Facial care is such a broad topic in my opinion, so I decided that I need to break this down into parts. Keep a look out for additional forthcoming parts.
I also want to give a disclaimer about this entire “Beautiful Face” series because people’s faces are all so different, with varying needs and conditions, and no two facial topographies are identical. So, these are suggestions and ideas that I have found to work for me, but they might not work for everyone. You know your face better than anyone.
Here we go…
I first want to mention something briefly about acne, because I can’t really get into talking about skin care and fun products to experiment with, if acne is an issue. The acne needs to be taken care of first for any of my other pointers to apply.
Acne sucks, especially adult acne. I am fortunate enough to have conquered my adult acne (I’ll tell you how), but I used to struggle with it and for anyone still struggling with it, I feel your pain. It runs deep. Deeper than the surface or even the sub-surface of your skin. I don’t wish it on anyone and I’m here to tell you what finally worked for me. It’s going to sound like I’m plugging a brand or something, but I’m not. I just know how hopeless it can feel when you’ve tried everything and nothing has worked.
The product that ultimately worked for me is nothing magical, and I don’t have some enlightening story about how I discovered it. I was living in New York City and I was talking to my friend (Thank you, Jessica Hirschey) about my skin troubles, and she told me what she used to conquer her acne. I had tried EVERY product and nothing had worked. I had tried Proactiv. I had gone to dermatologists and tried prescription ointments. I had tried natural stuff. I had tried getting facials. Absolutely nothing worked. I felt so hopeless. So, she recommended AcneFree and told me that this is the product that finally worked for her. I had never tried that product before, so I figured why not? And it worked. Boom. Done. Problem over. You can get AcneFree at any drug store. I think I purchased mine at Ulta because my drug store didn’t carry it at that time. When I saw it, it seemed like a Proactiv rip off and it seemed to work the same way. But where Proactiv didn’t take care of the problem for me, AcneFree did. And I’ve been free and clear ever since. So, if you are feeling stuck and haven’t already tried this, give it a whirl and let me know if it works for you.
One final thing about this product is that you should use it as a means to rid yourself of acne, but then discontinue using it. The product is harsh (like most acne products) and I don’t think you should be using it for the rest of your life. Use it until it zaps everything, and then transition into using gentler products on your skin, normal ones meant for the daily cleansing of your beautifully renewed and improved acne-free face. Speaking of which…
Before I get into cleansing, here is yet another disclaimer. I don’t wear make-up and so this topic of cleansing assumes that your make-up has already been removed. Or perhaps, my suggestions for cleansing can somehow be combined with make-up removal. I am really uneducated on the subject of make-up and have always preferred to let my face breathe every day. So, I avoid foundation, powder, bronzer, and even tinted moisturizers. They just feel too heavy for me. On rare occasions, I wear some simple eye make-up (only mascara and eye liner). I also wear a natural looking lip gloss every day but that is pretty much it. I have always believed that less is more and natural is better. Work with what you have and let it shine through as naturally as possible. This has worked for me but I understand that all goddesses’ preferences may vary.
When it comes to cleansing your skin, I believe simpler and gentler is better. If you don’t struggle with acne, then you don’t need to be scrubbing your face with harsh products. And especially if you wear make-up, you’re already layering on multiple chemical products daily, so your skin is already a bit agitated on a regular basis. Take it easy when it comes to cleansers. Right now, I only “cleanse” my face once a day when I’m in the shower. My face is very sensitive to products and I tend to get red and blotchy very quickly, so I can only use products that are very gentle. If you are like me, something simple like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser works very well. But if you are wanting something a little more indulgent, you can try what I’ve been using for the last few months. I wash my face in the shower with Kiehl’s Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash. It’s a bit pricey but will last at least 6 months or maybe more, so I think it’s worth it. Neither of these products in my opinion are all that natural. By natural, I mean no chemicals, at all. But it is very difficult to find an effective cleanser with no chemicals. So instead, I try to find products that are at least gentle on my skin, and don’t make me break out, and then I just make sure to use them as infrequently as possible. Once a day in the shower is all I do. Now onto the fun stuff…
TONING: THE NATURALS
The idea of toning is a strange thing. I don’t even exactly know what it means. And for many years, I have believed that the idea of “toning” is something invented by skin care companies in order to make you buy another product. But over time, I have come to actually love toning more than anything else, because I have found that it really does do something amazing. I have found that toning is really something that helps to balance, harmonize, and calm the skin. And the older I get, the more important this becomes, as the wear and tear starts to show up more frequently with age. At the same time, a toner acts as an additional gentle cleanser, and even acts as a cleanser to your cleanser. Meaning, when we use soap, it leaves a bit of a residue. A toner gets rid of all of that, opens your skin to let it breathe a bit, and calms it down from all the trauma of the day. It also prepares your face for a moisturizer (which I will not get into in this part of the series, but stay tuned).
