I get a LOT of questions about skin care. Some of my clients are working to heal eczema, acne, or psoriasis, and holistic skin care is a big part of their protocol. Others just want to know how to have the healthiest skin using natural ingredients. We know that the health of the skin mirrors the health of the gut, so healing begins from the inside out, starting with diet, probiotic therapy, and gut healing.
But what you use (or don’t use!) on your skin makes a world of difference. I’ve put a lot of weird things on my skin and hair over the years. Some have worked, and others were a flop, but I’ve ditched the expensive chemical-filled serums, potions, and creams that contain endocrine-disrupting ingredients like phthalates. Instead I use different oils and ingredients from my kitchen on my face and hair, and I make my own skin cream (much easier than you might think).
I’ve written before about my natural skin care routine, and now I want to share some beauty secrets with you.
10 (Unconventional) Beauty Tips
My first secret: I don’t wash my face. At least not with soap. You’ll often hear wash your face every night, but soap and other cleansers (even the mild hypoallergenic brands) can strip skin of natural oils and actually contribute to acne by triggering oil overproduction in response. Avoid harsh cleansers or soap, even if you’re acne prone. I recommend oil cleansing, which works on acne prone, oily skin, and dry skin alike. I have dry skin, and I simply splash with warm water in the morning before applying my miracle DIY skin cream (coconut oil base). Then at night if I’m not exfoliating, I wash my face with oil. You read that correctly: I use a combination of jojoba oil and sweet almond oil (coconut oil also works well here). I slather it over my dry face and let it sit for a minute. Then I lay a hot-but-not-too-hot washcloth over my face and let it sit for another minute, then wash it off. It removes dirt, makeup, and deliciously moisturizes. Skin feels clean, soft, and silky. If not using my DIY skin cream, I’ll also use the jojoba-almond oil combo as a night moisturizer mixed also with frankincense, myrrh, carrot seed, and occasionally a drop of helichrysum, which soothes irritated skin. Oils are your friend! (I use these essential oils)
2. Exfoliate once or twice weekly to remove dull, dead skin. I’m currently using this Acure exfoliant. Don’t over-exfoliate; it can irritate your skin.
3. I’ve dropped big bucks on all kind of face masks, but lo and behold, the best stuff comes from nature. This easy yogurt mask is rich in lactic acids that soften skin and make it glow. Manuka honey is an amazing mask for acne prone, fussy skin. Egg yolk and avocado is another good one (bonus: use the rest on your hair for double duty). I occasionally use this green apple peel for sensitive skin by Juice Beauty. It’s excellent to reduce fine lines, and it makes your skin glowy and smooth. Turmeric face masks can soothe acne prone skin and reduce sun damage. Also good for eczema and psoriasis.
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Dehydration means fine lines and wrinkles. Clean, filtered water plumps the skin and flushes toxins. Cut the coffee and booze too: both are super dehydrating. Vitamin C is crucial for collagen production, so I sometimes add this tasty powdered vitamin C to my water. Also drink green juice to flood your body with skin healing nutrients and oxygenating chlorophyll from deep green veggies. Check out my favorite juice recipes here, and my go-to afternoon juice here.
5. SLEEP. Beauty rest isn’t a myth. Lack of sleep jacks your stress hormones which can cause acne (do you get a zit when you’re stressed?). Sleep is the best gift you can give yourself and your health.
6. Change it up: your skin has different needs as the seasons change. You may need lighter oils in the summer and a richer moisturizing routine in the winter. I need to double moisturize in the winter: I apply my DIY coconut oil-based skin butter, let it soak in a bit, then apply a few drops of the jojoba-almond oil mix over that.
7. Good fats like avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, omega 3s, and butter are essential, and this time I’m talking about eating them. Fats are essential to keep skin moisturized from the inside out. The omegas especially quell inflammation and speed healing of damaged skin. Click here for more skin superfoods.
8. To remove build-up from hair: add a teaspoon of baking soda to a handful of shampoo twice a month or so. Cuts through build-up and leaves hair soft, smooth, and full of bounce. I also do an apple cider vinegar rinse every so often to normalize scalp pH and for shine. Also great for dandruff.
9. Sleep on a satin pillowcase to prevent hair breakage. Also, softer and soothing on the face.
10. Coconut oil hair mask for moisture: just melt a tablespoon (be careful about over-applying; it’s hard to wash out), apply, and let sit for as long as you have. Use egg yolk for protein treatment. Click here to determine if your hair needs protein or moisture (that balance makes a HUGE difference in your hair care routine).
11. Consider adding diatomaceous earth to your regime. Not only does it clean your insides, it’s great for your skin and hair due to its high mineral content. My hair was so much stronger after a month of using it (internally).
Bottom line: Keep your beauty routine simple to avoid stressing the skin. Add a good probiotic. It takes a bit of experimentation to figure out what your skin needs, and your needs may change over time! I am always rotating different oils or products in and out of my regime.
Want more? Check out my DIY beauty board for more tips and recipes.
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.