Why I No Longer Seek out “Natural” Beauty Products

In November of 2015, about sixteen months ago, my morning routine was featured on the (apparently now-defunct) natural beauty blog “No More Dirty Looks.” At the time, I was using a heavily-DIY, all-natural routine, focusing on avoiding chemicals like parabens. Since then, I’ve obviously changed my tune and started using more man-made (and woman-made!) ingredients and products and stopped avoiding ingredients like parabens in favor of science-based ingredients. So I thought I’d use this post to talk a little bit about why I made the switch and why I no longer think it’s necessary to avoid the so-called “toxic” chemicals in our beauty products.

First, a little bit about my own personal story. I found natural/organic beauty through the organic and traditional foods movement. Several years ago, I decided to drastically overhaul how I ate in order to see if it would help my frequent migraine headaches. The good news is that it did! The bad news is that it meant making from scratch pretty much every scrap of food that went into my body. That’s a daunting task, and I did it with the help of food bloggers in the “real food” movement. And while I was busy putting only minimally-processed, organic food into my body, I started reading about how we also get exposed to “toxic chemicals” through the personal care products we use. Around the same time, I had a massive breakout of hives over my entire body for 36 hours. I tracked down the possible culprits and decided that the artificial fragrance had caused my reaction. So I started switching to an all-natural regimen of personal care.

At my crunchiest, I used homemade soap, apple cider vinegar, and organic oils to care for my face, body, and hair. I used crystal deodorant. I ate up articles by bloggers claiming to have found a scientific basis for avoiding parabens, phthalates, sulfates, fragrances, and a whole host of other ingredients. When I couldn’t use something made myself, I found the simplest, least-preserved brand at the organic market that I could. I even washed my hair with mud for a while. And I kept this up for years.

Finally, I realized that highly-alkaline soaps were not doing my skin or hair any favors. I think the first step was admitting that washing my hair with soap left it paradoxically greasy and dry. My hairdresser would refuse to touch my hair until he’d washed it with salon shampoo. And I was breaking out. I went from being a teenager and early-20-something with enviable skin to a spotty 30-something.

In a fit of pique, I became so frustrated with how my skin reacted to everything that I just stopped using anything at all but plain water on my face. That was when I started noticing that my skin was actually dry. I started doing different research, looking up hydrating skin, and eventually found the Skincare Addiction and Asian Beauty subreddits. There, I learned that I had probably dehydrated my skin from years of using alkaline cleansing products and only oils to moisturize. And a light bulb went on.

But in order to fully break away from my crunchy leanings, I had to convince myself that these chemicals I’d been avoiding for years were actually safe. Once I finally did, I felt embarrassed because the preponderance of scientific evidence is in favor of the safety of approved cosmetics ingredients, and I have a scientific background myself. Refusing to trust these researchers is akin to refusing to trust the science that claims vaccines are safe and necessary or that human-driven climate change is a major factor in our environment. If I trusted the science in one place, I needed to learn to trust the science in this place.

Of course, there are bloggers with science backgrounds doing the good work of trying to counter the scare-mongering people who perpetuate this fear of “chemicals.” And that really helped. But I also did my own looking around. And even now, when I find myself falling into old habits of worrying about a skin care ingredient, I do a search and try to limit myself to scientific publications. And since I know a little bit about scientific publication, I try to look up the journals these things are published in, to ensure I’m getting good sources.

But that’s not to say I’ve completely abandoned everything I gained from being an organic beauty aficionado. I still use natural oils on my face. I still DIY my own products, when I can’t find a commercial product that I like. And I still am wary of fragrance in skin care. I’m still aware of my ingredients, but I know that I could have a problem from any ingredient, not just the ones with unfamiliar chemical names.

And that’s the real crux of why I no longer consider myself a natural skin care person. I’ve found some natural ingredients that cause me much worse problems than any scary-sounding chemical ever has. As an example, I’m going to go back to that story about breaking out in hives. I noticed that the initial reaction happened in the exact pattern that I use when putting soap on my body. I looked at the bar of soap I was using and, sure enough, “fragrance” was one of the ingredients. Now, I’m friends with the lady who makes the soap, so I shot her a quick email. She verified that, yes, she used artificial sandalwood fragrance because of cost and environmental concerns with sandalwood oil. Well, I thought to myself, that must be the problem!

