My 3 Favorite Skin-Care Products

160I love reading, and one topic I enjoy is natural skin-care. Ever since reading Barbara Close’s book Pure Skin many years ago, I’ve made it a priority to find and use products that will be natural and effective when applied to my skin.

Natural Products

Finding natural products is easier than ever, but some companies advertise products as “green” that aren’t very pure. I avoid skin-care products that contain these ingredients (list is from Pure Skin):

  • Diethanolamine (DEA), Momethanolamine (MEA) & Triethanolamine (MEA)
  • Artificial Colors
  • Fragrance
  • Imidazolidinyl Urea & DMDM Hydantoin
  • Petrochemicals (isopropyl alcohol and mineral oil)
  • Paraben Preservatives
  • Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
  • Propylene Glycol (PG)
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Some of these ingredients can be irritating to the skin, others can affect hormone function and others are potential carcinogens.

Instead of buying products with these ingredients, I look for skin and hair-care products that are primarily plant-based. I buy most of these products online to save money, and can browse ingredient lists before I decide to try something new. Vitacost offers good prices and lots of additional discounts on many natural products.

Effective Products

When shopping for something new, I look for products that fit the above criteria and have good reviews (four stars or more). Sometimes “green” products might be pure but aren’t very effective, leaving my skin or hair feeling gross, but I’m always happy when I find something that is both natural and effective.

Here are my three favorite skin-care products:

Origins Clean Energy Gentle Cleansing Oil

This cleanser costs $29 with pump (but I wait for discounts), and with once-a-day use lasts over a year. I use it in the evening to wash away makeup  (I only use water to cleanse my face in the morning). It removes makeup and excess oil with a base of olive, safflower, sesame and sunflower oils. Most cleansers I’ve used dry out my skin, leading to re-active break-outs, but this product works consistently to remove makeup and cleanse my skin without over-drying.

Derma E Vitamin E 12,000 IU Creme

This moisturizer is $12-15, and with once-a-day use will last me about six months. I apply it to my face in the morning after rinsing, and it makes a perfect base for my makeup. It contains 12,000 IU (4 oz jar) Vitamin E (Tocopherol), which works as an antioxidant to help our skin fight it’s ongoing free-radical battle. I’ve tried other moisturizers that leave my skin feeling greasy or dry, but this one balances well. Derma E has a great line of natural products, but this is my favorite.

NOW Shea Butter

This shea butter is $7 and lasts me about a year. It’s a stand-by product I use for spot-treating very dry skin. Shea butter is a natural fat made from the nuts of the “karate” tree, and has even been known to increase the skin’s thickness because it helps skin retain moisture. It makes a great moisturizer for my hands, but I’ve also used it on my face as a deep moisturizer when I feel my skin needs a boost in the winter.

5 Ways to Combat Dry Skin

Dry skin is irritating. It flakes, itches, cracks and laughs in the face of many lotions and creams. It ages faster than any other skin type. But you have some secret weapons you may not know about. Here are five ways to combat dry skin:

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1. Drink lots of water

You’ve probably heard we need to drink 8 – 8-ounce glasses of water a day. It seems like a lot if you’re not used to it, but once you get in the habit, you should sense an improvement in your overall health and your skin’s moisture level. Just be sure to drink the water through the course of the day — too much at a time and your electrolyte levels can become unstable (known as water intoxication).

2. Eat Essential fatty acids

Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) are beneficial fats that can’t be produced in the body, so we must include them in our diets. EFA’s help maintain skin tone, give skin firmness, and improve the skin’s ability to maintain water. EFA’s can be found in high concentrations in fish like salmon and cod, and in certain plants like flaxseed. You can also take supplements to increase your intake of EFA’s.

3. Use a humidifier

If you live in colder climates and use forced heat, then a humidifier is an essential purchase for maintaining your skin’s moisture balance. Forced heat removes moisture from the air, but humidifiers replenish it. Dryness can be drastically reduced if the air your skin comes in contact with has enough moisture. You can buy a humidifier that will automatically maintain the correct humidity percentage.

4. Use a non-foaming, milk-based cleanser

Most of us have been taught the more suds we create the better. Not necessarily. Suds are meant to draw out the dirt and oil from our pores, but some oils are beneficial and must be maintained to keep the skin from drying out. Avoid cleaners with sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate, since these foaming agents are common skin irritants. Use a natural milk-based cleanser with calming ingredients like lavender and chammomile. Rinse with warm (not hot) water.

5. Moisturize with natural oil-based lotions after you shower

Since showering can dry the skin out, it’s important to moisturize all over afterwards. But all moisturizers are not equal. Look for ingredients that include vegetal oils such as sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil, jojoba oil and sunflower oil. These oils are similar in composition to the natural oils found in our skin, and are readily absorbed by it. Beware of synthetic ingredients like mineral oil and petrolatum. They might make the skin feel soft at first, but because they are not readily absorbed, they “sit” on the skin and do not let it breathe. If you want to use an intensive moisturizer for very dry skin, try 100% shea butter (you can find it at health food stores). It’s known to increase epidermal thickness because of its moisture-retaining properties.