If you’ve ever been in a Macy’s, Bloomingdales or Sephora, then I’m sure you can see how someone could easily spend hundreds of dollars trying to keep themselves looking young. Between cleansers, moisturizers, toners, masks, scrubs, firmers, softeners, lifters, tigheners, and everything in between, the world of skin care and glamour is enough to make any consumer crazy… and bankrupt! Are all of those funky ingredients necessary when it comes to keeping you looking your best? Depends. Some people swear by the “’what’s new & what’s hot” mainstream products. Others, like myself, find that the more involved a product is, the more likely my sensitive skin is to flip out from it.
After a nasty breakout from an anti-aging night cream last winter, I researched online what I could use to calm my skin down. I made a homemade mask of specific kitchen products, slathered it all over my blotchy face twice a day, and watched as my skin went from raging red to peaceful pale. This triggered me to look up other natural items and recipes that might help keep my appearance at an even keel. The information I found would change my skin care routine forever.
Since my troubles mainly occur in winter because the cold temperatures, dry indoor heat, biter winds and the nasty snow glare turn my face into a dry flaky mess, this is when I put away my department store cosmetics and start hitting the refrigerator and cabinets for the goodies that help me the most. The recipes?… Simple. The cost?… pennies. The results?… priceless.
Here is my skin care regime from now until further notice:
Cleanser/Mask: “Breakfast In A Jar”
½ banana mashed, 1 tbs. heavy cream, ½ aloe leaf pulp, 1 tbs. finely ground oatmeal, 1 tsp. honey.
Not only does this cleanser work great for removing makeup but it also smells great and softens the skin. The bananas and heavy cream are rich in protein and fat which helps moisturize and smooth the skin. Aloe pulp has healing properties and is an anti-inflammatory. The oatmeal has soothing properties to calm any redness or irritation. And the honey? Honey naturally moisturizes, is packed with vitamins and antioxidants, and contains a natural acid which helps the skin’s cell renewal. Once you mix all of the ingredients together, you put the “goop” in a jar or small Tupperware cup and keep it in the refrigerator till ready to use. The bananas will cause the top layer of the cleanser to turn dark after a couple of days, but that doesn’t mean it is spoiled. Scrape it off, and keep using it. I suggest you make a new batch every 7-10 days to keep it fresh. To use: put mixture all over your face, let it sit for a minute or two, Rinse with cool water. Use morning and evening. (FYI—sometimes it is easier to buy a small jar of organic bananas baby food. It’s easier to work with and mixes smoother.)
Exfoliate: Brown Sugar
Sugar is a natural and inexpensive way to include alpha-hydroxy acids in your skincare program. Usually to get the benefits of alpha-hydroxy acids, you have to schedule appointments with a dermatologist for various types of peels. By getting sugar into your routine at home, you will experience all of the benefits without the inflated price. Brown sugar is a gentler grain sugar and is not as rough as regular table sugar. To use: once a week in the evening, put a small amount (½ tsp.) of brown sugar in the palm of your hand then add your “Breakfast in a Jar” cleanser to it. Rub together then gently apply to your face in a circular motion. Rinse with cool water.
Toner: Chamomile Tea
A toners main purpose is to remove any last traces of cleanser and makeup. Many cosmetic lines add alcohol to their toners which is a disaster to dry skin. A winter toner should be gentle, refreshing, soothing and still do its job. Chamomile is the perfect herb for that. Take an all-natural decaffeinated chamomile tea bag and let it steep in ½ cup of boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove bag (do not squeeze it out) and discard. Keep cooled tea in the refrigerator and use on a cotton ball after cleansing or whenever a clean face needs a little soothing. Make a new toner once a week.
Moisturizer: Olive Oil
Nothing fancy here. Olive oil is an excellent moisturizer because it attracts and holds moisture close to the skin and forms a breathable film to prevent loss of internal moisture. And its anti-oxidants help to prevent dryness and wrinkles. Go to the supermarket and buy a bottle of organic extra virgin olive oil, put some in a little jar or bottle and leave it on your bathroom counter. Apply dots of it all over your face, paying special attention to your cheeks and neck. Avoid the eye area with excess oil, but any you have left on your fingers that isn’t absorbed can be dotted under the eyes. If you are thinking, Don’t worry about your pores clogging. Olive oil is non-comedogenic, and the extra virgin variety is actually very light on the face.
The one thing that I didn’t mention is that no matter how natural you make your skin, you must-use a sunscreen. There are many on the market that are combined with other ingredients that can make your face red and irritated. Products containing PABA or padimate A and O can be a problem to people with dry and sensitive skin. Benzophenones, cinnamates, dibenzoylmethanes, and others are also irritating and can cause an allergic reaction known as contact dermatitis. Although sunscreens known as physical blocking agents can be good for people known to get allergic reactions, they can be very heavy and don’t absorb well into the skin. Products that are titanium dioxide- or micronized zinc oxide-based seem to be the best for people with sensitive skin. A good thing to know is most mineral foundations have these ingredients. If you already use a mineral foundation, you may not have to add an extra step for sun protection. Check your foundation’s ingredients to see the ingredients and how much sun-protection is in them. Another great natural sunscreen is by Burt’s Bees. It’s heavier than some, but don’t need a lot. I find it absorbs quicker than most. I have also found a foundation primer that contains an SPF which I use from time to time. (Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer SPF15 w/Dermaxyl Complex, $36)
Even if you had to purchase everything you would need to pamper your face this season all at once, you probably would still come out spending less than if you were to buy one high-end department store age-fighting moisturizer. Plus you’d still have enough ingredients to whip up about 10+ more batches (at least!). You can see how the savings would quickly add up.
If you aren’t sure if what I’m using would be good for your skin type, or if you’d like to add a couple of ingredients for other specific problems, take a look at these great websites. They give you a list of various ingredients and their benefits as well as some great recipe ideas. Cook yourself up an inexpensive homemade facial and take those savings to splurge on something fun (like a killer purse!)
Homemade Facials—Ingredients and Recipes: http://umibrahim.tripod.com/id26.html
Natural Ingredients for Inexpensive Skin Care: http://www.emzblendzsoap.com/ingredients/ingredients.htm