We're talking the bare bones of skincare today, my dears. You know how sometimes we get so wrapped up in the newest and most innovative skincare products on the market that we completely forget about the simplest solution? This minimalist 5 element routine is just a rough guide to remind us all of the natural goodness of basic ingredients - because sometimes we don't have to shell out the big bucks for a product to work effectively, and we don't need the extra bells and whistles to get things done.
You know the cleansing balms I've been raving about for some time now? Truth is, coconut oil is just as effective in removing my make-up and cleansing the skin, at a fraction of the price. The texture is very similar to most natural oil-based cleansing balms: it's a soft balm at room temperature, which then melts into a deliciously sweet-scented oil when massaged onto the skin. Coconut oil is slightly heavy and some sources classify it as comedogenic (pore clogging), so make sure to really remove the last traces of oil residue from your skin with a warm washcloth. This is also the reason why I'm not recommending it as a facial oil, but it's amazing for moisturizing your body and hair. For convenience reasons, I scoop out some of the oil from my big jar and store in a smaller, more shallow repurposed jar in my bathroom. I keep the big jar in the kitchen to make awesome homemade granola with!
Other options: You could absolutely use other natural oils for this step, or even a blend of oils with castor oil, as recommended in the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM). I just find coconut oil easier to handle, and I love the smell :)
I've spoken about the benefits of rose hydrosol before (here), but this by-product of essential oil production works great to refresh and hydrate the skin, with the added bonus of beautiful floral fragrance. Other hydrosols are fantastic as well, and you can tailor them to your own needs: calendula soothes irritated skin, cucumber cools down rashes, lemon verbena acts as an astringent - so many different ones to try!
Other options: If your skin is very sensitive/ you're allergic to essential oils, you could just use a thermal spring water spray, like the ones offered by French pharmacy brands (Avene, Vichy, La Roche Posay). Or you could attempt a DIY herbal infusion with green tea or comfrey - just make sure to store it in the fridge and replace every couple weeks.
In the moisturizer step, I like to use a light, easily absorbed oil: I'm currently experimenting with hazelnut oil, which is supposed to have astringent & skin-refining properties, but in the past I've also liked jojoba, tamanu and argan oils. For better absorption, I recommend pressing the oil into damp skin, meaning shortly after you spray it with your toner of choice - this also helps the oil to seal in the moisture from the spray.
Other options: As I mentioned above, any natural oil that you like will work for this step. If you're curious about which carrier oils work best for specific skin types, there's lots of information available online - but I found this guide from Christine very helpful to start with.
reviewed here, $4.99 for 1lb).
Clay and honey are two extras that work wonders incorporated into any skincare routine, be it natural or not. Manuka honey (or any raw honey) can be used straight as a cleanser, facial mask, spot treatment or intensive lip balm, because it soothes and moisturizes the skin (honey is a natural humectant) while also providing some antibacterial action. As a cleanser, I find that it works best in the morning, or as a second cleanse in the evening to follow up the coconut oil.
Other options: Manuka honey is unfortunately very expensive, but any natural raw honey will work - I like the Y.S. Eco Bee Farms US Grade A Raw Honey ($6.29 for 22 oz) that I also use for cooking. There's also a variety of different clay powders available on the market, with different properties for different skintypes: NOW Foods Solutions offers jars of Moroccan Red Clay Powder and European (Green) Clay Powder ($4.49 for 6 oz each).
I hope you found this very basic guide to natural skincare ingredients helpful - I've tried to list things which are quite easily accessible and should work for a variety of skin types. In terms of reliable websites to shop for natural products, Vitacost (click for referral link and $10 off) is my favorite: the prices are much lower than local health stores like Whole Foods, and the selection is much wider as well. For more difficult to find natural ingredients, Mountain Rose Herbs is pretty unbeatable, but the shipping tends to be on the expensive side.
Do you use any natural ingredients in your skincare routine? What are your favorites?