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Forego pricey beauty products and squeeze on a lemon

By Toni Negas
Posted On Aug 02, 2016
Forego pricey beauty products and squeeze on a lemon

Modern ladies have much to learn from an 89-year-old beauty. Forego pricey options and squeeze on a lemon.

By Toni Negas


Mary Elizabeth Stefani is no stranger to the finer things in life. But such was not always the case.


Raised in a Catholic girls orphanage in the 1930s, Stefani was allowed very few luxuries—particularly when it came to her beauty routine. While the average woman had access to do-it-all beautifiers for hair and body, the 34 young girls at Stefani’s orphanage were relegated to natural solutions that would meet their beauty needs. Instead of shampoo, blondes resorted to a lemon rinse. Brunettes were given a bottle of vinegar to keep their locks shining. This may have seemed thrifty at the time, but many of today’s top beauty companies are employing these tried-and-true, all-natural ingredients in their formulations. Perhaps a back-to-basics approach to beauty can renew the simplicity of your own primping regimen— minus the luxury price tag.


“I don’t know why women today feel they have to purchase the most expensive products with lists of ingredients a mile long,” says Stefani, 89. “Sometimes visiting ingredients in your kitchen cupboard can enhance your appearance and maintain your beauty.”


When life gives blondes lemons, they make a hair rinse. Not only does lemon juice condition the hair and make it soft to the touch, it boosts shine, maximizes thickness, and reduces the effects of chemical-based hair products. For an easy, at-home rinse, use one full or half lemon (depending on your hair length). Always use a freshly cut lemon, as you will want to rub the inner surface of the lemon on the scalp. Apply the lemon juice all over, starting at the roots through the tips. Leave in for one hour then rinse with cold water. Brown hair beware: Lemon juice offers blondes a lightening benefit and might make brunettes brassy.


Blondes don’t have all the fun. Brunettes can spice up lackluster locks with vinegar. Many shampoos and conditioners tend to have an alkaline pH, which disturbs the natural pH of hair. A vinegar rinse helps restore this pH balance and acts as a clarifier to promote clean and shiny hair. Prepare the rinse once weekly. Vinegar may cause a degree of dryness to hair, so be sure to condition first and follow up with the vinegar rinse. To make a vinegar rinse, add 1 cup vinegar to 2 cups warm water, and work into hair. Vinegar naturally closes the cuticle scales and protects the hair, which in turn makes hair appear shiny and healthy.

Photo Credit: Sandi Fellman
(Pictured: Mary Elizabeth Stefani, the author’s grandmother, on the coast of Florida in 1951.)