Common Foods and Oils to Use in Your Natural Skin Care Routine
A Natural Skin Care Routine
If you go to the store to buy skin care products, you know that it's expensive to keep your skin healthy. And it seems the more budget-friendly a product is, the more toxic chemicals it includes. A natural skin care routine is a great way to reduce your exposure to many of these chemicals and keep cash in your pocket.
I went to a holistic chiropractor years back for advice on how to relieve my painful tension migraines. He told me a simple way to relax your head when a tension headache strikes: simply stretch your palm and fingers horizontally across your forehead.
He went on to say that most people won't take the time to do it because it doesn't cost anything. "If I told people that I have a migraine-relieving technique that costs $5,000 to learn," he said, "they would believe that it works. But since it's free and easy, no one believes in its effectiveness."
This method did help to ease my tension headaches, but I didn't experience a real cure until I left my ex-husband. But I digress . . .
The point is, you can find natural treatments and personal hygiene products that are less expensive, less complicated, and less toxic.
You won't spend much money--and the application may even seem strange at first--but you'll find that nature knows a lot more than a laboratory when it comes to healthy skin.
Toxic Chemicals are Difficult to Avoid
Even organic products are suspect. Several years ago, I sold dietary supplements in a health food store. I learned that ingredients listed as "natural" aren't necessarily natural at all; in other words, a product line might list something as a natural ingredient--like a seed extract or something--when actually it's the same chemical that you would find in a conventional product at the drug store.
We tend to downplay the dangers of many chemicals found in body care products today. The truth is that most of the 3,000 high-production volume (HPV) chemicals that are found in products from soaps and toothpastes to detergents and food packaging haven't been tested for human safety.
And research shows that virtually each American has about 200 of these chemicals in his or her bloodstream.
What impact does this chemical soup floating around in our bodies have on our health? That's anyone's guess. But according to recent research published in Environmental Health Perspectives, several of these toxins are strongly associated with issues like autism, ADHD, and learning disabilities.
If you want to know more about the chemicals contained in certain health and beauty products, check out the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database.
Make Your Alpha Hydroxy Acids from Scratch
- How to Make Homemade Yogurt Without a Yogurt Maker
I love making my counter-top yogurt at home: it saves a ton of money, reduces waste, tastes amazing, and contains nothing but organic whole milk. I originally purchased the villi yogurt culture from Cultures for Health.
Raw honey is loaded with enzymes and nutrients. It's a proven anti-bacterial and anti-viral. It's even better if you can find a local supplier.
Yogurt & Raw Honey Mask
For an effective natural skin care routine, you can't get much better than alpha hydroxy acids. These healing acids can be found in a variety of different foods.
Alpha hydroxy acids improve the health and appearance of your skin by
- removing dead skin cells
- softening acne scars
- reversing sun damage
It seems that alpha hydroxy acids thicken the lower layers of skin as they remove dead skin. This smooths out wrinkles and signs of aging.
Yogurt contains lactic acid, which is an excellent alpha hydroxy acid for sensitive skin. Of course, if you have a history of very sensitive skin, you should test a spot on your neck to see if it causes a reaction. If your skin seems to handle it well, you can use the yogurt over your entire face as a mask.
Raw honey is a natural way to get rid of the infectious bacteria that cause blemishes. It gives your skin a nice deep cleaning without stripping oils and causing dryness.
You can use whole, plain, sugar-free Greek yogurt for your mask. I use my homemade yogurt by spooning about a tablespoon into a bowl before I eat the rest of it. Not too much work in that.
I had some trouble with small blemishes and rough skin on the sides of my neck. I started using this yogurt mask and the problem was gone, almost immediately. It has markedly improved the texture and appearance of my skin.
If you want to make some in advance to use throughout the week, combine:
- 1/4 cup yogurt
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
Mix them together with a spoon or clean fingertips.
Make sure your hands are clean when you use it. You want to keep your ingredients free of harmful bacteria.
Keep the mixture refrigerated. Make a fresh batch after several days.
Plus also, don't get any up your nose or you'll regret it later.
Use Apple Cider Vinegar With the "Mother"
I love Dr. Bronner's soaps, especially the lavender. I've been bathing my little one with this soap since she was a newborn. Add a couple tablespoons to a spray bottle and fill with water to stretch it out.
Apple Cider Vinegar Toner
Apples also contain alpha hydroxy acid in the form of malic acid. Apple cider vinegar can be used as a toner to exfoliate and restore your skin's pH balance. It also works well as a spot treatment for blemishes.
You might have a reaction to apple cider vinegar if you have sensitive skin. Dilute it by adding three parts water to one part vinegar. In other words,
- Add one tablespoon apple cider vinegar to a measuring cup
- Fill with water up to the 1/4 cup mark
You can store this in a travel bottle, small spray bottle, or other handy, clean container.
Test your reaction by dabbing some of the mixture on your neck. If you don't have any redness or soreness after several minutes, you're good.
Use a cotton ball to apply the apple cider vinegar mixture around your face and neck. Let it dry for several minutes.
Apple cider vinegar has a strong smell, so if it bothers you simply rinse it off at this point.
I have a 50/50 mixture (apple cider vinegar and water) in a spray bottle in my shower. I use it as a conditioner since I've gone no 'poo (no, I'm not constipated: that means no shampoo), so I spray some in my hand and rub it over my face and neck.
