Face care products are some of the most heavily advertised health and beauty products on the market. Chemical-laden and perfumed face wash, astringent, moisturizer, and masks are just a few of the things we are told to smear on our delicate faces each day. But I'm here to tell you that you don't need all that crap. Just treat your skin gently and with respect, and your radiant health will beam from your face.
First thing's first: stop using soap on your face. This may be hard to swallow, especially for the acne-sufferers among you, but soap dries the skin by stripping the natural oils from the surface, leaving it scaly and creased. For those with more oily skin, washing with soap causes the skin to over-produce oil, leaving the face chronically greasy and slick. Instead, clean your face by removing the dead skin and grime, but leave that natural moisture behind.
Daily face care:
- In the morning, wet a clean cotton washcloth with warm water. Wring it out and exfoliate the face and neck in soft, circular strokes. Get into all the nooks and crannies, and don't forget to scrub behind the ears. You can do this in the shower or at your bathroom sink. Skin will be left smooth, clean, and refreshed, with no need for further cleansing or moisturizer.
- In the evening, to remove makeup and/or the daily grime, apply an organic, cold-pressed oil of your choice. Massage into the face and neck, behind the ears, etc. (I use sunflower oil mixed with tea tree and peppermint essential oils. You can make your own blend. Be creative.) Next, wet a clean washcloth with warm water, wring it out, and wipe your face clean. The oil will dissolve makeup and gather up anything else collected on the surface, leaving behind nothing but moisturized, radiant skin.
- For a deeper clean, apply a bentonite clay mask once per week. This is sold as Aztec Secret Healing Clay in most health food stores (pictured right). A large tub costs $10, and it will last you many months. Pour a tablespoon or two into a ceramic or glass bowl and mix with water until a thick, spreadable consistency is achieved. Apply to your face, avoiding the delicate eye area, and leave on for 10-15 minutes or until the mask is mostly but not completely dry. You will feel your skin tighten as the clay pulls deep dirt and dead cells from the pores. When you're ready, rinse with warm water and wipe clean with a cotton cloth. Your skin may look flushed or blotchy when you first remove the mask, but this will subside in a matter of minutes.
- For deep overnight moisture, apply a castor oil mask weekly or as needed. Pour a dime-sized drop into your hand and rub between your palms to warm the oil. Pat the castor oil onto dry areas and wrinkles, and lightly dab around your eyes. Massage into the skin and allow the oil to absorb. Apply the mask at least an hour before you lie down to give it a chance to soak in, or simply lay a towel over your pillow. You will wake to a glowing, youthful, even-toned face in the morning.
As a final note, it is important to remember that your outer health is a reflection of your inner health. Even the gentlest, most natural skin care routine won't do a lot of good if you are putting junk into your body. Limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption. Eat whole, healthy foods including lots of healthy fats, and drink at least 2 liters of fresh, filtered water per day. (Shoot for 3+ liters if you do Ashtanga yoga or other rigorous activity.) Perhaps most importantly, get plenty of uninterrupted sleep. When you feel great, you look great, and it will show up on your face.