This month at Pasture Living, we are doing a series on how to take care of our skin naturally. The skin is the body’s largest organ and it absorbs everything we put on it directly into the body’s bloodstream; bypassing the organs that would filter out harmful ingredients. This is why it is so important to know what we put on our skin.
Many of us, including myself, probably never consider to look at the ingredients that are in our everyday skincare products. Even if we notice them, we don't really understand how these ingredients affect our health. And what is alarming is that there are no governing bodies that regulate the safety of ingredients in skincare products.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organization that developed a site called Skin Deep which rates beauty products by brands and categorize them into: Sun, Makeup, Skin, Hair, Nails, Fragrance, Babies & Moms, Oral Care, and Men. They are rated on a scale of 0-10, 0 being the best and 10 being the worst. Try doing a little experiment and search for the safety rating of a product that you currently use. You may be surprised at what you find. Even the simplest products may still contain chemicals that you don't want on your skin.
What Are the Alternatives?
There are still companies that make quality skincare products that are safe and natural, they generally cost more than the average conventional products. If that doesn't suit you, fret not, there are other ways that you can nourish your skin naturally, using simple ingredients that are easily obtainable to use as is or to make beauty products at home. Making your own beauty products is the safest and most frugal way to go. Not only we know everything that we put in it (and then onto our skin), we can personalize it to whatever we need.
- Castile Soap: This is a natural vegetable oil-based soap that doesn't have funky preservatives and additives added. Squirt a little bit (the soap is very concentrated), lather and rinse as usual.
- Baking Soda: It may sound weird to you but many have used this "no shampoo" method by just mixing baking soda and water as shampoo. You can try 1 part baking soda to 8 parts water in a bottle, give it a good mix, and squirt some to your hair. Lather and rinse thoroughly.
It is noteworthy that castile soap and baking soda are alkaline, which may make your hair tangle and irritate your scalp over time. For this reason, it's recommended to do an apple cider vinegar rinse (see below under "conditioner"). This restores the acid barrier in your scalp and gets rid of the tangle problem.
- Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Rinse: The acid in the vinegar removes scaly build up and residue on the scalp and hair shaft and closes the cuticles causing them to lie flat and shine. Vinegar also restores the natural pH balance of your scalp, preventing it from becoming dried out and itchy. It is not recommended to do a vinegar rinse with every single shampoo due to the high acidity. You can add a few drops of rosemary and/or lavender essential oils to your ACV rinse to help with dandruff, itchy, and flaky scalp.
- Coconut Oil: Generations have used this oil to keep our hair and skin healthy.
- Jojoba Oil: This is an excellent scalp moisturizer which can help re-balance sebum and prevent flakiness.
You can use both as a leave-in hair moisturizer.
- Castile Soap
- Oil Cleansing Method: The oil cleansing method is simple and frugal. Mix castor oil and any cold-pressed vegetable oil such as extra-virgin olive oil, apply it your face, place a warm towel over your face to open up the pores and let the oils do their work. When it gets lukewarm, do it one more time. When it's done, you can rinse your face and pat dry. Castor oil is anti-inflammatory which cleanse and heals the skin. Surprisingly it doesn't leave skin oily and often eliminates the need for moisturizer.
Toners (or astringents) are very helpful in tightening pores, removing impurities and excess oil from the skin.
- Witch Hazel: It acts as a natural moisturizer which tightens the skin, stabilizes and normalizes the pH balance in your skin and shrinks your pores. This is good especially for oily and acne prone skin.
- Rosewater: Simply steep rose petals in boiling water and let it cool. Rosewater is a gentle and moisturizing antiseptic that stimulates circulation. If you have issues in broken veins or capillaries and you can see them, this helps to reduce the appearance of the broken veins. This is especially good for dry skin.
- Green Tea: Brewing green tea and refrigerating it makes a cooling toner that is rich in antioxidants and helpful for soothing irritated skin and sunburns. It's good for all skin types.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, coconut oil and jojoba oil all hydrate and nourish skin. They also make good makeup removers. You just need a little bit of oil to apply to your skin. I love jojoba oil the best as I find it the least greasy. I read somewhere of a lady who uses coconut oil to remove her mascara and notices that new eyelashes started to grow, maybe it's because of the rich nutrients in coconut oil.
- Witch Hazel - Its antibacterial properties is helpful in treating acne prone skin.
- Tea Tree Essential Oil - Its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties is effective at banishing acne blemishes.
Jojoba, apricot kernal, avocado, and extra-virgin olive oil are all moisturizing and help to soften fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes.
I don't use lip balm in Singapore because the weather is humid so I don't get dry/cracked lips as I used to have living in the US. There are many natural lip balms that you can purchase such as this from Apple Valley Natural Soap. Or you can make your own using this tutorial which uses calendula and sweet almond oil.
- Castile Soap
- Coconut Oil
- Jojoba Oil: It is the oil that most resembles our skin's sebum. It moistures the skin without leaving an oily residue.
- Sweet Almond Oil: It is very rich in fatty acids and contains a high concentration of vitamin E, which is great for our skin.
- Coconut Oil
- Argan Oil: This non-greasy, fast absorbing oil is one of the world's most potent beauty serums, is rich in nutrients, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids, which offers better protection for skin than most oils.
Of course, drinking enough water, eating healthy food (including good fats), and avoiding processed food will help our skin stay in good condition. What we put in our bodies is just as important as what we put on our bodies. It doesn't mean that you will not have any skin issue at all, but it will give your body the best chance to heal the issues that may arise.
What is your favorite natural beauty recipe?