For the winter, I’ve made the switch from my holy grail cleanser to oil cleansing. By far, my favorite oil for that purpose is coconut. I know some of you don’t use coconut oil on your face due to breakouts, but my face loves the stuff. There’s an immediate “Ahhhhhhhh” when I put it on. And it does a smashing job of cleansing.
This year, I decided to add some healing EOs to my coconut oil cleanse experience. I discovered a new product from an old favorite brand, plus had a major DIY success.
Evan Healy Coconut Cream Cleanser: This is a very high quality oil, super smooth and with a cream-like texture. With the sweet orange, vetiver, and neroli essential oils, the scent is just dreamy. I have to admit I find it a little pricey for what it is (more than $30 for just under 2 oz). I know Evan Healy uses the highest quality ingredients, but it’s a pretty simple mix. I’ll probably buy it again at some point, but it definitely inspired me to try a DIY.
DIY Coconut Cream Cleanser: For this, I used my favorite coconut oil that I get from Whole Foods, International Harvest’s Lanka Sun Organic Coconut Oil. This stuff is super creamy. I melted it down in pyrex measuring cup in a pan of heated water on the stove, very slowly heating and stirring with a bamboo spatula. Once the oil was thoroughly melted (but not overheated), I stirred in Hope Gillerman’s Neroli Oil (about 1/3 bottle to nearly 3 oz coconut oil). So I guess since I’m using Hope’s blend, this is only semi-DIY. I love the HG Neroli, but I hadn’t used it in a while, and was thrilled to find a new way to incorporate it into my routine. I poured the mix into some glass jars and set them in the freezer until they solidified. This step is really important – if it cools too slowly it can get grainy. It will still perform, but I just prefer the luxurious feel of a super smooth product. And it smells like heaven. You can do this with any EOs you like, or even add some different carrier oils (that will change the texture, so be willing to experiment). Even if you prefer plain coconut oil, I still recommend doing the melting and freezing if you want a creamy texture.
Are you a coconut oil fan? Would you rather buy a product like this, or DIY?
I’ve done yoga for many years, but just recently started taking a class again. What does that have to do with coconut oil? Some great cosmic convergence of yogic sages and plant spirit? Nope. Foot fungus.
Last time I went to a public studio was prior to going very clean with my products. Being barefoot, in spite of using my own mat, etc., I would end up with fungus between my toes quite often. I had to use an antifungal spray before and after class to avoid the problem. Since going clean, I don’t want all that medicine, or all those preservatives and fillers, on my skin. I needed another solution.
Search “coconut oil” on NMDL and you’ll come up with a ton of results, everything from comments to morning routines to Siobhan’s post on amazing beauty tricks. I’ve found coconut oil fabulous for so many things – hair, nails, skin, lady parts. That last one made me think that if it helps a yeast infection, coconut oil ought to help athlete’s foot.
I decided to try using coconut oil between my toes before and after class, and, I’m happy to report, it works. I can’t say it would cure an existing infection, but it’s prevented one for me. Ten weeks and counting, which is a record.
If you’re bored with your usual plain coconut oil, Kuumba Made has some really amazing infusions. These aren’t just coconut oil with scent added, but true infusions using botanicals from their own garden, wild harvest, or certified organics. They have ten different infusions (plus plain oil) and also offer sample packs. Whole Foods carries them, and I was able to test almost all the varieties. My favorites are pictured above. Calendula is known to be very healing for the skin, and this is very pleasant and mildly scented. The coffee is bright and energizing. Sometimes I open it up just to smell it. The rose smells just like fresh roses, and this one seems to melt a little easier than the others.
Kuumba Made has lots of different products, but so far I’ve only tried the coconut oils. What have you tried?
Meet Kayla—she’s always been a product enthusiast, only now she’s gone clean. Lucky for us, because she has a TON of great recs here including some makeup application tips. Enjoy!
Hometown: San Luis Obispo, CA
Current Weather: Sunny and cool.
Hair: Long, wavy, thick — I was a chronic hair-dyer but its mostly my natural color now.
