Skin Care Products I use: Best Natural Skin Care Products For Acne and Anti-aging Under $35

By JULIE - 11:30:00 AM

Here's what's in my medicine cabinet  1:derma e lightening cream  2:Reviva labs 10% glycolic acid cream  3: Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Glycolic Brightening Mask  4: Andalou Naturals Super Polypeptide Lift and Firm Cream 5: My DIY Tea Tree and Jojoba oil Acne spot treatment  6: Shea MoistureProblem Skin Facial Wash and Scrub  7: Shea Moisturizer African Black Soap Problem Skin Moisturizer  8:  Shea Moisturizer African Black Soap Problem Skin Mask  9: derma e Purifing Daily Detox Scrub  10: derma e Purifing 2 in 1 Charcoal Mask  11: derma e Microdermabrasion Scrub  12: Thayers Cucumber With Hazel alcohol free toner

Ever since reading, "What's in this Stuff?" by Patrica Thomas,I have been very careful about making sure there are as little to no chemicals in my skin care products.  It's especially important to make sure that you don't have chemicals in your skin care products because your skin is your largest organ!  What you put on your skin, is absorbed into your blood with no filter (what you eat and drink is filtered for toxins through your kidneys and liver).  

I have played around with making my own beauty products a lot.  Through my experimentation with buying natural products and making them, I learned that it is possible to have high quality natural skin care products at an affordable price.  When I started to make my own beauty products I was surprised how cheap it was to make despite using high quality natural products bought at full retail price.  That means companies really can offer high quality beauty products at a very affordable price, if they are not affordable then the product has insane profit margins (or in my opinion you are getting ripped off).  I also found that a lot of the low price drugstore products aren't really a deal, because they typically feel cheap after you get use to natural products and are using incredibly cheap ingredients to still squeeze high margins out of the product.  So in other words many lower price skin care products are not the deal you think they are and they could be very dangerous to your health (hormone disruption, cancer, learning disabilities, etc).   

My Skin Problems: Acne and Aging 
Skin routines are important to work with your skin and concerns that you have.  My skin concerns are anti- aging (I'm in my 30's), and acne.  I also have oily and dry flaky skin, acne scars, and small fine lines by my eyes just starting to show more.   While fighting wrinkles and acne at the same time is a lot to deal with, luckily many acne treatments are also anti-aging and vice versa.  Here is a list of all my favorite products that I use to fight acne and wrinkles without harmful chemicals and without breaking the bank!  They are also very easy to find both online and in stores most products featured here are carried by Whole Foods, Ulta, or Target.
image credit: derma e
 derma e Skin Lightening Cream

This cream is designed to help fade age and liver spots, lighten your complexion, and even out skin tone with a blend of skin-lightening herbs and vitamins, instead of harmful bleaches or hydroquinone, like most other lightening creams. Licorice inhibits the production of melanin. Alpha-Arbutin, a concentrated active commonly sourced from the Bearberry plant, slows the activity of tyrosinase (an enzyme that triggers skin discoloration). Enriched with skin-lightening Vitamin C (c-ester) the fat soluble kind aka the good kind), vibrancy-boosting Milk Thistle and Ginseng, this advanced, multi-action formula helps lighten skin. 100% vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, mineral oil-free, lanolin-free, gluten free, GMO-free.

I have been using this as my summer day time moisturizer when I am not going out into the sun and night time moisturizer, in the hopes it will help lighten my acne scars.  It's the perfect not to light or heavy moisturizer and I found it to be very gentle and soothing to my skin.  I have not used this long enough to say if it works or not, but I do like that it has other good ingredients in it for anti aging (vitamin c (c-ester), vitamin e, and vitamin A) even though it is not marketed as an anti-aging product.  It also has zinc oxide which can have some benefits for acne, help sooth skin (it's the active ingredient in calamine lotion) and encourage healing, it's also the active ingredient in natural sunscreens. Vitamin A is also helpful for acne as well as reducing wrinkles.

For maximum effectiveness, wear protective clothing to keep the areas you are trying to lighten out of direct sunlight. As your skin renews itself every 28 days, cells with less melanin will surface during this time, creating a lighter, more even complexion.  

