We give so much time and attention to what we put in our bodies, and rightfully so, but how much thought do we give what we put ON our bodies? Our skin is our largest organ, absorbing about 64% of what we put on it into our blood stream, according to the American Journal of Public Health. Studies from this same journal also cite that the face is several times more permeable and that areas on the body near the lymph nodes such as the underarms and, um, nether regions, have a 100% absorption rate through the skin!
On any given day, the average woman uses upwards of 16 beauty and skin care products containing over 168 unique ingredients. Men, on the other hand, use an average of 6 products daily with over 85 unique ingredients according to the Environmental Working Group. These chemical components include not only ingredients that can irritate the skin, but carcinogens such as formaldehyde that can contribute to cancer formation and endocrine disruptors like parabens, phthalates, triclosan and oxybenzone that can cause hormonal imbalances (which also contributes to allergies, auto-immune issues, and cancer). All of these chemicals end up being processed in our liver, which is already taxed dealing with environmental toxins we can’t avoid along with chemicals, saturated-fat, and hormones in our food (if you’re eating a Standard American Diet).
Save the liver!
5 virtual points if you can name that movie.
Then there is the catchall term “fragrance” which can hide more than 5,000 unique ingredients that are synthetic, preservative, or allergy causing in nature. The FDA does not require the labeling of individual fragrance ingredients, nor does it require cosmetic products and ingredients to be approved before they go on the market, for that matter.
** runs to bathroom to check all skin care product labels **
The good news is that you can absolutely find safe, effective, economical, natural skin care products, and most of them can be found at your local health food store! You don’t need to overhaul your entire beauty routine all at once to make a difference in your toxin exposure. Start with one item and build from there. Save tackling your makeup and hair care products for when you are happy with your natural skin care regimen.
Makeup Remover: Naturally antibacterial and packed with moisturizing fatty acids, coconut oil is an extremely effective makeup remover, especially for stubborn mascara. It also conditions the lashes at the same time.
To use, take a dab of Organic, Cold Pressed, Unrefined Coconut Oil and gently rub all over the skin wherever makeup was applied, taking precaution not to rub too hard at the eye area. To remove, take a warm, damp wash cloth and gently wipe away the oil. *Please note that some people do have a reaction to coconut oil on the skin. Always spot test any new skin care item along the jaw line and wait a day or two to check for a reaction. Any other skin oil will work well in place of coconut oil if you have a reaction (almond oil, jojoba oil, apricot kernel oil, and avocado oil are my favorites).
Face Wash: Naturally antioxidant rich, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic, raw honey works a treat for cleansing the skin. It’s a natural humectant (meaning it draws moisture to the top layers of the skin), it fights free radical damage, it balances skin oils, and it can even lighten scars and hyper-pigmentation. For those with acne, Manuka Honey can treat and even prevent active break outs due to it’s highly antibacterial and probiotic nature.
To use, take a nickel-sized dab of raw honey on the fingers and dampen under warm water. Rub all around the face well. Rinse well with warm water and pat dry with a soft cloth. You can even use honey has a balancing face mask and leave on the skin for 5-10 minutes.
*Please note: Consuming honey is a controversial topic in the vegan community. My family chooses to use it as medicine and skin care, believing that by doing so, we are reducing ourselves and consequently our environment to less conventional chemical medicines and products. If you feel that using honey medically or as skin care is unethical to you, please do not do so. Also, please never give any type of honey to children under the age of 1.
Exfoliant: Exfoliating the skin 2-3 times per week is beneficial in helping slough off the dead layer and keeping the complexion bright. This should be done firmly enough to dislodge old skin cells and clogged pores, but gently enough not to tug on the skin and create wrinkles. Raw sugar is a wonderful skin exfoliant that, just like honey, is a humectant that attracts moisture to the skin. If your skin is sensitive, you may want to start with dry oats pulsed in a blender as a more gentle exfoliant that also nourishes the skin.
To use, take equal parts raw sugar (or pulsed oats) and face oil of your choice and gently scrub your clean, dry face in circular motions, avoiding the delicate eye area. Rinse well with warm water and pat dry with a clean cloth. As exfoliating can disturb the pH balance of the skin, follow with a toner.
Toner: Washing, exfoliating, and applying makeup to the face can disrupt the natural pH balance of the skin. Using a toner will help balance the skin, remove excess oils, reduce inflammation, lessen redness and bacterial growths, and can also speed the healing of scrapes, pimples and their scaring. Pure Witch Hazel works wonderfully as a toner as does Rose Water. In my opinion, Rose Water is a little more gentle and moisturizing for the skin and Witch Hazel is better at combatting oil. I love them both and tend to use Witch Hazel right after cleansing and I like to spray Rose Water on my skin before and after makeup application.
Moisturizer: For years, oils in skin care have been persona non grata when in actuality, high quality botanical oils have a huge range of benefits for the skin, hair, and nails. They are loaded with essential fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and proteins that penetrate the epidermal layer in the skin to nourish at a deeper level. They help to improve skin elasticity, repair damage, hydrate, and balance tone. Store bought face washes strip the skin of all of it’s natural sebum (aka oil) and actually cause our skin to overproduce oil in response. By moisturizing with natural plant oils, we are helping our skin balance out it’s oil production which helps fight premature aging and breakouts.
There are dozens of face oils to choose from. Start with a small bottle of one and give it a few weeks before you try another. Make sure the label says 100% _____ oil. Bonus points if it’s organic and cold pressed, but start where your budget allows. My favorite is jojoba oil, as it most closely resembles our natural sebum, while Husband prefers almond oil. If you dislike an oil for you face after purchasing, don’t despair! You can use it as a body moisturizer (or you can get these luxurious essential oil infused beauty oils if you want to treat yourself!).
Eye Serum: The area around our eyes is usually the first to show signs of aging. Fighting free radical damage along with maintaining proper moisture helps to slow the aging process for the delicate eye area (along with eating LOTS of fresh produce!). Vitamin E oil has long been used to prevent wrinkles, boost collagen production, and support skin cell regeneration. A little dab goes a long way as Vitamin E oil is quite thick. I like using this roller bottle with a blend of Vitamin E and other oils for convenience.
So there you have it. The basics of natural skin care! Which skin care ingredient in your cabinet are you going to switch out this month? Share with me in the comments and make sure to tag WL&V on social media when you make the switch!
Full disclosure: This blog post contains some affiliate links. Meaning, basically, if you make a purchase from any of these links it doesn’t cost you anything extra, but I may make a little money. So thank you in advance for supporting my family I am not sponsored by any products or brands featured.