We present to you the gift that is Emma, whose routine is brilliant and stylish. Of course it is: she’s from Athens, Greece, and is clearly a clean, continental dream. Did you know you can use crushed strawberries to whiten you teeth? Apparently so! Read on:
Current weather: Sunny and dry, around 20 Celcius
Hair: Thin and naturally wavy, double processed with blonde highlights and dye to cover the grays. The waves have lost their vitality a couple of years ago (maternity hormones?), they are thinning, dried and parched. Curls now are really limp unless I revive them with a curling iron. Overall, my nightmare…
Skin: Normal to dry, very few wrinkles around the eyes when I squint. Clear with very few cystic acne outbreaks on the chin around my period sometimes. Overall I am blessed with nice skin, sometimes lacking glow – which is what I value most, since I think it makes us look fresher and younger!
In the shower…
I have stopped using soap all over my body, just on the armpits and legs. I use soap that I order from Aleppo, Syria that is all natural and contains only olive oil, laurel oil and sea salt. That’s what I use on my toddler son too and it never dries out our skin. I wash my hair with Faith in Nature Aloe Vera shampoo, followed by the Pomegranate and Rooibos conditioner. Sometimes I do a final rinse with unfiltered organic ACV and water. I leave it on for a few minutes and then rinse it out again—I can’t tolerate the vinegar smell too much. Once a week I dry brush my whole body before I get in the shower. I also try to do a weekly pure organic coconut oil hair mask—this seems to have helped restore moisture to my locks. I rub it all over my hair, put it in a low braid and then put a shower cap that I keep in place with a few pins. I then sleep on it and wash my hair in the morning.
In the shower I sometimes do a DIY sugar scrub, mixing brown sugar with vegetable glycerine or olive/jojoba/sweet almond oil.
Outside the shower…
After the shower I pat my skin dry and then put on a DIY moisturizing oil containing jojoba, argan and sweet almond oil, with a few drops of neroli and lavender essential oils. I have keratosis pilaris on some areas so I rub some pure shea butter (which is the only thing that helps). I also make a DIY whipped shea butter moisturizer that I put on at night during the cold months, and then sleep on it with cotton pajamas. It gets the skin really soft!
I wrap my hair in an old t-shirt to dry, which I found keeps the waves smoother and fights frizz. I pass a wide-toothed comb and then rub some argan oil on the ends. Sometimes I’ll spray some not so clean Bumble and Bumble Thickening spray to give some volume, but I also want to try a home made sea salt spray. I dry them using a diffuser, or if I don’t’ have the time, I’ll just quickly dry them, and put them up in a tight high ponytail, twirling the remaining hair in a bun and securing it tightly. In a few hours when I let the ponytail down, my hair is wavy and smooth. If I wash my hair at night, I put it in a low tight braid and sleep on it – in the morning I have new curls!
I have stopped using soap or cleansers for my face, and make my own using natural ingredients. My favourite’s (that I alternate according to what I feel my skin needs most) just pure oils that I rub in and then rinse with a washcloth, oat flour with ACV/water, raw honey or baby milk powder mixed with some water to make a paste. Sometimes I grind some almonds or rice with a few drops of oil if I want something with more “buffing” properties. I bought the Clarisonic but after reading many controversial reviews from experts that it relaxes face muscles, I’m a bit reluctant to use it again. So it just sits there and I’ll sometimes use it to scrub the remaining oat/honey from the cleansing.
At least once I week I do a green clay mask (I mix it with ACV or milk and add a few drops of lavender essential oil). It really clears up everything and I found I don’t need to use any scrubs as I did before. All the blackheads, impurities and dullness come right off. I try to spread it up to my collarbones to get some of that goodness on my neck, which seems so neglected! I recently also started using rhassoul clay from Morocco, which is packed with minerals and supposedly better than plain old bentonite (green clay). On the rare nights I have a lot of makeup on, I use Bioderma Crealine Lotion before my cleansers. It is very popular here in Europe and all the make up artists use it. You put it on with a cotton ball, it’s like water and it rinses out everything without leaving any residue. I found that the less abrasive and more respectful I am of my skin (after using chemical peels, Retin A, harsh scrubs) the better it looks.
