Natural Beauty: Winter Routine + Why You Should Stop Eating High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Posted on December 20th, 2012 by Tonia 6 Comments

I can feel it happening–the itchy, tight feeling my skin gets as we enter winter and the air becomes dry and cold. I believe the not-so-scientific term for it is “winter skin”, and it can actually be painful. You know what I’m talking about–that feeling that you will die if you don’t scratch the itch immediately, only the problem is that everywhere itches!

Thankfully there are a number of ways to combat winter skin and keep yourself feeling and looking your best. Here is my recipe for success/winter beauty routine:


Olive Oil and Sugar Scrub: Follow the link and whip up a jar of this glorious scrub. Use it in the shower after your usual soap. It exfoliates dead skin and leaves you moisturized and protected. Hot water is very drying…But I love a good hot shower. The olive oil in the scrub will help keep the water from drying you out, and contains fatty acids that are great for your skin {You can also use it to make homemade hair conditioner!}

I also like this recipe. It’s more time consuming to make, but the ginger and coconut together smells amazing. I add a little bit of orange essential oil as well, which makes it smell like sherbet!

Coconut Oil: This oil improves skin firmness and elasticity, and conveniently hardens into a solid at any temp below 75 degrees. I keep it in the bathroom vanity and slather it on all over my body after showers. It’s very light and absorbs quickly. I even use it on my face and it does not make me break out, even though I have sensitive skin. I buy a tub of it {the organic kind} at the health food store, and it’s very economical.


Argan Oil: Rich in Vit. E and fatty acids, this oil gives your face a beautiful glow and smooth texture without sitting heavily on the skin. It’s perhaps a little too much for the summertime {unless you have dry skin}, but it’s perfect as a daily moisturizer in the winter. It’s pricey, so I use it only on my face.

I wear less make-up in the winter because it tends to dry my skin out {I use this in the summer. LOVE it.}. My daily winter make-up routine consists of a little eye-brow filler and some cheek color. Pretty easy!

I love the Argon Color Stick by Josie Maran because it is moisturizing, but recently I came across this blog post, showing how to make cheek stain from beet juice. I tried it, and I LOVE it! It works great and the color is really natural and pretty–like you just walked in from the cold. It also lasted all day without needing to be re-applied.

The only trick is to not cook the beets too long. The juice turns brown instead of staying that pretty purple-pink color if you do. I tried to make this cheek stain in large batches so I could give it to friends as a gift, and found that it was better done in small one-off batches. You don’t get much juice out of a couple beets, but since a tiny bit of it is enough to color your whole cheek, a little goes a long way.

Since I wear less makeup in the winter, I don’t feel the need to I wash my face every day. Sometimes I splash it with water in the morning to get the sleep out of my eyes, but I don’t wash my face with soap more than once every few days. Soap dries out my skin and the hot water expands my pores–two undesirable things. When I do wash it, I use a face soap with exfoliates in it to slough away dead skin. If I can feel a break-out coming on, I use a homemade mask like this one to draw out the impurities in my skin.

I used to have problem skin–zit break-outs happening on a regular basis with very little “clear” time in between–but I have seen a dramatic change in the past year and I believe it’s due to two things: Not washing my face more than a couple times a week, and avoiding high-fructose corn syrup like the plague. I discovered both by accident.

Mike and I went camping last fall with a couple friends, and I did not wash my face for a week. When we left home I had zits in the usual places: my chin and forehead. When we emerged from the woods, my face was dirty from hiking and camping but perfectly clear of acne! I decided to wash my face as infrequently as possible after that, leaving my skin alone to do its thing. It is, afterall, an organ. My skin is now capable of achieving a natural balance of oil because I’m no longer stripping it of its natural oil and then replacing it with different oil (from a moisturizer) all the time.

These days, when I get a zit here and there I know it’s because of keeping a poor diet that week (like around the holidays when I eat too many sweets). I’m especially sensitive to high-fructose corn syrup. Last summer Mike announced that he had read somewhere about how high-fructose corn syrup causes inflammation in the body and that we should purge our home of anything that contains it.

Into the trash went the katsup, the salad dressing, the crackers, the cookies, and more. I was shocked at how many things had it in it, especially because we try our best to keep whole, unprocessed, organic foods in the house. But it’s a sneaky ingredient and it really is in almost everything that comes in a package. Tossing out all that food was a great wake-up call.

