Posts Tagged ‘natural skincare’

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!

Winter Skin Therapy

Posted on March 11th, 2011 by Tonia No Comments

It’s March, which means my skin hasn’t seen the sun for about four months…and you can tell. Winter is really rough on our skin- especially a winter full of hockey games {the chin-strap on my hockey helmet is no doubt a happy haven for bacteria which causes pimples…}, followed by really hot showers {very, very relaxing but very, very drying for my skin.} It’s really no surprise that my face has been acting up with a combination of dry skin and pimples.

This is the most difficult combo to deal with because what treats the dry skin usually aggravates the pimples, and what dries out the pimples dries out the rest of my face even more! Needles to say, I am ready for summer, for sunshine, and for my skin to get back to normal!

But here we are in March, and we’re a few months away from summer still. So, I turn to yogurt and honey. Two delicious things to eat, and two wonderful things to put on your face! The yogurt balances your skin, calms and reduces redness, and makes your skin soft. The honey moisturizes.

A big key here is to use quality, organic yogurt and honey. The stuff with added sugar and preservatives should be avoided. I buy the most natural kind of yogurt I can find. Some people make their own yogurt, which I plan on doing sometime soon as well.

This honey was made by a close family friend who raises bees. We usually enjoy it on toast and in tea, but it works great for this purpose too.

It only takes a small amount of both ingredients to make enough for a couple people to enjoy this facial mask. You can store the mixture in the refrigerator for a few days if you cover it with something.

Keep mixing until the honey is incorporated into the yogurt. If your honey came right out of the refigerator, this step could take several minutes.

It can be slightly drippy, so do this over your sink. Just keep applying it until there is a good coating all over your face. It feels so cool and soothing on your skin. Leave the mask on for 10 minutes or so, and then splash it off with cool or warm water.

You might not even need a moisturizer afterward, but in my case I did apply a light lotion to lock in the moisture from the honey. If you have oilier skin, you can add a squeeze of lemon juice into the mask mixture. Lemon juice lightens dark spots and absorbs oil. I dab it directly on dark spots left by old pimples, and it works really well to fade them.

So easy!! And you will see and feel the difference immediately after washing the mask off. Tighter, smoother, calmer, happier skin. I hope this little pick-me-up facial helps get you through until summer!

Natural Beauty II: DIY Facial

Posted on February 24th, 2010 by Tonia 4 Comments

I always get the itch to do a little self-pampering in the early spring.  I especially love facials.  After a long winter of dry-skin, I can’t wait to get my healthy summer-glow back.  But most facial products are chocked-full of nasty ingredients (see Natural Beauty: Avoiding Toxic Make-Up).  Knowing that I’m putting toxins on my face and then washing them down the drain takes all the enjoyment out of the facial for me.  So, I started to explore all-natural options.

…Actually, I have yet to find an all-natural moisturizer that I am completely satisfied with.  Do you have a favorite moisturizer, cleanser, and toner?  Please let me know in the comments section!

Since I don’t have a favorite store-bought moisturizer, I usually use aloe, jojoba-oil, and other homemade options.  I feel that homemade is the best option when it comes to skincare.  It’s the only way to have full control over what exactly is going on your skin.  There are tons of recipes to be found online for homemade face scrubs, masks, toners, and cleansers.

If you have never done this before, you might be surprised by some of the ingredients {or you might want to eat them.}  Turns out that foods like honey, yogurt, bananas, and oatmeal aren’t only good for us on the inside of our bodies…they also do wonders when topically applied.

naturalbeauty1Take some time this week to give yourself a homemade facial.  I found the following recipes on the Epic Beauty Guide, which is one of my favorite blogs.  You will be happy with how your skin looks after you try these:

Sugar Scrub

Removes dead skin cells so mois­ture can pen­e­trate, heals scars and acne, anti-aging.


2 Tbsp. organic, cold-pressed olive oil
1 Tbsp. organic, raw honey
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 small, dark glass con­tainer {dark glass pre­vents the oil from oxi­diz­ing and will not leach into your scrub}


1.  Pour your olive oil into your glass con­tainer. Then pour in your honey. Mix well.

2.  Add the sugar slowly and mix as you go. You may use less or more than 1/4 cup. You should end up with a thick scrub. Add a lit­tle more oil if you feel it’s too thick.

3.  Apply to your freshly washed face, neck, and chest.  Mas­sage the scrub gen­tly.  If you have very sen­si­tive skin, rub the scrub in your hands for a few sec­onds to soften up the gran­ules, then apply.

4.  Rinse off with luke­warm water. Skip the toner (you want to keep the remain­ing olive oil on your skin).

5.  Store the leftovers in a cool, dark place like your med­i­cine cabinet.

Milk & Honey Mask

Mois­tur­iz­ing, anti-aging, evens out skin tone and tex­ture, heals dam­age, soothes inflammation.


1 Tbsp. organic milk ~ see if you can get local, raw goat’s milk or cow’s milk; you can also use plain, organic yogurt
1 Tbsp. organic, raw, unfil­tered honey
(Optional) 1 tsp. aloe vera gel ~ see if you can get an aloe plant, then you just break off a “leaf” and squeeze the fresh gel out!


1.  Mix ingre­di­ents together in a small bowl.

2.  After cleans­ing, apply the mask to your face.

3.  Leave on for 10 min­utes.

4.  Wash off with luke­warm water, and a splash of cool water.

Champagne Toner

Cleans out and closes the pores, evens skin-tone, evaporates oil.


A shal­low dish, a mea­sur­ing spoon, a cotton ball, and a bot­tle of champagne.


1. Pour about 2 Tbsp. of cham­pagne into your dish and drop your cot­ton pad into the cham­pagne. Let the pad soak it up.

2. Wipe the champagne-soaked cot­ton pad all over your face, neck, and chest. It is fine to use around the eyes, just don’t get it in there!

3. Don’t rinse off. Follow-up with a light, nat­ural mois­tur­izer — jojoba or sweet almond oil are great.