|Image from Andalou Naturals|
Why all natural?
I know what your thinking, "It's not like I'm eating it or anything right?" Well actually the scary thing is what ever absorbs through your skin goes straight to your blood stream without your body being able to filter out toxins at all. I've been using progesterone cream to help treat PCOS, and I can tell that I am getting hormones from the cream absorbing into my skin. To me this means chemicals hormone disputers in most lotions really can get into your blood stream and effect your whole body without you even realizing it. Surprisingly you don't even need to spend a lot of money to find products that are all natural. I found a lot at drugstore prices (under $15), so why not buy all natural products? I know when I made the switch I was amazed at how much better the product felt and smelt (no chemically smell just essential oils).
My Skin Care Philosophy
- Spend money for active ingredients only in products that will have time to absorb into your skin and only on active ingredients that have good science behind it. Products like creams, serums, and masks, not cleansers. For cleansers what I think is important is that it should not dry out your skin! Steer clear of any with sodium laurel sulfate, which is a powerful industrial cleanser that strips your skin of it's natural oils and is thought to be potentially harmful for your health as well. If you buy an all natural cleanser you don't need to worry about this, but if your not make sure it at least doesn't have this ingredient (that goes for your shampoo too). Cream cleansers are great if your have dry skin otherwise try a gel form.
- There is no need to spend more than $50 on any skin care product. There are too many great products out there for less, why pay more.
- Science and Nature can co-exisit. There are a lot of natural products that have qualities that might or might not help you skin. My thought is to look at them as a bonus, but to focus on making sure you have active ingredients with more science behind it. My favorites are: retinol, (vitamin A), ester C or ascorbyl palmitate (fat soluable vitamin C), alpha lipoic acid, COq 10, DME, peptides, probiotics, glycolic acid and AHDA (natural exfoliants derived from fruit and sugar).
- Only buy all natural skin care products. I don't believe in spending money to add something to help my skin, only to add something to my body that's bad.
- Exfoliating is essential for smooth youthful skin. Exfoliating can help decrease acne, wrinkles, and dry flaky skin. Who doesn't need that? It also helps your makeup go on smoother and increase skin cell turn over which decreases with age. This helps to decrease skin discoloration, wrinkles, and help increase collagen production. Glycolic acid and Alpha Hydroxy acids are great natural exfoliators that don't require scrubbing. I do also use physical exfoliators ( using a substance like jojoba beads to scrub your skin) but I actually make my own instead of buying any. I'll share my recipe soon.
- Protect your skin from the sun year round to prevent damage from UVA rays. I haven't found a moisturizer that I like yet but luckily I use all natural mineral makeup with is a natural spf and barrier from the sun. The reason is the active ingredient in natural sunscreens is zinc oxide which is also in all mineral makeup. I love that! I like to get mine from D&E Handmade Cosmetics on Etsy. If your just looking for something cheap and easy to find at your local store I would suggest Maybeline's mineral makeup foundation. It doesn't have talc (linked to cancer) and parabens (chemical perservatives that mimic estrogen and screw up your hormones), but might have other chemicals in it, but is probably as natural as your going to find at your local Walgreens or Target. I love that mineral makeup is natural and it protects you skin from the sun!
I found out pretty quick that, while there are some products out there, it's hard to find ones that stand up to my demands of quality and had to do a ton of research. I often find products that have a great natural base with active ingredients that might or might not do anything (despite their claims), or have great active ingredients I'm interested in but nasty chemicals I'm not interested in. I found the problem is I don't know what brands to trust and doing a vague search like "natural skin care" or "organic skin care" come up with too broad of a range of products. Some are way too expensive, and some are not really natural or organic at all. I found some great gems I plan to try soon. I sorted through the promising products for the least expensive ones. I mean I figure why pay more than you have too and at least then if the active ingredients aren't as effective as you hoped at least you didn't lose a ton of money and you can just try out a new product. Here's may favorites that I found in my research for under $30.
1. Andalou Naturals Super Goji Peptide Perfecting Cream
I fell in love with this brand due to the fact it's all natural and combines serious science with a little price tag (products range from $12.95-24.95). What I'm most impressed about is they use plant stem cells in most of their products, which are suppose to be protective and nurishing of your skin cells (it will not regenerate skin cells) and therefore anti-aging. You can find it on Amazon, Whole food Stores, or search to see where you can find it localy here.
In this Super Goji Peptide Perfecting cream not only does it have fruit stem cells, but it also has peptides which help build collagan, boosting cellular repair and renewal. One of the main causes of wrinkles is the loss of collagan as we age. It's basically the structure of our skin. I bought this myself on sale at my local coop, but have not used it yet since I'm trying to finish my current lotion first. I plan to actually transfer this lotion into a pump dispenser in order to avoid contamination from scooping some out daily with my fingers. I have acne issues so prevention is key for me.
2. Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask
I bought this about a month ago in hopes of reducing my acne scars, preventing new acne from forming and to help my skin look younger by increasing skin cell turnover and collagen production. I almost bought Juice Beauty's sensitive green apple peel, but since it's over twice the price of this product is gentler to start with and Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Masks also has plant stem cells, in addition to the glycolic acid, I'm sold! We do however have Juice Beauty's full strength green apple peel in on Amazon. I would suggest it if you want more dramatic results because it has a stronger amount of glycolic acid (12%).