Where to Purchase:  
Derma e is available at whole foods, CVS, GNC, Sally Beauty Supply, Ulta, The Vitamin Shoppe, many co-ops, etc., (check here to find a store near you) as well as online.

image credit: Reviva Labs

Revia 10% Glycolic Acid Night Cream

Glycolic acid is an AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) derived from sugar cane. This is a great way to exfoliate without scrubbing your skin.  According to Dr Oz , "This wrinkle-fighting acid is an exfoliator that safely removes the outer layer of dead skin cells so that plump new cells can rise to the surface. Glycolic acid helps stimulate the growth of collagen, which is responsible for skin's elasticity and which breaks down with aging. Glycolic acid can help smooth out fine lines and diminish the appearance of wrinkles."

According to the acne doctor, "Glycolic acid is the only AHA which is able to penetrate through the cell walls by virtue of its small molecular size. Once inside the cell, it will trigger new formation of collagen and turn on the synthesis of dermal glycosaminoglycans to plump up the cell and the ground substances in the skin to reduce wrinkles on the skins surface. " 

AHAs are not only a fantastic natural anti-aging treatment but a little known fact is they also can help with acne. By exfoliating your skin it  helps to increase skin cell turn overIf you have slow skin cell turnover can allow bacteria to build up and clog pores, thereby contributing to acne. I discovered this in my research for finding topical ways to help deal with my acne problems. 

Caution This is Powerful Stuff!
I have been using this for a few years now.  I started with Revia's 5% glycolic cream 
and worked my skin up to using the 10% glycolic acid cream.  I use this as a night cream or a day cream only when I know I will be indoors all day because it can make you sensitive to the sun (more likely to have sun damage to your skin).  DO NOT APPLY on any broken skin, sensitive areas, or anywhere near your eyes.  This product can be very irritating to skin and is not recommended for sensitive skin.  Please start with Revia's 5% glycolic cream  or Andalu Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask, (mentioned below), first.

Where to Purchase: I usually buy 2 at a time on Amazon to get a better price (I usually order it with something else to get free shipping).  Amazon always has had the best price when I have looked, you can also find Revia labs in many health food stores and Ulta beauty, if you prefer to not buy online.

Andalu Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask
While this is not a very powerful exfoliate (it has less than 1% glycolic acid according to the company when I asked them), it is great for anyone who wants to uses AHAs but have sensitive skin. I have never had any stinging or discomfort from this product.   This is also a great place to start with using glycolic acid if you never had before. For more on this mask check out my Top 6 natural anti-aging skin products.

Where to Purchase:
In stores such as Whole foods and your local health food store (check where you can find Andalu Naturals in a store by you).  You can always buy online directly or on Amazon.

Andalou Naturals Super Goji Peptide Perfecting Cream 

I was really excited when I discovered Andalou Naturals because not only do they make high quality natural skin care products at a reasonable price, but they also have fruit stem cells in all their products (including this one) which sounded to me like cutting edge anti aging science. Fruit stem cells according to Andalou Naturals,  "provide 'universal cells' to renew, repair and regenerate healthy skin.which help build collagen, boosting cellular repair and renewal. Unfortunately they do not point to any evidence to support this.   The more I try to find evidence of this the more I start to question if fruit stem cells do anything at all for your skin.  Brightest Bulb in the Beauty Box seems to have doubts about the science behind stem cells too.  So I wouldn't really buy into the fruit stem cell claims, but Super Goji Peptide Perfecting cream is all natural and has peptides, antioxidants, and hyaluronic acid.  

Peptides do have better science behind it, but there is no guarantee that it will work.  One of the main causes of wrinkles is the loss of collagen as we age.  One strategy to improve winkles and to make you look younger is to replace lost collagen. When collagen breaks down, it forms specific peptides. These peptides act as a signal to tell your skin it was damaged and to make new collagen.  So trying to encourage your skin to make more collagen is really getting at the heart of wrinkles, which makes sense to me.  The question is what actually works to increase collagen production.   Does this work?  I don't know but it certainly doesn't hurt to try. 

Please note that creams that claim to stimulate collagen synthesis in the skin are only as good as your body is able to produce actual collagen. Collagen production in the body drops radically after age 40.  Also keep in mind there are many things that have to go right in order for peptides to actually have a benefit. Peptides have to be stabilized or they might continue to break down further in a topical cream, becoming useless. Also, they have to be in a cream that allows them to penetrate the skin (not heavy creams).  Exfoliating before applying any creams also increase the chance of deeper penetration in the skin.