There was a jasmine perfume she sold that I loved, so when I was done “detoxing,” I added that back in first, to make sure it didn’t cause a problem. And it didn’t. Oh well, I thought, the jasmine fragrance oil and the sandalwood fragrance oil must have different constituents. But then, I started making my own soaps and she shared her fragrance supplier’s website with me. Well, knowing that the sandalwood fragrance made me react and the jasmine didn’t, I figured I could go to the data sheets for each fragrance and look at what different components they had.

And they had exactly the same fragrant compounds in them. From a chemical standpoint, there wasn’t a difference. So if I had reacted to one, why didn’t I react to another?

Then, I went back to the soap ingredient list and looked again. One of the essential oils was cinnamon essential oil. Now, cinnamon is intensely irritating and has to be used carefully. I had actually had a less-severe skin reaction to a product with cinnamon in it after my hives situation. So after all that, after years of being chemically-avoidant, it was probably a natural essential oil that had caused my reaction.

So the lesson here is that anything can cause a reaction, be it natural or synthesized. Be aware of your personal care products, but know that approved chemicals became approved through a lengthy research process, and distrusting that research may not leave you with the best products to work with.

Lotions and Potions

The cold air has hit us finally. The combination of cold, dry air outside and heated, dry air inside can wreak havoc on even the most resilient of complexions. I’m “blessed” have rather oily skin that does not get dry easily, but even I have noticed the effects of skin dehydration. And, as my beauty sources often remind me, oily skin does not equal hydrated skin. As such, I’ve found myself enjoying a few lovely moisturizing, conditioning, and hydrating boosts the last week or so.

  1. Rosewater and Glycerin: This is a very simple mix from the Heritage Store. It’s just what it says it is: their rosewater mixed with vegetable glycerin. It comes in a 4-oz. spray bottle and I love it more than any other fancy face mists I’ve tried. I use it when I get out of the shower before putting on my sunscreen in the morning, I use it in the evenings if I feel like I need a moisture boost before applying face cream and oil, and I keep one in my purse and my desk to just spritz whenever I feel dry or low. The rosy scent is true and light and a perfect pick-me-up.
  2. Griffin Remedy Skin Food lotion: I’ve used Griffin Remedy’s lotion in the past, but never shelled out for their fancier tier of lotion. With the state of my neglected legs being what they are, I splurged this weekend, and I have to say I love it. I first thought I would get the unscented lotion, as Boyfriend has expressed some concern about dry skin, but I found the lotion itself has a distinctive smell, likely from the MSM or some of the oils. So I got one that is lightly scented with frankincense. Frankincense is supposed to have some lovely healing and regenerative properties as well as smelling divine (literally, ask the Magi). The formula is a bit lighter and moister feeling than the plain Griffin lotion as well.
  3. Sheet masks: I discovered sheet masks when the Western world started discovering Korean skin care. While I’ve found that a fully-layered, eight- or ten-step regimen is just too much for me to stick to, I’ve kept my sheet masks around. Some of the old herbals I have list recipes similar to sheet masks and the practice of soaking muslin or silk strips in a healing solution and using that to beautify the skin has been around for ages. It is fortunate that I live in a day and age where I get the masks pre-soaked and in a little packet. I especially love them for travel because the cooling sensation of the mask calms my skin and sinuses after flying. My absolute favorite to date is the Sephora collection Rose Mask because of its lovely light scent, but I’ve recently ordered some more all-natural hydrating masks from 100% Pure and I’m excited to try them. As far as luxury items go, a $6-10 mask once a week is relatively benign and adds so much to my skin care routine. That said, if I’m in a pinch, I can soak a compressed sheet mask tablet in some alcohol-free toner (I like Thayer’s) and lay that on for a hydration boost.
  4. Hand cream: I had never been one of those people who used a lot of hand cream. I actually hate the feeling of having cream on the palms of my hands. But transitioning from a more hands-on job to a desk job has left me with less worry about slippery grips and more worry about the state of my hands and nails. Plus, a colleague once told me that he doesn’t look at women’s faces any more to determine how old they are, but can always tell from their hands. So I keep a tube at my desk. Right now, I have Andalou’s Path of Light cream in lavender, but I got a little tube of Human + Kind hand, foot, and elbow cream for Christmas and I plan to switch. Sadly, I’ve been unable to find a hand cream I like that doesn’t have shea butter in it, so I have to be very careful not to touch my face too much when I’m using hand cream, but I like that the H+K cream is more lightly scented than the Andalou. I’m intrigued by the brand overall, though most of the products are not quite what I need.
  5. Salves and balms: While oils and butters and salves will not hydrate your skin (only water and water-binders do that), they serve an important purpose in the winter. They lock in the moisture and keep your skin nourished with fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins A and E. While I’ve expounded in the past upon my love of rosehip oil, I thought I’d mention a new remedy I’ve found: Moon Valley Organics Herbal Heal. It’s a salve made from safflower, rosehip, and flax oil, with a bit of beeswax to thicken it up. Then, they also add all sorts of lovely healing herbal extracts, and propolis tincture for extra healing power. I’ve been using it occasionally as an eye balm, and it was a skin-saver when I was plagued with raw, chafed skin around my nose from my cold, but sometimes, when it feels very dry, I will slather my whole face in it after piling on my hydrating ingredients to keep all that moisture in close to my skin where it can do the most good.

