are great for a taut face. “Brussels sprouts contain vitamin C, which has a firming effect, and egg whites can tighten and minimize the appearance of pores,” says Tyson Kim Cox, master esthetician at Nival Salon and Spa in Washington, D.C.

Ingredients:
1 Brussels sprout, cooked
2 egg whites

Directions: Puree ingredients into a frothy foam in a food processor. Apply liberally to a clean face and leave on skin for at least 10 minutes before rinsing with warm water.

Cranberry and Sweet Potato Exfoliating Mask

Your nephew may think mixing these two colorful sides together is only an easy way to gross out his sister, but the two can also give you a glowing complexion. Bright orange sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, which plays a key role in maintaining healthy functioning of the skin and supporting collagen and elastin, says Aganovic. She recommends combining them with honey—“It has healing and regenerative capabilities and is a humectant, meaning it helps bring moisture to the skin and maintain natural hydration,” she says— and cranberries for vitamin C, which “prevents free radicals from damaging collagen and elastin and brightens skin.”

Ingredients:
1/2 cup steamed or boiled sweet potato (or 2 large carrots)
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon coarse brown sugar

Directions: In a bowl, mash sweet potato and honey with a fork. Add cranberries and sugar and work into mixture until smooth. Apply to cleansed skin and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes for the ingredients to work away at the top layers of the skin. Then rub in circular motions to promote circulation and help exfoliate off dull skin cells. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.

Butternut Squash
Heel Soother

Food and bare feet don’t sound like a good combo, but winter squash can help relieve dry, cracked skin. “The vitamin E in butternut squash protects and repairs your skin,” says Louisa Graves, author of Hollywood Beauty Secrets: Remedies to the Rescue. She mixes it with hydrating oil and milk, which contains lactic acid to exfoliate.

Ingredients:
1 large cooked and mashed butternut squash
3 cups full-fat milk
2 cups safflower or vegetable oil

Directions: Combine everything and transfer to a pail large enough to accommodate both feet. Submerge clean feet for 30 minutes. Rinse with tepid water and put socks and slippers on to contain the hydrating benefits of the soak.

Pumpkin Spice Body Scrub

Dessert really does help your body look its best! “Pumpkin is known to be a source of more than 100 beneficial vitamins and nutrients, including alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids, which have been shown to promote smoother, younger-looking skin by increasing the rate of cellular renewal,” says Golee Kheshti, aesthetician at Ona Spa in Los Angeles.

Ingredients:
1 part pumpkin puree (It’s okay to use pie filling, as the sugar will exfoliate and any dairy won’t harm your skin)
1 part extra virgin olive oil
2 parts sugar

Directions: Mix all ingredients and apply to dry skin in circulation motions over your entire body, then rinse off in a warm shower.

Champagne Soak

Before you pour the rest of that uncorked bottle down the drain for fear it will only go flat, pour it into your bathtub. “The carbon dioxide in champagne tightens and constricts pores,” says Kristin Fraser Cotte, CEO and founder of the Grapeseed Company. And while Epsom salt detoxifies your skin in plain water, the bubbles in bubbly intensify the process, she adds.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Epsom salt
1 cup powdered milk
1 cup champagne
1 teaspoon honey

Directions: Combine salt and powdered milk in a bowl, then add champagne. Warm honey in the microwave for 30 seconds and add to the mixture. Pour into running bath water and, when the tub is full, soak for as long as you wish.

Sweet Potato
Hair Conditioner

The ingredients here could be the making of healthy snack, but instead of eating it, Graves says to put it on your tresses. “Sweet potatoes, honey, and yogurt all moisturize and prevent fly-away hair,” she says, “and the yogurt also removes product buildup.”

Ingredients:
1/2 plain large sweet potato, cooked and mashed
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup plain yogurt (any percent fat works)

Directions: Combine everything and apply to damp hair. Put on a plastic shower cap and wait 20 minutes before rinsing off with tepid water.