If you know me personally then you would know that there are two things in my life that I for some reason am extremely particular about - what I use on my skin and perfumes and scents. I, by no means am a skincare expert and most definitely am not an authoritative figure in this field nor am I trying to be, so please use your own discretion with this post and if there is something you disagree with than that is completely valid and okay.
Everyone’s skin and cellular structures are extremely different and unique and this post is simply me just wanting to share with you some of the things that I absolutely love and trust. The things I will touch on about natural skincare are just things that logically make complete sense to me in line with my belief systems so I hope you can take some of the things I talk about as nothing more than simply more food for more thought :)
*None of these posts are monetized or endorsed! I’m almost 100% sure the brands I discuss aren’t aware that I’m writing about them so please read ahead and trust that this is all coming with purest intentions.
RULE OF THUMB: IF I DON'T KNOW THE INGREDIENT - I DON'T USE IT
Before I buy anything for my skin I always flip it and read the ingredients. I think this started as sheer curiosity and then became something that just starting making more sense to me. Often in some cases, what we apply to our skin gets ingested into our bodies no differently to the way we ingest the foods that we eat.
Nadine Artemis of Living Libations, who is an absolute powerhouse and pioneer in natural skincare and holistic dentistry once explained how our bodies have specific organs such as the liver, kidneys, the stomach and it’s acids to filter, metabolize and dispel toxins from the foods we consume. However, when it comes to talking about our skin and its surface area of millions and millions of open pores, most of what we apply and use gets ingested straight into the bloodstream as there are no filtering systems in place.
Most of what we use is topical, meaning it’s effective only on the site of application but it’s also extremely common for transdermal processes to occur eg. how nicotine or hormone patches work through the skin etc. When these chemicals enter our bloodstream and our bodies, it disrupts our natural biology and can mutate and kill off some very important bacteria, microbiome and species - working like a domino effect to host a lot of health issues most of us probably never knew could be linked to something as simple as our deodorant or moisturizer. For women, this can also mean extreme hormone disruptions and hormonal related issues. Not to mention - heavy metals and toxins traveling through the blood and setting up camp in different tissues and organs.
I’m sure you’ve seen or heard of RMS Beauty? Rose-Marie Swift of RMS was a successful make artist in the 90s, working in the Mario Sorrenti era, and I landed on her story years ago and found it extremely compelling. Rose-Marie had been working in the industry for years and in her late 30’s moved to New York and got extremely ill. After doing a number of advanced blood, urine and hair analyses, her results came back with high toxicity levels in her body and a question from the lab asking if she somehow worked in the cosmetics industry. From years of testing and using cosmetics on herself in her line of work, all the chemicals had started to burden her systems until it became too much and nearly too late. Since then, she has controversially called out a lot of the beauty industry shedding light on the harmful use of chemical ingredients in skincare and has spent years and years advocating the use of natural ingredients that work with the skin and not against our biology.
If you want more information - Mukti Organics have written a great post about how to decode skincare labels including common ingredients and their effects. They also have a free pocket guide and also 3 ingredients you should avoid like the plague if you wanted to continue reading.
Before I nerd out any further - I want to place a disclaimer that I’m not trying to preach or impose any of these ideals on anyone else. Everyone is free to use what they use without any judgment and of course what works for me may not work for you and vice versa. Just wanted to slot this in before we go ahead just so you know, all the ingredients of everything below got a big okay from me :)
BEST SKIN EVER by Living Libations
I. cannot. vouch. for. Living Libations. enough! Nadine Artemis the founder of Living Libations is not only an absolute legend but she is such pioneer in natural beauty and has changed my life in how I understand the body, our skin, the way it works, the way it functions and it's natural ability to heal itself.
It's really wonderful to find someone you trust who's intentions really lie in helping people rather than just selling you product after product. She sources the best and highest grade essential oils, wild crafted from the best farms and with respect to the master plant which I really love. They are organic and not tested on animals. She is adamant on purity and doing things the right way and I love that all her ingredients labels are filled with plant materials that are 100% natural and recognizable. I am more than happy to ingest these into my body through the skin and know it's completely safe and not detrimental to my overall health.
Best Skin Ever doubles as an oil cleanser and moisturizer but I just use it to just moisturize.
I use frankincense at night as frankincense helps with cell renewal (great for regenerating aging skin and dull skin) and I use Seabuckthorn in the morning and during the day. Her website lists every ingredient in the products and what they each do so you can browse and see what speaks to you.
