How To Use Your Leftover Sweet Potatoes

Years ago, I finally sat down with my mother and told her how much I hated Thanksgiving. First, I started in with historical discrepancies that made Thanksgiving completely fictional, then I slowly crawled on a vegetarian soapbox of the many young turkeys that lose their life to the holiday each year and finally landed on how much I hated Thanksgiving food, particularly sweet potatoes and all the other heavy side dishes available for vegetarians. My mother nodded in understanding and said "Well, if you don't like sweet potatoes, you don't have to eat them." Touché, mom. I may not like eating them, but sweet potatoes have skin and hair benefits I just can't ignore. So, instead of plopping them on my plate, I smear the stuff all over my face during the holidays.

My aversion to sweet potatoes had existed for quite some time. Each holiday season, they sat on my plate, untouched, blocking my potato salad from touching my collard greens. What I didn't know is that sweet potatoes can block out impurities too, making this thanksgiving side dish an ideal remedy for common skin issues.

Sweet potatoes, not to be confused with botanically different yams, are a great source of potassium, iron, and magnesium, which makes them one of the healthiest foods on your Thanksgiving menu. If you are thinking that the sweet flavor will end in a food coma, think again: The sugar in sweet potatoes is released at a slow pace making it easier for our bod's to absorb. That means using this sweet snack topically is going to come with low risks while still stimulating our skin cells to protect from premature aging and wrinkles.

Sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of beta carotene which is an antioxidant that turns into vitamin A in our bodies. Antioxidants protect our skin from free radicals and vitamin A deficiency is a huge reason for dull, dry skin. While consuming foods high in beta carotene is essential for healthy hair and skin, using vitamin A driven products is ideal for supple, glowing skin. This is just one of the reasons why vitamin A has been listed as one of the top vitamins for healthy skin.

Fortunately, with sweet potatoes being so plentiful during the holiday season, you don't need to take supplements for soft skin. You can apply sweet potatoes all over your bod — after you're done binging on leftovers of course.

1. Sweet Potato Hair Mask

Yes, you should put a sweet potato in your hair and yes, it's going to be weird. This sweet potato hair mask is loosely based off Black Hair Information's recipe and is easily one of the easiest moisturizers for dry locks to make. After I peel and boil a sweet potato, I add a tablespoon each of raw honey, coconut milk, and coconut oil and blend my mixture. I choose the blender method because I'm not trying to pick out little bits of veggies out of my hair all day. Section your damp hair and work your way up from the roots to the top. Keep your mask on for a good 15 minutes to enjoy some extra sweet benefits.

2. Skin Texture Treatment

Feeling like all that Thanksgiving food is going straight to your face? It probably is. The good news is that sweet potatoes draw out impurities and clean your pores. A great suggestion from Style Craze is to keep the water from boiling the sweet potatoes to use for a toner.

3. Eye Baggage

The only thing worse than a hangover from too much whisky is a hangover from too much food. Not only are you feeling like crap, but chances are you've looked better. Cut a couple of slices of sweet potatoes and rub directly under your eyes to relieve extra baggage. While any old potato will do, sweet potatoes are going to give you extra relief and nutrients. For best results, use cold potatoes!

Image:, Franklin Heijnen, David Lifson/Flickr