Natural face

Crazy how one small assignment for a magazine at which I interned totally changed my habits.

When I wrote this article on the dangers of mainstream cosmetics for YES! Magazine as an intern in 2009 (read YES! Magazine, btw), I permanently switched my beauty pantry to more natural products, diligently reading ingredients lists and nixing phthalates and parabens. I don’t think I’m perfect, but since that time, I have increasingly hippie-fied what I put on my face and body, now just using kitchen ingredients where possible.

It’s not necessary to douse yourself in chemicals in order to care for your skin and hair, and you can save tons of dough by mixing up some of your own natural concoctions. Nature knows best, y’all.

So this isn’t about vegan food, but plant-based folks often seem inherently interested in spreading their healthy interest to other areas in life. In addition to eating healthier, I’ve been enjoying beautifying healthier. So today let’s talk about our faces.

Three extremely versatile ingredients that should be part of your vegan kitchen anyway will also get you far in chemical-free beauty: baking soda, apple cider vinegar and coconut oil.

I used to use different Burt’s Bees facial cleansers and exfoliators to clean my face morning and night, but my nighttime routine now just includes the above ingredients. (Dr. Bronner now cleans my face in the morning — he cleans my body, too.)

I use the coconut oil about five nights a week, baking soda two nights a week and apple cider vinegar every day, morning and night.

Wanna overthrow chemical cosmetic companies? I’ll tell you what I do.

Coconut oil

Let me say first that coconut oil is not optimal for all skin types, but it works wonderfully for me. Those with acne-prone skin types should read this great column and figure out the best oil option.

Slathering oil on your face sounds whack, right? But coconut oil is antibacterial, antifungal and moisturizing, so it’s actually a great cleanser. Read more here.

Coconut oil solidifies in room temperature environments, so I soften up some coconut oil by running my jar under hot water, putting the jar in a bowl of warm water or nuking it for 10 to 20 seconds. I lightly smear it all over my face in a thin oil slick. Some people like to let it sit for awhile on their faces, but I typically don’t because I’m lazy and want to get my routine over with. So I wipe off the oil with a warm, damp wash cloth. Maybe go over your face a couple times to make sure no oily residue remains. Proceed to feel how soft your face is. I KNOW.

Apple cider vinegar toner

Read about how awesome ACV is for your face here. I like to trust more eloquent people than myself with this information.

Get the unfiltered stuff with “the mother,” like Bragg’s. “The mother” is all the enzymes with the good juju in it. Mix the vinegar with 1:1 to 1:3 ratio of water. If you’re new at this, err on the side of a more diluted mix because if there’s too much ACV, it can burn your face a little (ask me how I know).

Simply use a cotton ball/wipe and swipe the vinegar on your face after every facial wash to restore your face’s pH and do other cool shit. It’s going to smell like vinegar (because it’s vinegar), but the odor dissipates as the vinegar dries.

In the daytime, I follow with a moisturizer and my makeup if it’s a work day, so do whatever you want from here.

(Another ACV tip: I use it as a daily hair conditioner.)

Baking soda

Not only can you use baking soda for cleaning, odor fighting, unclogging your drains and baking, but you can use it to exfoliate your face, too. I exfoliate this way about twice a week because baking soda is abrasive and I don’t want to rub my face raw.

So just wet about a teaspoon of baking soda in your palm and very lightly rub the paste around on your face. Give your skin a little massage, but again, don’t be rough with it or your face will fall off. Instead of wiping off the paste with a towel, I splash warm water on my face to avoid irritation.

Again, I follow with the ACV toner.

Baking soda has other natural beauty uses, too. I attempted to use it as a deodorant per the advice of Lindsay Nixon of Happy Herbivore, but my skin is way too sensitive and my pits rashed for a month. So now I’m back to Tom’s of Maine deodorant. It can also be mixed for a natural shampoo, which I might try someday. I still wash with a Loma shampoo every other day.

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Since going this route, my face no longer dries out after I wash it and it feels softer. I sincerely believe being plant-based has helped my face, too. My face has actually been hell lately because of moving and stress and stuff, but whatever. Never gonna be perfect. Just doing what I can. And enjoying not spending money on extraneous products marketed as silver bullet elixirs to women.

Suck it, phthalates!

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