I used to be a sucker for beauty products; anything that promised to smooth my skin, shrink my pores, cleanse, tone, moisturise or prime. I had every type of lotion, balm or cream going. Every couple of months I used to start a new skin care regime with great intentions and these magical new products that would solve every flaw I had and be the salvation of my very shaky self image. Each time my new found enthusiasm for the latest fad would fade after a few days when I saw little difference or simply forgot, didn’t have time or was too tired to go through a lengthy beautifying process before bed or in too much of a rush first thing in the morning. I ended up with a bathroom full of half used products and still felt flawed and imperfect.
Then I started reading about what was in my products, where it came from and how it was tested and also thinking about what it was packaged in (why do we need a cardboard box to carry a bottle home in?). I sourced more natural products and used less, gradually my bathroom shelf got less and less crowded and funnily enough my skin (or my ideals for it) became clearer.
I have now simplified my skin care regime to very few steps. Ideal for when I choose to stay up late, enjoying time with my husband when the children have finally gone to bed, and for the mornings when I’m always in a rush (having wished I’d gone to sleep earlier!).
The products I use now are Sweet Almond Oil, Aqueous cream and essential oils.*
Sweet Almond Oil is a fantastic eye makeup remover, I just put a drop onto my fingertip and rub it over my closed eye, this loosens even the most stubborn waterproof make up admittedly this then spreads it Panda style around my eye, but it only takes one damp cotton wool pad to remove the oil and make up from both eyes. Using less cotton wool means I can afford to buy a fair trade, organic brand and puts less into landfill. The oil nourishes your lashes too, making them grow longer.
Aqueous cream can be bought in large tubs for not too much money (far less than branded beauty products), the Doctor recommended I use it to wash my boys skin with when they had eczema as babies, (more about how I got rid of the eczema in another blog). I believe it’s no longer recommended to leave on the skin as a moisturiser as it contains a trace amount of a preservative that can irritate some people’s skin. If you have sensitive skin it’s always wise to research what you’re putting on it and there’s a lot of info online. Personally I find Aqueous cream more gentle than expensive branded cleansers that can contain a lot of chemicals. I use Aqueous cream really as just a carrier for the essential oils and to loosen any make-up or dirt from my skin to make it easier to wash off. I mix a small amount in an old moisturiser jar with a couple of drops of essential oil (I’m loving rose and geranium at the moment). This keeps really well so I only have to mix a batch every few weeks. I use this as my cleanser, I wet my face then apply a small amount and massage it in, rinsing off with luke warm water. Sometimes if I feel I need bit of exfoliation I use a muslin cloth dampened with warm water to give my face a gentle rub which removes the cream and any dead skin. I bought a multi pack of baby muslins and cut them into quarters then wash them with my normal laundry and reuse them, this is so much cheaper and better for the environment (and probably my skin), than the cleanser face scrub and facial wipes I used to use.
After cleansing I splash cool water on my face to tone and then apply the smallest drop of Sweet Almond Oil to damp hands and massage this into my damp face, neck and decolotage to moisturise. Applying the oil to wet skin means it spreads further and you only need the tiniest drop to moisturise a large area. I have one bottle of plain oil and a smaller one which I have blended with essential oils so that I can use either, depending on how I’m feeling and what I think my skin needs. Making up a smaller amount of blended oil means that I can use it up and change the oils to suit how my skin feels at the time.
I know to some people the idea of putting oil on their face would be horrifying, especially if they already have oily skin. However there is a belief that by regularly applying oil, the skin detects that there is enough oil to protect and moisturise and so stops producing so much. I’m not sure if this has actually been proved but it is taught on many holistic massage courses and personally it has worked for me. I apply oil to my face twice a day and my skin not greasy at all. I watched a beauty vlogger on youtube recently who suggested adding a drop of oil to foundation to give the skin a dewy, healthy look, this seemed to work well for him, but I find applying foundation (when I can be bothered to) after massaging in oil works really well. I had imagined that any makeup applied after oil would slip around and just slide off but actually plant oils (not so much mineral ones) soak right into the skin, moisturising from within, rather than leaving a layer on the skin like moisturisers do so when I apply make up it has a well nourished base to cling on to.
I occasionally make face masks as a treat, I mix honey, oats and essential oils as a softening, nourishing mask, or use bicarb of soda or citrus juices for a more cleansing one. I also make my own lip balms from beeswax and oils and use fruit or herbal teas on my skin and hair – I may put some recipes in a blog soon.
My skin care routine is so much quicker and cheaper now and I can look myself in the eye in the mirror whilst doing it, knowing it’s better for me and the planet. I get peace of mind knowing that I’m not contributing to more landfill with all the packaging that used to come with my beauty products. I am being kinder to myself and the environment by not using harsh chemicals or micro-plastics that get into our water system and cause damage. I still have a flaky self image (who doesn’t?), I know my flaws only too well and I know I’m never going to be perfect in looks or in my eco-ideals but having peace of mind that I’m doing my best makes me relaxed, happy and comfortable in my own skin. That shines through any skin imperfections and is a deeper and more lasting beauty.
*There is so much information out there about essential oils, it’s easy to look up what would suit you. Be aware that there are certain oils that should be heavily diluted to use on the skin or that are not good for pregnancy or health conditions so make sure you’ve researched well or taken advice from a qualified aromatherapist.