I was wondering just how much glycolic acid is in this so I emailed Andalou Naturals to ask them about this and here is there response,
"Our organic pumpkin puree, rich in vitamin A, is blended with a gentle concentration of glycolic acid (less than 1%) to gently dissolve the intracellular glue that binds dull surface skin cells and lifts them away. Advanced Fruit Stem Cells stimulate circulation and healthy cell renewal for even tone and texture, revealing a fresh complexion."Since, this product has less than 1% glycolic acid it's good for people with sensitive skin and for more frequent exfoliation. But I would not expect dramatic results. I have been using it much longer and more frequently than recommended which is 1-3 times a week for 10 min. I've been using it every night for 30-60 min. And I have had no irritation at all. I think this is a great mask to try for those who have sensitive skin and want gentle exfoliation. If your not sure how your skin will be with glycolic acid and want to slowly build up your tolerance this could be a good place to start, so that you don't shock your skin by starting to strong. This is the category I'm in. Now that I've been using this for awhile with no irritation, I've decided to start using Reviva 5% Glycolic Acid Cream . You can find Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask on Amazon.
I just started using this after using Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask nightly for about a month. I bought it on Amazon for $16 from CB select and it came as promised. Can't beat $16 for an anti-aging cream with good active ingredients and no chemicals! Right now I just started using Reviva's 5% glycolic cream nightly and using the Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask for half an hour in the mourning before putting on my mineral make up. The product label says to start with a nightly application and then to work your way up to mourning and nightly applications. What's cool about this product is not only does it have natural ingredients but you can layer your normal lotion or make up on top of this product after waiting 1-2 min. It did sting for a few seconds upon applying and my skin was a little red, but after that I didn't even know that it was on.
I plan to go very slow with increasing my application of this or any other product with a higher glycolic acid. I'm trying to have as much exfoliation that I can without irritation to my skin. It's only been a few days so it's to soon to tell if it's improving my skin at all. I'll update in a few weeks to let you know how it's doing. I'm hoping it will help heal my acne scars faster since I've been dealing with cystic acne (I've been having a break out since I stopped antibiotics a year ago that has been getting worse) and I have been having more new acne before my scars have healed. So this can be great for anyone dealing with acne scars like me or just wants anti-aging benefits. If you want more dramatic results or are tolerating 5% glycolic acid well you may want to try using Reviva's 10% glycolic cream which at under $20 on Amazon is such a good deal!
4. Derma e Microdermabrasion Scrub
A good exfoliation once or twice a week is vital to any skincare routine (and especially an anti-aging regime). I haven't tried this yet (I still have a lot of my current scrub from Orgins which I'm not loving cause it's not all natural) but this sounds good and I love that it's all natural. According to derma e uses a crystal blend including Dead Sea Salt and Volcanic Sand (rich in Silica) to buff away dull surface cells, help diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and acne scars, and absorb excess skin oils. You can find it in on Amazon , Whole Foods, and likely at your local coop.
Update June 2015:
Derma e was nice enough to supply me with a sample (I was not compensated in any other way). I love this! Lately I've been using Neutrogena Naturals Pore Scrub fairly often like 4-6 times a week, before I wash my face (with Shea Moisture African Black Soap face wash scrub (which does not really act as an exfoliate by the way)) so that it's easier to get your skin clean because exfoliating first gets rid of the dead skin so you can clean deeper into your pores.
Derm e's microdermabrasion scrub doesn't use jojoba beads (Neutrogena Naturals Pore Scrub does), but instead uses an exclusive crystal blend. You can easily adjust how gentle or heavy duty it is by adding more or less product and water to your face. When I first tried it I was like wow this is crazy harsh! But then I added some water to my face and like magic it became the perfect amount of abrasion for me. So basically if you have an area that needs more aggressive exfoliation (for me it's my forehead and nose) you can get really good exfoliation in those places while having a more gentle exfoliation in other areas by simply adding a little more water to your face. Very nice for the acne prone like me, just make sure to not use near any acne, sensitive areas, or your eye area. I would suggest using this twice a week.
I haven't tried this yet but plan to soon. This Apple brightening peel has lots of great exfoliating ingredients. It uses fruit acids to exfoliate without harsh particles. According to MyChelle dermaceuticals it has 5% Lactic Acid (L) (Sugar) - An alpha hydroxy acid that hydrates, exfoliates, refines and perfects the surface of the skin by reducing wrinkles and pigmentation discolorations.
2% Azelaic Acid - Inhibits tyrosinase activity to reduce pigmentation spotting related to breakouts, treats mild to moderate acne (both inflammatory and comedonal), reduces bacteria growth in the follicles, scavenges free radicals.
1% Malic Acid (L) (Apple) - From apples, provides antioxidant actions, assists in skin exfoliation and cellular renewal.
Morus Alba (Mulberry) Bark Extract -
Naturally brightens and clears the complexion of pigmentation imbalances. Possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-viral properties while inhibiting photo-aging (shown as wrinkles caused by UV radiation). Shown to inhibit tumor development caused by carcinogenic chemicals and can decrease ultraviolet damage caused DNA breakage resulting in melanoma. Sounds good to me! You can find it at Whole Foods, on Amazon, or most likely your local coop health food store.
6. Neutrogena Microdermabrasion System
I bought my microdermabrasion system about a year ago and I love it! It works great. My skin felt so smooth after using and my makeup goes on like a dream. I've unfortunately had to stop using it since my cystic acne broke out (after I stopped taking antibiotics). While this is not necessarily an all natural product because the puffs have a cleansing solution pre-filled in the textured puffs. What I do is I soak it in water for a long time until it seem like it's all gone and then I use my own face wash before I use it. You can find this at Walgreens, CVS, Target, Kmart, Walmart, and on Amazon (for $15.30 as of writing this article with free shipping, much less than the above mentioned stores!)
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