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)
I can’t say I had much of a body beauty routine before Beauty U, but I did use shower gel and body lotion daily, especially in winter when my skin gets pretty dry. Once we got into body treatments, that all changed, as again, we played guinea pig and gave each other salt scrubs, mud wraps, and other get-naked-slather-stuff-on-yourself treatments at least once a week. But, twist! At Beauty U, the body treatments were the cleanest spa services on the menu, chemically speaking. Our salt scrub contained only grapeseed oil and sea salt. Our mud wrap used a vat of Dead Sea Mud, which if the ingredient label — and extremely pungent smell — could be believed, really was basically just that. We also had a shelf of pure essential oils that we would use to make treatments smell nice and add aromatherapy benefits to our facials. Even the Cellulite Detox Wrap — where we slathered you up, wrapped you in heated blankets, and let you sweat until you lost an inch or more around your waist, hips, thighs and arms — was made with just essential oils mixed into a carrier oil.
Now, sweating in heated blankets for half an hour is pretty much my idea of hell. You get uncomfortable and lightheaded and start to see through time. And I have major concerns about the idea of doing that as any kind of weight loss strategy. So. Flawed.
But with all of this stuff, my skin did feel butter soft and smooth after I finished. Of course, you can give yourself a heck of a good salt scrub right at home in your own shower. Which is what I do now.
For more on how my beauty routine changed during beauty school, check out my four-partBeauty Labor Series. Have you ever had to overdose on toxic beauty treatments? Are you recovering from any hair or skin product panic attacks? Tell us all about it in the comments.