by Brittany Shutts
After years of warfare against my skin, I have transitioned into a routine that is radically different. In high school, I was plagued with acne and endured face steaming, microdermabrasion, and prescription ointments. I tried numerous cleanser/toner/moisturizer combinations. Due to the mélange of products and treatments that ousted the oil and singed away the blemishes, my face was feeling pretty raw and irritated.
When I first read about the questionable ingredients riddling many personal care products, I started to notice parabens, dyes, and artificial fragrances on the labels of the bottles on my sink. Thus began my quest for something that would keep my face in tip-top shape without polluting it with carcinogens.
Recently, I experimented with Desert Essence’s Thoroughly Clean Face Wash. Its noteworthy label contained nothing but castile soap, glycerin, and herbal extracts. After several days, my face had the texture of a potato chip. The ingredients met my standards, but my skin still did not approve. Frustration drove me to research various recipes for homemade skincare products so that I’ll never have to read the label of another cleanser again.
I’m currently experimenting with the Oil Cleansing Method. The theory behind the method is that your skin produces oil to protect itself. By stripping away the oil you are actually washing away your skin’s defense and forcing it into overdrive as it struggles to replace the lost oil. Although it is counter-intuitive, by rubbing oil onto your face, you can dissolve the oil and impurities trapped in your pores.
Anyone who has experienced the joys of acne has been conditioned to shudder at the thought of using oil as a facial cleanser. I wrote off the method until I read several blog posts by people who have had good luck. On the Eco Diva’s site, I read about her success with the oil cleansing method after using it for six months. I decided to forget about my anti-oil conditioning and use my face as a guinea pig.
Castor oil is the basis of the oil cleansing method. It cleanses and heals the skin and has anti-inflammatory properties, but it will dry out the skin if used by itself. It costs about five dollars at Whole Foods, but you can also find it in the laxative section of the supermarket. The castor oil must be blended with a second oil, such as olive or sunflower. Other cold-pressed vegetable oils can also be used. These oils contain necessary vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids and may already be in your kitchen cabinet.
Different oil ratios are recommended for different skin types:
- For oily skin: 30% castor oil to 70% sunflower or olive oil
- For balanced skin: 20% castor oil to 80% sunflower or olive oil
- For dry skin: 10% castor oil to 90% sunflower or olive oil
- You can also add a small amount of essential oil to the blend.
Lavender essential oil, for instance, decreases swelling and redness. If the castor oil seems to be drying out your skin, add more of the vegetable oil to the blend. I have only been using the method for about a week, but the Himalayas have yet to erupt on my forehead as I imagined. So far, it looks promising.
This deep cleanser is not for everyday use. The Eco Diva uses a bit of olive oil and water as an everyday cleanser. You can read more about her green personal regimen on her website (see link above).
The best personal care products are often in your kitchen. Since most of what ends up in your skin ends up in your bloodstream, why not clean your skin with something you can also eat? For a natural toner, try diluting apple cider vinegar with two parts water. This toner will regulate the pH of your skin and even lighten age spots. Green tea leaves can also make a great toner. Run a teabag under warm water and then apply it to your skin. (If you leave them over your eyes cucumbers-at-the-spa style it will also decrease swelling around the eyes.) Cucumbers and potato peels also make good toners, but prepare for confused looks from the people you live with.
If you still find patches of dry skin on your face, shea butter is a great moisturizer. Also, coconut oil heals dry skin while protecting it from the sun. You will smell delicious. You can find a number of video tutorials for making moisturizers and other recipes for your skin at the Gorgeously Green site.
Image courtesy of www.natural-holistic-health.com.