Coconut oil

The very basics of natural skin care

I often get asked about my approach to skin care. It’s no secret that I believe in natural skin care but it might not be as easy and clear cut as this statement suggests. And since I feel like this is a topic of general interest I decided to answer in a post and share my (humble) wisdom.

Start radical but simple

My number one advice is to fully convert away from commercial skin care without a transition period and to start with the very basics.

When I moved away from shampoo I had to allow some time for my hair to adjust to the new regime but that’s not the case for skin care. Our skin regenerates faster than our hair and it adapts very easily to what it gets. So, for example, if you are using a generic, petroleum-based moisturiser but want to go natural, just do it. Chances are that your skin won’t even notice. You will be the one who notices a difference because the consistency is (very) different. That is not to say however that your skin won’t react. However, this reaction will have a lot to do with the kind of oil you use and other factors such as your diet, your hormone and stress levels, the season, and the environment you are in.

When you make the decision to change, start really simple. There is no need to buy expensive, fancy oils. I, for example, like coconut oil at the moment. A simple jar from the supermarket is my go-to regime at the moment. Olive oil is another option, easy to get and inexpensive. If you have very dry skin (or are prone to it) go with avocado oil. Again, just the oil straight is perfectly fine. And since you will need so little, a bottle or jar will go a long way.

You could also try a soft butter on its own like shea or mango butter. Just be aware that a butter will always be harder to apply and can potentially sit on your skin for a long time.

Go with the flow

Once you have made the shift take note of how you feel with each oil (or butter) and adapt accordingly. There are so many oils to choose from that, if you don’t like one oil, there is plenty more to choose from.

After a few weeks with just plain oil (or butter), you can start experimenting with oil combinations. You can also incorporate some kinds of butter if you want but, again, stay simple. I find shea and mango butter great for beginners because they don’t require any melting to mix them with oil. Cocoa butter, which is my personal favourite, requires melting but it’s very simple to easy to work with.

You can also experiment with waxes at this point. But be warned, that waxes can make or break a batch of cream. My first batch of olive oil and beeswax was plain unusuable because I used too much wax and there was no way to get it out of the jar and onto my skin without a big mess.

In this phase, you should start with very small batches and experiment. I like to keep a journal with a rating scale while doing that so I know which combinations work and which don’t.

I wouldn’t use any essential oils in this phase yet because there are too many to choose from and too much to keep in mind (some essential oils are photosensitive, some shouldn’t be used in combination with others, some are too powerful for certain skin types and so on). Plus, essential oils can be pricey.

Branch out but know your limits

Once you are confident with a combination of oils and butters you can branch out into additives like essential oils (research them properly though!), infusions, and powders. At this point, you are still staying very natural and without needing to learn about the chemistry of skin care. Once you look into emulsifiers it gets more complicated.

I personally stay at this level for my skin care. Over the years I have learned which oils and butters are good for my skin type. And I still experiment with additives. In particular, infusions are something I’m learning about at the moment.

With additives and a range of oils and butters, there is plenty of variety for natural skin care, I believe. If you want to go further, I won’t hold you back. I personally find the very basics plenty to nourish my skin and be cost-effective.

Category: DIY

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