Since then we haven’t eaten the stuff unless it’s completely unavoidable, like when you’re stuck on a plane and you’re super hungry and they bring you a packet of those little gingerbread cookies and so you eat them. Desperate moments of weakness aside, my skin thanks me for abstaining from high-fructose corn syrup. I’m sure there are many other health reasons you should not eat high-fructose corn syrup as well, but for me having clear skin for the first time since I was 13 is reason enough. I am so, so, so happy to have left the problem-skin era of my life behind me!


  1. Rebecca says:

    I gave up sugar for a month in 2011 and felt better immediately (for me, the stabilizing effect on my energy was profound and nearly immediate). I have dabbled with it since, but really want to go back to it. Giving up just HFCS might make it a little easier, though I do like to avoid artificial sugars and refined/table sugar, too, when I can. That said, I recently let myself get in the habit of drinking soda again, which is terrible. I needed a kick to give up the sweet stuff – this will do. Thanks!

  2. Katie says:

    I am 27 and still have problem skin (so frustrating!). I avoid high fructose corn syrup at all costs and I am also a vegetarian. I wonder if my issue is like you said – overwashing and stripping the skin of its natural oils.

    I hate how companies try to sell you the complete skin care regimen – face wash, toner, moisturizer, make-up, and so on. As a woman (and a feminist) I wish that I felt that I didn’t have to buy all of that stuff just to have clear skin.

    I definitely don’t have severe acne, but always a few blemishes and I usually get a bit oily by mid-day. I’m not sure if I could make the change to not washing my face and not wearing makeup on a regular basis. Could you talk more about how that transition was for you? Do you use any products daily such as moisturizer or have you stopped using that as well? Thanks for sharing!

  3. Tonia says:

    Hey Katie, I feel your pain. I would highly recommend trying to cut back on how often you wash your face. It feels weird at first but your skin should quickly adjust. Choose a time to start when you know you won’t need to wear much makeup (i.e. if you’re planning a quiet weekend at home, or you’re going camping for a few days…) so that your skin is allowed to just breath and adjust. Try to go three days without washing and see how things are looking. From there you can go longer and longer between washings as your skin clears and you feel more and more comfortable going without makeup, or at least going without full-coverage foundation.

    For me, I always had red, irritated skin even when I wasn’t breaking out. Washing less and allowing my skin to function as an organ, instead of trying to “manage” it with a “routine” of products, made ALL the difference.

    Moisturize with something that does not contain any scents or chemicals, which irritate the skin. I like to use light, absorbent oils (argan oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, etc.) instead of creams or lotions because they are simple and my skin “understands” what to do with it, so it doesn’t react negatively to it. Oil also cleans your face, removing makeup or dirt, so it’s a great way to wipe off concealer or mascara (just put a dab of oil on a cotton ball and swipe gently under your eyes) without having to use water and soap.

    When you do wash, use an exfoliating product so that dead skin cells are getting removed and letting your pores breath.

    Let me know if this works for you! I hope you are able to experience functional, healthy skin…it’s life-changing!

  4. Rebecca says:

    Katie, I just wanted to add that if the skin problems are hormonal (a good tip is whether you get breakouts predominantly on your chin, or if you get cystic acne), then it’s not related to washing (although I think Tonia’s tips are spot-on for healthy and happy skin, period). If you are on hormonal drugs, such as BCP, that could be a factor. After relatively clear skin in my teens, I developed adult and occasionally cystic acne in my 20s. When I went off the pill in my early 30s (which DID coincide with making better food/product decisions), it all but totally cleared up within 6 months.

    I never wash my face except with water or occasionally Dr. Bronner’s diluted liquid soap in the shower; I wear mineral powder makeup under my eyes and around my nose, and occasionally a light dusting across my face. Otherwise just powder blush, gentle mascara (I like CG lash blast fusion; no raccoon eyes and is gone by the next morning), and natural lip balm or lip tint. I moisturize with olive oil scented with a couple of drops of lavender essential oil, though have used and love coconut oil, too. I never break out now.

  5. Tonia says:

    Thanks, Rebecca! Really good point about hormones. The topic of hormones and birth control actually coincides really nicely with a future post…stay tuned!

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