I once did a herbal skincare apprenticeship and they taught me that the "nose knows" meaning we should never underestimate the integral role our noses have in being one of our senses to help "smell" our way into survival. "Smell" served us well in surviving back in the cave man ages and apparently you are most attracted to smells that have the vitamins and nutrients that your body is lacking. So with always having that in mind I usually switch it up depending on what my nose wants for me that morning or night.
MAINSTAY BLEND by Everyday Oil
My skin regime has always been less is always better. To me it makes sense that the less ingredients my face has to digest and adapt to everyday equals less stress on the skin? Oh and also if it’s not broken, don’t fix it!
I discovered Everyday Oil years back when I was interviewing Maia in her studio for Hello! Sun and she had this little bottle and told me it was her friends brand she was just starting. The scent was incredible and I remember when I returned to New York a fews years later it was finally around and available for purchase.
I’ve always preferred using face oils over face creams as it just makes more sense to me. I find it really comforting in the way that oils have a “what you see is what you get” transparency in their ingredients. However with face creams and gels, the ingredients lists always get a little more complicated and processed as you have to add chemical thickeners, parabens (as a preservative) and also synthetic fragrances - just to name a few.
Everyday Oil is amazing and all the ingredients listed are 100% natural and 100% things you can pronounce which is always a plus :) An ex-partner of mine was born with this skin issue called blepharitis that causes sensitivities around the skin of the eyes and it was incredible to see that this oil was one of the only things that brought him a lot of relief which got him hooked onto it also.
I use this on my face after cleansing with just water and then I use it to moisturize my body. To be honest, it smells so amazing you could probably get away with using it as an all over perfume oil too. This has been the one face product I have bought over and over and over again, collected many empty bottles and no matter the season it seems to be the one thing that balances my skin out in whichever way it requires. It’s not too heavy but not too light. Some of the ingredients it boasts are palo santo (!!) jojoba and argan oils and geranium and lavender. If you want to read more, here’s a list of their ingredients and their properties - I cannot recommend this enough.
SOW YOUR WILD OATS CLEANSER by Brooklyn Herborium
I couldn’t rant on about this local business enough :) Based in Brooklyn, every product they make or create is done so with extreme care and backed by decades of knowledge in herbal medicine, Chinese medicine and everything skin related - from protecting and supporting it’s natural biome and structure to it’s health and integrity. Think of herbal tea’s or herbal medicine but for your face. Also, everything they sell is handmade in Brooklyn (which I can personally vouch for as I did an herbal skincare apprenticeship there for a little minute and made a few myself).
There was this one summer that was extremely hot and my skin really suffered with tiny little bumps appearing under the skin all over my forehead and my hairline. It wasn’t quite white heads but I found out it was congested pores from the heat and the dense pollution in New York. I wanted to start using something to help it but was at a loss as I didn’t really know where to look to find something I trusted. At the time I waitressed at this restaurant called Lovely Day and the owner Kazusa, who has the most amazing skin, referred me as she had been using it for years and it helped her skin survive the city.
It’s made up of finely ground up oats, legumes and different plants in powder form with cultured dry milk. You just add a little bit of warm water and massage it into your face and cleanse. It’s extremely gentle and also exfoliates the skin, cleaning the skin thoroughly but without the use of harsh chemicals or foaming agents that usually strip away the skins natural barriers and oils. It leaves my skin really supple and clean without that “tightness” that most cleansers have. You can also use this product as a mask by adding honey or yoghurt :) The ingredients list is also pretty incredible so here it is:
Organic gluten-free oats, organic garbanzo bean, organic fava bean, cultured dry milk (lactose), organic elder flowers, organic rosebuds, organic chickweed, organic yarrow flowers, organic cumin, organic blue violet leaf, organic neem leaf, organic coriander seed, organic gotu kola leaf and organic plantago.
PEPPERMINT EXFOLIATING SCRUB by Living Libations
This is the scrub I'm using at the moment and I absolutely adore it and it is such a treat. Again, all natural ingredients - nothing to plague and overwhelm you. You can read the amazing ingredients it boasts in the picture on the label and it uses finely ground pumice stone as a gentle natural exfoliant.
I would say this is more on the heavier side in terms of exfoliating - it's quite gritty and a really deep clean. It all depends on your skin, but I use this only once a week and would probably use it twice if I still lived in New York with the dense pollution or if I had dry flaky skin in the winter. The peppermint in it is also quite strong so you'll definitely feel the tingle at first but it's super invigorating and wakes the skin up straight away. Be mindful if you have sensitive skin - maybe use less as it also has a lot of citrus ingredients so good for oily congested skin but might be less friendly to sensitive skin types.
