Should you switch to organic beauty products?

By: Josephine Fairley

Author: Canadian Living


Should you switch to organic beauty products?

By: Josephine Fairley

Chemical-free products for skin and body, together with natural foods and exercise, help us tap into our source of beauty and well-being. This excerpt from Organic Beauty: Look and Feel Gorgeous the Natural Way by Josephine Fairley (Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2001, $21.95) will help you achieve that natural radiance.

Cleansing and toning
Skin experts are agreed that cleansing and toning are actually the most important steps in our skincare ritual. So here's how to create a simple and organic skincare routine...

Face facts
Soap, even handmade soap, is too harsh for facial skin, upsetting its acid balance (pH), so the skin feels taut and tight. If you like to use water, there are plenty of other options to soap or beauty bars. Oily skins respond best to lotion-type cleansers, whereas dry and sensitive skins love oil-based cleansers.

Nature provides superb alternatives to commercial cleansers: oils, which literally melt makeup and pollution from your face. Now that organic oils are more widely available, it is easy to create 100-percent-organic cleansers of your own. Any nut or seed oil can be used to massage and cleanse the face.

If you cleanse properly, you really don't need a toner. Contrary to myth, toners cannot "close" pores -- because they do not physically open and shut in the first place. What toners can do is create a sensation of freshness, which is why some women still love the feel of them. If you do want to use a toner, choose one that's alcohol-free: alcohol overstrips the skin and upsets its vital natural oil balance. The word "freshener" (instead of "toner") can be a clue that a product is alcohol-free, but to be certain, check the ingredient list. Rosewater and orange flower water, both widely available, make alternative face refreshers. (Try spritzing them on with a pump-action spray, rather than using cotton balls; you can also use this to set makeup.) Or make your own fresheners: you're about to discover how easy that is.

Cotton on to organic
Cotton is the most heavily sprayed crop on the planet (cocoa comes second.) So if you buy regular cotton balls, not only do traces of those pesticides inevitably end up on your face, but you're contributing to one of the world's most polluting forms of agriculture. Organic cotton balls are increasingly widely available (even in supermarkets): they're just as soft and just as effective, but this cotton really is as pure as it looks.

Starting afresh
Cleansing is a blissful end-of-day ritual that helps relax the body and mind before sleeping, You can enhance it by using a little creative visualization: imagine, as you wipe away the buildup of toxins, sweat, and cosmetics from your face, that you are literally melting away the day's anxieties and worries and sending them down the sink.

The cleansed face that you're left with is like a smooth canvas, a blank page -- literally, a fresh start.

The ultimate cleanse
The very best way to remove makeup is not with facial tissues (even recycled ones) or cotton balls -- it's with pieces of cheesecloth. You can either buy these readymade, or make your own with 100-percent-natural cheesecloth bought in a fabric or department store. Cut it into squares measuring roughly 12 in (30 cm).

To use the cloth, simply apply your cleanser and massage it thoroughly into your face. Soak the cloth in hot water and use it like a washcloth to remove every last trace of cleanser. Rinse the cloth and repeat two or three times; then finish by running it under a cool faucet. and wiping that over your face.

Hang the cloth over a radiator or the edge of the bathtub to dry; this will help guarantee that bacteria don't get the chance to breed in the cloth. Every couple of days, switch to a fresh piece of cloth.

The cheesecloth squares can be washed in a washing machine, with "green" detergent, or boiled in a saucepan with a drop of bleach. They can be used again and again.

Page 1 of 3 – Read page 2 to find out how to make your own products.

Making skincare products

You, better than anyone, know your skin's likes and dislikes, so why opt for commercial products when you can make your own at home, using exactly what your skin type desires? Try these recipes from Organic Beauty: Look and Feel Gorgeous the Natural Way by Josephine Fairley (Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2001, $21.95)

Cleopatra's cleansing oil
This cleanser has a useful antimicrobial action, and it is also fantastic for dissolving and removing makeup.

• 1/8 cup (25 mL) olive oil
• 1/4 cup (50 mL) grapeseed oil
• 1/8 cup (25 mL) coconut oil
• 7 drops rosemary essential oil
• 6 drops orange essential oil
• 4 drops tea tree essential oil
• 3 drops sage essential oil

Place a heatproof measuring cup inside a saucepan of water that has recently boiled. Pour the coconut oil into the cup and heat until the oil has completely melted. Blend in the other oils. Pour the mixture into a squeeze bottle or a wide-mouthed jar, stirring well. Then put on the top and shake. As it cools, it will thicken slightly.

Soothing skin tonic
• 3 tbsp dried or fresh marigold leaves
• 2 1/2 cups (500 mL) spring water
• 15 drops lavender oil
• 1 tbs apple juice

Place the leaves in a bowl, boil the spring water, and pour it on the leaves. Steep for 20 minutes. Add the apple juice; pour into a sterilized bottle and let it cool.

Simple cleansing cream
Like most readymade cleansers, this cream is a mix of oil and water. It's light to use and effective. It is suitable for all skin types, but particularly oily or normal.

• 1/4 oz (5 g) beeswax
• 1/2 cup (100 mL) grapeseed oil
• 2/3 cup (120 mL) distilled or spring water
• 1/2 tsp borax powder
• 12 drops rosemary essential oil (optional)
• 8 drops lavender essential oil (optional)
• 5 drops orange essential oil (optional)

Place the beeswax and the grapeseed oil in a heatproof measuring cup in a recently boiled saucepan of water. Stir occasionally until the wax has melted entirely into the oil. Remove from the heat and let it cool to body temperature. Next, warm the distilled or spring water to body temperature and dissolve the 1/2 tsp of borax powder in it. Pour the wax and oil mixture into a bowl and add the water and borax mixture a little at a time, beating it with a handheld mixer until it reaches a creamy, thick consistency (this should take about five minutes to reach the right consistency.) If you want to add the essential oils, do so now. Stir the mixture until the oils have blended thoroughly.

Page 2 of 3 - Read page 3 for more homemade skincare products.

Richer cleansing cream
• 1/4 cup (25 mL) jojoba oil
• 1/8 cup (25 mL) grapeseed oil
• 1/2 - 1 oz (10-20 g) beeswax (use less for a thinner cream)
• 1/4 cup (50 mL) lavender water or rosewater
• 1 tsp vegetable glycerin
• 1 tsp borax
• Antioxidant preservative: either 1 tsp vitamin C powder, 1/4 tsp vitamin A powder, or 1 tsp of wheatgerm oil
• 10 drops of essential oil (rose or lavender)

Melt the beeswax into the oils in a double boiler placed over medium heat. When melted, remove the mixture from the heat and pour in all the other ingredients. Mix with an electric handheld mixer until it reaches a thick, creamy consistency.

For cleansing, apply the cream to your face with your fingers, massage in well all over your face and neck, and rinse well with warm water. This rich cleansing cream works particularly well on mature and dry skin types.

Lavender freshener for oily or problem skins
• 1 cup (200 mL) witch hazel
• 15 drops lavender oil

Combine the ingredients and store in a pretty bottle (use one with a spray
top if it is to be used as a spritzer). Apply either with a cotton pad, or by spritzing onto the face after cleansing.

Green tea toner
This is rich in antioxidants, which are believed to have an anti-aging effect not only when taken internally, but also when applied to the skin.

• 1 cup (200 mL) spring water
• 4 tsp green tea leaves
• 1 tsp mint leaves

Boil the spring water and make an infusion with the leaves. Let it stand for 10 minutes. Strain the infusion and let the liquid cool before pouring it into a sterilized bottle. Apply to the face with a cotton pad, or use as a spritz. Because this toner does not contain any alcohol, it's also suitable for dry and sensitive skins.

It is rich in antioxidants, which are believed to have an anti-aging effect when applied to the skin. Green tea is one of the "buzz" ingredients recently discovered by the skincare industry, and this simple freshener is the ultimate way to give your skin a "drink" of green tea.

Click here for the benefits of drinking tea!

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Should you switch to organic beauty products?