A half and half mixture is pretty strong, but since my face is already wet, the mixture becomes more diluted. It works well for me. I share this in case you go no 'poo and perhaps you'd like to use your apple cider vinegar on your face during your shower.
This is also convenient if you have blemishes on your back. You can spray it directly on your back to clear it up.
Just be very careful not to get any in your eyes. Please. It burns. So I hear.
Raw, organic apple cider vinegar is crazy-useful and healthy. I add one tablespoon to a glass of water every morning. I also add a little bit of raw honey to the mix. If you like tangy drinks like kombucha, you will really enjoy this one. Taking apple cider vinegar internally like this supports skin health from the inside.
I don't know why, but this drink cut my morning coffee craving. So if you're trying to reduce your caffeine intake or stop the coffee altogether, give this a try to please let me know what you think.
A friend of mine recently struggled with recurrent strep throat, and antibiotics couldn't touch it. She tried an apple cider vinegar remedy as a last resort, and it quickly knocked out the strep. So drink your apple cider vinegar to fight off those bugs that are always floating around while taking care of your skin.
Natural Oils to Moisturize
For those of us with dry or *ahem* mature skin, virgin coconut oil makes an awesome moisturizer. It is also a natural anti-bacterial.
Coconut oil might cause breakouts for those who have acne-prone skin. For a natural moisturizer that won't cause blemishes, jojoba oil is an excellent choice. It is as close to human sebum (our natural skin oils) as you can get, and jojoba won't clog pores or promote pimples.
You may also use virgin olive oil as a moisturizer. A little bit goes a long way.
I use olive oil by applying it to my legs and arms after a shower before drying off. I have very dry skin, and this method works well for me. Much better than using lotions.
Unrefined Coconut Oil
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Castor Oil for Oil Cleansing
The Oil Cleansing Method
"Do not be afraid of applying oil to your face. Oil, alone, will not bring you blemishes. Pimples, cysts, zits, blackheads, whiteheads...these are a result of several different factors including hormones, bacteria, dead skin cells and the buildup of these factors. Your skin naturally produces oil because it needs it. It is not a malicious force to be reckoned with; it is there for the benefit of your skin, allowing your largest organ to function properly. It is naturally occurring. Not only does your natural oil help lubricate, it also heals, protects, and moisturizes your skin so that it may function properly. Properly functioning skin is beautiful, clear, and glowing. Learning to work with your skin, not against it, will save you tremendously." -Stephanie, The Oil Cleansing Method
The thought of spreading oil on your face for washing might seem more than a little bit counterintuitive.
But--as you will soon learn when you try the oil cleansing method--oil dissolves oil.
This is why Dawn is used to wash off the ducks and other wildlife after an oil spill: Dawn contains petroleum. The oil dissolves the oil.
The oil cleansing method is a great way to detoxify your skin. You don't need to use this technique every day--in fact, that would dry out your skin too much. Instead, use your oil mixture to do a deep cleaning once a week.
You need two oils to use this deep cleaning home facial technique. The crucial oil in this mixture will be castor oil. You can find it in health food stores, in the laxative aisle of a department store (yeah, you don't want to drink the stuff), and of course, online.
The other oil, or secondary oil, is basically your preference. You can use sunflower oil, but I personally prefer to avoid vegetable oils even if I'm not eating them. So I use extra virgin olive oil. You could also use your jojoba oil for this one.
If you have dry skin, you will use less castor oil; if you have oily skin, you can use more.
I use a small travel-sized bottle to store my oil mixture. A small glass bottle would be even better. Be sure to clean your bottle out with hot, soapy water and rinse well. You don't want any bacteria hanging around, or soap residue.
So if you have dry skin, use about one-tenth castor oil and nine-tenths secondary oil. If you have oily skin, you can use about one-third castor oil and two-thirds secondary oil.
I use about a quarter castor oil and three fourths olive oil because my skin is all over the place. It's worked well so far.
That might sound confusing, but really it's just an estimate. You can eyeball-it because there are no exact measurements. And you can always adjust the ratio as you figure out what's best for your skin.
There is no need to remove your makeup or wash before you start the oil cleansing method. It will pull all of the makeup and toxins off and out of your skin.
So get a clean, soft washcloth and your oil mixture, and let's go to the bathroom sink.
- Shake the bottle to make sure the oil is mixed well.
- Pour some of your oil mixture into your hand over the sink.
- Massage the oil over your face and neck. Pay extra attention to problem areas. Take your time and relax as you rub the oil in for several minutes.
- Rinse your washcloth with very warm water. Get it as hot as you can without burning yourself. The steam will pull toxins from your skin. Rinse the cloth and lay it over your face. Rinse it again and hold it to your neck. I do this several times--it is so relaxing.
- Gently wipe away any excess oil. Don't scrub!
- Moisturize with a drop or two of the oil if your skin feels tight and dry after cleansing. You may also use one of the moisturizing oils that we talked about earlier.
The oil cleansing method is a great way to cleanse before you go to bed. You may use the yogurt & honey mask and/or apple cider vinegar toner for your morning face wash.
Natural Skin Care: Healthy for the Skin and the Budget
Using natural products in your skin care routine is an excellent way to cut costs and reduce your exposure to toxins. The best part is that these techniques are often more effective than store-bought concoctions. If you have any other simple products that you use in your natural skin care routine, please share in the comments!
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