I love a good walk in the bracing winter air, and I love to come home and curl up in the warmth of my house. With these lotions and potions, I find that these enjoyable winter practices don’t wreak quite so much damage on my skin, and keep my feeling beautiful and moisturized all winter. What are some of your winter skin tips?

On Healing, Slowly

I’ve finally hit the tail end of this nasty cold. I no longer sound like a consumptive Victorian lady, for the most part. I do still have to walk around with my face swaddled in a scarf to avoid letting the cold air into contact with my delicate lungs. But I am also back at work. Boyfriend and I took a nice long walk yesterday in the sunshine to make sure I could handle my walk from the train station. I have to say that, while it was lovely to get out of the house and be active, I did feel it.

That’s the problem with being sick. It’s not just about getting better: it’s also about getting back to where you were. It’s been three weeks since I’ve been to my aerials class. It’s been almost a week since I’ve gotten regular exercise. If I hadn’t had to take my medication with food, I’d barely have been eating. As it is, I feel like yesterday was the first day where my appetite was approximately normal.

And that will return, slowly. It likely helps to have this episode at the new year, as I have no temptation to diet or restrict myself with food because I’m in a place where I know I need to be eating more, not less, right now. For now, I’m focusing on feeling normal and good. I did another pampering skin care ritual last night, along with a lovely hot bath, scented with lavender bath salts. I decided to increase the luxury by slathering my face with True Nature Botanicals face oil while I bathed, letting the oil and steam soften my face. After I emerged from the tub, I massaged a generous amount of frankincense-scented lotion into my body. Then, I exfoliated my face with a bit of rice and oat flour, washed my face, toned, and put on a sheet mask. This infused me with a bit of much-needed moisture. Duly moisturized, I patted in the serum, added face cream and topped off with a bit of a massage with my rosehip seed oil. It was lovely. The final touch was to spritz my hair with rosewater and glycerin, apply a bit of a lovely new scented hair oil I got recently, and braid for bed.

While it’s a bit fussy for every night, it certainly put me in the right frame of mind to rest before returning to my daily routines this week.

A Very Bold Update

A few weeks ago I posted about how I’ve stopped wearing makeup and washing my face. I thought I’d post a little update to let you all know some of the conclusions I’ve come to.

While I was surprised by how little I broke out while I was only rinsing with water, I did feel I lacked something in this routine, and missed the ritual of cleansing, as well as the feeling of clean skin. To that end, I have taken what I learned from my skin “cleanse” of sorts and redesigned my skin care routine to be as simple as possible, while addressing specific concerns.

I’ve realized that cream cleansers both don’t clean my skin well enough and leave a residue of emollients that lead to clogged pores. So I returned to an old favorite: Earth Science fragrance free clarifying wash. It’s a pH-balanced gel cleanser that removes surface dirt and oil without feeling like it’s stripping my skin. I’ve continued to not wear face or eye makeup, but if I do, I use a bit of grape seed oil to remove that before washing with the gel cleanser. Because it is pH balanced, I don’t need a toner. I merely splash my face with cold water after rinsing and pat dry.

I’ve decided to keep rose hip seed oil as my nighttime moisturizer. I apply 6-7 drops to cleansed skin and massage it in. This simple, two-step routine is almost as simple as my previous, no-cleanse routine. And I always wake up glowing with the rose hip oil. The oil also balances my skin so I don’t wake up feeling greasy.

Because of this, I still simply rinse with water in the mornings. Then, I apply a light moisturizer. I’ve found that Aubrey Organics Clarifying Therapy moisturizer has a little salicylic acid to help with breakouts, and linoleic acid to keep my skin happy. Because I only see daytime sun when I go out in the midday, I’ve started carrying my sunscreen with me to apply as needed instead of just once in the morning. I’ve also recently gotten a new sunscreen, 100% Pure Argan Oil facial moisturizer with SPF 30, to try because it is less scented than the Badger Balm rose sunscreen.

