If you’re like most women, you’ve been on a never-ending quest for perfect skin since adolescence. Skin-care expert Adina Grigore helps readers diagnose and understand the underlying causes of their individual skin problems, along with at-home recipes, in her book Skin Cleanse (HarperCollins Publishers, 2015). In this excerpt from chapter 6 “The Skin Cleanse,” Grigore outlines a three-step skin detox that’s customizable.
You can purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Skin Cleanse
Sometimes, your skin just needs a break. Think about how much better everything gets when you eat less junk. Your skin is the same: put less junk on it, and it will get better. It can be hard to give up all body-care products completely cold turkey. Thankfully, this skin cleanse is customizable! Start at Level 1 and work your way up to Level 3, or go straight to the level that best matches your routine and your goals for your skin. Let’s get started.
Level 1: Supplement
LENGTH OF TIME: Three days, more if you love it
WHO THIS IS FOR: Beauty junkies looking for some extra nourishment
This is the level for those of you who feel as if you just can’t part with your products or makeup, but you are interested in doing something a little different to get better skin. In Level 1, you don’t have to stop using your products; you’re just going to add in one or two all-natural beauty recipes and you’ll pick one or two of the ingredients to use on their own.
It’s sort of like topical supplementing. Because the ingredients are completely natural, they provide much-needed nutrients for your skin. You should notice smoother, clearer skin within a few days.
Try to choose a recipe from the following list that you think will suit your skin’s needs. If you love your moisturizer but are worried your face wash isn’t the best, maybe you want to swap in a homemade face wash. If you’re thinking of finding a new moisturizer but aren’t ready to give yours up, use olive oil after your moisturizer and see if things get better. If you’re totally happy with your face-care routine but struggle with body breakouts or rashes, try adding a homemade body scrub. Or if you prefer not to use one of the recipes, select an ingredient or two from the list to mix into your existing products. You can add an exfoliating ingredient to your face wash, an oil to your moisturizer, a “butter” to your mask…it won’t take much extra time, but you’ll definitely feel extra fancy.
Here are some great ingredients to add to your routine. Start by mixing one part ingredient to one part product in your hand or a small bowl, and experiment with more or less as you go:
• Oat flour into your face wash
• Olive oil into your moisturizer
• Clay into your shampoo
• Aloe leaf or juice into your makeup remover
• A cup of sea salt in your bath water
• Honey as a face wash (apply like a mask, then rinse with warm water), then follow with the rest of your routine as normal
You don’t need to stick to the same recipes or ingredients every single day. This level is about adding extra nourishment, and that can come from a variety of sources. But if you find that moisturizing with olive oil after you wash your face really does seem to make a huge difference for your skin, you might want to keep it up for a few extra days and see what happens. If a new ingredient helps instantly, it’s likely going to help even more over time.
You can stick with Level 1 forever if you want, but I’d say, even if Level 1 is your happy place and you never try Level 2, aim for taking at least one day out of every month to add a high-quality natural ingredient or recipe to your routine. Of course, in my ideal world, you’ll love Level 1 so much that you won’t be able to wait to try Level 2!
Level 2: Eliminate and Nourish
LENGTH OF TIME: One day
WHO THIS IS FOR: Experiment lovers with nagging skin ailments
In Level 2 you will detox your skin by going sans makeup, sans product for one full day. One day! It’s nothing. It will go by in a flash. Pick a day when you plan to lounge around the house, or when you are feeling particularly rebellious. I promise you that if you have to see people, they won’t care that you’re makeup-free nearly as much as you think they will.
You will not use mascara, blush, eye shadow, or even a “touch of” concealer. Nothing. You will not use your face wash or exfoliant or toner or serum or moisturizer. None of it. You will replace those with the recipes and ingredients in Chapter 7. For Level 2, I recommend choosing from the list below. These are all recipes and ingredients that are super-gentle and will help your skin detoxify and return to its natural pH balance. If you have completed Level 1 successfully and have found something that worked well for you, keep it up and use it on your no-product day.
You don’t need to worry about your other personal-care products like shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and toothpaste—at Level 2, you can stick with your normal non-skin-care products.
Though the more products you can skip, the better—so if you don’t need to wash your hair that day, maybe you can skip it and eliminate a few more products. If you want to wash your face, use one of the products or ingredients from the list, or use a natural, handmade soap bar or just water (see “How to Wash Your Face with Only Water” below).
