We only live once, so why not make the most of it? The ‘Better Me‘ series hopes to give some ideas on how to add fun and meaning to our lives.
For many of us, bubbles and foam create a comforting sensation of cleanliness. The more lather we get out of our cleanser, the better we think it is. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Often, the very reason why skin care products produce such an abundance of lather is the abundance of synthetic ingredients that they contain. Surfactants, preservatives and fragrances found in conventional skin care products can cause dryness, irritation and even allergies. Prolonged exposure to such synthetic ingredients can therefore cause skin inflammation, flakiness and – woe of all woes – wrinkles. Switching to a natural skin routine can not only protect the skin from such adversities, but it can also help us save the planet.
Changing your daily skin regime does not have to be drastic, complex or time-consuming. Adopting just some of the tips below can go a long way in reducing exposure to harmful ingredients and practices.
1. Change your soap
Swap your regular soap or cleansing wash for natural, handmade soap, which you can find in most pharmacies and, of course, online. Try using pure castile soap if you have very sensitive skin. Feeling adventurous? Why not try making your own soap using your favourite ingredients?
It is tempting to think that the more frequently we wash our face, the clearer it will be. However, excessive washing can irritate skin and it can even aggravate acne. If you can, try not to wash your face more than twice a day.
2. Watch your water
Most of us are pretty careful about the quality of the water we drink. Not so when it comes to the water we use to wash our face. Tap water often contains limescale and chemicals like chlorine which don’t do your skin any favours. Consider using mineral water, filtered water or even pre-boiled water (once it cools down). For optimal results, you could go a step further and start using coconut water.
When it comes to water temperature, try to avoid both extremes. While cold water can be abrasive, hot water is dehydrating. If possible, use warm water to cleanse your face.
3. Treat acne
If you are having problems with acne, try apple cider vinegar. You can either apply it topically, or you can try dissolving it in water and applying to your whole face with cotton wool.
If you are not too crazy about the smell of vinegar, you can try tea tree oil instead. Apply tea tree oil to the entire face using a cotton bud.
Not a fan of tea tree oil either? In that case, why not try fresh mint? Apply fresh mint juice to your face before bed and leave it on overnight for a cooling and cleansing effect. Alternatively, you could try a fresh mint mask.
4. Treat oily skin
Chickpea flour can help to remove excess oil from skin. Mix one teaspoon of chickpea flour with one cup of water and use the mixture to wash your face in the morning. You could also try making a face mask by mixing equal portions of chickpea flour and yogurt. Apply once a week, leave on until dry and rinse with lukewarm water.
Fresh lemon juice has astringent properties and contains cleansing enzymes which can remove dead cells. You could add a few drops of lemon to your chickpea flour mask. Alternatively, you could make a different mask altogether by mixing fresh lemon juice, organic honey and cinnamon.
Harsh and excessive scrubbing can irritate your skin and can even aggravate acne. For this reason, always be gentle when scrubbing your face and avoid using your face scrub more than once or twice a week.
Grounded oatmeal is a great base for a homemade scrub. Simply mix with hot water or milk to form a tick paste. Leave the mixture to cool and, once warm, apply to your face and scrub gently for about five minutes. Wipe off using a cotton pad dipped in warm water.
Grounded walnuts can also be used as a base for a scrub. Mix with organic yogurt to form a thick paste and use as above.
A very simple way to moisturise skin is to apply organic yogurt or kefir, massage and leave in for a few minutes. Remove using a cotton pad dipped in warm water.
Another good way to moisturise skin is to apply a paste made from mushed avocados and olive oil. Leave in for 20 minutes.
If you are looking for a natural alternative to moisturising cream, try using organic coconut oil. A tiny quantity can go a long way, and it smells nice too. You can also apply coconut oil to your hands, elbows and knees.
7. Be kind
No matter what product you are using, make sure to treat your skin kindly. Pulling, tugging, rubbing and scrubbing away can damage your skin. One more thing: as tempting as it sometimes is to squeeze spots, don’t do it! Nine times out of ten, the resulting blemish will be far more unsightly and enduring than the original spot itself.
When trying any new products, however natural, test them by applying a small quantity to the inside of your elbow and wait for 48 to 72 hours. If you experience any redness, swelling, itching or burning, refrain from using the product.
Maintaining a natural skin care routine requires very little investment in terms of both money and time. By experimenting with different ingredients and combinations you can design your own personalised regime, perfectly tailored to your needs. Which is more than can be said of most skin care products. Not only that, but you can sleep soundly at night, safe in the knowledge that you’ve done your bit for the environment!