Transitioning to natural self-care products has played a major role in my health quest over the past couple of years. What we put on our skin is absorbed into the blood stream and, thus, can be almost as important as the food we put in our mouths. I have experimented with a number of products, from Aveda (not so natural) to Alba to Jason to homemade formulas and a bunch more in between. Recently, I seem to have stumbled upon a combination that truly works for me without breaking the budget. My skin, though not perfect, feels softer and looks clearer more consistently than ever before. I cannot attribute this only to my diet or to age because I notice obvious changes for the worse when I use other products or cleansing methods, whether due to travel or to my misguided desire to use up my old products in an effort not to waste anything. Obviously, what works for me will not work for everyone else, and, for that matter, what works for me now will likely need tweaking as I age and experience major hormonal changes (e.g., bearing children). That said, some of these ideas and product lines may give you a great place to start if you’re new to the idea of natural skin care.
For the record, I have very sensitive, moderately oily skin that is prone to mild breakouts.
Face: Night Routine
I started using the oil cleansing method (OCM) a few months ago after reading about it on several blogs (including Keeper of the Home), and I have been so impressed! It leaves my skin feeling sofresh and soft. Best of all, it has reduced my breakouts. I didn’t think so for a while, but when I returned to some of my old sensitive skin cleanser to be a good girl and use it up, I got more blemishes. This persisted during my usual “clear time” of the month. Then, I returned to the OCM just in time for my “breakout time” of the month, but my skin actually became clearer! Crazy.
So what does the OCM entail? To begin, I mixed up a batch of 25% high quality castor oil from the health food store and 75% extra virgin olive oil. I placed this mix in an old cleanser pump bottle that I had thoroughly cleaned with super hot soap and water and a rinse of rubbing alcohol (you don’t want bacteria growing in your cleanser!).
Every night, I wash my hands, dry them, and dispense 1-1/2 pumps of oil into my hand (just larger than a quarter). I rub my hands together to warm the oil, then I massage it onto my dry face, concentrating on the oiliest, most breakout-prone areas. I do this slowly and purposefully; I find it very relaxing.
Next, I take a regular face cloth (washed and dried without fragrances) and wet it with very hot water–as hot as I can get it from my faucet. I wring it out, turn my face toward the ceiling, and drape the cloth over my face and part of my neck. I gently press it into my skin as the steam opens up my pores. When it begins to cool, I draw it off of my face, taking most of my makeup with it. I don’t find it necessary to scrub at all, though I do apply mild pressure. After rinsing the cloth thoroughly in hot water, I repeat this process two more times. My skin feels amazing afterwards! It is soft and dewey. I don’t even find it necessary to dry it with a towel.
Finally, I apply an exfoliating serum to my skin. The Gogi Azeliac Clarifying Serum from Skin by Ann Webb works wonders for me. Although Ann Webb products are not yet part of the Skin Deep database, I whittled away one evening entering ingredient after ingredient into their search engine. It appears that, as claimed, Ann Webb products are remarkably clean. I was fortunate enough to receive a free consulation with Webb when she visited a local Whole Foods, and she really impressed me with her knowledge and commitment to natural products. Based in Austin, Texas, Webb is creating quite a stir in the natural skin care world. The best part? Her products last forever (5 months, no kidding) and are very affordable. I couldn’t be more pleased. I never thought I needed a serum, but the Gogi serum, containing azeliac acid, goji berries, retinol, salicylic acid, and lactic acid has noticeably improved the smoothness and clearness of my skin. (Visit the Skin by Ann Webb websitefor more information, helpful hints on preventing acne, local retailers, and online ordering.)
That’s all I do at night. I should note that many people who use the OCM simply apply a dab of the oil mix or virgin coconut oil to their skin as a moisturizer. I tried this myself, but it didn’t work for me. My skin texture deteriorated into a strange combination of dry, bumpy patches and slick, oily patches. You may wish to try this method, however, particularly if you have normal to dry skin. I know that it works for Lindsay of Passionate Homemaking. To learn more about the OCM, including why it works, different oils you can use, and how to adapt it to your skin type, visit this great website.
Face: Morning Routine
Since I perform such a thorough cleansing at night, I keep my morning routine simple. First, I exfoliate my wet skin with either a dab of baking soda and water or simply a warm, wet cloth. Then, I pat my skin dry with a towel and apply the Pomegranate Protection moisturizer from Skin by Ann Webb. This is the only moisturizer with SPF I’ve ever tolerated. It never feels greasy, and it absorbs quickly, providing a perfect amount of hydration for my skin. I have often found that moisturizers designed for oily skin are too drying, while those designed for normal to dry skin are too greasy. This one is just right.
Since I’m not sold on the necessity of sunscreen for daily wear, I may experiment with some SPF-free lotions in the future, but for now, I’m quite content with this one. It’s the best I’ve found so far.
We currently use an old pump dispenser filled halfway with Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile All-One Peppermint Soap and halfway with water. When applied to one of those loopy-things (Bath & Body calls it a “sponge,” while The Body Shop calls it a “bath lily”), it forms a rich lather. I love that the soap is free-trade, organic, and made of perfectly non-toxic ingredients. The peppermint flavor provides the additional perk of waking me up in the morning, which is something I definitely require. (For other uses for Dr. Bronner’s soaps and for more information on where to buy it, see my earlier post on the topic.)
Alas, I have not yet found the perfect lotion for my body. I currently use two Jason lotions, but I can’t whole-heartedly recommend them because of some questionable ingredients (at least, questionable according to Skin Deep). That said, they are far better than the traditional petroleum-based lotions, so Jason lotions make a great first step. The products contain no parabens, mineral oils, petroleum products, waxes, or animal products. They are also affordable, easy to find, and very effective. I adore the E.F.A. lotion, and their Aloe Vera lotion is pretty awesome too. We buy Jason products through Vitacost, an online company that gives steep discounts and a flat shipping rate.
Whew! I hope that was helpful. I’m going to go lie down. I had my wisdom teeth removed yesterday, and I’m feeling rather icky from the pain meds. Vicodin loves me not.
For more great Works for Me Wednesday ideas, visit Rocks in My Dryer.
Going No ‘Poo: Bye Bye, Shampoo!
Products I Like: Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap
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