Many of us are seeking to cut chemicals from our life. Statistically, women are exposed to thousands more chemicals than men due to our heavy use of cosmetics and beauty products. While the EU has outlawed the use of over 1300 harmful chemicals in cosmetics products, the USA has outlawed only 11. This is, of course, ridiculous because everything we put on our skin gets absorbed into our body. Rubbing a clove of garlic on your feet will give you garlic breath within 20 minutes. It silly to think that the ingredients on our favorite lotions won’t absorb the same way.
My motivation for switching over to a natural beauty regimen was different. I was backpacking through northern India for 6 weeks after college and I wanted a cheap products which could easily be found all over the world and had many uses in one product. I could not backpack carrying four kinds of lotion, a face wash, an exfoliator, deodorant, bug spray and toothpaste - oh and some light medical supplies. Bringing that much stuff was wasted space in my backpack. I would be hauling everything I had on my back for a month and a half. I needed something light, easy, cheap and replaceable. Nor could I get attached to any particular product. Anyone who travels knows how quickly 3 oz of anything runs out. They will also know how hard it is to find said product in a foreign country with no Amazon or fixed address.
My research brought me to using oils for my beauty routine and I haven't looked back. That was when I was 25 years old. I am now in my early 30’s and my skin looks fantastic. I spend about $1000 a year on my beauty routine and $800 of that goes to hair cut and color. Two hundred dollars a year for all of my beauty supplies isn’t much and if I was to not buy shampoo and conditioner, I’d save another $100.
Best part is, when I travel, all of my supplies can be found in any store around the world! I never have to worry about running out of my favorite moisturizer because it’s literally in everyone's kitchen.
Over the years, I have tried a number of things from trendy to convenient, and these five things are my staples.
I have played with many kinds of oil for my moisturizing over the years and this is what I have landed on and I am sticking to it. Coconut oil was good for a while but I noticed it didn't really keep my skin moisturized. After less than a day, my skin would be flaky and dry. Then I started doing some research. Coconut oil is a great light moisturizer but if you have dry skin it’s not going to be as effective for you. Coconut oil acts more like a wax on the skin and only absorbs superficially. In addition, it is not an effective occlusive (protective barrier), emollient (softens rough skin), or humectant (draws moisture). So it doesn’t keep skin soft and moisturized. It also has a tendency to clog pores. Skin that easily gets clogged pores will not do well with coconut oil based products, especially on the face.
Coconut oil is awesome for antibacterial and anti fungal properties, so it is good to keep on hand for wounds, fungus and rashes. It can be very soothing and helpful in time of pain and irritation. It has even cured a case or two of pink eye and foot fungus in my family.
Now all this talk of occlusive, emollient, and humectant pushes me to let you know argon oil does all these things and doesn’t clog pores. But HOLY COW IT IS EXPENSIVE. At that price, I can’t use it on my body and that is what I was looking for.
So I started using olive oil. I used safflower and sunflower oil previously but after giving up seed oils in my food, this one had to go too. I had to get the hang of using olive oil. Because it is a heavier oil, you must be careful how you use it. Many oil streaks on clothes and rushed mornings have lead me to a finely tuned system of use.
Olive oil (and any oil) is best used on a wet body directly out of the bath or shower. I use one half dollar sized pour on my upper body and then one more of the same size on my lower body. I make sure to spread it all over my body two or three times. Then I pick out what I am going to wear or put on my face moisturizer and kinda putz for a couple minutes and let my body air dry a bit. After that wait, I rub the oil once again into my skin and then grab a towel and lightly dab the excess oil and water from my skin. Honestly, if you have a bath robe, just putting it on will work well. Make sure you give it those few minutes to absorb in the front end before you put the robe on though.
When using any oil to moisturize, cutting it with water is key to not making it greasy and speed absorption. If I need a touch up on my legs or elbows for example, I just wet my hands and then use the oil. But I really never need touch ups because the oil keeps my skin so soft and moisturized all day, I can go two days without needing lotion.
Baking soda is one of those help all, cure all miracles. It can be used as a tooth whitener, deodorant (the best I’ve ever used), hair clearing scrub and exfoliant. It can also be used around the house for many cleaning chores. Use it once a week as a tooth paste to brighten teeth. Wash your hair and then scrub baking soda into the root to clean out product build up and exfoliate your scalp. You will have the cleanest hair you have ever felt. And when you need a gentle face and neck exfoliation, baking soda has your covered. Just sprinkles a bit under your arms after a shower and and oil routine for deodorant. I have been on a make-my-own-deodorant kick for a while and (many oily armpit stains later) I am off it now. I will stick to using baking soda.I have used it many times in many ways. I don’t travel without it.
Apple Cider Vinegar
This is my favorite health supplement and skin toner. ACV with brighten and soften skin. Another natural toner that smells less strong is witch hazel but you can’t use it for much else. Like I said, the benefit of going with a natural beauty route is that everything has multiple purposes.
Raw ACV with the mother is the best probiotic I have ever take and it costs me maybe 3 dollars a month. Compare that to $50 from your normal 30 day supply of quality probiotics. This is the only one that become difficult to find. When I was in Norway, I sprang for a very posh cherry vinegar with mother. It was intended for salads and had a much stronger flavor but I drank it anyway. I can’t go too long without it as my mood become greatly affected. So, cherry it was. All the other vinegar in the stores were clarified, meaning all of the product’s natural benefit was filtered out and no mother was left at the bottom.
I love this product. I use it is a dry shampoo, face mask and toothpaste. I bought it originally as a face mask. It pulls impurities from your pores. It’s also great in the bath as it has the same benefit for all over your body. Same with baking soda, I just keep a small jar in my travel pack. I dip my tooth brush in it to brush my teeth. I like this much better than charcoal because I’m not totally convinced charcoal doesn’t make your teeth gray over time.
This is my biggest beauty and health tool. Castor oil has SO MANY uses. I use it as a deep pore face wash and moisturizing cream. It also cleans and soothes cuts and burns, it can help healing and fade dark spot and scars. It’s unique lipid profile containing ricinoleic acid, it helps prevent wrinkles, moisturize skin, reduce inflammation and heal tissue. Plus, if you travel and eat something awful, it’s also a powerful laxative. But if you are pregnant, beware. Castor oil is also used to induce labor.
For those that suffer from cystic acne or just bad acne, I highly recommend you give deep pore cleaning and a castor oil masks a try. One week of daily deep care can greatly change a face. I have seen it with my skin and others. Castor oil is absolutely why my skin glows today. It is also a fantastic hair oil mask that promotes hair growth.
A simple search of uses for castor oil will have you wondering what castor oil can’t do!
While this list in not my complete list, these are the five products I can’t live without. I have played around making my own face oil and hair oil. Let me tell you, I just buy good hair product instead of making my own. I use half hand made and half bought for my hair, but skin - I take great joy in making my own skin products.
If you are looking to clean up your beauty routine, start with this list and do some experimentation and research. You will not be disappointed with what you find!