Every day it seems like there’s new information about the damaging nature of many common ingredients in skin care products. The irony is, healthy skin actually needs very few products to keep it glowing. Frequent face-washing with commercial cleansers can actually work against your skin’s own natural radiance and moisture balance. The surface of your skin has a natural layer of oil and sweat called an acid mantle. It helps to balance the skin’s moisture level and offers gentle protection against the environment, including infectious germs. The trick to maintaining a glowing face is to wash away the day’s actual dirt and dead skin cells without removing the acid mantle.
That excludes nearly all commercial cleansers because they pretty much strip away that natural protective layer. Gentle rinsing with only fresh clean water can provide enough cleaning much of the time. Try it for a week and notice how your skin changes. If you wear make-up, are around lots of people or animals, and/or live in a polluted area, though, you’ll need a little more cleansing action. There are a few companies making gentle cleansers that will clean your skin without heavily disrupting your face’s natural pH levels. For regular use, choose a simple creamy milk without exfoliants or foamers. I like the cleansers by Evan Healy, MyChelle Dermaceuticals and Dr. Hauschka.
You can also make a good basic cleanser yourself for multiple skin types out of a few simple ingredients. Making homemade facial cleanser is easy and costs a fraction of the price of high-quality natural cleansers. Simply combine one part vegetable glycerin (yes, Amazon carries it) with five parts distilled water and a little pure tea tree essential oil (about three drops per cup of liquid). The glycerin acts like a non-stripping “soap” and the tea tree oil is antimicrobial. You can fancy up your cleanser by using a flower water like rose or lavender, or making a tea with skin-soothing herbs such as dried calendula flowers, chamomile or oat straw. Just brew the tea with distilled water as directed and allow it to cool completely before mixing. Combine the ingredients in a glass or plastic squirt bottle and shake well to combine. You can apply it with a cotton ball and rinse off, or squirt a little directly onto your face in the shower, massage, and rinse well. Shake the bottle before each use.
Looking for a deeper clean? Skip the products that promise “deep-penetrating” with “special” ingredients. At best they will be harsher than what your skin actually needs, and at worst they will add to the toxic load in your system. A more natural approach is to give yourself a gentle oil massage just before washing your face. My favorite oil for deep cleaning is organic, cold-pressed coconut oil, but you can use others, such as olive or sesame, as long as they are also organic and cold-pressed. Take a small amount and warm it by rubbing it between your fingers. Then gently massage it into your face, using your finger pads to make small circles, working from your chin upwards. Then follow with a wash with a clean, gentle cleanser. The oil, rather than making your skin oilier, acts as a balancing agent to your skins own oil level, and the massage will help lift deeper impurities to the surface. So if you notice a few little breakouts initially, don’t worry –that actually means it’s working. I wouldn’t recommend this treatment for people with highly reactive, sensitive, or acne-prone skin, though I have heard anecdotal tales of it improving each of those conditions.
At the end of the day, though, the truth is that nothing you put on the outside of your skin is as beneficial as what you put into your mouth. The very best skin comes from the inside. If your hormones are balanced and your diet is clean, contains ample fats, and is packed with fresh produce, you’ve got the makings of a beautiful face. The best beauty regimen is to get enough omega-3’s, eat a lot of raw, organic veggies (especially green), and keep your cleansing regimen clean and simple.