Every morning and every night, as you move through your beauty routine—wash, exfoliate, tone, moisturize—beware: You may be slathering on some harmful chemicals, too.
There are a whole lot of weird words on the ingredients list of your favorite beauty products, and it’s likely that you have no idea what they even do. (One of them, for example, is urea—a chemical compound produced by the body after metabolizing protein—found in urine. Fortunately, the form used in the cosmetic industry is typically synthetically derived from ammonia and carbon dioxide, not extracted from human or animal sources. Whew.)
And some of these scary ingredients aren’t even listed. Antibacterial substances like triclosan are partially comprised of dioxin (usually unlisted), which has been linked to cancer, reduced immune function, and nervous system disorders.
Your skin is your largest organ, so your body will absorb 60 percent of what you put on it. And your face—it’s the pièce de résistance of the whole package. No wonder we take extra care to brighten, clarify, and replenish it. But you don’t need all the additives. With 11 natural ingredients—some of which you may already have in your kitchen—you can create your own five-step beauty regimen you can feel confident about using every single day and night.
Conventional face wash can strip beneficial oils from the skin. Combining raw honey—which is naturally antibacterial and contains beneficial enzymes and probiotics—with anti-inflammatory jojoba oil can help cleanse acne-prone skin without drying it out. Just take a small, palm-sized amount of raw honey, add a couple drops of jojoba oil, and massage onto your face in small, circular motions. Leave it on for five to ten minutes for deep cleansing, and then rinse with warm water. (If you’re feeling ambitious, add a couple of drops of cell-regenerating frankincense oil as well.)
Those little microbeads in many commercial scrubs aren’t great for your skin’s texture, or the aquatic environments where millions of them end up. Here’s a recipe for a truly game-changing scrub. Mix a 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/8 cup of cocoa or cacao powder, then little by little, add a 1/4 cup of grapeseed oil until you have a texture that’s grainy and not too greasy. Almond, avocado, and extra virgin olive oils work great, too. Store it in a glass jar with a lid (ants will be drawn to this sweet scrub).
Toner not only shrinks pores, but also cleanses the skin of impurities. Apple cider vinegar is a miracle worker for both of these tasks. It’s awesome at balancing the skin’s natural pH, dissolves dead skin cells, and works wonders on acne and scarring. Green tea’s well-known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make this duo a match made in heaven. Brew a cup of strong green tea. Once cooled, combine 3/4 cup of tea with a 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar. Pour the mixture into a clean glass bottle with a cap and store it in the fridge. Infuse the toner onto a cotton ball and swipe all over your face.
Moisturizing your visage can really be this simple. Cocoa butter is a stable solid fat extracted from the cocoa bean. It’s naturally antioxidant, has a super emollient, velvety texture, and smells sublime. It has a long shelf life, too. Rosehip seed oil is loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids. It diminishes dark spots, scars, fine lines, and is non-greasy compared to other oils. Heat a 1/4 cup cocoa butter in a double boiler just hot enough to melt, then mix in a 1/4 cup rosehip seed oil. Cool the mixture in the fridge until it’s semi-solid, and then whip it with a whisk. Use just a small dime-sized amount for the entire face (more if your skin is extra dry).
Forget about those expensive eye creams that claim to remove fine lines and dark circles. Since these things can be hereditary, it might not be possible. But you can—and should—moisturize the delicate eye area with a special cream. This concoction will work hard on a cellular level to nourish your eyes. Put two ounces of room temperature shea butter into a bowl and mash it with a fork. Brew a strong cup of green tea and cool 1 teaspoon of it (drink the rest, it’s good for you!). Mix it into the shea butter, along with a 1/2 tablespoon of rosehip seed oil and a 1/2 tablespoon of vitamin E oil, which fights free radicals. Whip everything up with a whisk, and store in a 4-ounce container with a seal. Gently pat a small dot of this stuff under each eye with the ring fingers.
Do these steps morning, night, or both for healthy, glowing skin. (Exfoliate only two to three times per week—less if you have sensitive skin.)
You’ll get addicted to making your own skincare products, and you’ll save a ton, too. All of these ingredients are available at Thrive Market, and you can make many batches of each treatment. Sure beats an expensive shopping spree at the beauty store.
Illustration by Karley Koenig
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