Hyaluronic acid will only temporarily change your skin by drawing moisture to your skin.  .  According to Courtney Dunlop on Dr Oz's blog, "Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide (carbohydrate) in the human body. It’s present in large amounts in the spaces between skin cells, where it provides moisture, plumpness, firmness and suppleness to the skin. Know how a baby’s skin always looks so deliciously dewy and pillowy? It’s because babies are born with a high level of hyaluronic acid, which keeps their skin plump and smooth. Unfortunately, the amount of hyaluronic acid in skin diminishes with age, most significantly after age 40."  Wrinkles also may temporarily look better by plumping of the skin.

Where to Purchase:
In stores such as Whole foods and your local health food store (check where you can find Andalu Naturals in a store by you).  You can always buy online directly or on Amazon. 

 My DIY Tea Tree and Jojoba oil Acne Spot Treatment
I developed this to replace Burt Bees acne spot treatment, because it was highly irritating (probably the worst thing to due to acne is to irritate it) due to the high alcohol content in it (it's the first ingredient in it). All you need to make this is tea tree oil, jojoba, and a dark roller bottle.  I like to use this as a spot treatment and as a preventative facial mask/ treatment. 

 SheaMoisture African Black Soap Acne Care Kit $20 exclusively at Target

I have been very impressed with SheaMoisture's ingredients in this kit. So impressed I'm on my second kit now.  So glad Target is still carrying this.   Not only is it all natural (as far as I can tell if it's not 100% then it's pretty close), but it has shea butter as it's second ingredient, (that's really hard to find because shea butter is so expensive), along with an interesting combination of natural ingredients that help fight acne both conventional (tea tree and salicylic acid), with unconventional (black soap, tamarind extract, and neem oil).

I don't think the amount of tea tree or salicylic acid is a high enough percentage to be legally labeled acne treatment, hence the "problem skin" label.  But it's still could be helpful since it has several ingredients that are thought to help with acne, especially ingredients not usually found in typical acne products.  I can't say whether this has helped my acne or not, because when your fighting acne you try a lot of things and I do still get acne just not as bad as I use to, but it definitely has not made it any worse and is very gentle on my skin.  I think often people battling acne go to far and end up aggravating their acne making it worse because inflammation causes acne to go deeper into your skin and spread.

Moisturizer:  I find the moisturizer to be quite heavy, so I use it only at night and in the winter and after I wash my face so it has a little water still on my face. You can tell just by feeling it that it's made with really high quality ingredients.

Mask: Love this it helps to balance your moisture in your face by drawing toxins out and moisturizing your skin, which helps prevent acne.

Face wash/ scrub: This is so NOT a scrub (despite the label), but is a great moisturizing face wash.  Many people with acne are afraid of oil, but it actually can help clean your skin and help fight acne by balance the moisture in your skin.  When skin is too dry it actually produces more oil.  I like to keep this on my face for a couple of minutes before washing it off, so it's like a mini mask.  I don't even bother scrubbing with this because the amount of jojoba beads in this are so few it doesn't really do anything, instead I use derma e detox and microdermabrasion scrub (see below). 
Bar soap Face/ Body: I have two bars of soap now since I'm on my second kit and still haven't used it because years ago I melted down soap and added essential oils and coconut oil to make my own soap for holiday gifts.  It's been 4 years now, and I'm only now finally close to finishing the ones I made!  Guess I made a few too many... I'm excited to try these after I run out of my bars of soap.  I love that it's made out of real soap and black soap at that (lotion bars are not soap and therefore will not clean as well) and shea butter, along with oats and aloe (both very soothing to the skin). 

Considering the high quality of ingredients (all natural and possibility might help with acne), and price point (if you buy this in the kit form from Target it averages to $5 a piece (4 products for $20 and even less if you catch it on sale), you can't beat this.  I'm on my second kit now and if it's still around when I finish this one I will still buy again.   

