It has taken me the better part of my 29 years to find an effective skincare routine. I’ve battled with super dry skin, been disappointed by countless bottles of lotion claiming to soothe even the driest of skin types. Somehow, certain lotions that made this promise seemed to actually make my skin feel less moisturized than when I started.
Diagnosed with eczema as a baby, my dry skin was slathered in all sorts of creams from an early age—lighter potions were applied in the morning, and heavier creams were applied for maximum moisturization at night. I envied people who could shower and immediately get dressed. I, by contrast, had to cover my entire body with some lotion or another—sometimes several types for different areas of my body.
In my early 20s, I started watching documentaries and reading articles and waking up to how unnatural the world around us truly is. I began to look at my cosmetics differently, reading labels and feeling frustrated by the obscure ingredients. It was impossible to determine whether a product would actually do what it claimed it would do by reading the ingredients. Always intrigued by a good challenge, I decided to try different all-natural experiments. I stopped using shampoo for 30 days, washing my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. (This, by the way, did not go that well. I was pretty relieved to use shampoo again afterwards.) I cut off all my hair one New Year’s Day, transforming it from a long mane to a tight pixie in minutes, casting off my hair tools and hair products shortly thereafter.
These experiments aren’t always successful, and they don’t always become lifestyle changes. But sometimes, certain ones do. And striving towards a version of myself that’s becoming more simple, less entangled in the cycle of consuming, and more committed to nurturing myself inside and out gives me a lot of meaning.
From the neck down
After loads of internet research, combing through forums, and switching up my google search terms, I discovered that I was misdiagnosed as having eczema. Instead, I found that my symptoms were a lot more aligned with Keratosis Pilaris, which affects nearly 50-80% of all adolescents and approximately 40% of adults. Crazy, right?! Turns out the dry skin was actually a buildup of keratin that was clogging my pores, so it wasn’t just about moisturizing, I had to find the best ways to exfoliate and keep that extra keratin at bay.
I now use one product from the neck down: Amlactin, which contains the alpha-hydroxy acid called lactic acid (which is found in sour milk). Sounds gross, I know. But the lactic acid acts as a chemical exfoliant to get all that extra keratin outta those pores, keeping things soft and smooth.
My skin used to feel dry and tight, especially in the winter. Now that I use Amlactin, the texture of my skin is altogether different. It feels incredibly healthy. The only downside is that this treatment does cause sensitivity to the sun—so precautions or extra sunscreen will be definitely needed before that next trip somewhere tropical (or, ya know, while I’m walking my dog in the summer months).
I would love to find a more natural alternative—but sun-sensitivity aside, this lotion actually does deliver on its promises. If anyone who has Keratosis Pilaris knows of a natural treatment, I’d love to hear about it!
Face & Décolleté
I really like the word décolleté. It’s one of those words that we definitely with reckless abandon, probably because English was not sophisticated to have its own word describing this specific part of human anatomy. 😉
I initially moisturized my décolleté with Amlactin, like the rest of my body, and I was confused as to why it would feel dry and was sometimes prone to blemishes. No bueno for the swooping neckline of most women’s clothing. I decided to use the face skin routine to this region every morning and night, and it keeps my décolleté unbelievably balanced and clear.
Face skin can be super hard to figure out. For me, it’s dry in certain places and oily in others and prone to blemishes (especially hormone-related). Commercial skincare products for oily skin left me peeling and flaking in certain areas, especially in the cold winter months (that dry heat is a killer). Heavy-duty moisturizers felt like they were just floating on my skin, not actually nourishing it. A conspicuous layer of moisturizer is not a great basis for applying makeup, either.
However, three or so years ago I decided to go a different route. Ever intrigued by the concept of using natural products for our bodies, I decided to try Witch Hazel as a skin toner. Witch Hazel is one of those miracle plants that can treat a whole variety of ailments. On Dr. Axe’s website, Witch Hazel is cited as a treatment for 18 different conditions—acne, redness, and excess oil, among others.
1. Use a natural toner!
I use cotton rounds for this job. Squirt a enough Witch Hazel to lightly saturate the pad, then follow with a few drops of Tea Tree oil. As with all essential oils, just be sure to make sure you’re getting 100% of the intended oil. No fillers or fluff. Another amazing natural product, Tea Tree oil is antibacterial, a stimulant, and it can help neutralize or diminish scar marks. And, it feels damn refreshing!
If I feel a breakout coming on, I’ll put a drop of Tea Tree oil on that area of my face and it helps clear it up! This mixture is a great makeup remover and deep cleans those pores.
2. Use Coconut Oil as a moisturizer!
I follow the toning/cleansing process with a smudge of coconut oil for my face, neck and décolleté, warming it between my palms before spreading it on my skin. We buy this brand because the coconut oil is buttery smooth (we’ve tried cheaper brands that can be gritty or difficult to melt evenly) and the lavender-scented variety is AMAZING. As if coconut oil couldn’t get any better!
If you have reservations about applying a coat of coconut oil to your skin and leaving it there, I totally understand. I was worried, too. However, coconut oil is very light and as long as you don’t overdo it, your skin will drink it right up. One of coconut oil’s most attractive qualities is its ability to deeply penetrate our skin and hair.
3. Finish with CeraVe!
The last step is to seal in all the goodness. I use a small amount of CeraVe to lock in all that great moisture. I’ve been using CeraVe for about three years, and it works wonderfully for my skin. It doesn’t have much of a scent and it leaves my skin looking really natural and clean, no greasy residue.
My husband, Brenton, also uses this skin care routine and he loves it. Every morning and evening, we stand side by side, loading our cotton rounds with Witch Hazel and Tea Tree oil. It’s a cleansing routine, both physically and psychologically. It feels good to take care of your skin. The more natural products I can use, the better.