Friday, April 22, 2011

Low-Cost, Natural Skincare

image courtesy of  Tack-O-Rama

Over the years my morning and evening skincare routines have gradually evolved. That’s partly because of age and becoming a parent, partly because of what I’ve learned about ingredients, and partly because of negative reactions I’ve had to certain products. I never considered myself to be someone who had “sensitive skin”, but I’ve found that many of the drugstore moisturizers and skin cleansers that I’ve used over the years have either been too drying or have actually made my skin break out. That’s actually one of the reasons I began making my own soap…I prefer knowing exactly what’s in the product, and the easiest way to be confident about that is to make it yourself.

I have a friend named Deanna (a fellow parent at my kids’ school) who is an environmental advocate, author and wildly successful blogger on her site Crunchy Chicken. She often writes about the skincare items that she uses, and it’s inspired me to try some new things myself. I’ve been in this trial and error stage for over a year now and am finally feeling pretty good about what I’ve come up with, on many levels. What I use now is truly all-natural, makes my skin feel clean and smooth, is very moisturizing, and is really inexpensive. So…I thought you readers might like to hear about it!

Here’s what I do:
In the morning, when I shower, I run my face under the hot water for a minute to open up my pores and flush out dirt and oil, then I use a soft washcloth and one of my soaps to gently scrub away any impurities.

I also wash my hair with the same bar soap, or sometimes Dr. Bronner’s pure castile liquid soap. I keep that on hand because my daughters prefer using a liquid for washing their hair, rather than bar soap. After my hair is washed, I use a very diluted vinegar rinse (1 part apple cider vinegar to 10 parts water).  This washes away any soap residue that may remain and closes the hair cuticle, which makes the hair more shiny and smooth. I rinse that out at the end of the shower.

Before I exit the shower I use a little bit (smaller than a dime) of green tea infused hemp oil on my face and neck. When I first buy the hemp oil, I take several tablespoons of green tea leaves and let them sit in the oil for several days, then strain them back out to store the oil. Green tea is a natural antioxidant, and helps to maintain elasticity in the skin, as well as many other topical benefits.

I began using hemp oil after lots of trial and error with other natural oils and moisturizers. I started with regular “all-natural” skin creams that I bought at the store, and they always clogged my pores. Then I tried a variety of whole oils like coconut, sweet almond and wheat germ. They all caused problems on my face eventually, though I recommend them on the rest of the body. I finally settled on hemp oil because it has the lowest comedogenic rating of all of them and is extremely high in nutrients. It also fights inflammation and is a great anti-oxidant in its own right.

I put the oil on my skin when I’m still in the shower and my face is still wet. I gently dab it around my face and neck. I then take the warm, rinsed (now soap-free) washcloth and wring out as much of the water as possible and gently dab off any extra oil with it. I let my face air dry after that. My skin is soft, totally clean and well moisturized. Once I’m out of the shower I dab a few drops more of the hemp oil under my eyes (but not too close) and let it soak its way into the delicate skin there. Any excess gets wiped off with a tissue before I put on makeup.

At bedtime I use a similar system, minus the shower. The key is to apply the oil when your skin is clean, warm and still wet with water. It seems to trap in moisture well, while still keeping the pores open and not leaving a greasy layer because the skin absorbs the light oil so quickly. I’m careful not to let it get into my hair though, as it really weighs it down and makes it greasy. This whole system has been working great for me and costs next to nothing. It makes me look years younger too…see?  ;-)

I’d love to know if you’ve tried any of these methods or have something that you think works even better!


katie said...

I've been using natural handmade soap and coconut oil for about a year now. I may have to try the hemp/green tea oil based on your recommendation.

ASBloom said...

I tried coconut oil and loved how smooth and easily absorbed it was, but it didn't work for me long-term. I've had much better luck with the hemp oil. You should give it a try!

katie said...

Yeah, I recently went off hormonal birth control, and my skin is suffering a bit. I think the coconut oil is just too much for it these days, so I will try the hemp oil.

I've heard about the cider vinegar wash for a while now, and decided to give it a try today ... I feel like I smell like vinegar, but I think it's just me. For a while, I have been washing my hair every 2-3 days with natural, handmade shampoo and conditioner. On the days I don't shampoo, I do scrub with conditioner so I'm wondering how to make this routine work with the soap/cider vinegar. I may have to experiment with washing more frequently, but I love the idea of cheap, natural alternatives to beauty products and will continue exploring.

Thanks for the post!!

ASBloom said...

I sometimes use conditioner, though with short hair I don't find it as necessary as I did when it was longer. I haven't been too bothered by the smell of the vinegar myself. I find that it gets rinsed away pretty well, and so don't notice it.

My next project is to try making my own leave-in conditioner that I could just spray on after I get out of the shower. I'll keep you posted if I have any success with that one!