Can natural skincare be effective?
Can it treat and prevent blemishes, and give you baby-bottom (well, pretty darn close!) smooth skin?
Now my skin is by no means flawless (see those scrunchy eyes a.k.a. my “expression lines”?) but trust me when I tell you that it’s miles ahead of where it would be without certain elements of my skincare routine — my best natural skincare “secrets” if you will. Because I’m certainly NOT someone who was genetically blessed when it comes to skin! And that just means I need my products to work extra hard.
That being said, most of my “secrets” are actually pretty simple! Nope, microneedling and face cupping didn’t make the list (I haven’t made up my mind on these yet). But don’t let that fool you by any means…
My Best, Must-Know Natural Skincare Secrets
1. Exfoliation changes everything
Skin benefits: prevent blemishes, stimulate collagen production, enhance penetration of other products, reduce appearance of pores
Struggling with breakouts? Trying to slow the signs of aging? BOTH at once!?
Well then exfoliation needs to be part of your skincare routine.
Exfoliation helps to keep skin clear by preventing dead skin cells from clogging pores. There’s A LOT going on behind the scenes that contributes to acne, but when it comes down to it, a zit is really nothing more than a sticky mess of sebum (the skin’s natural oil) and dead skin cells or dirt. And so exfoliation helps prevent dead skin cells from entering this equation, AND can help break up debris in pores.
Exfoliation also stimulates collagen production. And since collagen keeps skin smooth, taught, and firm, this is key for slowing the signs of aging.
Plus, exfoliation helps skincare products better penetrate the skin and so essentially enhances their effectiveness.
AND it instantly leaves you with a glowy, smooth complexion, and help reduce the appearance of pores (sadly, pore size is mostly determined by genes and can’t permanently be shrunk).
There are two types of exfoliation, physical and chemical. Physical exfoliation uses some sort of abrasive and your own (wo)manpower — think: face scrub — while chemical exfoliants use acids — think: skin peels.
My favorite natural exfoliants:
- Beautycounter Nourishing Cream Exfoliator — best for sensitive skin types
- Acure Brilliantly Brightening Facial Scrub
- MyChelle Perfect C PRO Speed Peel
- Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Full Strength
But don’t overdo it! Exfoliating too often or too harshly can have the opposite of all the the benefits you’re after. Best to exfoliate no more than twice a week for oily and normal skin types, and no more than once a week for dry and sensitive skin types. And always use a gentle hand — you’re scrubbing your face, not the bathtub.
2. Face oils are your skin’s best friend
Skin benefits: prevent blemishes, neutralize aging free radicals, prevent sebum oxidation, moisturize
Obviously! You needn’t hang around Body Unburdened for very long before recognizing one very true thing: I. LOVE. FACE. OILS.
And so does your skin!
Now I know, all of those products with “oil-free” so proudly displayed on their labeling would make you think oil is your skin’s biggest enemy — but this just isn’t true. In fact, oils help to keep skin clear by 1) helping to regulate the skin’s own production of oil and 2) helping to breakup the gunk in our pores.
High-quality face oils are also absolutely loaded with antioxidants — most contain vitamins A, C, and E — which neutralize pro-aging free radicals and prevent sebum oxidation. Sebum oxidation is a key player in acne since oxidized sebum is extremely comedogenic (or pore-clogging).
And of course, oils provide skin with unparalleled moisture. Moisturized skin not only heals more quickly than dry skin (key if you’re dealing with breakouts) but also looks more plump and youthful.
To find the best oil for your skin, I’ve put together The Best Face Oils By Skin Type for you.
3. Lavender essential oil is a must for skincare emergencies
Skin benefits: prevent blemishes, heal burns
Specifically: when a zit rears its ugly head or you’re sunburnt.
When a zit starts to show, I dab a very little bit of organic lavender essential oil directly on it (after washing my face).
Lavender is also phenomenal at helping skin heal from burns. To help ease sunburn, add just 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil to a carrier oil in the palm of your hand before applying it to burnt skin.
4. Vitamin C serum is insanely effective
Skin benefits: fade dark spots, neutralize aging free radicals, stimulate collagen production, prevent sebum oxidation
Vitamin C is actually one of the most well studied anti-aging ingredients. Not only is it a potent antioxidant that helps to neutralize free radicals and prevent sebum oxidation (again, a kay factor in acne), but it also promotes collagen production and helps fade dark spots.
The difficult thing can be finding the right vitamin C serum since it’s a really finicky ingredient that oxidizes (and so loses its effect) quickly. It can also be irritating to some skin types, and you may need to build up a tolerance to it.
After applying the vitamin C serum, I let it sink in for a minute or so, then follow up with my oils. (Reminder to self: update my daily skincare routine post with vitamin C serum!)
5. Less is more
Skin benefits: prevent blemishes and irritation
Here’s the thing: your skin has a very specific pH and it’s own microbiome (yes, like the gut microbiome where there are both good and bad bacteria). When things are where they should be and in balance, your skin is healthy and happy. But when things get thrown off balance — the pH of your skin tips more towards neutral or the beneficial bacteria on your skin are outnumbered by the bad — irritation and breakouts can result.
And how can things get thrown off balance? Most often, by overdoing it — by washing and scrubbing too frequently, or layering on too many products.
Yes, you can over-wash your skin!
If you’ve been around here before and read about my all-natural skincare and beauty routine, you’d like that I only wash my face once a day — in the evening — and noticed a considerable difference in my skin once I started to do so. Heck, some natural beauties don’t wash at all! Or they do “skin cleanses” to help things rebalance.
Skin benefits: everything good that you want for your skin!
Not what you expected to find on this list!?
From personal experience, my studies to become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and ongoing research, and working with countless clients with skin issues, I know how critical nutrition is for the health of the skin. Heck, I even wrote a book all about it!
But it goes beyond simply providing your skin with the nutrients it needs to build, repair, and protect itself. A number of common skincare issue are actually symptoms of internal imbalances — most often digestive issues, chronic inflammation, and hormonal imbalance. And so targeted nutrition to address these issues and set these imbalances right again benefits the skin in a way no topical product — not even those discussed above! — can.
Do you have any of your own natural skincare secrets?
Please share with us in the comments below!