For the past year, my complexion has been it’s best in a LONG time. What is my secret to clear skin? I’ve stopped taking care of it.
Like most people, I long believed that the myriad products marketed to us were the solution to breakouts, redness, flaking, and other ailments . I’ve come to realize now, however, that they are precisely the problem. A surprising number of products contain harsh, irritating, and cheap ingredients that cause us to purchase even more harsh and irritating products to clear up the original problems. We are stuck in this never-ending cycle that benefits cosmetic companies’ bottom lines but harms our health. So I encourage you to break the cycle!
For me, it all began about a year ago. I always had this persistent patch of acne in my t-zone. Then one day a light bulb went off — perhaps, the redness and tingling I felt after applying my oil-free moisturizer was NOT normal. I scoured the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetics Database for skincare products that are known to be safe, and purged preservatives, artificial fragrance and nanoparticles from my cosmetic stash.
In the United States, there is little-to-no regulation on the ingredients that can be included in cosmetics products. In July, members of the House introduced the first legislation that would empower the FDA to begin developing and enforcing guidelines for cosmetics safety. Until passed, we can only rely on NGO oversight of the cosmetics industry. EWG is staffed by scientists who review the scientific literature on ingredients in products. They score the safety of each ingredient on a scale of 0-9, and cite the publications that they believe warrant that rating.
If you haven’t already, go ahead and enter a few of your products into the database. When I first did, I was shocked. So many of the ingredients were scored as unsafe. And thus began my efforts to revamp my skincare routine.
For me, the results were astounding. Not even two weeks after purging the unsafe products, my acne completely disappeared. I still get a pimple or two every few months, but they are small and short-lived. And I have NEVER again seen one of those awful cystic zits that had previously plagued my back and chin for as long as I can remember.
So what is my new skincare routine?
-I wash my face with gentle, diluted Dr. Bronners liquid castile soap (rose scent) — and not every day, just when it feels dirty (like after working out). Every so often, I exfoliate with Boscia’s Smoothing Facial Polish.
-I use Badger SPF 30 as my daily AM moisturizer. I originally bought this as a sunscreen but didn’t like how greasy it felt. Not wanting to see it go to waste, I happily discovered it works great as a daily moisturizer (and is much more effective than chemical sunscreens, a topic for another day!). I was always told to exclusively use oil-free products but ultimately discovered that it is not, in fact, the oil that caused my breakouts.
-At night, I use the Boscia Recharging Night moisturizer. Expensive, but when I use it, I swear I wake up with noticeably softer, smoother skin.
And that’s it!
As for makeup, I tossed all of my department store brands, which surprisingly were made with cheap and irritating ingredients in spite of the high price I was paying. I now mostly use the physician’s formula organic wear line — yep, purchased at the drug store. Organic Divas is another great resource for safe makeup products. I will also note that I use the Aubrey Organics line of shampoos and conditioners, and Giovanni styling products. I think banishing harsh ingredients from my hair care routine has helped clear up the blemishes on my back and shoulders.
As always, I must add a disclaimer — this is just my experience, and certainly not a scientific study. Most companies will insist that the products they use are safe. But I encourage you to check out EWG’s website, and challenge the conventional notion that effective skincare must be costly and involve an extensive list lotions, creams, cleansers, ointments, brighteners…the list goes on. Remember that our skin is our bodies’ largest organ, it is self-regulating, and sometimes, simpler is better. Adopting that attitude certainly worked for me!