Then I do a few warm water compresses with a washcloth and spray a DIY hydrosol. I make hydrosols myself with rose petals or lavender or rosemary leaves. Sounds complicated but it’s really easy! While the skin is still damp from the hydrosol, I put on a few drops of my DIY face serum, which I make with a mix of carrier oils and essential oils. I found that argan oil and rosehip seed oil and super moisturizing and make my skin glow. I also add geranium, helichryssum and frankinsence essential oils. In the winter my skin needs some more moisture, so I slab some Weleda Skin Food or Korres Wild Rose moisturizing cream. I confess that I don’t wear sunscreen all year, even though I live in a country with 300 days of sunshine/year! I only wear it in the summer and I use Avene Tres Haute Protection with 50SPF or La Roche Posay Anthelios lotion. It’s not easy to find a nice, clean sunscreen here in Europe that does not leave your face looking white like a kabuki character. When I have time, I make my own whipped shea and cocoa butter cream. It is especially great to rub generously on my feet before I put on any socks. Shea butter is what dancers use to help them heal their over-worked toes and it really takes all the dryness and roughness out.
It might sound complicated to do all these DIY beauty things, but it actually is easy. I just keep all the ingredients in used glass jars, along with some spatulas and small cups and mix on the spot as needed. It’s fun, natural and cheap! For the face oils and creams I make a batch to last me 2 months, which takes me 30mins to make, so it’s not a big hassle.
I use Soapwalla deodorant, although recently it seems that it stopped working and I’m getting nervous with the summer approaching. It’s weird because in the beginning it worked like magic—is it my idea or has this happened to anyone else? When it’s a hot day and I know I’ll be active, I use my old Neutrogena, but I’m not happy about it and desperately looking for a reliable clean deodorant. I tried Tom’s but I still felt stinky.
I brush my teeth with Korres toothpaste using the Sonicare toothbrush (same company that makes Clarisonic). I can’t recommend that thing enough. It works like magic! When you’re done you feel like you just came back from a dentist deep clean. Sometimes I’ll make a baking soda and water paste if I want some whitening action, or rub some mashed strawberries on my teeth. Strawberries contain malic acid, which when combined with baking soda, act as an stringent and a buffing agent.
Due to the intense sunlight and endless summers sunbathing (can I turn back time?) I have a major hyper pigmentation problem on my face. I think the argan and rosehip seed oils will help in time, but I am trying to find a more potent natural recipe without resorting to hydroquinone. I might try a spot laser treatment and then maintain the results with religious sunscreen application all year round!
If I have a cystic acne pimple brewing, I dab a bit of raw honey before bed and then cut the sticky part of a band aid in half and place two layers on the pimple. Something about the anti-inflammatory qualities of the honey with the pressure from the band aid I guess makes it look better the next morning!
I don’t do much for makeup, I like a fresh look. I have very sparse eyebrows and the one thing that makes my face more framed and put-together is filling them in with some eye shadow from the Body Shop special eyebrow kit. Don’t underestimate the power of eyebrows to make your face look more balanced. I only recently found out about that tip and it literally changed the way I look, judging from pictures – without looking made up or unnatural.
Then I use MAC eyeliner rubbed and smudged on the bottom lashes in Olive and some Guerlain Bronzing powder or Korres blush. I curl my lashes with the Shu Uemura curler and when I go out at night put on Blinc mascara (it’s great, goes on like tubes and does not smudge even if you cry!). If I feel I need some more coverage, I use Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer and in the summer the Body Shop gel bronzer for a hint of shimmer. On my lips I use Hurraw in Vanilla Bean or Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmers. I have thin lips and don’t like them colored. If I look especially tired I put on the YSL Touche Eclat under eye concealer, but I feel it draws more attention to the problem. It’s hard finding good clean makeup products in Europe, but since I don’t put too much on, it’s not that bad for me.
