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The Kozak Family Beauty Hacks

October 20, 2014 Written by | No Comments


I was born in Mielec, Poland. Although I moved to NYC at a very young age, I spent many summers in Poland. Throughout this time my extended family has given me hundreds of life tips. Have you seen the movie, My Big Fat Greek wedding? My family is like that, but Polish. Most of their advice frankly makes me burst into fits of laughter. My grandmothers life advice typically along the lines of “No man will marry a woman that doesn’t know how to make a Pierogi from scratch” often old fashioned and silly but I do wonder how much of it, I should actually take to heart. Below, is a list of the various beauty hacks I have picked up from my Polish family over the years.Some sound silly, some practical and some downright insane. Lucky for you, I have tested them all and seen results. Welcome to the Kozak family, below you will find my favorite tips:

Potato Face Masks
Potatoes are a staple in every Polish person’s diet. I shudder at the amount of starch I was fed as a child. My job as fourteen, aside from cleaning every inch of my bedroom until every surface was so spotless you could eat off of it, was to peel the potatoes for dinner. Once in a while, after I peeled the potatoes my mother would grab the skins and stick them on her face. I stared at her like she was a zoo animal and rolled my eyes every time she did this, fearing a friend would come over and discover my family’s strange Polish quirks. My mother says her own mother taught her this trick. It wasn’t until a few years later that I noticed how smooth my mother’s skin was. My own skin patchy and blemished at the time, I gave in and covered my face in potatoes. It felt ridiculous but, you know what? It works! This face mask is incredible for scarring, wrinkles and uneven skin tone. The best part? It’s cheap! The more frequently you use it, the better your results will be. Simply scrub a potatoes clean, peel them and place the strips on you face (fleshy whit park against the skin) for 30 minutes. You can also mash the skins into a paste beforehand I have done it both ways. I still do this every once in a while when my skin is just not looking as great as I’d like it. The results always surprise me. My grandmother and mother highly recommend it.

Algae Water
Now stay with me, this one is a little strange. My grandfather has been drinking algae every day for as long as I can remember. In his seventies, he is one of the healthiest people I know, every morning at sunrise he wakes up and has a glass before doing his morning pushups. The man has never been severely ill, is a retired soldier, farmer and world traveler. He looks at least 15 years younger than his actual age. He even grows his own algae at home. The type of algae is called Spirulina and contains all of the amino acids that any body needs. It is also filled with protein. Recently the algae has become popular among green juice drinkers but I know it as, the strange green water my grandfather drinks. According to,
“Blue-green algae are used as a source of dietary protein, B-vitamins, and iron. They are also used for weight loss, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), hay fever, diabetes, stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and other women’s health issues. Some people use blue-green algae for treating precancerous growths inside the mouth, boosting the immune system, improving memory, increasing energy and metabolism, lowering cholesterol, preventing heart disease, healing wounds, and improving digestion and bowel health.”
I guess he was on to something all along! Spirulina is sold in health food stores and can be mixed into water or a smoothie and is considered a super food. Recently, I bought some of my own and added it into my daily routine as an ode to my grandfather. I like to mix it into a smoothie with a bannana, an apple, what ever berries I have on hand, spinach and ice. Yum!

Throughout the years I have bought my mother a variety of face creams as birthday or Christmas. Her medicine cabinet is filled with glasses of jars of face cream. This is because, she absolutely refuses to stray away from her beloved Nivea. This little tin is her holy grail. It is an ultra thick white creme with a unique smell. The smell immediately brings me backs to childhood, as I used to love watching her apply her skincare products and makeup. She uses Nivea as a makeup remover, a face cream, a body lotion, a lip balm and a foot cream. You can always count of her to carry a tin of it in her purse and keep a jar on her night stand. Last year, I read this article, about a woman who tests this cream against infamously expensive Crème de La Mer, and the results were amazing. The ultra-cheap Nivea was the winner. I typically use the cream in the colder months and switch to the lighter version in the winter. I have read that Kate Winslet and Reese Witherspoon swear by this blue tin and I wonder if they apply it as religiously as my mother. I would recommend this creme to anyone with dry skin, when I apply this creme before bed I wake up looking as if I had 12 hours of sleep. My skin appears ultra plumped and baby smooth. What can I say? Mother knows best.

What sort of crazy beauty tips has your family recommended to you? Spill those family secrets!

Categories: Advice and Tips · Beauty Hacks · Career · D-I-Y · Fashion · Nivea · Polish · Potatoes · Reviews · Skin care · Spirulina