So many companies offer so many different kinds of toners, all containing crazy scary chemicals. But if you’ve worn make-up all day, and you’ve used your cleanser which most definitely has some chemicals in it, you must give your irritated gorgeous face a break and get to work on nurturing it. The only way to nurture your skin is by introducing something as natural as possible. For this, I use Witch Hazel. Witch hazel is a plant and can be naturally distilled for its skin healing properties. It’s lovely and ancient and should be in your life if it is not already. You can find witch hazel products in health food stores and drug stores, but PLEASE make sure you do not buy witch hazel products with alcohol in them. Make sure to look for “alcohol-free” only. Witch hazel with alcohol in it will literally defeat the purpose of this beautiful substance. Thayer’s Witch Hazel is a fantastic product and comes in all kinds of beautiful variations like cucumber, rose, lavender, and many others.
I use this as a toner when I get out of the shower. You can apply it with a cotton facial round, just a few swipes all over the face is all you need. I shower in the morning usually, and so this product is also amazing for de-greasing during the day and in the afternoon when I don’t want to use soap on my face. When I come home from work, if my face feels icky and heavy, especially during the summer time, I use witch hazel to just make it feel happy, calm, and fresh. This way, I’m avoiding having to wash my face with harsh chemicals multiple times a day, while still cleansing my skin, and calming it down all in one shot. It’s amazing!
ADDITIONAL TONING INDULGENCE: AS NATURAL AS IT GETS
My final product recommendation is one that I’ve recently discovered and have fallen in love with. And since I started using it, I am seeing a noticeable difference in my skin, and others have noticed too (which is not necessarily a needed validation, but one that just feels extra good). I came across this spray and I don’t even really know what it is exactly used for or what compelled me to buy it. The packaging was beautiful and I was in the mood to splurge on something that I didn’t need, but kind of wanted. And I tried it out and fell in love with it. The product is Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Hydrating Face Mist and it’s completely unnecessary. But I think indulging is just as important as covering the basics. It’s a spiritual thing. It’s celebratory. It’s freedom inspiring. And if you can afford it, it’s a beautiful way to treat yourself as a treasure that deserves some loveliness just because.
I’ve closely examined the ingredient list on this product and this is pretty much as natural as it gets. After I do my witch hazel swiping, I spray this beautiful stuff on my face, and as the directions say, I rub it in with my hands (for just a second or two) and then let it air dry. They have some other beautiful looking products in their line but it’s not in my budget at the moment, so further indulgences will have to wait.
This is how my skin looks at 6:00pm in the evening, after having just arrived home from work, and swiping my face with witch hazel, and then spritzing with the rose spray. This is after commuting to and from a city with all of the urban soot and summer mug hanging in the air, and after working all day. All of these stressors truly affect the skin and it’s important to find ways to love your face, calm it down, and soothe it on a daily basis. I think my skin looks pretty darn good if I do say so myself!
Final Note: See those lines on my forehead? That is from too much sun exposure over the years. Protection from the sun is a whole other topic completely and one I look forward to exploring as part of this fun and relevant Beautiful Face series.
Enjoy experimenting, until next time…