After a couple of years obsessed with weekly manicures, I go all natural, with very short clean nails, and just rub Egyptian Magic cream every night on my cuticles. I even keep a jar on my desk and rub some in during the day. I have super dry cuticles that look dry and white after one day if I don’t cut them. Now I have stopped cutting them completely (you must resist the temptation, but it’s the only way they will stop growing) and this cream is the only thing that makes them soft and invisible. I just push them back with a wooden stick with some wet cotton or argan oil once in a while.
Comments on the deodorant question? Maybe if we answer, she will grace us with another amazing food-as-beauty-product tip we never would have guessed!
Favorite star or icon from the past: Lauren Bacall (via)
Meet Archana, a native of India who has been living in New Jersey for three years now. She says “I’ve seen my grand mom use only herbal and homemade products and she has great skin at 80!” Archana tries to incorporate a few of her grandmother’s routines into her busy schedule. Enjoy!
Hair: black, thick and wavy with an oily scalp
Skin: Olive skin tone. Fighting a bout of adult acne. Sensitive combination skin (sigh, I know!). I have been a vegetarian all my life and recently turned a vegan. I make sure I always eat healthy and eat only gluten free, diary free food. I eat only plant-based supplements.
In the shower…
I incoporate dry brushing for about 3 mins. I use the Body Shop brush. Before I step into the shower I always massage a tiny bit of sesame oil on my face and neck. This helps my skin to stay balanced and does not flake out. I use the Pangea Organics Canadian Pine With White Sage Body Wash for my body. For the face, I use my own mixture of ground green gram (Ed.: also called mung bean), a tiny bit of turmeric with enough rose water to make a paste. Green Gram is a natural substitute for soap. It removes the excess oil and leaves your skin fresh and even. You can use a coffee blender to grind, and you can store them for over 4 months in an air-tight container. Turmeric is a natural antispectic and it bans acne from its roots.) I gently scrub my face and neck in upward strokes with this paste and wash off with water.
Every weekend, I massage my skin with a mixture of butter (organic unsalted butter) and a pinch of turmeric and a little bit of greek yogurt. I blend all of them in with a hand blender and apply the mixture all over my body. I wash it off after 30 mins with the green gram mixture. This leaves my skin supple and silky smooth.
I never forget to apply castor oil on my eyelashes and eyebrows and under my eyes before going to bed every night. It promotes lash and brow growth.
For my hair, I wash it every other day with Himalayas Rejunivating Shampoo. I do not use a conditoner as it weighs my hair down. I apply few drops of Josie Maran’s argan oil on my ends. I never blow dry my hair and always let it air dry.
Outside the shower…
I usually leave my skin a little moist and use my own home made oil moisturizer. It is coconut oil, few drops of argan oil and jojoba oil. I use this like another other body lotion. I love Soapwalla deodarant. On weekends (usually on Saturdays) I sometimes pour few drops of khus oil (also called vetiver essential oil) on my filled tub. This gives a unique aroma and leaves your skin pleasntly smelling. I never step out without a suncreen and use Biotique Carrot Face & Body Sun Cream, which has carrots and natural oils, as my sun protector.
I apply few drops of argan oil as a primer and use the Vapour Organic Beauty Atmosphere Luminous Foundation and wear a kohl from Physicians Formula, which is organic. I use Josie Maran’s Color Stick on my lips and cheeks as blush. I do not use any styling products for my hair and never blow dry or iron it.
So, who’s game to try some crushed up green gram? And how about that turmeric trick?! Intrigued? Thank you for sharing, Archana!
Image of Gayatri Devi via. Devi was the princess of Jaipur and a successful politician too. “A perfect blend of beauty, class and brains!”
