I am not the best judge of trends since I really only see what’s going on in my own internet bubble, but it feels like the internet is going through a skincare wave much like the makeup wave that it went through not long ago. Not coincidentally, I’ve moved from being a makeup product junkie to being a skincare junkie right along with Instagram and twitter. In all honesty, getting into makeup made me realize just how badly I was treating my skin, and then when I actually got good at makeup -because yes, those were two separate time frames - I had an even stronger desire to make sure my no makeup face looked just as good.
Through some trial and error, experimentation, and a small phase of thinking coconut oil would solve all problems (it was a small phase because, consequently, too much coconut oil makes me breakout), I've developed a solid skincare routine that addresses all the important aspects of skincare and consists of predominantly natural products. Below I will detail what products I use, what I use them for, in what order I use them, and where I get them.
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Step 0.5: Makeup Removal
Obviously this step depends on whether or not you’re wearing makeup, but for the days/nights where you are, how you take it off sets the tone for the rest of the routine. I have found the best makeup remover to be coconut or olive oil. Really any natural oil will work, but those two are the least expensive to acquire in bigger quantities. I have never encountered a makeup remover, or makeup wipe that will breakdown makeup particles the way oils will, not to mention that coconut and olive oil are completely natural and lack the chemicals that makeup removers have. The only downside to this method is that it has to be followed my using a soap or cleanser so I advise keeping some cheap makeup remover wipes on hand for the nights where you absolutely cannot be bothered.
Disclaimer: Coconut oil has been found to clog pores, but as it is being washed off almost immediately I have not found using it in this way to be harmful.
Step 1: Cleansing
I use Black African Soap as a face wash. Listing all the benefits of this product would be extensive so I will stick with the ones that I find to be most important. It has been found to fade dark spots (which I have found to be true as well) and discoloration. It is a gentle cleanser, devoid of harsh chemicals found in a typical soap, Black African soap is ideal for pretty much all skin types, though a skin test is always advised. One of its best ingredients is plantain extract which has antibacterial properties ideal for cleansing and also found to help treat acne. I get mine exclusively from amazon because I've never seen it sold anywhere else. It is supposed to look raw and lumpy, that is the real stuff. Any pitch black perfectly shaped bar of soap you see that says black african soap is lying. Do NOT buy that.
Pro Tip: When washing your makeup off wash your face twice. Once to remove the makeup, and then again to give your bare skin some love.
Step 2. Toning
I´m going to take a second to talk about why toning is important in the first place because a few months ago I really didn't get it. Simply put, toning is a second cleanse. Not only will it remove remaining oil and debris that cleansing didn´t, certain toners can help to restore a healthy pH balance to the skin. Toning can also give you a good idea of how good of a job you did washing your face. There shouldn't be excessive makeup left on the cotton round (what I use to apply the toner). So without further ado, I use a mix of rose water and witch hazel to tone. I make my own mix with, but there is a witch Hazel that Thayers makes that has rose water and aloe in it, that many people swear by, and you can also use either one by themselves . I just can't choose between the two.
Step 3. Face masks
Again, this will not be a daily step, but it is very important. Ideally face masks, depending on their harshness should be done at least two times a week. I won't claim to stick to that but it is recommended by people who know more about skin care than me. For me, I like my masks to feel like their sucking my soul out through my face. Those nice sheet masks that you do with your girlfriends while you sip wine are nice, but if I can't feel the impurities being vacuumed out of my skin, I don't want it. That being said, The Aztec Secrets Indian Healing Clay face mask is the best mask ever. You can quote me on that. The product itself is 100% calcium bentonite clay. MIxed with apple cider vinegar, this mask will literally deep clean your pores. It also helps draw blood flow toward your cheeks and t-zones. It's also completely customizable. For something less aggressive it can easily be mixed with water. You can also add a drop or two of your favorite Essential oils
Step 4. Problem Treatment
Speaking of essential oils, I want to introduce you guys to my best friend, Tea Tree oil. The two problems I face the most are breakouts and scarring from picking at said breakouts. Tea tree oil solves both of those issues. Personally, I am not acne prone so I cannot speak to how effective it is at treating serious conditions. But for pimples, blackheads, and other three dimensional demons tea tree oil is their worst enemy.
I have found that if I apply tea tree oil to a pimple that is still forming (that sounds gross but it be like that sometimes), at night and sleep on it, it will halt the growth of blemish and then in another couple of days it will be gone. On the other hand, if there's already a fully formed growth on my face, generous application of tea tree oil for a couple of days will dry it out and I can either safely pick it off or it will just kind of shrivel up and disappear on its own. In addition to black African soap, tea tree oil has also done a great deal to fade scarring I have on my face.
Step 5. Moisturizing
I have oily skin, and a common belief among other oily skin people is that heavily moisturizing will only make the problem worse. This could not be more true. That excessive oil on your face is not good. It needs to be washed off and replaced with healthy moisture. My two favorite all natural moisturizers are raw shea butter and rosehip oil. Shea butter is extremely thick so I apply it at night, because it needs all night to fully sink into my skin. However, instead of waking up with my face feeling tight and crusty, It feels like I just moisturized a few minutes prior. On the other hand, rosehip oil is a lot lighter and ideal for application after a morning face wash, and it gives an amazing fresh faced glow.
Those are the main aspects of my skincare routine, and my go to products. In addition there are few tools that are important as well. I highly recommend investing a spinbrush for exfoliating the skin and for a deeper cleanse during the face wash process. I cannot speak about the effectiveness of the really expensive ones that you see advertised all of the time, but this one that my mom got me for christmas does everything that I need it to do for a fraction of the price. Cotton rounds, and Q-tips are also great to have on hand. And a tip I picked up from @beautifulbrownbabydoll on youtube that I swear by now, is to use paper towels to dry your face after washing. Since they are disposable you do not have to worry about constantly washing them, and with a washcloth or towel you run the risk of applying old dirt and bacteria back to your now clean face.
With the knowledge that everyone´s skin is different and has different needs, I hope that you all found this helpful or at least piqued your curiosity about some new products and methods. I´m always on the lookout for new products to try. Let me know in the comments what your favorite products are.