My skincare series left off with using less or no soap on your face. Have you tried it yet? It’s all a process of experimentation, and you may ultimately find that your skin functions better with a little soap – just keep it mild and natural. (Castile soap is a good bet.) Or try washing with oil, as I mentioned previously, or honey. I forgot to mention honey, and someone else brought it up – I have used that with great success, as well.
As for moisturizing, I have heard two arguments. Some say use it liberally or you’ll turn into an old prune! Others say use it rarely or it’ll make your skin stop producing its natural oils and you’ll turn into an old prune! Hmmmm….
Once again, this is an area for personal preference, instinct and experimentation.
First, though, let’s tackle one of the biggest myths (in my opinion) spread around by the cosmetics industry: Any skin products that contain oil will cause you to break out.
I spent most of my adult (and teenage) life living in fear of oil – both that in products, and the oil produced by my own skin. You may have already read of the horrors that I put my face through – scrubs, chemical peels, a decade of Retin-A, astringents, toners, etc. I would never, ever touch a product that had oil in it – not makeup, not foundation, not moisturizer. Every product I chose was carefully inspected to make sure it contained no oil and was labeled “noncomedogenic.” Now I think of those days and want to laugh (or cry, actually). I feel that I irreparably damaged my skin during those years and now I’m trying to do what I can to help it perform and look its best.
I now look at the word “noncomedogenic” and I see a big string of nonsense letters. Personally (and again, just my opinion), I think you’ll have less pore blockage if you are using a natural oil than you will if you are using a bottle full of stabilizers, dyes, fragrances, chemicals and preservatives, no matter how “noncomedogenic” those ingredients may claim to be.
As always, I believe we should follow the wisdom of our bodies to find health. If our bodies CREATE oil, then why should we attempt to wash, tone and powder it away? Why should we then “re-moisturize” our skin by putting oil-free chemicals onto it? The whole process now seems ludicrous to me.
Don't be scared of real oil! (Photo credit: Mountain Rose Herbs)
But this is where things get dicey for me. As many of you know, I’m more of a hands-off gal than hands-on. I’ve learned that when it comes to our bodies, we should be stepping out of its way and letting it do what it needs to do. I spent a year letting my hair re-balance itself by washing it less and eliminating commercial shampoos from my routine. No, my hair is not now perfect, and yes, I still have bad hair days. But I love my hair, love the way it feels, love how healthy it is and how fast it grows.
My skin is another matter, entirely, however. I never had much trouble with my hair, except that it tends to be on the oily side. I always thought that my skin was oily, as well, but I have discovered that it is actually DRY! It only appeared oily for the last twenty years because I was constantly (I’m talking 2-3 times a day here) stripping it of its natural oils with extremely harsh products.
Part of the reason I have been so slow to write this post is that I haven’t honestly figured out a really effective routine for my skin as I have for my hair. I don’t want people to think that if you just do this and that that you’ll have perfect skin! Nope. This is another experiment that you will have to figure out for yourself, as I’m doing. Hopefully my ideas will help, as will the experiences I have encountered throughout this process.
So what do I do? As I’ve said, I only wash my face with water once or twice a day. I always wash at night to get the dust of the day off my skin and to make sure it is as fresh as possible so it can rejuvenate as I sleep. As for moisturizing, I go through phases. Sometimes, particularly in winter, I will make up a batch of homemade moisturizer using oils, cocoa butter and water and apply that every day. (Check the internet for recipes and experiment until you find one you like. Just remember to make them in small batches and keep them cool or they will get moldly!)
In the summer, I generally just use jojoba oil as a moisturizer. Of all the oils in the world, jojoba oil is the most like the oil produced by our own bodies. It generally works well for many people and absorbs easily. If you don’t have access to jojoba, try coconut, sweet almond, sesame, avocado or olive oil. Remember to only use a dab of oil – you don’t need much! You can dab off the excess with a cloth or towel after about 10 minutes.
Because my skin has been so messed up over the years, I tend to “let my skin go” for several days at a time in the hopes that it will eventually re-balance itself. It’s been two years and I have seen definite improvement, but I’m still not exactly where I want to be. Anyway, when I’m in a re-balancing phase, I will moisturize only after my shower (every other day) when my skin is “open” from the heat and steam. The only reason I do this is because I feel I have messed with my skin far too much and by “stepping aside” as often as I can, I hope to allow it to find its own wisdom again. This is, of course, my own intuition on the matter. I think it is important to experiment and find out what works for your skin.
I think it’s also important not to be afraid of natural moisturizers. Oils, butters (cocoa, shea, etc.) and other such moisturizers are, in my unofficial opinion, the best things you can use to keep your skin hydrated. When used prudently, they shouldn’t cause you any problems with breakouts, and I believe they keep your skin looking and feeling MUCH healthier than commercial products.
I’ll share a bit more about this subject in future posts, as well as several tips on breakouts, makeup, and more.