Cosmetics companies swear you need a full line of coordinated high-tech products to beat your skin into submission. I took the bait early. For over a decade, I anxiously cleansed, exfoliated, toned, applies special serums and gels, moisturized–all twice a day–and regularly used fancy masks. You know what I got? So-so skin and a scary bill. Oh, and a boatload of unregulated chemicals. (If you think the FDA regulates your skincare ingredients, think again.)
After growing terribly ill and switching to a holistic approach to heal, I got smart about those chemicals. I switched to natural product lines, some of them quite excellent. (Chae Organics is a notable example.) But it took me a lot longer to ditch the old mentality. I still thought I needed all the specialized products, that my body was the enemy. Skin “care” was really about skin control.
These days I do things differently. I found that I can kindly nourish my skin with the simplest products. They are gentle and pure and truly care for my body’s largest organ. Now fed from the inside and out, my skin, while not perfect, has never looked better.
Okay, okay, I may be showing small signs of age around my eyes, but that’s just life when you don’t inherit your mom’s incredible skin genes. Sniffle.
While serious skin conditions may require special care, if you’re looking for a simpler, healthier, more affordable approach to nurturing your within-normal-ranges skin, here are some of my favorite options.
Face Cleansing & Exfoliating
I alternate among 3 methods as I feel led:
This $15 mitt from Jane Iredale needs only water to remove makeup and oh-so-gently cleanse and exfoliate skin, and it really works! What could be simpler? It’s been over a year since I bought it, so I can’t recall the sales rep’s exact explanation of why it works (it had something to do with new technology and surface tension?), but at the time my chemical engineer husband said it was legit. This is my default choice. Buy it here.
Maybe you’re thinking, Ewww, how could something so sticky and gooey possible clean? And what about the mess? I thought the same thing for years . . . until I finally tried it. What a revelation! Just slather a little raw honey all over your face, leave it for a few minutes, then gently massage your skin with wet hands and rinse. It is a fabulous exfoliator—chemically from the live enzymes and mechanically too if your honey is a little crystallized—and leaves the skin so soft. As for the mess, it’s minimal. Honey does, after all, dissolve perfectly in water. Read more about honey cleansing at Empowered Sustenance.
While it sounds even crazier than honey cleansing, I adore oil cleansing, even with my oily skin! Keep in mind that oil dissolves oil. I first tried this with success years ago but dropped the habit because it felt like a hassle to do it daily. As a special pampering session, though, it’s heaven, and that’s how I’m using it now. When my skin needs some TLC, this is what I choose. Basically, you massage certain oils into your face, then use a hot wet washcloth to steam your face and remove the oil and grime. It’s glorious and leaves you looking plump and radiant. Get all the details at Wellness Mama.
Vintage Tradition Body Balm
Don’t freak, but this skin cream is made of organic grass-fed beef tallow (translation: beef fat). I’ve been using it on my face for almost two years now, and it’s my all-time favorite product. It makes my skin so soft and plump–and no breakouts! I think it’s reduced some of the redness and irritation in my face too. Featuring just two nourishing ingredients, tallow from grass-fed cows and extra virgin olive oil, it works even for oily skin in humid climates. Just use a tiny bit at a time.
At $20 for 2 ounces, it sounds pricey, but it lasts ages if you only use it for your face and neck. All bets are off if you start applying it everywhere! Buy the balm at vintagetradition.com. Newbies may like the essential oil-scented varieties, which mask the natural scent of tallow. Do-it-yourselfers can make their own, following these directions. More from the Mommypotamus about tallow as a wholesome and ethical skincare ingredient here.
Facial Oil Blends
While I use the Vintage Tradition balm exclusively now, my previous favorite moisturizing product is a facial oil blend. I used this one for a few weeks during my first pregnancy and really liked it. I hear great things about carrot seed oil too. You just need a couple of drops, so this kind of product goes a long, long way! While we’ve all been trained to avoid oils on our skin, they can be incredibly healing and nurturing, even for acne-prone skin. (Read more about that from Empowered Sustenance here.) But as each oil has its own properties, it is important to find the right oils and blends for your skin.
Kiss My Face Olive Oil Soap
With only 3 ingredients–olive oil, water, and salt–this pure and simple soap makes a delicious lather with my shower puff. It cleans away grime and even sunscreen, and doesn’t dry my skin as much as coconut oil soap or Dr. Bronner’s. Some people, like Rachel at Small Notebook, use this for their face too, but while I do that after getting really dirty while camping, I didn’t like how my face skin responded to it after months of use. When I need to soap up Baby Bear, this is what I use. I order it from Vitacost.
Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut Oil Moisturizing Lotion
For light everyday moisturizing, this is my top pick. As long as you’re not sensitive to coconut, this is an extremely gentle, non-irritating choice that I’ve used for years now. The unscented variety has a faint coconut scent that I enjoy, though with my new order today, I added a few of their essential oil-scented flavors to try. I get email updates so I can catch the sales. Available at TropicalTraditions.com. (Psst! Their lip balms and tubs of coconut oil are awesome too.)
Vintage Traditions Body Balm
It’s as good for the rest of you as it is for your face! On my driest areas, which have become a very real problem in parched New Mexico, I smooth this into my skin for ultimate moisturizing. After reading the amazing testimonials on the Vintage Tradition website, I’m also curious about applying it to my upper arms for a few weeks to send the rest of my keratosis pilaris packing. Who knows? Unfortunately, for these larger applications, it gets expensive. You can buy 9 oz for $70 here or make your own following these instructions.
FYI, you can always find these products and many more on my Body & Beauty Products page under the Well Body heading in the menu.
That’s about it for me. What do you use and love?
P.S. There are NO affiliate links on this page. It’s all 100% my own opinion.