Skin: I started getting acne in my early 20s, which was extremely frustrating after being blemish-free in my teen years, when I was expecting it! Guess I’m a late bloomer… Now I’m mostly clear with the occasional blemish or two, thanks to my mostly-clean beauty routine and avoidance of sugar.
Favorite star: Gwen Stefani
In the Shower…
In regards to my face, I’ve tried a few different products — including Proactiv which was DISASTROUS as one use made my face puff up like a blow fish. That was that! Now I use Dr. Alkaitis’ line of products – the cleanser, toner, soothing gel, nourishing treatment oil, and universal mask. The products are fantastic and my skin is much happier, but since the line is quite pricey I sometimes sub in plain ol’ Trader Joe’s tea tree cleanser, which seems to be working for me. On my body, I simply use Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap (especially the mint or rose scents, yum!) and a nice scrub brush to exfoliate. I love how soft my skin feels from the brush and how sudsy Dr. B’s gets. For my hair, I try not to wash it too often, but I exercise and get sweaty almost every day, so every-other-day washing is the least I can do. It’s softest with the Acure argan shampoo and conditioner, but the waves form the best with Rahua’s volumizing shampoo and conditioner, so I go back and forth with those. I shave with Trader Joe’s shaving cream (again, it offsets the price of my Dr. Alkaitis loves, plus I it makes the razor glide smooth, but itsn’t too thick like some other shaving creams). Finally, I use a pumice stone to attack my feet. I’m a long-distance runner, so that skin can get extremely rough if not tended to!
Outside the Shower…
I moisturize my body with plain coconut oil, which has been affordable, great on my skin, and I LOVE the tropical scent (as does my boyfriend). Like I said, I Dr. Alkaitis’ toner, gel, and a TINY drop of the nourishing oil on my face. I use the Dr. Alkaitis eye cream as well (even though I’m only 25, I think about wrinkles a lot and am taking precautions). After the shower and throughout the day, I use Weleda’s pomegranite hand moisturizer – also delicious smelling. And finally, a spritz of Honoré de Pres perfume — either Love Coconut or Vamp à NY, if I’m feelin’ sexy.
I LOVE makeup. Putting it on is one of my favorite parts of the day, and I never run out of products I want to try. I’ve always been a product whore, but now I try my best to be a natural product whore ;). I usually wear makeup every day, so I try to keep the products as clean as possible. One of my favorite beauty looks is strong eyebrows — unfortunately, I was gifted with naturally sparse eyebrows. So I fill them in with a medium-brown powder eyeshadow from Alima Pure. For some reason, my eyelids can get VERY oily. I never put oil around my eyes, and the rest of my face will be fine throughout the day, but my eyelids….ugh. I’ve tried applying powder before eyeshadow, I’ve tried a natural oil-fighting white tea gel, I’ve tried just about every primer out there… the ONLY thing that’s worked for me at all is Too Faced Shadow Insurance. So I use that, and then either the Blonde shade of eyeshadow from Alima Pure, which is my “no-makeup” looking eyeshadow, or Onyx from Kjaer Weiss, which applied gently is a nice light grey, applied more heavily creates a sulty, smokey eye. I have an array of other shadows as well from Alima, Kjaer, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, Urban Decay…but those are the ones I use most frequently. I like Elizabeth Arden’s powder eyeliner, which I apply with small slanted brush. It goes on extremely black, and the powder stays on my eyes. With the brush, I can make the perfect kitten eye (like a cat eye, but less dramatic). I still use a dirty mascara… Cover Girl Lash Blast. I’ve tried many a natural mascara, but my eyelashes are about as sparse as my eyebrows, and I love a thick row of femme fatale lashes. For my face, I adore RMS un-cover up. It melts into the skin, and covers up red areas around my nose, small blemishes around my chin, and dark shades under my eyes wonderfully. However, if I get a REALLY scary blemish, which unfortunately does happen now and again….like when I visit my family for the holidays, of course…I use a tiny dab of Makeup Forever’s full cover concealer. After spot-correcting with concealer, I lightly buff on Alima Pure’s loose powder foundation. It evens out skin really well, but doesn’t have that I’m-wearing-foundation look and lets my freckles show. On my cheeks, I use either a tiny bit of Revolution Organic’s bright pink freedom glow beauty balm or RMS lip-to-cheek in smile. Then, on top of that, I might do a light dusting of Alima’s shimmering pink blush — but that’s only if I’m having a big night out, or if I know I’m going to have pictures taken of me, since powder blush is better for pictures than cream. Finally, I usually just use some natural balm on my lips, but every once in a while I’ll be feeling a Old Hollywood-style red lip. For that, I love Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetic’s lip tar in NSFW. It’s a great, neutral red that really stands out and stays put — but you have to use a TINY dab with a lip brush, otherwise it will bleed. Trust me, a little goes a long way. And I might do one more final touch – RMS living luminizer on the top of my cheeks, under the brow bone, and on my ‘cupid’s bow.’