Just like anything else in life, less is more—so I wouldn’t recommend trying out more than two or three recipes on your “clean skin day.” We’re trying to give your skin a break, so don’t overwhelm it with seven new homemade products. Pick a toner and an oil, or a body scrub that you can use on your face, too. Wash your face with water and follow it with a spot treatment, or skip everything except a luxurious face mask right before bed.
If you don’t want to experiment with recipes, try using a simple, unscented castile soap. Castile soap is saponified olive oil. Though it’s gone through a process that makes it less gentle than the oil it came from, it will create suds and the slippery effect that makes you feel really clean. You can use it to wash your hair, your face, and your body. For one day. Follow it up with a full-body coconut oil slather, if you can. Remember, we’re just trying to get to a slightly “less is more” place.
Best recipes for Level 2:
• Balancing oil cleanser
• Brightening astringent
• Deep-Sea hydrating “strips”
• Combination face and body exfoliant
• Hair oil
How to Wash Your Face with Only Water
Did you know that you can wash your face without soap? Water is an effective cleanser all on its own. Just make sure you follow a few basic rules:
• Make sure your hands are clean. You already wash them or sanitize them a trillion times a day, so chances are they aren’t dirty—but do a quick check.
• Splash water onto your face, using your clean hands. Aim for ten to twenty splashes. (If this is your first time, I prefer you do twenty. Count them out.)
• Use your hands to (gently) rub the water over your face as you go. I do ten splashes where I go up and down with my hands one time per splash.
• This whole process should take you thirty to sixty seconds, and then your face will be clean, I swear.
Level 3: Detoxify
LENGTH OF TIME: Three days to two weeks
WHO THIS IS FOR: Courageous truth seekers, the super-sensitive, and Skin Cleanse converts
Level 3 is the cold turkey version of beauty rehab. If you’re ready to take the plunge, here’s what you’re going to do: take a break from all of your products (makeup, soap, and shampoo included) for at least three days (longer if you can). Forcing you to bravely show your own, naked face to the world for three whole days is the mental-health portion of the program.
The centerpiece of Level 3 is washing both your face and your body with water only. Use a washcloth to get squeaky clean. (Don’t worry, I’ll still let you use deodorant—although I’d prefer if you use a natural deodorant recipe.) The idea that you have to wash with products in order to get clean is marketing hype. Water cleans your skin, and your skin cleans your skin. It doesn’t need soap—it needs a break. It needs to breathe.
You will wash your hair with water only, no shampoo, no conditioner. If you absolutely can’t skip shampoo, aim to keep your hair care as simple as possible. Maybe you could wash your hair once, with an unscented castile soap. Or follow one of the recipes for a homemade shampoo. By now, you understand what we’re going for at this stage, so I’m going to trust you to use your best judgment.
After showering or washing your face, leave your skin alone. You may feel a bit dry. Don’t worry, that’s normal. Dryness is one of the first ways your skin shows that it’s trying to rebalance itself. If you go into a full freak-out over the dryness, use some olive oil. Either way, you are going to allow your skin some space to regulate itself again—something that, because of all the products you’ve been using, it hasn’t had to do in a long time. Each time you wash with only water, your skin should feel a little better. Even the dryness will start to ease over the course of the first three days.
Returning to Your Daily Routine
When you are done with your skin cleanse, it will be similar to your coming off an elimination diet—especially if you went all the way to Level 3. But even if you stopped at Level 1, you should be able to make a few subtle discoveries. You will immediately notice that products you thought were helping or that you regarded as everyday staples suddenly cause flare-ups. You will finally be able to see which products, ingredients, or steps in your skin-care routine to abandon.
On the flipside, you’ll also notice that the real winners in your regimen will work even better. Your skin will finally respond to them again, but it will also be less dependent on them. It is a win-win. Once you’re able to see which products and ingredients are helping you and which are hurting you, go ahead and toss the junk ones. A product elimination is not like a food elimination, where you might be able to take a break from a particular food and then come back to it later. If a product is lousy for your skin, it’s just lousy for your skin. Fortunately for you, getting rid of a product means you get to replace it with another and create a whole new beauty cabinet for yourself. Even more fortunately, I’ve designed a bunch of options for you, from scratch. I know, I’m excited, too.
Adapted from Skin Cleanse by Adina Grigore, founder of S.W. Basics, published by HarperCollins Publishers, copyright (c) 2015. Reprinted by permission of publisher. It may not be reproduced for any other use without permission.