From the time I hit puberty until about six years ago, I dealt with a myriad of terrible skin issues. The worst of them included widespread eczema and incurable, painful acne. By the time I was about 16 years old, I had visited countless doctors and dermatologists trying to find some relief for my skin. I was prescribed just about every drug under the sun (including Accutane–a dangerous drug that should be illegal, in my opinion). Nothing worked.
After I graduated from law school I had a severe allergic reaction to Chapstick; specifically, an ingredient in Chapstick (and just about every mainstream lip balm) called petroletum. Petroletum is a semisolid mixture of hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum. In other words, it’s a refined byproduct of crude oil. Forms of petroletum commonly found in cosmetics are mineral oil, mineral jelly, petroleum jelly and paraffin. I don’t know about you, but the thought of slathering crude oil byproducts all over my lips was enough to make me want to remove it from my cosmetics line-up, even if I wasn’t allergic to it!
Anyway, once I figured out what was causing my horrible reaction, it occurred to me that if my lips were responding so severely to this stuff, and it is found in foundations and other make-up products, it would stand to reason that perhaps much of my skin trouble was actually an allergic reaction. Going on that hunch I began to eliminate all petroletum based products from my beauty routine. At the same time I delved into the giant task of educating myself on what was really in mainstream cosmetics and what I could do to switch to natural products that weren’t total crap. (All of this while studying for the bar exam, mind you. Multi-tasking at its finest, folks. It’s a wonder I passed the bar.)
It was not an easy task, but about six weeks into this experiment I began to see a drastic difference in my skin. My eczema all but disappeared and my acne magically cleared. I had never seen my skin look so beautiful. I was floored…and now addicted to finding the best natural beauty products out there.
It has taken me a long time but I have finally come up with a beauty regimine that keeps my skin healthy, happy and (mostly) blemish free (I still break out a little when I get PMS…stupid hormones). I want to share with you what I do and recommend some great products that I love.
There are two ways I wash my face. I’ll start with the simplest version.
I use a face wash called Thoroughly Clean by Desert Essence. I have found it to be the gentlest and most effective natural cleanser. It can be a little drying (it has tea tree oil which can be a bit astringent) so I don’t use it every day, especially in the winter. But it’s great at removing make-up and really cleaning your skin.
In the past year, however, I have discovered a new way of cleansing that I have come to adore. It’s called oil cleansing and its a bit more time consuming, but so worth it. Essentially, you use a nourishing oil (I use pumpkin seed oil but you can try sweet almond oil or apricot kernel oil which are both very good for skin) and rub a quarter sized amount into your dry skin (you do not have to remove your make-up first; in fact, oil removes make-up better than most non-oil cleansers!). After you’ve massaged the oil into your skin, take a very warm, moist microfiber cloth and drape it over your face. Let it sit there until it cools and then use the cloth to gently rub the oil (and your make-up) off your face. Voila! You now have clean and very nourished skin! I also rub the oil over my eyelids and lashes because it removes mascara like a boss. To learn more about oil cleansing, read this post by one of my favorite bloggers, Wellness Mama, who discusses it in greater length.
I have to tell you, I think I have tried every type of moisturizer under the sun and I found all of them lacking. Once I started researching the benefits of healthy, natural oils for the skin I realized I would have to face one of my fears–putting oil on my face. Growing up fighting all of my skin issues, I thought (and was led to believe by the beauty industry) that oil on the face = clogged pores and pizza face. What I discovered, however, is just the opposite. By stripping my skin of its natural oil, I was actually making matters worse. I learned that if I fed my skin natural, nourishing oil it would flourish, blemish free. So I began with a very gentle oil: jojoba oil. Morning and night, after washing my face, I rubbed a dime-sized amount of jojoba oil into my skin. I noticed an immediate difference: my skin soaked up the oil and felt amazing. My skin never felt greasy or dirty, like I expected it to feel. On the contrary, it felt perfect–like I was finally “feeding” it exactly what it needed.
Recently, I’ve noticed that my skin needs something a little heavier and more nourishing than jojoba (it is a very light oil) so I have switched to argan oil. I bought a little bottle from an Alaskan company called Taproot Farms and, so far, I am amazed by this oil. It is so rich and my skin just soaks it up and looks clear and healthy. I am impressed and highly recommend Taproot Farms Argan Oil!
Gentle Facial Exfoliation
Let me start by saying I don’t believe your face needs regular exfoliation. Just the act of rubbing your face with a towel after washing is exfoliation enough on a daily basis. But, I am a fan of doing just a bit more every now and then. However, it still needs to be a very gentle method of exfoliation or you’ll do more harm than good.
Enter the Squeaky Clean Pore Cleansing Brush by Sephora. Seriously, y’all, this little thing is awesome. The bristles are soft and, at first, I honestly thought it wasn’t doing anything because it was so gentle. But after I was done using it, my skin felt soft and clean. I love this little tool and apparently so do a lot of women because Sephora can barely keep them on the shelves!
Just like your face, your body needs healthy, nourishing oils to thrive. Taking a shower or soaking in a tub is very drying due to the minerals in the water and the heat from the steam. Replenishing your skin is essential. My favorite way to do this is with my own concoction of apricot kernel oil with a few drops of Wild Orange essential oil mixed in. It smells divine and feels wonderful on my skin. Again, it’s not greasy once you let it soak in a bit.
Lately, I’ve heard good things about the Vitamin C Body Oil by One Love Organics. I am very tempted to give it a try. There’s a hefty price tag, though, so I haven’t quite yet bit the bullet on it. Maybe an early Mother’s Day gift to myself? Hmmm. If I try it, I’ll let you know how I like it.
There you have it: my natural skincare routine and recommendations. Since implementing these simple changes to my routine I have had very few issues with acne and once chronic eczema has disappeared. I can’t encourage people enough to get rid of the chemical-laden beauty products and switch to all natural products…it is so worth it!
What natural products have you found works for you? Anything you absolutely adore? I’d love to hear about it!