Carrots have a bevy of benefits to offer your skin and hair; applied topically, antioxidants may help protect you from age-accelerating sun damage while vitamins A, C and E encourage the growth of skin cells. Before you can include this wonder veggie in your homemade dry-skin treatment or leave-in conditioner, you'll have to capture its essence in the form of an oil, which takes just a bit of slicing, drying and storing.
Fill a large pot with clean water and bring it a gentle boil. Boil a tinted glass jar and its lid for about five minutes to disinfect the container, then allow it to cool and air-dry completely.
Run your carrots under warm water and scrub them thoroughly with a produce brush for about a minute. Stick with organic carrots if possible to avoid chemicals in your DIY cosmetics.
Slice the carrots into very thin strips by carefully running a vegetable peeler vertically down the length of each veggie. Slice about one cup's worth of carrots, then plunge the slices into ice-cold water.
Remove the slices from the ice water and spread them out over clean paper towels. Use a hair dryer to blow-dry the carrots or place them near a sunny window to air-dry until they are completely free of excess moisture. In either case, you'll have to flip the slices as needed -- typically about halfway through the drying process -- to dry them thoroughly.
Place the carrot slices in your disinfected jar and cover them with a natural fruit- or vegetable-derived oil of your choice. Coconut, rosehip, safflower, almond or sunflower oil all do the trick here, for example. Seal the jar tightly and place it in a shaded, cool area free from direct sunlight or constant temperature changes -- a dark, temperate cupboard does the trick.
Allow the jar to rest for about two to three weeks, gently shaking its contents daily. After a few weeks, open the jar and cover it with a coffee filter. Strain the carrot oil through the filter into another disinfected tinted glass jar -- it's now ready to add to your favorite homemade face mask, lotion or hair treatment.
There's no need to peel the carrots before slicing them, as the veggie's peel contains plenty of skin- and hair-friendly vitamins and nutrients.
Stored in a cool, dark place without major variations in temperature, carrot oil can last for up to 12 months. An unpleasant, rubbery smell and a bitter aftertaste indicate rancid oil; dispose of any carrot oil that has become rancid.
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Dan combines his decade-long experience as a freelance writer and small business owner with hands-on experience in fashion, mixology, media production and more. Previously, he's published with Chron.com, Charlotte's Book, LIVESTRONG, Civilized Life, Hunker, Fortune, Salon.com, Out East Rose, Samsung, USA Today and others.