Why peppermint oil Is your new beauty Must-Have

My own personal hell is getting my nails done. My worst experience of life occurred the day before my college roommate's wedding: I reluctantly went with the rest of the bridal party to have my first mani-pedi combo. Not only did I secretly balk at the price, despite this being a gift from the bride, but I also wasn't stoked about the 50 shades of pink to choose from. After choosing a pink I felt I could live with (without my old punk rock buddies wondering if I was having an identity crisis), I begrudgingly sat in the chair. It wasn't until I was under a nail dryer that I started to notice the weird tingling sensation on my hands and feet was becoming less of a tingle and more of fire under my skin. I looked at my feet and they were covered in hives. I ripped my hands from underneath the dryer and they were beet-red. A horrifying amount of bumps now covered my hands. Turns out, the sweet almond oil found in a lot of lotions at nail salons is not so sweet when you have a tree nut allergy. Once the swelling went down however; I loved my nails. I wanted them painted for the rest of my life and needed to find a way to give myself and my pals a killer manicure sans hives!

Enter peppermint oil: Its cooling menthol and fresh minty flavor makes this one of my all-time favorite essential oils. The reason you can find it in so many shampoos, face washes, and toothpastes? Peppermint oil is a natural antiseptic with an ability to wake up worn-out skin and manage oil production. That means it's a dope ingredient for your hair, skin, and nails.

Unlike its sister oils, peppermint has scientifically proven medicinal and therapeutic properties, as well as holding the title as the world's oldest medicine! This minty ingredient has Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin A & C, calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium — so it'll to whip dry skin, stubborn nail beds, and blemish-prone skin into shape!

The best news is that you can easily grow your own peppermint. Personally, I'm a terrible gardener, but the two things I've mastered are basil, and peppermint. Convenient, since these are herbs I use often and cringe when I see the prices at my local grocer. Check out this super-easy and cost-effective way to maintain your natural beauty and brush up on your gardening skills from Little House Living's page on growing and extracting your own peppermint oil. Whether you've decided to harvest your own oil or take a quick trip to the grocery, check out these choice recipes below.

Nail Treatment

Every so often, I sit down and give my nails some actual TLC, instead of just adding more paint to my chipping nail beds. To do this I mix about 2 ounces of castor oil, which has bomb anti-fungal and healing properties, and several dashes of peppermint oil. I like to dip each nail in the solution, then let my fingertips chill and absorb the oil for a few minutes before I rinse or do any serious nail maintenance. The castor strengthens my nail beds during filing or buffing and the peppermint oil provides that much desired cooling effect while acting as an additional moisturizer. Bonus tip for your pedi: Dilute Epsum salt with peppermint oil to relax tired, dry feet. You'll get the ultimate spa treatment for only a few bucks!

Peppermint Toothpaste

There are a ton of natural recipes for toothpaste out there. I like to limit my ingredients, so my favorite rendition is super simple, affordable, and includes ingredients that I already use on my hair and skin. To make a batch, you'll need coconut oil, baking soda, and peppermint oil. Mix about 3 parts baking soda to 1 part coconut oil (shoot for a creamy paste) and then add about 5 drops of peppermint oil. As always, use your judgment with these portions — you will learn with trial and error how much baking soda to coconut oil you want to use. Once you've whipped up your paste, apply directly on your toothbrush, and brush as normal. Say 'ahhhh' because not only have you made an alternative to a pricey all natural toothpaste, you're also naturally brightening your teeth and fighting bacteria!

Blemish Spot Treatment

This is what I love about peppermint oil: You can literally use it everywhere! I first used peppermint oil as a spot treatment on my face, albeit reluctantly, when I ran out of my usual acne-fighting essential oil. Fortunately, I found that peppermint works amazing on pimples and is super effective at diminishing the redness and swelling of that not-so-cute zit. Just use equal parts vitamin E and jojoba oil (or grape seed), and add a few drops of peppermint oil. PS: This is a great substitute for anyone that has a low tolerance to tea tree oil. Apply your treatment directly onto your blemish before bed until you see that sucker vanish! The additional benefit to using peppermint oil over tea tree is most definitely the scent but also I find it less drying when I want to treat an entire section of my face that's prone to breakouts.

Great news if you can't get enough of that natural menthol flava: peppermint oil is a solid choice for shiny hair and stimulates hair growth, too.

Images: Fotolia (1, 2, 3, 4)