Where to Purchase:
This kit is sold exclusively at Target, which can be bought in stores or online.  If you don't have problem skin you can opt for their anti-aging kit (this has a higher quality of shea butter raw shea butter has more vitamins in it than in the problem skin formula).  You also can buy each piece individually at Target or directly through SheaMoisture.   

derma e New Purifying and Detox Line 
Derma e's new purifying formulas work naturally to draw out toxins, replenish vital nutrients and restore skin’s resistance to oxidative stress. They are also synthetic fragrance-free, allergy tested and made with minimal ingredients, so it’s safe for even sensitive skin. 100% vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, mineral oil-free, lanolin-free, gluten free, GMO-free.

derma e Purifying Daily Detox Scrub

This detox scrub lifts away micropollutants.  This formula contains some of the most powerful minerals and natural toxin fighters from the earth and from the sea. Kimarine® Wakame is a potassium-rich, magnesium-rich seaweed that is clinically proven to protect skin against environmental pollutants (exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke, heavy metals). Bladderwrack is an antioxidant-rich, mineral-rich seaweed known for its water-binding properties, supporting healthy skin hydration and nourishment. Activated Charcoal, known for absorbing 100 to 200 times its weight in impurities, helps remove toxins from the skin’s surface. Apricot Seed Powder gently exfoliates away micropollutants, and Green Tea delivers potent antioxidant defense.  

This is a fantastic gentile daily scrub. According to Christie Brinkley she was exfoliated every day for 40 years, because she heard men look 5 years younger because they shave which exfoliates the skin.  Christie is 61 years old now, but you would never guess it.  Check her out on Dr Oz giving her anti-aging secrets.  She looks amazing!  Clearly must be doing something right.  This scrub is very similar to the detox scrub and mask in formula except that it does not have kaolin and bentonite clay and comes in a 4 oz tube so their is enough to use every day.

Update 2019: derma e gave me a sample of this at the time of this post.  Since then we still use it.  My husband really likes it.  We buy it on Amazon.

derma e Purifying 2 in 1 Charcoal Mask
Purifying 2 in 1 Charcoal Mask 
This Mask deeply detoxifies skin of harmful micropollutants in two ways: (1) Natural clays infused with Kimarine® Wakame, Bladerwrack and Activated Charcoal lift out dirt, oil and bacteria to decongest pores as the mask dries; (2) Apricot Seed Powder exfoliates away dead skin cells and captured debris upon removal. Kaolin and Bentonite Clays absorb excess oils and impurities, relieving skin congestion. Kimarine® Wakame is a potassium-rich, magnesium-rich seaweed that is clinically proven to protect skin against environmental pollutants (exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke, heavy metals).

I love this detox mask and scrub in one.  Save time and space in your bathroom.  Gotta love that.  To use apply generously to clean facial skin, avoiding eye and lip area. Leave on for 5 minutes or until mask is completely dry. Moisten fingertips, then massage mask gently in a circular motion to activate exfoliants.

This works great!  My skin felt clean, hydrated without being oily, it was gentle, and best of all my foundation looked better than ever.  I was not expecting that at all.  Now whenever I have somewhere I need to go that I went to look extra good for I use this before putting on my makeup.    

Hear the Founder of derma e Describe Their New Purifying 2 in 1 Charcoal Mask

derma e Microdermabrasion Scrub
I love this scrub!  This is not your typical scrub that uses jojoba beads, instead it uses crystals like dead sea salt. When I first used this scrub I thought it was way to abrasive, but then I added a little water and like magic it was just right.  This scrub can go from a bit more aggressive to gentle depending on how much product you use and how much moisture is on your face when you apply it.  I like to apply more product to tough spots that need more scrubbing like my forehead and nose, and less in areas that need to be more gentle. 
It uses an exclusive 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. Enriched with natural astringents Lime and Lemon Peel plus antioxidants Grapeseed and Vitamin E, this treatment retexturizes skin, leaving it soft, smooth and younger-looking. So this is great for anyone like me fighting wrinkles and acne!

May also be used on your hands, elbows, knees, heels or any part of the body to promote soft, smooth and healthy skin. Please note: The crystal blend used in this product is a large molecular structure and is therefore not bio-available to the body, so there is no possibility of absorption through the skin

Where to Purchase:  
Derma e is available at whole foods, CVS, GNC, Sally Beauty Supply, Ulta, The Vitamin Shoppe, many co-ops, etc., (check here to find a store near you) as well as online.

Update 2019: derma e has a new version of this that I haven't tried yet.  

