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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Natural Facial Care


"What's with all those steps? What a hassle! Why can't I just wash?"

Those words came from both my son and daughter but as is typical with the sexes, my daughter really got into all the ins and outs of beauty care while my son probably never will get beyond step 1. And even that one is usually just what rinses over his face in the shower. Yet somehow he gets away with only an occasional pimple.

Interesting is that men actually have oilier and thicker skin that women. This is because they have smaller sebaceous glands or oil glands. Guys have very delicate skin and they really should be paying more attention to its care. Ingrown facial hairs from shaving and back acne from sweating are fairly common.

Women always will be more focused on their appearance and since the amount of collagen in a woman's skin decreases with age we tend to look older than men who are the same age. So we should be mindful of good skin care early on and not wait till we actually see signs of aging.

Typically, when people hear the word "cleanse" they think soap and water. This is not the only nor often the best way to clean your face. The goal is to gently remove dirt, impurities and dead skin cells. Despite what advertisements say, depending on your own skin type, you may not need to cleanse every day. In between, just a rinse with water may be sufficient for dry skin. Daily spot cleaning of the forehead, nose and chin may be sufficient for combination skin. Even with oily skin don't think you have to rub-a-dub dub; be gentle.

The skin naturally produces a protective oily substance called sebum that helps keep it healthy by holding in moisture and providing an anti-bacterial layer. Stripping away this layer can overstimulate sebum production upset the balance. Experiment with what works best for your skin type. Click here for a facial wash gentle enough for every day.


Deep cleaning with steams, scrubs or masks is only for periodic use, maybe once a week. When you notice clogged pores or just a drab, tired look then perk things up with some special treatment.

Facial steams are a great way to relax and deep clean the face by opening the pores and increasing circulation. Steams are also very desirable as an upper respiratory decongestant. The addition of herbs and/or essential oils to the water can be used to add their desired effects. Prior to steaming, remove makeup and surface dirt with a cleansing oil, cold cream or gentle facial cleanser.

Begin by adding a pint of boiling water to a bowl. Simply add 3-4 tea bags such as chamomile, green or black tea, or mint to the water. If using essential oils, remember these are very potent. No more than 1-2 drops or the vapors could irritate your eyes. Good choices are lavender, chamomile, rosemary, eucalyptus or mint. Cover your head with a towel to form a tent and relax for about 15-20 minutes.

Allow your face to air dry a bit and while your pores are wide open proceed with a scrub or mask. There are a variety of scrubs available. They are generally a "moisturized grit" which cleanses and polishes through exfoliation. They nourish the skin by increasing circulation.

Finely ground seed or nut scrubs like sunflower or almonds are good for dry skin. Moistened with liquids such as water, oil, milk, yogurt or honey is very soothing for dry skin. Oily skin benefits from finely ground grains such as oats or rice, or beans. The liquid added could be water with a bit of jojoba oil, witch hazel and 1-2 drops of a citrus essential oil such as orange or grapefruit. For acne-prone skin add a dropperful of an antimicrobial tincture of calendula or 1-2 drops essential oils tea tree and/or chamomile.

These scrubs can be used as a mask as well if applied thicker and left on for 30 minutes.

Seed, nut and herbal scrubs are wonderful but messy. If you prefer something you won't have to worry about going down the drain, than salt and sugar scrubs are another option. Salt is great for exfoliation and drawing out impurities but may be too harsh for the face. Best if used as a body scrub. Click here for a body polishing salt scrub/soak for an at home spa experience.
Sugar scrubs are nourishing and gentle enough to use more frequently than salt scrubs. Cane sugar contains a naturally occurring acid known as glycolic acid which belongs to the family of alpha hydroxy acids (AHA). These acids stimulate and loosen the dry flaky layer created by these dead skin cells. Click here for a raw sugar face or body scrub with the relaxing therapeutic benefits of lavender.

Honey is a wonderful natural beauty treatment. Used as a mask honey is nourishing, moisturizing and gentle enough to not strip the skin of its natural protective oils.
Let the bees help you maintain a beautiful complexion. Wildflower and clover honey already have the beneficial attributes of these herbs within the honey itself.
Honey is a natural humectant which means it retains moisture and plumps up skin cells.
Click here for one of the two honey masks within Meadow Muffin Gardens.


Follow up the cleansing phase with a toner. Astringents and toners help to remove oily residue while tightening the pores. They have a drying effect on the skin since they usually contain alcohol or vinegar. For less astringent effects, glycerin or aloe is often added. Toners can sometimes be used instead of a cleanser or to touch up the t-zone or simply as a facial mist to freshen and cool during the day. Use toners in moderation, you want to balance your skin, not stress it. Any toner can be diluted by first moisturizing your cotton square of ball with water and then applying the toner. Click here for a gentle toner made from rosewater.

The final step is to moisturize. Massaging in the moisturizer helps bring a fresh blood supply to the skin's surface. Moisturizers are a combination of oil and water with the optional additions of natural ingredients, herbs and essential oils. Their purpose is to lubricate and hydrate the skin. Experiment with your own skin type with how often you need to apply a moisturizer. I just rinse my face with water and it then feels tight, so everyone is different.

Apply a moisturizer while your skin is still slightly damp. A little goes a long way. Use circular strokes and be gentle around the eyes, this area is very delicate. Let the moisturizer soak in a few minutes and then dab any excess or shine with a cotton square. Look at the ingredients in your cream or lotion. The oils used vary in their qualities. Olive oil is good for most skin types, except for very oily skin. Almond oil is good for most skin types. Grapeseed and hazelnut oils are good for oily skin. Apricot and jojoba are both good for mature or damaged skin. Sunflower and jojoba oils are good for dry skin.

The more natural the better. Think ahead to the effects of long term use. Skin which has been previously exposed to products containing synthetic and petroleum-based chemicals may have these chemicals stored within the fatty tissues of the skin. Essential oils may react with such chemicals and cause skin irritation. Should this happen just temporarily discontinue use until your body eliminates these toxins.

Look for substances that have anti-inflammatory benefits if you have problems with skin sensitivities or blemishes. Aloe, calendula, and chamomile are all gentle for problem skin. Glycerin helps keep the skin hydrated. Those with oily skin should look for products containing shea butter.

Click here for a basic scent free facial moisturizer. Also offered are a selection of creams with various base oil blends and essential oils. Shea butter can be substituted or in addition to the coconut oil in any of these creams.

People are all different. Those who wear foundation may find a moisturizer too heavy under their make-up, so only use it after cleansing in the evening before sleep. Others feel their complexions look rosier and younger when they freshen up with a toner and apply moisturizer a few times a day. Find what works best for you.

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