Weekly! We said weekly! And we meant it. So now, here is the latest in our weekly series of women sharing exactly what products they use to start the day. This time, we asked the amazing Rebecca B. to share hers. You no doubt know her from the comments. She’s an early and loyal reader who shares her insane breadth of knowledge and experience with all of you, all the time. We learn from her, we think she’s sassy and funny, and we imagine you all do too. Also, she uses great products—and some we’ve never even heard of! Read on, read on…
Current weather: sunny, warm, dry
Hair: multi-texture, thick but not so much as it used to be, lots of grey covered with henna/indigo, growing out the toxic dye
Skin: pale, super sensitive and perimenopause ravaged, but pretty good with optimal care
Before the shower…
100% Pure Coffee Bean Eye Cream goes on first thing when I get out of bed if I have puffiness. The puffy is usually gone by the time I get into the shower. Every day there’s yoga, a healthy nutrient-packed but light breakfast, and add a walk, run or bike a few days a week.
I love my products, truly, but I know that my fitness and nutrition do more for beauty than anything else. I also love to dry brush my skin but lately it’s been sporadic.
In the shower…
I brush my teeth with Miessence toothpaste in anise or lemon (is it weird that I brush in the shower?). If it’s a shampoo day, I use Griffin Remedy Daily Shampoo and the matching conditioner, or Elava Botanik Avocado Shampoo (conditioner typically not needed with that one). Choice of soap for the essential-to-wash parts based on mood or need: Rose of Sharon Acres Coconut Milk Shampoo and Body Bar (great for shaving), skinnyskinny Organic Real Cocoa, One With Nature Dead Sea Mud Soap, or Dr. Bronner’s. Kahina Giving Beauty Facial Cleanser is my go-to, all time fave for face. Sometimes I use honey, and lately I’ve added some dead sea mud soap for the hormonal break-out areas (too drying for my whole face on a regular basis). For exfoliating, I use a Pai muslin cloth or gluten-free steel cut oats.
Outside the shower…
For my face/neck/chest, I pick a toner from my ever-expanding collection. Lately it’s likely to be John Masters Lavender Hydrating Mist or Evan Healy Immortelle Facial Tonic Hydrosol. I massage in Kahina Argan Oil with my DIY skin lightening actives mix. This has drastically helped my sun damaged areas, and the massaging part (I heard of it as “face yoga”) is to help with muscle tone—I think it’s working, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking. If my eyes need something extra, it’s more 100% Pure Coffee Bean, or Pai Rejuvenating Echium Eye Cream. Hair gets Kahina argan and/or John Masters Bourbon Vanilla and Tangerine Texturizer (oh, yeah, baby), usually after a blow-dry and sometimes a flat iron. If it’s a curly day I use a DIY sea salt spray. If I didn’t shampoo but need a refresher, I go for Lulu Organics Hair Powder. I use straight lavender essential oil patted all over my body (it’s the only thing that keeps me from getting daily bug bites). Lavender also goes on any inflamed face spots, and it’s a nice blast of fragrance for underarms too, on days I want scent. I love Soapwalla deodorant, but lately I’ve been using my own unscented mix of shea/arrowroot/kaolin/baking soda. I always have some sort of body butter for whatever needs it, like elbows or feet. Currently I’m using my favorite Sprout cream. My lips love Meadowlake Farm Hive Isolates Renewing Salve.
RMS Beauty uncover-up on spots, with Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation over that and also under my eyes. My finishing powder is a DIY mix of my foundation with arrowroot, kaolin and rice powder. Sometimes I use Alima blush and Real Purity mascara. RMS Living Luminizer goes on upper lids, on lips and/or cupid’s bow, and whatever’s left I pat onto my collar bones. If it’s a no mascara day the luminizer goes on lashes too. Then body butter for hands and I’m out the door.
Boom! How’s that for a morning routine? Weigh in with your favorites from her routine, or what you learned about and can’t wait to try, in the comments.