NEW YORK CITY — When skincare specialist Quyen Ly ends up buying more strawberries than she can eat, she chops them up — not for a fruit salad, but for her face.
Ly, 31, became more conscious of what she was putting on her body after her son was born six years ago. Now she opts to make her own all-natural skincare products from fruit, yogurt and honey, instead of buying prepackaged masks and toners.
“After giving birth, I became more aware of chemicals, labels and health,” said Ly, an aesthetician for nine years and owner of Aloha Skin Care in Williamsburg.
“Many skincare lines you find on the market nowadays contain a lot of harmful chemicals — even those that claim to be ‘natural.’"
She is one of many New Yorkers now preferring to cleanse using items picked up at the local greenmarket.
When mashed up and applied to the face, tomatoes can shrink pores, strawberries can brighten dull skin, yogurt can reduce pimples and avocados can fight swelling, Ly and other experts said.
“Our skin is our bodies’ largest organ,” said Molly Lamb, an aesthetician and owner of Skin by Molly in Williamsburg.
“The skin absorbs whatever you put on it and it gets into your blood stream. Using natural products can aid in the overall health of your body.”
Skincare specialists aren't the only ones experimenting with all-natural spa treatments.
Ryan Becker, who was working at the Norwich Meadows Farm stand at the Union Square Greenmarket on a recent afternoon, said he and his wife, who is pregnant, often use farm-fresh ingredients for acne and ailments.
"I believe that any disease can be cured through natural means," said Becker, 28. "My wife once had an eye infection and she put a honey and yogurt mixture on her eyes and it instantly went away. I also sometimes use cinnamon — it's good for acne."
Facial masks made from fresh fruit are a fun, affordable way to get spa effects at home, said aesthetician Joanna Vargas, who founded her own skincare line and owns a spa in Midtown.
“It’s fun to do and, at the end of the day, women want things that work,” Vargas said. “You’re really going to see an instant difference in your skin.”
Here are some recipes from local aesthicians for greenmarket facials you can do at home. Skincare experts suggest testing all concoctions on a small section of skin before slathering them on your face to ensure you don't have an allergic reaction.
Yogurt and Local Honey Mask
Reduces redness and soothes sunburned skin
After a day out at the beach, Vargas recommends a mask made of organic yogurt, local honey and berries.
“Local honey will help your body become accustomed to pollen, which can further reduce inflammation, and it’s also hydrating,” Vargas said.
“I also like to mix in some berries, like strawberries or blackberries. They’re very high in antioxidants and provide vitamin C. Antioxidants reverse signs of sun damage and aging.”
1 cup of organic yogurt
1/4 cup of honey
1/4 cup of berries (strawberries, blackberries or grapes are best)
Crush the berries using a spoon or pulse in a blender. Mix in the yogurt and honey. Apply all over the face and leave for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing with cold water.
“Yogurt alone is good for any skin type,” said Vargas. “It can also reduce inflammation of pimples and kill bacteria.”
Tomato and Cucumber Toner
Reduces the size of pores and clears acne-prone skin
Tomatoes are great for enlarged pores and acne too, said Lamb, owner of Skin by Molly.
"Tomatoes have lycopene, which is a natural antioxidant," Lamb said. "The acids found in tomatoes are very purifying and help with cell turnover. With natural vitamin C, it can also help with anti-aging and collagen synthesis."
1 organic tomato
1/4 cucumber (optional for soothing effect)
Combine ingredients in a blender and apply the liquid all over the face using a cotton pad. Leave on skin for 10 minutes and then rinse with water.
Calms sensitive skin
Ingredients that are high in fatty acids are good for sensitive skin because they're gentle and fight swelling, Vargas said.
“Avocados have tons of B vitamins and get your lymphatic system moving — meaning it helps bring more nutrients to your skin cells,” she said.
To make a mask, simply mash one ripe avocado and apply it all over the face. Leave on for 10 to 15 minutes and rinse.
“Avocado also has tons of Omega 3s, which are anti-inflammatory,” Vargas said. “It’s something that somebody struggling with eczema might use, for example.”
Brightens dull skin
Strawberries work as a natural exfoliator and brighten tired skin, said Ly, the owner of Aloha Skin Care.
“Strawberries are jam-packed with vitamin C, which fights free radicals,” she said.
"Like most fruits, strawberries also have citric acid, which helps lighten up any pigmentation problems. It's also great if you want glowing and softer skin."
To create a mask, mash 10 fresh organic strawberries in a bowl and apply to clean skin. Let the mask sit for five minutes, then lightly massage with your fingertips, using a circular motion. Rinse off with cold water.
“Many people find making at-home cleansers, exfoliators or masks intimidating," Ly said, "but it’s actually pretty easy."