As a naturopathic doctor and herbalist, I work from the idea that skin is a reflection of the internal ecosystem. If you’re excessively dry or excessively the opposite, it’s important to check for nutrient and hormonal imbalances. Topicals won’t fix things long term, and can mask underlying issues long enough that real problems set in. I always start with a comprehensive look at my patients’ health, including labs and food choices, and nearly always recommend fish oil as a way to improve almost any skin issue.
Still, it’s lovely to feed your skin from the outside. And because I think of it as nourishment, quality matters just as it would with food that goes in your mouth.
On the DIY end, most culinary oils can feed your skin from without as well as within, so you’ve already got skincare already in your kitchen. Olive oil, coconut oil and cocoa butter are easy to come by and utterly lovely. Jojoba oil is one of the finest for skin care, but can be expensive. Some folks with drier skin swear by castor oil; this is pretty sticky for daytime use in my experience, your mileage may vary. I haven’t used shea butter by itself, only in other products. It’s easy to find certified organic versions of all of these.
Alaffia’s Whipped Shea and Coconut Oil is a super thick and rich body butter, made with two simple and clean ingredients, ethically sourced by a company that actively supports the West African community it comes from. They make several versions of this with and without essential oils for fragrance. I find this doesn’t absorb super well for my skin, but I feel moisturized for days after using it. Alaffia products are available in some stores and online.
Booda butter by booda organics is my current favorite store-bought brand. It’s made with all natural, organic and fair-trade ingredients and zero added fragrance. It absorbs really well for me, and I love smelling like cocoa butter. Booda products are available in some stores and online.
Any lotion bar by Lovejoy Botanicals. These are individually hand crafted by my friend Frances O’Halloran on the beautiful Oregon coast. Because she’s not a large retailer, what she has on hand varies over time. Everything she makes is magic, using organic ingredients and herbs she grows or gathers personally. Fair warning: These are so beautiful you’ll be tempted not to use them. But you really should. Lovejoy products are available at select farmer’s markets and online.
Wild Carrot Herbals is a woman-owned company based in far eastern Oregon with a focus on herbs and ethical wildcrafting. They offer a very broad body- and facial-care line, including oils, lotions, creams, butters and more. You’ll be able to read and pronounce every ingredient on the label (the Latin is translated for you) and all the essential oils used to scent the products are listed. The toughest thing about these products is choosing from among so many options. Some of my favorites are the wonderfully named Lord! My Hands Are So Dry! lotion or, if you’re in the mood for it, the Firefly Sparkle. These are widely available in stores or you can purchase online.
Got more clean skin products you love? I’d love to hear about them. Please get in touch!
Next in series: Healthy facial-care products.