So far my skin has never looked better in the last few years than it has the last couple of weeks. I got one or two small spots during my period, but they went away quickly. I’ve felt confident enough to go without makeup still. By simplifying my skin care routine and forgoing makeup, I can now be ready to go in much less time as well, which makes my mornings more relaxed. All I need is a swipe of lipstick!

A Very Bold Experiment

Despite having a very simple beauty routine compared to some, I sometimes wonder why I struggle a bit with acne while Boyfriend enjoys largely clear skin, despite the fact that he does absolutely nothing for it. A few weeks ago, I decided to change things in a rather large way.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve gone without any face or eye makeup at all and I wash my face only with water and a clean washcloth in the evening and water only in the mornings. It’s a lovely simple routine and I don’t have to worry if I occasionally forget to wash up at night because I’m not wearing makeup to clog things.

Going without products has taught me about my skin. I’ve realized that I actually have patches of dry skin when I put nothing on my skin. To avoid this, I use five drops of rosehip seed oil patted into my skin at night and Badger Balm rose-scented sunscreen during the day. It sinks in and prevents dryness without giving me greasy skin and it smells lovely.

Other than that, I wear my red lipstick. And that’s it.

Obviously, when I act, I still have to wear some makeup. As one show is in tech right now, I’ve been experimenting with using grapeseed oil followed by my homemade soap to remove the makeup. I think because I only wear makeup for a few hours at a time instead of all day, it doesn’t irritate my skin as much.

Perhaps I shall stick to this, or perhaps I shall need more come summer when the heat makes me sweat, but for now, I’m enjoying my simple routine.

A New Endeavor

I hinted at a new craft project I’ve taken up in my last post, but I didn’t give any details. Well, here’s the big reveal:

AllSoaps

Last week, I made my first batch of cold-process soap!

I’ve been interested in soap-making for years now, but never took the plunge. At first, I wanted to make an unscented olive oil soap for a family member who had very sensitive skin. But as the years went on, I’ve realized that some of the best fats for soap-making are the local, traditional animal fats I can get from farmers around me. Of course, this appealed to my vintage sensibilities and I’ve spent some time researching both vintage soap recipes and modern soap research.

That, coupled with my new attempts at all-natural hair and skin care, let me to more actively look up what I would need to start making bars of homemade soap using lard and tallow. Eventually, maybe I can make a bar of soap that serves all my showerly needs, hair and skin alike!

I started out with a basic recipe mostly based on lard, but with just enough coconut oil to provide nice lather and cleansing power. I had meant to try using tallow, but the store was out of it. I also made a bar with mostly olive oil and just enough coconut to provide lather to put away to cure for holiday gifts for those whose sensibilities might be offended by animal-based soaps.

Both recipes went smoothly, and I’ve just cut up the second batch yesterday. My first batch was a small, 1-lb. batch that I poured into silicone muffin cups to mold. They make very cute soaps. But I wanted something more traditional for gifts so I poured the soaps into a square silicone pan and cut it into rectangular bars.

I’m very excited about my new hobby, and hopefully will be able to test my new soaps on myself and Boyfriend in the next few weeks. And then, I have lots of other recipes planned, from a luxurious facial care bar, to a bar using sheep tallow! I’ll report back here with each and every batch, though.

Lady Elizabeth and the Quest For the Holy Grail

A rather whimsical title because I’ve always been a reader of Arthurian lore. But instead of the miraculous cup, I refer instead to Holy Grail (or HG) beauty products. I do read some modern beauty publications to get ideas for my makeup, and occasionally, they will list their HG products. I have to say, I’ve never understood such an idea.

I mean, I spent a month wearing all my red lipsticks to decide what I wanted, and then bought a lipstick that I like a lot. But it’s not the ultimate red lipstick. It’s just the best I’ve found so far. I still have complaints. And I’m going to keep buying lipsticks, even red ones. In fact, I’ve already bought two red lipsticks and a couple of sheer red lip stains since then. So no mythical status.

And yet, recently, I discovered the meaning of the HG product. It was after a years-long journey that I discovered it, and I didn’t even know how much I needed this particular product until I found it. I almost bought it on a whim, which is ludicrous considering how expensive it was, but I consider it worth every penny and I will not hesitate to buy it again.

