By Emma John
FYI: This is not a sponsored post; in fact, Friends of Friends doesn’t do sponsored posts. Any product available for purchase is included simply because I want to share my love.
One of my largest concerns as a teen was how to cover up my narcoleptic tendencies (I was really anemic). That, AP English, painting, and perfecting my selfie smile. Lucky for me, my skin was clear, even, and vibrant. Until one day, my lower face exploded when I was seventeen. This lasted, on and off, for about five years. Ooof. Struggling with the change in my self-perceived identity and the daily care rituals that my new little infected buddies demanded of me, I tried many methods to heal myself from the outside in.
Skin is a sensitive issue for everyone. We all have the stories, developed over years, that we tell others and ourselves about why it is the way it is. While there is no miracle cure, my general rules of thumb, methods, and thoughts—gleaned from years of personal experience—are here for you.
Per usual, DRINK WATER.
I can’t reiterate this enough. WATER IS LIFE! Drink it and be vibrant!
Forgive the lecture here, but your skin is a living and breathing organ, and it demands to be treated as such. When you exercise you care for it with blood, electrolytes, and vitamins—not to mention those feel-good endorphins—so get moving!
Learn what your irritants are.
My dad once asked me, “What’s wrong? Too much dairy or too much booze?” For me, dairy and alcohol are bad news. My head fogs, my mood plummets and my skin says, “Um, I don’t think so, honey.” (Note: I’m drinking wine and eating ice cream as I write this. As one of my yoga teachers says, sometimes you have to live with the consequences of being yourself).
There are many schools of thought regarding the correlation between what you eat and how clear your skin is, but what I know for sure is that food is one of the most powerful forces exerting influence over our bodies, minds, and emotions. Treat it, and yourself, with respect.
Take consistent, nutritious care.
As you may have guessed from my article on rye flour shampoo, I love me some food.
If you read no other section of this article, let it be this. Nourishing my skin with food has been one of the biggest game-changers in my life. Below are my favorite tried-and-true methods. I use some combination of them regularly.
A cross between a gentle exfoliating wash and a moisturizing, anti-inflammatory mask, this recipe is admittedly a little messier to use than your typical, sleek tube of store-bought cleanser but I swear by it. Rather than stripping your face, nutritious saponins (think naturally occurring soap) gently pump the goodness in while still removing any built up dirt and sweat. I’ve seen (and used) similar products from many trusted beauty and wellness makers, but taking matters into my own hands, I’ve pared the ingredient list down to a few mainstays:
• Oat Flour: I pulverize my own oats in my high-powered blender. You can also, of course, buy them at most grocery or health food stores.
• Bentonite Clay: I am fortunate enough to live in New York City, where pretty much anything is available in many forms. I bought a large bag of this miracle mud from a Senegalese shop on Atlantic Avenue for about $5.00. That said, it is commonly available in most health food stores, albeit for a slight premium.
• Lavender Buds: One of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received, lavender buds from a local farmers’ market make their way into many of my culinary and beauty pursuits. They soothe so well. It’s like being swaddled in a bath of boob-pillows and yoga nidra.
• If you have it, Calendula: I’m not an expert on this, but a talented nutritionist spouted its benefits in an herb workshop I once attended. Major healing vibes.
Combine these ingredients in a jar for storage: Four parts oat flour, three parts clay, one part lavender buds, and one part dried and ground calendula petals.
Once a day to once a week, mix a small spoonful of this combination with water in the palm of your hand until you have a thick paste, and rub in circular motions onto your face. It will gently slough away any dead skin cells and impurities, and it will infuse your skin with the nutritious benefits of oat saponins and anti-inflammatory properties of lavender and calendula.
Additionally, if you have a lil’ extra time, keep the mixture on your face while you shower or brush your teeth, and it will act as a hydrating and cleansing mask.
Smother that yummy stuff all over your face and body. Seriously. Honey is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and hydrating. So much so that it is sometimes used as a natural wound and burn ointment. After letting pure raw honey sit on my face for about twenty minutes, I notice an improvement in the quality of my skin immediately. It soothes any irritations, acne, dry spots and red splotches.
Natural Oil as Moisturizer:
I’m sure this isn’t a totally novel insight for you, but moisturizing with oil is the one skincare practice I do every single day after rinsing my face with cold water. My favorite type to use on my face is coconut oil. This is due in equal parts to the fact that it was the first oil I put on my face, and that it holds many anti-microbial and hydrating properties. I take a tiny amount and smooth the oil over my entire face and leave it to totally soak in. My skin usually absorbs coconut oil completely in under five minutes. I do this twice a day: once in the morning and once before bed. Some other good ones are grapeseed oil (for a lighter feel), avocado oil, and jojoba. You can read more here.
For all my fellow sunshine-glutton pals, thank goodness Badger sunscreen exists! Here’s the ingredient list for their face stick: Zinc, organic extra virgin olive oil, organic beeswax, organic cocoa, organic shea butter, sunflower vitamin E. While you will be left with a slight white tinge on the application site, I think the non-toxic (And edible! Although that may be pushing it) ingredient list is way worth it. Most conventional sunscreens often contain Oxybenzone (can disrupt your hormonal system) and Retinyl palmitate (which is sometimes said to actually instigate skin damage).
You can also enjoy their essential-oil-scented options. Remember to apply frequently, especially if swimming.
Consider the benefits of letting your skin breathe (a.k.a. no thanks, foundation).
I know, I know. It’s really tempting to cover up your insecurities. We’ve all been there, we all have them, but covering up your sensitivities will only allow them to fester under a mask of pretense. Or at the very least, your pores will clog.
It’s your call what to do in this situation. My two cents is that fresh air, moderate sunlight, and some patience and self-acceptance work wonders for any ailment.
That said, makeup can be fun when used with a grain of salt (or in this case, shiny mineral pigment).
Each day I get by with a little bronzer and mascara, nothing too drastic. It’s like drinking coffee: one part habit, one part placebo, two parts **liiiight**. It’s been a long road to get to this point. My foray into the world of makeup started with sneaking Maybelline pastel eye shadow into the house past my parents after my ~weekly shopping trips~ (at RiteAid) with my 12-year-old girlfriends. In college I experimented with making my own makeup out of cinnamon and arrowroot powder, smelling like some fragrant cookies—not necessarily undesirable, but I’ve since made it out the other end and have found a happy balance between the two extremes.
I like to think that this bronzer (in Warm Chestnut) gives a dewy glow. I also like to think of myself as a matte-girl, but there’s something about its sparkle that I can’t get enough of. Annnd, a little goes a long way, so the 20ml jar lasts forever.
As for mascara, finding one that fit my requirements called for a lot of experimentation. And not to sound like a broken record, but this one from Moonrise Creek does it all. It’s handmade by a talented mama, stays on forever, lengthens, and does not clump. Bam.
And for the times when you need a little confidence boost, try her concealer, intended only for those specific small areas. (I sometimes use the “fair” shade under my eyes).
Do your thing.
I will forever and always end any kind of wellness advice with an encouragement for you to research and learn about your own self, on your own terms.
Any of the methods that I discussed can be bought or made. I linked to them above, but S.W. Basics of Brooklyn sells not only beautiful products, but also many DIY ingredients. And as also previously mentioned, I hope you’ll have some fun exploring non-conventional stores and avenues for your self-care. In my opinion, there are few things more noble or fulfilling than supporting your body and mind by simultaneously upholding your community, environment, and local economy.
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