Starting a Natural Skincare Routine
Youthful glow, dewy complexion, ageless...just a few of the goals of skincare. The anti-aging industry is one of the largest within the beauty world, and it seems to grow exponentially everyday. Serums, peels, soaks, masks, creams, gels...the list keeps going of items meant to trap youth in a bottle, our fountain of youth. But what are in these products?
CHEMICALS. So many chemicals that I will not list them here, as it differs between products and brands, but suffice to say that if you cannot pronounce it or find it on the periodic table, then maybe your should not let it sink into your skin.
Now, having said that I will admit a dark secret to you: I used to work in the beauty industry. I used and recommended some serious products to multitudes of customers, believing that I was helping them achieve their aesthetic goals.
Growing older, I realize that between food, cleaning products, and skin care, I was exposing myself to too many chemicals everyday. I switched out my cleaners for natural alternatives, cleaned up my diet of processed foods, and most of all, trashed my dirty skincare for something better.
SafeCosmetics.org's list of Chemicals of Concern
- Chemicals of Concern - Safe Cosmetics
SafeCosmetics.org works to make sure that consumers are aware of the ingredients and their implications in cosmetic products. Being aware of what you are putting onto your skin is your first step in revamping your skincare routine.
Always wash your face before bed. I don't care if you just spent your last bit of energy getting a cab home from that ridiculous rave, wash off all your makeup and grime. Nothing ruins your skin like not keeping it clean.
I have purchased no less than 500 facial cleansers in my less-than-30 years. Did most of them work? No. Were they cheap? Oh no. Creamy cleansers left me oily, oil-free cleanser left me dry. Fragrance makes me break out, and “harsh” antiagers (like Retinol or acidic additives) fry my skin.
So like so many before me, I asked my mother what to do.
And let me clarify- my mother has amazing skin. She is in her 60s now, with the most minimal of wrinkles, rarely if ever wears foundation, and things are smooth, firm, and youthful. She has stuck to the same beauty routine most of my life: homemade soap, a toner, and a thick moisturizer.
Soaps For Sale
A natural soap with oatmeal and honey is great for sensitive skin. You may want to up your moisturizer when using a bar soap, as it can feel more harsh when you first start using it, but will improve as your skin adjusts.
If you have never bought home made soap, go get some now. Try farmer's markets, craft shows, Amish and Mennonite community stores, and health food stores. My personal favorites are goats' milk, oatmeal, and lye.
Goats' Milk: Creamy, moisturizing, personally too heavy for everyday use. If you are prone to dry skin, I highly recommend it.
Oatmeal: The classic itch reliever. Great for sensitive skin, allergies, mosquito bites, etc. I prefer it scented with dried herbs or essential oils, as it can sometimes smell a little....hot cereal-y.
Lye: You have probably heard horror stories about lye, but I entreat you to take a middle school science course on the subject. Yes, lye can be terribly harsh, and mixed with water, can burn the living nonsense out of you. BUT, when treated properly, the harshness disappears and lye becomes emollient rich and cleansing. It will not burn your skin, unless you are allergic to some other ingredient in the mix.
Lye soap is what I use every morning and most nights. It eliminates oil, softens skin, and shrinks my pores like whoa. I even bathe with it, when out of shower gel (or traveling! Great to carry just one product for face and body!)
I use lye soap every morning, so what do I use at night? Honey.
That's right. Raw, natural, unfiltered, local honey. I slather a small amount (less than nickel-sized) onto my face before getting in the shower. It will feel strange the first time, I know. So much of my childhood was devoted to keeping me from spreading sticky foods on my face, that it seems entirely wrong to do so intentionally as an adult. But do it anyway.
Get in the shower, and allow the steam to begin to melt the honey. It will be an unusual feeling. Basically, the honey will soak into your skin. It will not feel “clean” in the soap-and-water sense; it will remove the dirt and oil, leaving soft, smooth skin, but doesn't strip natural oils like so many commercial cleaners.
Honey has made my skin glow like I am in a perfume commercial. However, be careful not to get water into your honey supply, as it can spoil. I use a squeeze bottle at the sink, and keep the lid on tight when the room steams up.
Make Your Own Toner
- In a small bottle, pour 2-3 tablespoons of witch hazel
- with a roughly equal amount of lemon juice.
- Top with ¼ cup of water, shake to combine.
- Dilute with more water if the lemon juice stings or causes excessive redness.
- Apply with a cotton pad morning and night, after cleansing but before moisturizing.
My mother never puts on moisturizer without toning her face before. Until recently, she used a very popular commercial toner on her face, and wanted something better. So I gave her my natural recipe.
First, though, why a toner? Toners help to shrink pores and prep the skin to fully absorb a moisturizer. It can tone the color, texture, and firmness of the skin, and a good one can make you glow even more.
I make mine in small batches, as natural ingredients can expire faster, since they lack many of the modern preservatives for shelf-life. One small bottle will last 3-4 weeks, so I typically make a fresh batch every month.
This will become addictive. You will not believe the glow in your cheeks, the softness of your complexion. This stuff makes me feel like an heiress of some kind, but without any chemical dependency. (Ha!)
Cleansing: complete. Toned like a pro. Next step? Moisturizer.
There are thousands of ways to moisturize your freshly cleansed, toned skin, and products to suit every lifestyle and price point.
You may feel more comfortable purchasing a pre-made moisturizer from a health-food store (look for limited ingredients and organic if possible). That's fine. I won't judge you. But...I will share my personal preference.
You read correctly. The all-time best moisturizer I have ever used, that has decreased all my lines, spots, uneven color, EVERYTHING, is an oil. Not oil-based, not oil-free, but straight up organic, unrefined cold-pressed coconut oil.
It is light, but deep reaching. A tiny bit goes a long way, and a tablespoon is probably enough to coat your entire body. It is solid at room temperature, but melts on your skin. It may feel greasy for a few moments, but let it finish soaking in and you are good to go.
(It also lets foundation glide on smoother than glass!)
But you may be asking, what about anti-aging? Sure, I have great luck with the anti-aging benefits of the products I've mentioned, but everyone is a little different. Just because my youthful skin responds well to coconut oil, does not mena that it will remove deeper lines and darker spots. But do not fear.
Natural anti-aging products DO exist! For a simple add in, Vitamin E oil is great. A drop rubbed into lines can help to lessen them over a few weeks. I use it for deeper lines around my mouth, and across my forehead.
Adding essential oils can increase the anti-aging properties of your regiment. Rosemary, lavender, lemon, and frankincense are all great oils for creating and keeping a youthful appearance.
Of course, just like with the moisturizer, you can buy a pre-made anti-aging product. I am a fan of plant stem cells in a purchased product.
I love this cream! When I need something stronger than my usual regiment, this takes the cake. It smells great, goes on weightlessly, ,and I see real improvement in my skin within a week.
Which step do you forget the most often in your daily routine?
Skin care should be simple...and it is. The basic tenets for good skin are cleanse, tone, and moisturize. Easy, right? If you follow it to a T it is! And even better than just following the directions are to pave your own path- find the regimen that is right for you and steer clear of ingredients that you do not want or need.