Sensible Skin Care for the Sustainable | The American Word

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Sensible Skin Care for the Sustainable


Jaclyn Merica | 2/26/16 10:25am
| Updated 4/21/16 4:32pm

Jaclyn Merica /
American Word Magazine

After years of letting Proactiv, Neutrogena and other store bought skin care products suck any inkling of moisture from my skin, I decided I had had enough. My skin was dry and tight, and I was aiming to look less corpse-like and more dewy skinned swimsuit model fresh off a beach in Tahiti. Yes, the chemicals in products like Proactiv were effective, making my skin a barren wasteland that no pimple would ever dare cross. Still, my skin didn’t look healthy, not to mention the chemicals were so strong, they bleached my towels. There’s something unsettling about a product so strong that it fades the color out of terrycloth, yet I’m putting it on my face at least two times a day. Acclimating to a more natural skin care regiment comes with its challenges, but I’ve found it to be more rewarding in the long run. Natural DIY skin care products are exceptionally easy to make, and it’s actually really fun mixing different ingredients until the recipe is perfected. I’m like a quasi-apothecary with my trinkets of chaga mushroom extract and dried sage. With a few basic ingredients, I’ve been able to make much of my skin care and hygiene essentials without using chemicals, and all while producing no waste.

DIY Toothpaste

  • A container (I used a latchable 4 ounce mason jar)
  • ⅔ cup of baking soda
  • Coconut oil
  • 1 tsp finely grained sea salt
  • 15-20 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • Filtered water (best because there is some fluoride in the water)

Coming from a family of dentists, I worried about how effective this concoction actually is compared to toothpastes like Crest or Colgate. With some research, I’ve found that long-term use of this toothpaste has had no adverse effects to users; it’s simply removing any unsustainable and unnecessary chemicals from the mix. Mix the baking soda with the coconut oil and water until a paste is achieved, and then add the salt and essential oil. Be careful about the amount of salt put into the recipe. Initially, I added too much salt, and it was like brushing my teeth with a salt block I used to give my horses. However, some recipes encourage using just salt, so to each their own. Once you get the hang of the consistency, it’s easy to experiment with flavorings using a variety of essential oils.

DIY Facial Cleanser

  • 1 cup filtered water
  • ¼ cup of castile soap (Dr. Bronner’s is where it’s at)
  • 5 teaspoons of an oil of your choice (I prefer either jojoba or argan)
  • 2 tablespoons of raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil
  • 15-20 drops of lemon essential oil

It’s important to add all the ingredients in the order listed, and don’t worry if the mixture is cloudy looking. It’s the castile soap and honey that make it opaque. It took my skin a few weeks to adapt to a much natural cleanser. I had to endure some unsightly breakouts, but it was all in the name of sustainability. It’s important to remake the face wash if the honey begins to coagulate, so start small for your first batch, and then gauge how much you need to sustain yourself each month.

DIY Vanilla Lavender Face and Lip Scrub

  • A container (I used a 4 ounce mason jar)
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • ½ cup of oil (I chose argan oil)
  • ½ teaspoon of Vitamin E oil
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 15-20 drops of lavender essential oil

I never liked how my skin felt after a salt scrub. When I came across this recipe, it was like Christmas came early. I put lavender in everything, and an opportunity to put it all over my face is a dream come true. Brown sugar contains a bacteria killing component called glycolic acid, and it also helps ignite faster cell turnover. I simply mixed the ingredients together in a small mason jar and use it when I need to exfoliate in the shower.

Rose Facial Toner

  • A reusable bottle (I use a plastic spray bottle)
  • ¾ cup of dried rose petals
  • ¼ cup of witch hazel

Combine the witch hazel and roses into a jar with a securable lid. Swirl the jar so the roses and witch hazel mix fully. Let the jar sit for two days straight, then strain the rose-infused witch hazel using some cheesecloth. I found that a lot of the dry roses soaked up the witch hazel, so be sure to squeeze the roses. Pour the rose-infused witch hazel into a container of your choosing, and that’s it! You can pour or spray it onto cotton squares since they’re compostable, and there’s still no waste! Roses and witch hazel are antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and rich in Vitamin C. The oils also tighten pores while also moisturizing. I have a bottle of rose water in my bag at all times if I need to give my skin some extra lovin’ this winter season.

DIY Moisturizer (Day & Night)

  • A container (I reused an old moisturizer container)
  • ¾ oil of your choosing in the container
  • ¼ tamanu oil to fill the rest of the container
  • ½ teaspoon of dried rosehip essential oil
  • 10 drops of lavender oil

So this is one of my favorite parts of being waste free- I’m forced to use a plethora of rejuvenating oils for my face, and my skin as never felt more moisturized. I’ve tried a lot of different oils and even combined some just for kicks. Everyone has different skin types, and there are oils to cater to whatever your moisturizing needs are. I’ve tried other oils I’ve really liked, like sweet almond oil, argan oil, avocado oil and hemp seed oil.

Jojoba oil is one of my favorite kinds of oils. I can thank my sister for introducing me to this beautiful addition to my nightly routine. Her silky smooth, flawless skin is a testament to just how effective jojoba oil truly is. It’s an extremely light oil, so I don’t feel overly greasy when wearing it to bed. Sometimes, I simply lather on some argan or jojoba oil, and sometimes I use the recipe above if I’m having flare ups. For a daytime skincare application, I mix my jojoba oil with dry oils and essential oils. Rosehip oil conditions deep layers of the skin, brightening and removing wrinkles effectively and naturally. I’m keen on using rosehip oil because it helps with sun damage, which I inevitably have from growing up in the Las Vegas sun. A great concoction has been sweet almond, rosehip dried essential oil, and frankincense essential oil, which is just a simplified version of the recipe above.

For the cold winter days, I can mix castor oil with jojoba oil. Castor oil is extremely thick, and something I shy away from with relatively oily skin. Yet, it has advantageous properties to it: it’s anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, so skin prone to breakouts actually benefits from it.

Argan oil is described as liquid gold by some avid users. It’s non-greasy and absorbs quickly, so I can put makeup on my skin a few minutes after application. It’s anti-inflammatory and has antioxidants in it, so it’s perfect for sensitive and acne prone skin since it aids in speeding up the healing process. My roommate uses argan oil on her hair, as well as her face, and she has the skin of an angel.

Hemp seed oil is especially good for temperamental skin. Hemp seed oil is the best option for acne-prone skin subjected to flare ups. It doesn’t clog pores, and in fact, it reduced the size of pores and eliminates blackheads. I don’t have eczema, but I first learned about using hemp seed oil as a moisturizer from a friend with it. My only stipulation with the oil is that it legitimately smells like tree bark, mixed with dirt, mixed with a peanut butter. The pungent smell lingers when I apply the oil to my face, and truthfully it took a week or two for me to not hold my breath while it dried.

Sweet almond oil is my favorite to use as a body lotion, as well. It has a light, unimposing smell, and I feel like doesn’t wear off easily. I love it because it also is natural enough to put on delicate the under-eye area, soothing the skin and eliminating dark circles.

There are a lot of natural skin care lines I recommend for someone who is not waste free. Alba Botanica, Thayers, Jasons Natural (Their Vitamin C Skin Toner is amazing), Amore Pacific, and Tom’s of Maine are all great brands. However, I’ve found that I can still keep up with my skin care regiment without having to sacrifice anything. All of my products are now sustainable yet effective, as well as being affordable. It’s reassuring to know caring for my skin doesn’t prevent me from caring about the planet.