Okay, folks! Here's the first in my series on natural beauty. This post deals with general face care. It should be noted that my motivation is not to reduce acne (that process deserves an entirely separate post). As someone who has struggled with acne for the past few years, I am a firm believer that diet, lifestyle, and the general treatment of skin do way more than topical applications. Of the many face products I've tried, none have delivered on their promises...at least not for very long. So when I'm choosing how to care for my face, my goal is to minimize irritants and support the natural cleansing and balancing processes of the skin.
Besides health, what are other reasons to switch to natural face care?
There are two other motivations for me. First, in my mind, harsh chemicals work against most of the things we want for our face...softness, moisture, clarity. Adding toxins that your face has to filter out just doesn't make sense. Second, many face care products strip your skin of its natural oils. In response, the skin overproduces oil, contributing to acne and oily skin. Gentle, natural products help your skin re-balance and take care of itself.
What should I expect when switching to natural face care?
Some people report increased breakouts as the skin re-balances and eliminates toxins. I can't say I experienced any major changes, but I did have to make a mental adjustment to being gentler. Not having a taut face after washing was a change!
What didn't work for me and why...
One method that I actually loved was the oil cleansing method, which mimics the skin's natural ability to clean itself with its own oils. I ultimately decided to quit, because I didn't see enough improvement that made it worth the time and effort...OCM requires mixing up your oils, and then a significant amount of time massaging your face, steaming, and wiping. Not a big deal, really, but convenience is a priority for me and I got sick of the process night after night. But it's definitely worth looking into if you've never tried it. Please just be careful about the quality of oil you use...I recommend 100% jojoba.
What I use...
Cleanser: Uncolored, unscented glycerin soap. One bar costs about $4 and lasts for a very long time. This is also typically recommended by dermatologists.
Morning moisturizer: Andalou Naturals Facial Lotion. I think I pay about $12 for this at my Whole Foods. The toxicity rating is actually fairly high (5 on Skin Deep), but this is mostly because of the chemicals used for sun protection. While it is possible to get less toxic sun protection, I like that this moisturizer is affordable and not too heavy for my face, so it's a compromise I'm willing to make...I'm a big believer in sun protection for improved aging.
Evening moisturizer: 100% jojoba oil. Jojoba oil is similar to the oil produced by our skin, so it's a great moisturizer. After washing, I feel like I am returning my skin's moisture right back to it. I use this fairly generously. You can find jojoba oil in the natural section of most grocery stores with the skin care products, and it also tends to run about $12 for a bottle.
Eye Makeup Remover: Jojoba oil again! After washing, I pour a little on a q-tip and swipe under and over my eyes to get any remaining makeup off. This is such a luxurious gift to the delicate skin of the eyes. Coconut oil is a good option here too.
Exfoliating: Rather than buy an entirely separate product for exfoliating, I just use a baby washcloth every few nights. While my face is still wet, I wet the washcloth, and then gently scrub my face in circles with it.
Lip balms: I love the sweet mint EOS lip balm, and Burt's Bees original lip balm. There are so many good, non-toxic lip balms on the market, there is really no excuse for the toxic ones!
For other face care resources, check out my sister's face mask recipe, and the plethora of resources and recipes at Crunchy Betty. There are many, many recipes for homemade cleansers, moisturizers, and lip balms on the web. Just make sure you're using high quality ingredients (e.g., pure oils and raw honey) to avoid breakouts.
With any new product, it's also a good idea to test for allergies on a small portion of the skin...but this is why I really like products with minimal chance of allergic reaction.
My next goal would be to swap my morning moisturizer for something less toxic but still great for the sun. If you have any recommendations of one, or any other great face care products, leave a comment!