Guide to Naturally Radiant Skin

Get naturally radiant skin without the chemical soup while battling wrinkles, under-eye circles and acne.

| November/December 2014

  • Nurture your skin with exfoliation tools such as natural-bristle skin brushes.
    Photo by Veer
  • Health can be reflected at any age with proper skin care.
    Photo by Getty Images
  • Create an easy to follow beauty regimen with natural skin care products.
    Photo by Corbis

With proper care, our skin can be a glowing reflection of health at any age. Yet, with intense product marketing and a lack of oversight by the FDA, the skin-care industry can be at best confusing, at worst potentially harmful. As more and more health ailments—including breast cancer and reproductive disorders—are linked with ingredients (such as phthalates and fragrance) commonly used in personal-care products, it may be that what we put on our bodies is nearly as important to our health as what we put in our bodies. Our choices aren’t limited to settling for questionable ingredients or going without skin care: A number of basic, natural products—such as oils, botanicals and herbs—are healthier for us inside and out. Use this simple guide to put together an easy-to-follow regimen to support healthy, fresh-looking skin, no harsh ingredients required.

Skin Basics

First, let’s briefly break down the anatomy of our skin. Only 2 millimeters thick, our skin is a large and complex organ. An average square inch holds 650 sweat glands; 20 blood vessels; 60,000 melanocytes (pigment skin cells); and more than 1,000 nerve endings. What protects and maintains the overall health of our skin is what’s called the acid mantle. This thin, viscous fluid is made up of sweat and oil; retains lipids and moisture; and defends us against bacteria and fungal infections. However, sunlight, diet and other factors—including the products we use on our skin—can interfere with our acid mantle, affecting our skin’s pH level.

To work its best, the acid mantle should be slightly acidic. The sweet spot is a pH around 5.5, according to No More Dirty Looks by Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt. Washing with even moderately alkaline soap or detergents is an easy way to off-balance our pH levels. Skin that is too alkaline becomes dry and sensitive and is more prone to infection; skin that is too acidic, which is less common, can result in breakouts and red, inflamed skin. Evaluate your skin-care regimen and stick to gentle cleansers, toners and moisturizers made with minimal ingredients to support your skin’s health.

The Three-Fold System

1. Cleanser. Washing our faces gets rid of pollution, makeup, dead skin cells and other daily contaminants. It should also gently remove excess oil without stripping skin of its natural oils. When choosing cleansers, start by avoiding sulfates—surfactants used in many cleansers that can be drying, irritating and may be contaminated with the carcinogen 1,4-dioxane. Also avoid penetration enhancers such as acids, polyethylene glycols (PEGs), sulfates and propylene glycol.

Increasingly, beauty experts recommend the oil cleaning method. Free of any harsh detergents or other drying ingredients, nutrient-rich facial oils may help balance skin’s oil production. To follow this method, massage raw, cold-pressed oil such as coconut or extra-virgin olive oil into your skin. Place a hot washcloth over your face until it cools (a couple of minutes), then rinse. You won’t need to follow up with a toner or moisturizer when using this method.

2. Toner. Although cleansers and moisturizers do the bulk of the work in this three-fold system, toners are still beneficial. Toners can help restore skin’s natural pH balance and prepare skin for moisturizer. Some beauty experts say to ditch toners—certainly you should ditch the harsher options. Astringents contain a high percentage of alcohol. Instead opt for toners with natural grain alcohol or natural tonics such as witch hazel or rose water. Water-based toning mists can be great, especially on-the-go. Many holistic skin-care experts use hydrosols, which essentially are the water that remains after essential oils are distilled from their source. Use them as you would a toner.

Subscribe today and save 58%

Get the latest on Healthy Living and Natural Beauty!

Mother Earth LivingRedefine beauty and embrace holistic living with Mother Earth Living by your side. Each issue  provides you with easy, hands-on ways to connect your life with the natural world -- from eating seasonally to culinary and medicinal uses of herbs; from aromatherapy and DIY cosmetics to yoga and beyond. Start your journey to holistic living today and you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter