I’m not sure I ever got the ‘beauty’ messages that other teenage girls did, and with a mother who didn’t really care about such things, it didn’t come from her either. I floundered around with skin care and the such for a long time. Even still, at 31, I struggle with make up and hair styles. These seem to be skills I just never learned.
At some point in my teens I decided to follow the commercial idea that if I had pimples, I needed to wash wash wash. This is what all the magazines said, so it must be true, right? Strip away everything bad and it will solve that problem. Um, if you’ve ever had skin problems like I did/do, having a skin care routine like that does NOTHING to help. Fast forward.
Like any good mid-20’s female who still has acne problems, I thought a dermatologist would have the answer. She prescribed me some magical cream and told me to use it for 8-12 weeks and my problem should clear right up. At 8 weeks, I looked like a monster. People who knew me, but not well, were asking if I was okay. My skin looked horrendous. Splotchy. Red. Irritated. And definitely not pimple free. At 12 weeks, I swore I’d never use anything like that cream again. It took a few months, but my skin eventually returned to it’s normally acne filled, but not looking like a monster, state. Somewhere in there I also got introduced to the idea that yes, if I’m washing my face, I should be moisturizing too (I knew about moisturizer, but never quite bought into the whole idea). The sales lady who introduced me to this idea also introduced it as a product to help protect my skin, as in you need a barrier there to keep out Teh Evilz. She explained that by washing my face, I was stripping away that outer protective layer and it needed to be replaced. I bought it and bought whatever product she was hocking. It smelled good, but my skin still wasn’t the pretty clear skin that I saw on other 20 somethings. Add in problems with CSP during all of this, and my skin has never been my favorite. *sigh*
So somewhere between then and now, I started educating myself about my skin. How it works, what it does on it’s own, etc. I had bought into the Conventional Wisdom for a long time that I needed to wash my skin every morning and every night and apply an oil free moisturizer afterward each time. After all, putting more oil on an oily face would surely be counterproductive if you buy into the CW about skin. But as with the rest of my body, I buy less and less of the CW bullshit these days.
Our skin does not ‘moisturize’ itself with water. To get that nice pliable skin, your body produces sebum, a waxy lipid based substance that helps provide pliability to your skin. Not water. Not aloe. Not any of that other stuff you find in ‘oil free’ moisturizers. So why do companies hock moisturizer products that contain ingredients to moisturize that our skin doesn’t even recognize as ‘moisture’? If you believe magazines, putting oil on your face will just screw things up and make you even more oily. So selling oil free moisturizer does just that, it sells products. Products that fit into a hype of misinformation. But go back to the second sentence of this paragraph “… your body produce sebum, a WAXY LIPID”…
When you wash your face, you do indeed strip away the outer layer(s) of oils and such that your skin has there naturally as part of your skin. If you do this enough, your skin starts producing MORE sebum to try to keep up with your stripping it away. There are two ways to get around this overproduction, and I highly advocate both. 1: Stop washing your skin so damn much. 2: Start using a moisturizer your skin will actually recognize as ‘moisture’. Unless you wear makeup daily, or do some sort of job that requires that you get clean afterward, washing twice daily is really overkill. At this point, I only rinse my face with water. The only time a cleanser touches it is in the shower. The second thing that has helped is switching to a lipid base moisturizer. Yes, lipids, fats, oils. Those things we aren’t ‘supposed’ to use. These two things I think are the kindest things I’ve ever done for my skin.
Jojoba oil is an OIL that has properties extremely similar to sebum. In the ‘natural’ skin communities it touted as being a good choice to ‘moisturize’ with because our skin can actually recognize it as doing something beneficial for our skin. I’m not fond of putting straight oil on my face; I find it messy. So when I found a more butter based recipe… well, I haven’t looked back. This is the moisturizer I’ve used for about four years now. I NEVER have dry skin any more. Even walking to campus every day last winter. In blowing freezing wind and snow. Not a single flake of dry skin. Give it a try. You might never buy another oil free ‘moisturizer’.
This recipe is merely a suggestion. I have found that the general idea and proportions is what is important, not strict adherence to the recipe. You might need to experiment to find what works well for you, some people report sensitivities to oils that the rest of us use fine. I have increased and decreased the amount of butters and oils over the past few years. It does change the consistency, so play around and find a combination you like.
Never have dry skin moisturizer
This is my basic ‘Face’ recipe.
1. Combine in a microwave safe container
1 T each mango, cocoa and shea butters
1 t each jojoba, sweet almond and vitamin E oils
2. Microwave in short bursts until everything is melted together. You don’t want to cook the mix, you just want it melted and combined.
8 drops tea tree and 5 drops lavender essential oils.
4. Swirl and pour into your containers of choice.
5. Place in the fridge or freezer to get everything to solidify quickly together.
6. When you need it, with clean hands, scrap out a bit, using sparingly, as a little goes a long way. I’d say a small pea sized amount of plenty for my face or hands.
Last night I made a Hand batch that had only two teaspoons of jojoba oil instead of the three mixed version, and it seems to have worked out fine. You could probably play around with scents, but I tend to prefer mine to be less odorous, so I use on the TTO and lavender.
A word on ingredients. You don’t want to skimp here. I highly suggest Mountain Rose Herbs. Their products are reasonably priced and high quality (and they sell a lot of other fun stuff too; check out their teas!). If you bought EVERYTHING above for the first time, initial lay out, you’ll spend probably close to $50. But the essential oils will last forever. The tins/jars can obviously be reused. Depending on how much you use moisturizer, the 4 oz jars of butters will probably last you around a year. The 8 oz bottles of oils (jojoba and sweet almond) will last you probably two plus years (store them correctly though). The smaller bottle of vitamin E oil, obviously not quite as long. If you wanted to cut costs, you could easily just buy the butters and jojoba oil and have a good base mixture that would likely serve you sufficiently. At this point, I’d estimate I pay $20 in materials for the year and have more than enough moisturizer for an entire year, and enough to make friends a bit to try out. And that includes the fact that I’m outside in Wisconsin winter AND the fact that working in a lab, I wash my hands fairly often.
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