Morning, everyone. Hope you all enjoyed a happy and safe holiday. I’m turning over the reins to one of our Worker Bees today as I spend some time on a book project (more to come on that). I know many of you have asked about natural skin care ideas in the comment board, and we’ve got some great suggestions today. I hope you’ll welcome our Worker Bee to the fold (she just joined us recently) and offer up your own ideas below. (And for those who may have missed it, I shared several of my own favorites last spring.) Have a good end to the week.
Spend any amount of time perusing the shelves at your local supermarket or beauty supply store and you may notice that all the skin care products have something in common: a long ingredient list. I’m afraid to say most commercially-packaged bottles, jars, and tubes contain potentially harmful ingredients in the form of preservatives, stabilizers, artificial colors, and/or added fragrances, which could have negative long-term health effects when absorbed through the skin.
Thankfully, there are plenty of all-natural skin care options out there that not only provide better results, but usually cost a fraction of what you’d pay for the store-bought version. Here are 10 skin care solutions backed up by research (and self-experiment).
Sea salt is one of the best all-natural exfoliators, and chances are it’s already hiding in your kitchen cabinet. While most of the time we can let nature take its course, now and then we might exfoliate as a means to remove layers of dead skin cells when our skin is itchy and flaky or to encourage skin cell turnover for a fresher appearance. Sea salt is also full of nutrients found in sea water—and in our bodies—including calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Combine sea salt with raw honey or coconut oil and gently rub it into your skin. Just be sure to check the texture of the salt before you use it on your face: the salt should be smooth, with no rough edges. You want it to gently remove that layer of dead skin cells, not rub your skin raw.
Raw honey is widely recognized for its antimicrobial properties, and has long been used as a natural treatment for wounds and burns. This sweet, golden nectar contains a variety of proteins, amino acids, vitamins, enzymes, and minerals, which all work in tandem to speed the healing process. After cleaning skin, apply a layer of honey directly onto scars, cuts, and burns. Make sure to choose raw, unprocessed honey, as the commercial honey you’ll find in most grocery stores is highly processed and lacking in nutrients.
Pure avocado oil is a great stand-in for commercial creams and lotions, which are usually loaded with questionable ingredients you can barely pronounce. There’s no secret as to what you’re getting in a bottle of avocado oil: pure, fatty goodness. It’s packed with good-for-your-skin nutrients, like carotenoids, healthy fat, and vitamins A, D and E. Together, these nutrients can boost collagen production, fade age spots, calm inflammation, and treat sunburns. Pour a few drops in your hand and work it into clean, dry skin. (By the way, it’s part of Mark’s personal daily routine.)
Apple cider vinegar is a potent anti-fungal solution that’s especially helpful for acne prevention. To make it, producers ferment cider so the sugars turn into alcohol, and ferment it again so the alcohol turns into acetic acid. It’s this acetic acid—as well as the lactic acid, citric acid, and succinic acid—that makes apple cider vinegar such an effective cleanser. Some studies have even shown that these acids can prevent acne-causing bacteria from growing. Soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and use it as a facial toner morning and night.
In a recent pilot study published in the Australasian Journal of Dermatology, researchers found that a treatment of tea tree oil gel was more effective at improving mild to moderate acne than a face wash. You can a find pre-made tea tree oil cleanser or make your own by adding a few drops of pure tea tree essential oil to honey. In general, tea tree oil is well-tolerated, but it may cause peeling and dryness for some people.
For soothing sunburns, fighting inflammation, and tempering itchiness, look no further than the aloe vera. This tropical plant contains a host of good-for-you ingredients including vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and enzymes. What’s more, aloe has been shown to have anti-microbial effects, making it the ideal all-natural therapy for healing skin. Look for aloe gel with at least 97.5 percent aloe (or keep your own collection of aloe plants in your home or garden).
It’s no secret: Shea butter smooths dry skin like no other. This fatty substance—packed with stearic, palmitic, linoleic, and oleic acids, as well as vitamins E and A—has already been incorporated into commercial creams and lotions. Like most things, however, shea butter is best when used in its purest, rawest form, so seek out unrefined shea butter. It can be used as is or mixed with essential oils. Just keep in mind that those with tree nut allergies should avoid shea butter. An added bonus: a study in the American Journal of Life Sciences suggests that shea butter can also boost collagen production.
Swap out commercial makeup removers—which usually contain harsh chemicals—with a healthier option: jojoba oil. You can even use jojoba oil to wipe away eye makeup. It’s not only safe to use on sensitive skin, including the eye area, but it’s moisturizing. Apply jojoba oil to a cloth or cotton ball and use it to gently clean off makeup and bacteria.
Commercial shaving lotions and creams often fall short on their promise to protect the skin from irritation and razor burn. A very link layer of coconut oil can deliver on both fronts—plus, it smells amazing! Thanks to its low molecular weight and ability to bond to proteins, coconut oil can sink deeper into the skin than other oils. Scoop a small amount into the palm of your hand to warm it up and apply directly onto the area to be shaved. I’d recommend washing your hands with soap and water before picking up the razor, however, since coconut oil will leave your hands slippery.
Lemon oil, like other citrus oils, has powerful antioxidant properties (and a fresh, energizing scent). One natural compound in lemon essential oil in particular has been shown to be capable of protecting skin against the aging effects of free radical damage. Lemon essential oil can even fade scars and age spots. Safely dilute for everyday use by mixing a few drops of lemon essential oil with a simple “base” like jojoba or avocado oil and massage into your skin.
Here are ten ideas to try. What would you add? Share your recommendations in the comments below, and thanks for reading.