Saturday mornings, when I was too young to even read, I would wake up and scamper into the kitchen to find my daddy making his famous homemade doughnuts. After he cooked these amazing pastries in hot grease, my job was to put the freshly fried doughnuts in a paper bag full of powered sugar and shake, shake, shake. When my dad wasn’t looking, you bet I would sneak a big pinch of sugar.

As his official helper, I saw the whole process, beginning to end, which means I was privy to the location where the cane sugar, cinnamon and powdered sugar. When it was quiet, I would tiptoe into the kitchen, pull up a chair, open the cabinet, and pull out the yellow box containing the sweetest, most delicious concoction known to little girls. One problem though — the yellow box of powdered sugar looked almost identical to the yellow box of cornstarch. After one mouthful of what tasted like crushed aspirin, I could not fathom what evil person would put bitter chalk in the same type of box that held such sugary sweetness. Why in the name of Dunkin Donuts, I wondered, would someone ever willingly use cornstarch?

Well, it’s taken me 20 years to answer that question — I must admit I held a grudge — but in the end, cornstarch has made up for its cruel childhood joke in the most unexpected ways, transitioning from the kitchen into the hearts and cosmetic bags of diehard makeup artists with ease.

Cornstarch makes its beauty routine debut with face primer. The idea is basic enough — just as a good paint job starts with a good primer, face primer readies your skin for makeup application by smoothing lines, filling in pores and controlling your skin’s natural oils to ensure your foundation goes on smooth and stays put all day. A decent primer can run anywhere from $10-$15 for drugstore brands to upward of $50 for a designer brand product.


  • ½ teaspoon all-natural chapstick
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 ½ teaspoons liquid foundation
  • Couple of drops aloe vera (optional)

Place the chapstick in a bowl of warm water to soften. Remove from water and mix it with the remaining ingredients. You can also add a few drops of sunscreen if your foundation lacks SPF. Store in an airtight container.

For its second act, cornstarch will keep you on trend by transforming the topcoat of any regular nail polish into that oh-so-chic matte finish dominating runways right now. Want to try this trend at home? This simple recipe goes on clear and dries like frosted glass — insta-fabulous.


  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Clear nail polish
  • Wax paper

Paint nails with any color as usual and let dry. Pour a few drops of clear polish on wax paper, add a pinch of cornstarch and mix well. Immediately brush mixture on dried nails.

After perfecting your complexion and updating your nails, you might be thinking cornstarch has repaid its debt and should be allowed back into the kitchen to help out with the sweet and sour chicken. But remember that little girl in pajamas and pigtails, a dreamer with an innocent outlook of life and a mouthful of cornstarch. Doesn’t she deserve just a little more compensation?

So for its grand finale, cornstarch will now win the hearts of late runners and snooze hitters everywhere with this effortless time saver — dry shampoo.


  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (for brunettes)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (for redheads)

Mix all ingredients together. Apply to hair using a clean, dry makeup brush. Brush power through hair and store leftover in an airtight container.

Every time I see that yellow box, I remember my dad waking up early on the weekends to fry up homemade donuts for me and my sister, me in the chair next to him shake, shake, shaking that brown bag of sugar. My dad doesn’t know of my heated feud against cornstarch, and he never has to now that we’ve put our differences behind us.