You see, I try not to wear a full face of makeup every day. But I do need sun protection every day, and since I prefer more natural, mineral-based sunscreen products, I like a tinted sunscreen moisturizer to avoid the white cast that mineral sunscreens leave. But I have rather oily skin, and I’ve found that every tinted sunscreen I’ve tried has left my face looking shiny/oily, even the oil-free one. I had resigned myself to using a bit of powder, even though that ruins the light feel of tinted moisturizer.

Enter True Nature Botanicals. On a whim, I typed “matte finish natural tinted sunscreen” into Google, and got a bunch of hits about their Pacific Everyday Sheer Coverage sunscreen. It’s an all-natural tinted moisturizer with SPF 20 and it supposedly dries to a matte-powder finish. Huh. Sounded interesting. The price was less interesting, but after checking out their return policy (30 days, for any reason, satisfaction guaranteed), I decided it was worth it to buy a bottle, use it for a bit, and if I had to return it, the cost of return shipping was probably reasonable for a sample of a luxe product.

And it does have good ingredients. Even though it’s not oil-free, the oils are high-linoleic oils, mostly, which I know work well with my skin. Some of the oils are oils I use by themselves, or oils I’ve looked at buying. Intriguing. I ordered a bottle of the “Light” tint, and it came a few days later.

I have to say, I’m kind of hooked. I need about 2-3 pumps to cover my face generously. It smooths on and then starts to dry to a truly matte finish. The only issue I’ve had is that if I sweat profusely, it will sometimes dry a bit patchy. But other than that, it’s weightless, natural, matte sunscreen that makes my skin look flawless, but without looking like I’m wearing makeup. I’ve definitely gone a couple of days with just this moisturizer and maybe a touch of lipstick.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that my skin is actually looking really good, even bare. I generally have pretty good skin, but it started breaking out around my chin a couple weeks ago and I had two giant pimples on my chin for an audition early last week. I got my tinted moisturizer that evening and started wearing it daily on Tuesday and I’ve noticed that the pimples have gone away a lot faster than usual and haven’t left a lot of lingering marks. Perhaps it’s my new attempt at oil cleansing, but I think the botanicals in this moisturizer couldn’t be hurting. At the very least, I know it’s not causing me to break out.

So that’s the story of my quest for my first Holy Grail product. I’d be interested to hear about any Holy Grail products you readers have found!

Disclaimer: I purchased this product with my own money and have not been offered any incentive to write this review.

Homemade Beeswax Balm for Lips and Cuticles

In my post on skincare, I mentioned my homemade beeswax balm that I keep by my bedside to protect lips and cuticles while I sleep. I’ve always found beeswax has provided a superior balm for my lips. I lick and bite my lips and drink often, so I sometimes find it hard to keep my lips from getting chapped. Add the cold weather to that, and you have a recipe for flaky, sore lips. This does not give a nice canvas for lipstick, one of my favorite makeup items, so I generally have close to a half a dozen little tubes of lip balm around me in purses and drawers and makeup bags. But I’m so picky about the balms I like that I decided to make my own.

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I based this balm in on recipes I found online, but adjusted it for my own preferences. Many recipes include shea butter, which is a wonderful butter for a lot of people. The problem is that I find it makes me break out, and because I wanted this to be a sort of all-purpose balm, I needed all the ingredients to be friendly to my entire person. I chose avocado oil because it’s full of good fats, but doesn’t have as strong a smell as olive oil, and I’m planning on giving this batch away as gifts. Any other neutral oil would probably work, or you can try olive oil and see if the smell bothers you. And unrefined, yellow beeswax, gives it a lovely faint honey scent. I include a bit of Vitamin E as a preservative.

This is really an all-purpose balm, meant to protect any skin that is feeling dry or chapped. I mostly use it on lips and fingers. I keep a tin of it next to my bed, and a tube of it in each of my purses. Before I go to bed, I scratch out maybe the tip of my thumbnail’s worth and rub that on my lips, and then use a whole thumbnail’s worth to dab onto each fingernail so I can massage it into my cuticles.

This is a very waxy, rich balm, so feel free to increase the oil to 2 oz. if you want something a little softer. I like the firmer balm, especially in the winter because it really protects skin from the elements. I’ve been known to put a little on my nose when I’m out on a cold, windy day. You can also make substitutions for the oil and butter. A lot of recipes use coconut oil and shea butter. While there are vegan substitutes for beeswax, I’ve never found them equal in quality, so your mileage may vary there.