Thayer's Alcohol Free Cucumber Witch Hazel 

After reading "The Japanese Skincare Revolution: How to Have the Most Beautiful Skin of Your Life--At Any Age", by Chizu Saeki I started to use Chizu's lotion skin treatment that uses cotton pads and alcohol free toner (lotion).  Chizu Saeki is Japan's most in demand aesthetician, who after a long career working for Guerlain and Dior opened her own salon.  The lotion (toner) mask is her trademark treatment.  The lotion (toner) mask moistures skin without oil, by allowing moister to absorb into the skin (instead of evaporating) by leaving thin layers of cotton soaked in toner and water on the skin for 3 minutes.  I like to add a few drops of tea tree oil to mine to turn it into an acne treatment too!

                                   Check out Chizu applying her famous lotion (toner) mask 

I don't know if this has really helped my skin since I don't faithfully do it.  But I like to do this every once in a while as a spa treatment at home.  I figure it can't hurt to try since to be seen by Chizu is next to impossible to get an appointment with and she looks fantastic for her age, she must be doing something right, and worse case scenario I feel pampered for the day with no real benefit to my skin.  I can live with that, especially since the Thayer's toner I use is pretty inexpensive on Amazon and is all natural.

Thayer's alcohol free toner also comes in other formulas such as rose petal and lavender.  It's gentle, calming, moisturizing (it has glycerin a humectant in it), is fragrance-free, paraben-free, naturally preserved, and is hypoallergenic.

Where to Purchase:  
Whole foods, GNC, your local health food stores (check here for specific stores near you), or online (Amazon has it for the cheapest that I have found ).  I bought mine on sale at my local co-op.
Other Products That I Use
Tretinoin This is by prescription only. 
This is the strongest most effective vitamin A available, and is different from vitamin A found in OTC beauty products.  According to the NY Times, "It causes skin cells to turn over more rapidly. It shrinks dilated pores and improves cell turnover within the pores so they are less likely to clog and become blackheads and whiteheads." 

While prescribed for acne, it also has been proven to help fight wrinkles by improving the growth of collagen.   I have been using this for 6 years now, but will soon run out and stop because apparently my insurance company thinks I'm too old to use it for acne, also our insurance has gotten pretty crappy and barley pays for much of it anyways (it's crazy expensive without insurance covering it).  So while I currently use this every night, I plan to transition to a more supplement based internal anti-aging system, (which I think will be even more effective), soon look for post about that to come soon.
Caution: Tretinoin may actually make skin look worse — with redness, flakiness and peeling — for up to eight weeks. it is wise to limit its use with other potential irritants, like glycolic acids and vitamin C.  It also may make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so use at night.  Do not use if pregnant or trying to conceive (my gynecologist was very concerned about me being on this despite the fact I told her we are not trying to conceive).  Please talk to your doctor before they prescribe this to you.  

Update March 2019:  I now buy  Differn which is over the counter instead.  I would not consider this natural because it does unfortunately have parabens.  The only reason I use it is because there is such good research for tretinoin for both wrinkles and acne both of which I have to deal with, and no natural tretinoin alternatives. 

Dollar store Microfiber Facial Scrubbers   
This really gets your skin clean without getting makeup on your washcloths and gentle exfoliates. I use the microfiber side usually, but occasionally use the scrubby side on my forehead and to exfoliate my lips in the winter.  It also is very sanitary, (which is very important if your are prone to breakouts like me) because you can wash it in your washing machine after each use.  I simply put them all in a lingerie bag to wash so they don't get lost and to make sorting laundry easier.  I thought about using a brush system like Clarisonic but am worried about bacteria on the brushes.  If you've used a Clarisonic brush I'd love to hear about it!

2019 update: since writing this post I bought a Conair face brush which is a lot like the clarisonic but cheaper.  I've used it for yrs now and love it.  

*derma e supplied me with samples for review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All reviews represent the opinion of Minneapolis Homestead and are based on personal use and results.  I refuse to review any product that I myself would not purchase.

Don’t forget to “likeus on Facebook.  Let’s be friends on Pinterest and we can follow each other on Twitter .  And check out my other blog OhYou Crafty Gal.

I am not a doctor, dietitian, nutritionist, or fitness expert. I have ZERO medical training and NO formal nutritional or fitness training.  The information provided on this site, such as text, graphics, images, is for informational purposes only. It is not to be construed as medical care or medical advice and is not a replacement for medical care given by physicians or trained medical personnel.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider(s) when experiencing symptoms or health problems, or before starting any new treatment.   

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