The best support for your surface is actually internal: Drinking water, limiting (or eliminating) sugar, getting your zzzzs, eating lots of healthy fats and brightly colored veggies, balancing hormones and addressing digestive health all have profound impacts on your facial skin.
But our faces do get wear and tear, especially for folks who spend time in the elements or routinely wear makeup. I’ve been minimally moisturizing since living (briefly) in Southern California and being warned about the ravages of aridity and sunshine. So supporting skin superficially has its place.
Many folks with facial skin issues find that eating well and cleansing with just plain water make a huge difference — and saves a ton of money. I’m mostly in that camp, but here are a few things I like.
Many folks with facial skin issues find that ditching all products makes everything better. If you want to do some good things for your skin, here are some DIY things to try:
Steaming: I often recommend herbal steams for lung issues, but it’s a go-to for skin care, too. The steam brings blood flow to the area, which supplies nutrients and oxygen to the cells while moving metabolic wastes out. It also opens the pores, to again help get stuck stuff out. Lavender is my favorite herb for this purpose (you can use it for lungs, too.) But most aromatic plants will be lovely. As always, I recommend actual plants rather than essential oils, which can cause burns.
Clay mask: If you’re prone to oily skin, pimples or blackheads, a clay mask can help pull those away and out. This is a great thing to do after an herbal steam. French green clay is a classic, but there are many options out there. Just add water, mix into a paste, apply. You can leave it on for a few minutes or wait until it dries before gently removing (don’t rub!) with warm water. I sometimes add apple-cider vinegar or a single drop of lavender essential oil. Both are great for skin.
Honey mask: Make sure your hair is out of the way for this one! Honey is a great support for dryer skin, much like the clay mask for oilier types. Just tap honey onto your face, let it sit for a while, and then gently remove. I get mine in bulk from Portland’s Mickelberry Gardens. Find what’s local for you at farmer’s markets or health-food stores.
Toner: Apple cider vinegar is my No. 1 natural toner. I use it sometimes to clear excess oil, or to tighten pores after heating or masking. It’s easy to add skin-supporting herbs here. Just toss in rose or Calendula petals, lavender flowers, or leaves of sage or rosemary. Witch hazel bark can be used in the same ways for skin, but it doesn’t do double duty for food.
Moisturizer: Coconut or olive oils are very effective, especially applied before bed so they absorb overnight. Most of the culinary oils can work, so you’ve got skincare already in your kitchen. My personal favorite is jojoba (not a culinary oil). It’s easy to add herbs to oils to enhance their benefits — just be careful with fresh and watery herbs that can lead to rancidity. When I’m getting a lot of sun, I love jojoba oil infused with Larrea tridentata (aka chapparal or creosote bush.) The antioxidants in the Larrea help mitigate oxidative damage from the sun.
Lovejoy Botanicals’ Wild Rose Facial Tonic and Wild Rose Facial Serum. Using organic ingredients and hand-picked rose petals, these products offer the great skin and mood properties of roses without distilled essential oils. The Wild Rose Lip Butter is also my absolute favorite. Owner Frances O’Halloran makes all her products by hand using cultivated or locally foraged ingredients on the Oregon coast. Lovejoy products are available at local farmer’s markets and online.
Galen’s Way Riot of Roses. This small herbal company in Northern California is where I get many of the herbal tinctures for my practice. But they also have a fabulous rose-based skin-care line, including a cleanser, toner and facial cream. Most ingredients are organic. For folks who find rose fragrance too gendered, they also make a forest-scented Everyman Cream. Note for those with celiac disease: both creams include wheat-bran glycosides that could flare sensitive folks.
Alaska Glacial Essentials has a full skin-care line based on local glacial water and mud, with all clean ingredients. So far I’ve used their Alpenglow Resveratrol + Hyaluronic Age-Defying Youth Serum despite its name (I’m not trying to defy age, I just want happy skin), the Protect&Defend Squalane + Hyaluronic Restore Cream and the poreREFINING Niacinamide + Hyaluronic Antioxidant Glacial Facial Mask. I find the cream lovely and rich. The serum doesn’t always soak in perfectly, but it’s nice and light and feels protective. The mask is lovely and really bumps up circulation in facial skin. Of all the products on my list, these are the ones using the most chemically isolated components. But they check out quite clean in the Skin Deep database, and I wanted to try them. Alaska Glacial Essentials is a woman-owned, certified B Corp, and supports some of my favorite Alaska organizations.
Got more clean facial-care products you love? I’d love to hear about them. Please get in touch!
Next in series: Healthy hair-care products.