No one ever wants to be referred to as plain vanilla, as in lacking unique qualities or any interesting traits, but to be honest, I've never hated the term. Using vanilla for hair growth and anti-aging treatments has kind of always been my jam, and the results have been anything but disappointing. Of course, vanilla adds a pleasant scent to natural soaps bars and hair conditioners, but it's doing way more than just adding flavor to your beauty routine. It's providing your bod with a haven of nutrients and an aroma that is often considered a natural aphrodisiac.
I, too, have been guilty of writing off pure vanilla extract as just a nice way to add fragrance until some of my DIY beauty loving clients decided they didn't want their hair to smell like sage. Weird, right? Finally, I decided to do a little digging to see if incorporating vanilla into a natural hair routine wasn't only about tingling your senses. Turns out, my demanding subjects were on to something, and it didn't stop at hair benefits. Vanilla comes in two forms and, while the flavor is exactly what it sounds, the natural oil extracted from vanilla beans is going to add shine and promote a healthy environment for hair growth by eliminating toxins that build up in our day to day life. None of that sounds plain or boring to me!
Let's talk about one of my favorite things in natural beauty: Antioxidants. Vanilla extract contains specific antioxidants that are vital in anti-aging skin benefits. According to sources at Style Craze, these antioxidants can soothe wrinkles, heal damaged skin, and likely spice up an otherwise smelly anti-aging face mask. Of course, you want to be purchasing the right kind of vanilla because most vanilla flavorings are just imitation, so don't contain any of real vanilla's benefits. It may be tempting to purchase vanilla flavoring because of its cheap cost, but save that for a treat for your stomach instead of a treat for your face.
According to Livestrong, studies have found pure vanilla extract has substantial anti-inflammatory properties which means us babes prone to breakouts can give those pimples a serious ass-whoopin' by including it in our face regimen. Of course, the anti-inflammatory benefits aren't limited to our face — our scalp loves them too! With all those B vitamins and vanilla's natural ability to fight off free radicals, it's going to make for some super delicious hair treatments.
These super easy recipes below can start your path to smelling delicious and looking naturally decadent.
1. Vanilla Milk Hair Shine Treatment
This hair treatment is great for all hair types. My take on the recipe involves two easily obtained ingredients: 18 drops of pure vanilla extra and a cup of coconut milk. After mixing gingerly, apply on clean, soaking wet locks for about 15 minutes, paying close attention to your scalp. Rinse out and use your favorite, natural leave-in conditioner to seal in all that moisture.
2. Vanilla Shea Hair Growth Treatment
Another great way to get shine encourage growth from stubborn follicles is to use three tablespoons of shea butter, two teaspoons of vanilla extract, and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. This treatment is going to be heavy, so if your hair is already on the oily side, I suggest using this as a weekly treatment at night before you cleanse your hair in the morning. This recipe is totally fine to sleep with overnight, but keep your hair up and in a sleeping cap so you don't ruin any pillows. Finger comb through damp locks before bed and you'll be doing your hair treatment with your eyes closed.
3. Vanilla Nut Exfoliate
This recipe is a take on an awesome body scrub by Aura Cacia. Since exfoliating is a great way to make way for new skin cells and vanilla can also regenerate skin cells, this is the ultimate face treat. Just use 1 cup of brewed coffee grounds, two tablespoons of manuka honey, a quarter cup of macademia nut oil, and mix your ingredients in a blender. You can liquefy your honey on low heat to avoid having to pull out your blender to mix your ingredients. Next add 12 drops of lemon essential oil and 20 drops of pure vanilla extract. Gently apply all over your face and neck and rinse with warm water. Don't forget to use an SPF when you leave the house to avoid sun damage. You'll smell good enough to eat!
Image: Kim, CEBImagery, Dionysius Burton/Flickr; Giphy; Kristin Collins Jackson