After exfoliating I'm always mindful of what I topically apply after in terms of moisturizer as the skin is freshly buffed and the pores are quite open and more receptive.
I always like to turn to something more "repairing" in terms of a moisturizer like my frankincense oil after I exfoliate. If you use any treatment products in your routine like a Vitamin C treatment or a rose oil for dry skin, I would use that as your skin will be super absorbing after it's deep clean.
BREATHLESS BODY OIL by Aesop
If you’ve ever taken any of my yoga classes then I’m sure you’re already very familiar with Breathless :) Not really too much to go into here - Breathless is a natural body oil by Aesop which is extremely hydrating but also great to use for massages making it my go to for my students during savasana. I just really love the scent - it’s incredibly unique. It combines both sweet and citrus notes of blood orange with really subtle earthy grounding scents. A personal favorite and I usually always have a few bottles of these on me at home.
This oil has a macadamia oil base so just be mindful of anyone with nut allergies.
LIP & CHEEK BALM by OIio E Osso
I absolutely love this by OIio E Osso and as I hate the feeling of make up on my face, I love that this landed in my life as it sits in between wearing a lipstick color and wearing nothing at all.
It's super hydrating and doesn't dry my lips out at all and the colors they have available are amazing. I personally use No.8 as it's a nice rusty red tint and I've never found anything else that works as well as a lip balm and a lasting tint.
Olio E Osso uses natural ingredients (nothing suss) with a shea nut and olive oil base. They are around $30 a balm so I also highly recommend Hurraw natural lip balms that retail around $5 for more dollar efficient everyday use.
I left my most favorite til last, and words really do not describe how much I worship this plant. There are so many wild aloe vera plants in Australia and my friends would always laugh if they caught one that was hacked into on the street as most often it would always be me.
The ancient Egyptians really did treat this plant as sacred medicine and dubbed it the “plant of immortality” as it was used to treat so many medical conditions. It’s powerhouse effect in anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effects and it’s potent density in nutrients, enzymes and skin repairing properties really makes it my most favorite skincare product ever. It’s extremely medicinal with many different ways to use it and when my skin feels the most depleted, it works better than anything to relieve, balance and plump me up back to normal.
I usually cut a branch off and keep it in the fridge. Then at night before bed when it comes time to moisturize, I’ll cut a chunk off and split it open (like a breadroll?) to the clear flesh inside.
If it is seeping yellow sap when you cut it, rinse this off under the tap before splitting the branch open and applying the flesh. I rub the flesh of the plant all over my face and neck and if I have a break out I use this as a spot treatment and nothing has worked better trust me!
You’ll usually feel a little astringent “tightening” or “pulling” of the skin but this is the plant removing excess oil and dirt. It might be a bit smelly or if you’re not used to it you may hate the feeling of it on your skin but give it a little time and it will dry. Then I go to bed and in the morning I wash it off. You’ll notice something different about your skin and its quality right away. I use aloe vera a lot in the summer as it’s extremely effective on burns and sun exposure.
I 100% vouch for this over buying any aloe vera gel from the pharmacy. If you turn those around and read the ingredients you’ll find it’s mostly preservatives and gelling agents and the smallest quantity of actual aloe vera and who knows if it’s actually from the plant or how they derived it? Perhaps also good to warn you - aloe vera sap can really stain surfaces (not your skin!) so I would suggest wrapping it up or putting it on a plate before placing it in the fridge :) Also incredible for skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, burns or anything on the skin that requires healing.
RENEGADE BEAUTY by Nadine Artemis - My Bible
Lastly and most important of all - the no.1 thing to great skin, even more than an aloe vera leaf or any product anyone could recommend is the food that you eat and how you nourish your body. But for now, maybe I’ll save that all for another time as there is so much to be said :)
If any of this is interest to you and you want to learn more in your own time, I won’t overwhelm you but I highly recommend reading Renegade Beauty by Nadine Artemis. It’s the most amazing read and really eye-opening to all topics to do with skin and our body. Her knowledge of herbs, plants, oils and our biology is absolutely incredible and I learnt most of what I know and shaped a lot of my belief systems from this book alone. Highly recommend if you’re curious.
I hope you enjoyed or got something out of reading this, I do treasure this time for sharing and would also love to hear your thoughts on any of this so please feel free to write if you have any questions or want to say something to email@example.com.