I got my ingredients and the lip balm tubes from Wild Herb Soap Co. on Etsy, and my tins thrown into a random order of herbs from another source. To make the rig for holding my little lip balm containers, I used an old egg carton flipped upside-down. I plunged my sharpest paring knife into the center of each cup in an X, and then turned the knife around and used the knob on the handle to open up each X to fit a tube. It’s really quite a handy way to keep the little guys steady while filling them and cost me nothing beyond the eggs, which I would have eaten anyway.

Homemade Lip and Cuticle Balm

1 oz. unrefined beeswax
1 oz. raw mango butter
1.5 oz. cold-pressed avocado oil
~1/16 oz. liquid Vitamin E

Heat the wax, butter, and oil just until everything melts, stirring often. Add the Vitamin E and stir in. Fill containers. Makes about 1/2 cup of liquid, by volume.

My Vintage-Inspired Beauty Routine, Part 1: Skincare

I’ve decided I ought to post a little about my beauty routine, since it is such a large part of my personal style. First, I’ll talk about my skincare routine, since it is the most complicated part of my beauty practices. I’ve based my skincare routine on what I’ve read of Victorian women. I cleanse with a cream instead of soap and use warm and cold water to close pores. I also focus on natural ingredients, like rosewater and lavender, and homemade treatments. I do most of my skincare in the evening before bed and wash only with water in the mornings before applying makeup.

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Nightly Routine:

I start by removing my makeup and cleansing. I use Andalou Naturals Lash and Lid Remover and their Apricot Probiotic Cleansing Milk. Both are thick creams, almost like a cold cream but without the nasty chemicals in Pond’s. Even though my skin tends towards oiliness, I find the cleansing milk leaves my skin clean without drying it out, so I don’t need to worry about too much in the way of moisturizer. And it has a lovely apricot smell.

After that, I rinse and pat dry. I might mist with rosewater if I’m feeling luxuriant. Then, I simply massage in some oil. I alternate rosehip seed oil and a homemade oil blend of grapeseed oil, sea buckthorn oil, a little carrot seed oil, and lavender oil. The rosehip seed oil has vitamin A, but is not recommended for daily use on acne-prone skin. I’ve noticed a big improvement in the quality of my skin since I started using it half the time. The homemade oil blend is based on a recipe from Crunchy Betty. I use a base of grapeseed oil because it’s got a lot of linoleic acid, which is better for acne-prone skin. I add sea buckthorn oil for the vitamins and beneficial fatty acids. Carrot seed oil can heal and protect against sun damage, so I add a good deal of that. But it is strong-smelling stuff, so I add lavender for scent, and because it’s mildly anti-bacterial.

This whole routine probably takes about five minutes, but I don’t notice the time. Having an enjoyable, yet not-too-complicated routine makes me look forward to my bedtime ritual. I find that my skin is pretty good, with the occasional blemish when my hormones swing, or when I’m lazy about washing my face. I also like the glow from massaging in my oil right before I go to bed. It makes me feel like a Victorian beauty. Right before I go to sleep, I massage a little homemade beeswax balm into my lips and cuticles.

Weekly Treatments:

Because I wash with a washcloth in the morning, I don’t do a lot of exfoliation otherwise, but I do find my skin gets a bit dull sometimes. I try to exfoliate once or twice a week, with a mixture of 1 Tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. lemon juice, and 1 tsp. olive oil. This makes a very gritty scrub, so I apply it and massage it gently after removing my eye makeup but before cleansing. I rinse with hot water, and then cleanse as usual.

Once a week, I do a mask. I mix about a tablespoon of French green clay with a capsule of activated charcoal powder and enough water to make a creamy paste. I apply this after exfoliating and cleansing and let it stay on 10-15 minutes. The clay and charcoal draw out impurities and definitely shrink blemishes. I then remove the mask and tone with Thayer’s Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel before applying oil. This weekly ritual leaves my skin soft and clear and helps draw out any makeup that was left behind during the week. I especially make sure to do it after I’ve been on stage that week in heavier makeup.

A somewhat involved evening routine gives way to my incredibly simple morning routine: I massage my face with a wet washcloth and then rinse with warm and cool water. I sometimes mist my face with rosewater when I get out of the shower. On the rare morning that I don’t shower, I often just splash my face with water from the sink to remove any traces of oil from the night before that didn’t soak in. This leaves me with a clean canvas for whatever makeup I want for the day ahead.