December 6, 2013

Healthier Beauty Routines: Homemade Face Wash


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Why I don't trust conventional cosmetics

Over the last year or two, I have stopped using most conventional cosmetics and toiletries. Why? While we tend to think about our skin as an impermeable barrier that protects us from the outside world, it isn't true. Our skin absorbs many of the ingredients in the products that we slather on it every day. And this can be a problem when those ingredients include things such as:

  • Preservatives- such as BHA which has been linked to cancer and endocrine disruption and Parabens (such as propylparabens and butylparabens) which can act like estrogen in the body. Which is why parabens have been implicated in the rise in reproductive and developmental disorders to obesity. While I am skeptical that parabens alone are the cause of these problems, I am sure that they certainly add another stress to an already heavily bombarded system.
  • Foaming agents- such as Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) and related chemicals in the "eth" family. While SLS itself is only considered moderately dangerous due to possible organ toxicity, it can be contaminated with much more dangerous chemicals such as ethylene oxide and 1,4-Dioxane both of which are known carcinogens.
  • Fragrances- while you might love the smell of your sea breeze body wash, the law does not require manufacturers to list the chemicals that they put into their fragrance mixes. Yet, many of the chemicals in these mixes are known to cause everything from more benign reactions such as skin irritation to more serious problems such as cancer and endocrine distraction.

 

How I switched from conventional cosmetics

I didn't make the switch from conventional cosmetics overnight. But over time I began to just go without some products (such as most of my make-up), switch to safer alternatives (such as Earthpaste Natural Toothpaste), and I now make the rest at home.

After playing around with quite a few recipes I now regularly make our own:
  • Deodorant
  • Lotion
  • Chapstick
  • Shaving Cream
  • Face Wash
I love having control over the ingredients and I plan on sharing many of these recipes as soon as I perfect them enough for a public unveiling, but for today: face wash!

How to make homemade face wash

Both Nathan and I have fairly sensitive and acne prone skin. While no face wash can completely cure acne (exercise, diet, and stress management are often more important remedies), how you wash you face can certainly either contribute to or help prevent and heal acne.

Acne is primarily an inflammation of the skin. Typically the skin becomes inflamed when bacteria become trapped in the skin's pores with dirt and oil. (Stress and hormones also play a large role.) Remedies need address each of these causes.

Many of the face washes sold commercially are very harsh on the skin and can actually lead to inflammation and can strip your natural oils which in turn causes you skin to overcompensate by overproducing oil. So using these washes can often lead people into a vicious cycle of needing ever more powerful face washes to combat these escalating problems.

The face washes that I make gently wash the skin, while combating inflammation, promoting healing, and helping to regulate the body's natural production of oils. They all contain three important ingredients:

  • Manuka Honey- all types of raw honey are extremely beneficial for your skin. Honey is moisturizing and it has antibacterial properties. Manuka honey has especially strong antibacterial properties, but it can be pretty expensive.
  • Aloe Vera Gel- anyone who has used aloe after receiving a sun burn can attest to its soothing and healing properties. Aloe helps to reduce inflammation and also helps to moisturize the skin.
  • Essential Oils- these oils are optional and you may want to skip them if you have extremely sensitive skin. However, certain essential oils have medicinal qualities that help to speed up healing, to reduce inflammation and/or to combat bacteria. I have found success using:
    • Lavender and Chamomile- soothes and promotes healing of the skin
    • Tea Tree, Clary Sage and Bergamont- all especially useful for treating acne by combating bacteria and/or inflammation

Gentle Oatmeal Wash or Mask 

This type of wash or mask is gentle enough to be used daily and would be beneficial for any skin type. It uses oatmeal flour to thicken the mixture. Oats have long been praised for their ability to sooth skin and promote healing. They contain natural saponins that help to remove dirt and excess oil. The flour also gently exfoliates away dead skin cells while helping to moisturize the skin.

Ingredients:

2 Tbs aloe vera gel
2 Tbs manuka or other raw honey
10-15 drops essential oils (optional)
2-4 Tbs oat flour (can be made from regular oatmeal)

1. Mix the the aloe vera gel and honey vigorously until all lumps are gone. If using, mix in the essential oils.

2. If you do not have oat flour on hand, you can grind oatmeal in a food processor for a few minutes and then sift to make sure that no large pieces remain.

3. Slowly mix in the oat flour a couple teaspoons at a time until you reach the desired consistency. The oats will continue to absorb some of the liquid, so you may want to stop when the mixture is slightly thinner than your desired consistency. A thinner paste works better for a more frequent wash and a thicker paste works well for a face mask.

Note: This face wash contains no preservatives, so it is important to use clean equipment and jars for storage (ideally boiled in water for 10 minutes). Be sure to store the face wash in the refrigerator to slow bacterial growth and you will want to use it up within a few weeks at most.


Aspirin Acne Buster Scrub

This version is not as gentle as the oatmeal version, so it should be used less frequently. It uses a mix of bentonite clay, aspirin, and turmeric to fight the main contributor of acne. For a gentler version, you could remove the aspirin and use it more frequently.

  • Bentonite clay- can help to dry out impurities from our pores and help our skin to regulate its natural oil production. When you buy bentonite clay be sure to only buy from a trusted source since it can be contaminated by heavy metals during the mining process.
  • Aspirin- Acetylsalicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin, is a precursor to salicylic acid, however contrary to popular myth, they act in a very different way physiologically. It's primary benefit is actually as an anti-inflammatory, although it also seems to act as a mild exfoliant
    (Note: if you have an aspirin allergy, be sure to leave it out as it can cause an allergic reaction even if it is only used topically.)
  • Turmeric- Turmeric has been used as a traditional skin care ingredient in India, especially to give a bride glowing skin before her wedding. Turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory & antibacterial properties. It also helps to control your body's natural oil production.

Ingredients

2 Tbs aloe vera gel
2 Tbs manuka or other raw honey
10-15 drops essential oils (optional)
5-10 tablets uncoated aspirin tablets, crushed
2 tsp turmeric
1-3 Tbs bentonite clay

1. Mix the the aloe vera gel and honey vigorously until all lumps are gone. If using, mix in the essential oils.

2. Mix in the crushed aspirin until mostly dissolved and then mix in the turmeric powder.

3. Next mix in the bentonite clay vigorously a couple teaspoons at a time until you reach the desired consistency. You may not initially be able to mix out all the clumps of clay. I find that the consistency seems to smooth out as it sits over time.

Note: This face wash contains no preservatives, so it is important to use clean equipment and jars for storage (ideally boiled in water for 10 minutes). Be sure to store the face wash in the refrigerator to slow bacterial growth and you will want to use it up within a few weeks at most.

This post was shared at Wildcrafting Wednesdays.

1 comment:

  1. Love this! Thank you so much! I'm in my late 20's and I've been thinking about my skincare routine a lot. I usually just wash with baking soda, but it hasn't been enough. In trying to make the switch back to chemicals, I've been researching all the "organic" products out there for something gentle but effective. What I've found is even the products advertised as the most natural contain scary chemicals, like Sodium Benzoate (can cause cancer when combined with Vitamin C). Anyway, this post makes me feel better that I can have an effective and safe skincare routine.

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