ENTERTAINMENT  :   Lifestyle

The many marvels of vanilla

Saturday , 30 January 2016

You might be surprised at how many uses there are for vanilla extract and oil. Read on to find out how you can add this sweet-smelling substance to your beauty regimen and household chores…

When you think of vanilla, what comes to mind are cakes, custards and ice creams. But, there’s more to this ingredient, than meets the eye. Did you know that vanilla has some really amazing antioxidant and antibacterial properties? That’s why we recommend adding vanilla to your beauty routine. Vanilla extract is derived from vanilla beans, which are the fruit of the vanilla orchid plant. This extract can help reduce acne, lend shine to your hair, hydrate your lips and act as a de-stressing agent. It can also work as a freshener in your house. Find out more below:

 Acne care

The antibacterial properties of vanilla can help treat acne. Vanilla cleanses the skin and reduces the occurrence of pimples. Vanillin, which is the active ingredient in vanilla bean extract, has important antioxidant properties. These allow vanilla extract to help soothe irritated skin. Since it is a rich source of antioxidants, vanilla is widely used in many cosmetic products to reverse skin damage due to external pollutants and toxins.

Scrape out the insides of a vanilla bean and mix it with 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, 2 drops of vanilla oil and a few drops of lemon juice. This homemade scrub rejuvenates facial skin, giving your skin a radiant glow.

Vanilla for healthy hair

Vanilla can give your hair a healthy shine. Add 5 drops of vanilla oil to boiling shea butter. Once this mixture cools, add 2 tablespoons each of jojoba, almond and castor oils. Blend this mixture and apply it on your hair like a mask. Leave it on for 15 minutes and then wash it off with a mild shampoo. This mask will leave your hair uber soft, making it more manageable and shiny. It also helps nourish your hair and promotes hair growth. The remaining mixture can be stored in your fridge, for later use.

Relax your senses

The next time you head to a spa, ask the masseur/masseuse to rub you down with vanilla oil. It’s a great way to de-stress. A study conducted at a New York hospital revealed that patients exposed to the aroma of vanilla, remained calm during procedures like MRI scans. Experts concluded that the aroma, most likely, reduced the patients’ anxiety by evoking pleasant memories or some other physiological response.

You can also soothe your body and nerves after a long, hard, tiring day at work with a vanilla bath. Its anti-inflammatory properties help ease tension from your muscles and help you unwind. Mix 1 cup of sweet almond oil with ½ a cup of honey, ½ a cup of liquid soap and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. Pour the liquid into a plastic bottle with a tight-fitting lid. Shake gently before use.

It is also believed that the aroma of vanilla improves one’s confidence and helps alleviate frustration and anger. So, if you’re feeling nervous about facing an interviewer, or getting a treatment done, take a whiff of vanilla to boost your morale. You can even dab vanilla extract on a handkerchief or on the inside of your wrists to soothe your senses.

Polish your skin

Additionally, you can help repair damaged skin by preparing a skin exfoliation mask that contains vanilla. Add 8 cups of brown sugar to 2 cups of avocado oil. Mix gently, so that the granules of brown sugar don’t dissolve entirely into the oil. Next, add 1 cup of apricot or peach kernel oil and stir slowly till you get a smooth consistency. Finally, add 8 drops of vanilla essential oil. You can store this mixture in a large bottle and use it as an exfoliation mask. The sugar granules help remove dead skin, while the antioxidants work magic on your skin.

Soften your lips

During winter, why not make your own lip balm? Here’s how: mix 2 tablespoons of petroleum jelly and 1 tablespoon of beeswax. Warm these in a microwave or heat on a stove, on a low flame. Stir the mixture before adding 1 tablespoon each, of honey and vanilla extract. Allow the mixture to cool. Once it’s at room temperature, pour it into a lip balm container. The two key ingredients, vanilla and honey, help your lips stay soft and supple.

Other uses of vanilla

Curbs your appetite

If you’re prone to overeating, dab a few drops of vanilla oil on a handkerchief and take a whiff whenever an urge to snack on unhealthy foods arises. In recent years, scientists have discovered that the smell of vanilla can trick your brain into thinking that you’re not hungry. In fact, researchers have found that the scent of vanilla can specifically reduce the craving for chocolate and other high-calorie sweets.

Works as a bug spray

Studies have revealed that mosquitos and bugs can’t stand the smell of vanilla! So, use vanilla extract as a natural pest repellent, to keep mosquitos, ticks and black flies away. You can add 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract to 2 cups of water and apply it on exposed skin. It’ll work as a natural repellent against these pesky bugs. So, next time you head for a picnic or outdoor trek, spray on some vanilla extract for a bug-free experience.

Freshens up your fridge

Have you been scrubbing your refrigerator every couple of days to get rid of odours left behind by leftover food, without much luck? Well, you can now try wiping down the surfaces of your fridge with a cloth dipped in vanilla extract. For a longer-lasting effect, you can soak a cotton ball in vanilla extract and leave it in the refrigerator. Your guests are sure to be pleasantly surprised, when your fridge door is opened!

Helps relieve minor burns

Vanilla has been traditionally used to heal kitchen burns, wounds and cuts. Vanilla extract can give you quick relief from pain. The alcohol in vanilla extract cools the burn. But, ensure that you dilute the concentrate, before application. And, remember, it is always advisable to consult your doctor before using home remedies for burns.

Chases away undesirable odours

Vanilla extract can clear out the smell of fish and other cooked foods from your microwave. Pour 4 drops of vanilla extract into a microwaveable bowl and run the microwave on high heat, for a minute. The odour will vanish.

A drop or two of vanilla extract on a light bulb spreads an aroma of vanilla around the house, the moment it is switched on, by the heat generated from bulb. The above are only some of the marvels of vanilla!