For my hair, I again use Dr. Alkaitis’ nourishing oil – one little pump is enough to smooth and soften my abundant, long hair. Then, after years of fighting them with a straightening iron, I’ve fallen in love with my natural waves, so I lightly spritz on Josie Maran’s Bohemian Waves Argan Hair Mist for the perfect beach-y texture. I dry my roots with the diffuser on the blow dryer to keep my waves in tact while giving my hair a little lift. The rest of my hair air dries. I think letting my hair air dry, along with the bit of natural oil I use, has been the biggest difference in transforming my formerly dyed, dry, overprocessed hair into the soft, healthy hair I have now. My hair dresser is very impressed! (Seriously, between the bleaching and the straight iron, sections of my hair were downright CRISPY a few years ago). I pretty much try to touch my hair as little as possible: no dying, minimal products, minimal drying, and then I don’t brush it or really try to touch it at all during the day — which helps keep the waves nice.
…I think that’s it!
Meet Heather, a working mom with two daughters (and sensitive skin), she still manages to make some DIY products. We love it! We’ve included her inception story below—thanks for sharing it, Heather!
As a working mother with daughters aged 6 and 9, my morning routine is not very relaxing and is usually punctuated by packing lunches and trying to get them out the door to school. On the weekends, I try to take a little more time and like to mix up face and hair treatments in the kitchen. Sometimes my kids get into the act, too, but mostly they just think I’m weird for “putting all that gunk on my face!”
Hometown: New York City
Profession: Art Librarian and blogger at Domaphile.com
Skin: Fair and Sensitive. I have a bit of rosacea, which I control with diet and by using really mild products on my skin. Now that I am in my 40s, I am noticing some changes in my skin and am really glad I have discovered non-chemical ways to deal with them. I also think my daily smoothie habit has done wonders for my skin – you are what you eat, after all!
Hair: Dark, medium length. Straight and fine with very little body (sigh).
Star: Audrey Hepburn
In the shower…
Weekday mornings are a little crazy around here, trying to get everyone out the door, so I often do everything in a rush. I only wash and dry my hair every three days or so and it totally throws a wrench into my morning, so I have to make sure the hair washing falls on a day when I don’t have to take my kids to school. I’ve been experimenting with homemade shampoos, but I haven’t made anything I like as much as the John Master’s Zinc & Sage Shampoo with Conditioner, and I usually follow it up with the Rosemary & Peppermint Detangler, also by John Masters. For the body, I use the Dr. Bronner’s bar soap – usually Baby Mild or Peppermint – for both washing and shaving.
Outside the shower…
Once out of the shower, I wash my face. When I am out of Sow Your Wild Oats, I make my own basic face cleanser out of oat flour, almond meal and milk powder. During the week, I mix it into a paste with a little water (or rosewater) and on the weekends, I make a simple mask with raw honey and plain yogurt. I moisturize with a few drops of Nourish & Replenish oil mixed with a bit of water and I try to take a few extra moments to really massage the oil into my face. I then move on to the deodorant and body lotion which I make myself. Right now I am using a winter body cream that is a combination of coconut oil, almond oil and shea butter. I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration and recipes from Crunchy Betty – she has a great e-book for making products for acne-prone and sensitive skin.
On the days I wash my hair, I towel dry it as much as possible and add a few drops of argan oil. The thing I hate most is drying and styling my hair, but if I don’t I end up looking like Janice from the Electric Mayhem, which motivates me to pick up the hair dryer. My tresses are straight and fine, so I need to use some kind of product to give it a bit of extra body. I have experimented with making my own hair gel using flax seeds, but it is a messy business that involves straining them through a nylon sock, so I have given up on that and use the Giovanni Volumizing Styling Gel instead. I generally use Tom’s to brush my teeth, but have lately been experimenting with making my own toothpaste using baking soda, coconut oil and peppermint stevia. Still working on that one.
I don’t wear a lot of makeup, but I love RMS “un-cover up” (thanks to your book), and I like Annette’s practice of mixing her tinted cover-up with John Master’s SPF 30, so I’m going to try that. For my eyes, I use a tiny bit Josie Maran’s liquid liner and Dr. Hauschka’s mascara. I don’t wear shadow unless I am going out at night, and then use a basic palate from Josie Maran. For lips, I just use the Burt’s Bees tinted gloss – my favorite color right now is Fig. My entire makeup application routine takes less than five minutes.
I try to take off my makeup as soon as I get home from work in the evening. I use olive oil or almond oil to remove my eye make up, wash my face with the oat powder or just some plain, raw honey. To moisturize, I use about 6 drops of BYATM oil mixed with a little water. If I have the time, I will try to wash and dry my hair at night so I don’t have to deal with it in the morning.
This winter has had some bitter cold days, even in my beloved and typically mild Bay Area. Sitting next to my portable heater while working/blogging on my laptop was really doing a number on my skin. I started to incorporate some oils that are heavier than my usual argan, but still it wasn’t quite enough, even with plenty of hydrating on the inside. Although I had previously rejected the oil cleansing method as not the right thing for me, I thought maybe it was time for a seasonal change in my regimen. I took a short trip to the ultra-dry Lake Tahoe for my son’s hockey tournament, and between the outdoors and the cold/dry rink, the life was getting sucked right out of my face. But I was prepared, and came home looking better than when I left.
So what’s making the difference? Three things: coconut oil, a new balm, and a cream I’d forgotten about.
There’s been plenty of mention of the oil cleansing method (OCM) on this blog – where instead of using a regular cleanser, you rub in an oil and wipe it off using a warm washcloth*. I started by trying coconut oil, and had some success. It feels wonderfully soothing on my skin, and easily takes off the mineral makeup I wear on a typical day. But I still needed something more…
100% Pure Brightening Night Balm to the rescue. It has some of the same brightening ingredients I use in my DIY (bearberry, licorice) plus kojic acid and vitamin C in a base of avocado and shea butters. I use it as a cleansing balm (works great!) and also put on a little extra after cleansing. Some days I put on a bit in the morning too, after a honey cleanse. I’ve been able to skip my DIY brightener when I’m using it, with no noticeable return of my sun damaged brown patches. It might even be making improvements – it’s hard to tell, I may need a few more weeks of use to know for sure. It’s very thick as the balm designation suggests, and the scent is a light citrus, which is pleasant but does not stick around.
Zoe Organics Extreme Cream goes on over the balm when the weather is severely dry. I’ve been able to ease up on this the past few days of warmer weather, but it makes a perfect extra layer of soothing protection for super dry times. I tried it a while back, but kind of forgot about it with all my body butter experiments. I remembered it recently when a reader was looking for an eczema solution – this is considered by some to be a skin miracle for the super dry and sensitive set. It’s another shea-based product with jojoba, rosehip, and coconut oils, plus soothing calendula and marshmallow. It has a light marshmallowy smell and a frosting consistency.
I know I’ll back off from these somewhat as the weather warms up, but they’ll still have their uses, and I’m ready for all the winters to come. I highly recommend these products for hands too. In spite of my devotion to hand care, my hands were like sandpaper as soon as I got to Tahoe. Just one day of layering the products, plus wearing light wool liner gloves, got me back to smooth. I haven’t had any pore clogging problems. My standard monthly hormonal breakouts happen and heal, maybe a little faster than usual with the soothing ingredients.
Have you tried these products? Are you an oil cleanser? What’s giving life back to your winter skin?
*I’ve actually been using mostly paper towels made from 100% recycled materials. A washcloth is usually a little too rough on my sensitive skin, plus I’m using fewer laundry-related resources so I feel like it evens out.