I’m not talking about natural beauty here as that would be a cliche. I wanted to talk about basic beauty. Being OK with yourself without any make-up or artificial enhancements and how you don’t have to spend a fortune on complicated products to be able to treat and improve your natural beauty from the comfort of your own home. I’ve been interested in the use of natural remedies and ingredients for a long time. My Mum’s a keen gardener and her green fingers have transferred to me now that we finally have space for a few plants on our balcony. I’ve worked with natural beauty brands a lot over my career as well, I love seeing how brands take inspiration and proper performance products from nature. It’s basic beauty, something we should all learn to embrace a little more often. Oh! And I’ve spent today doing some little watercolour illustrations to go alongside this, because I need to practise my art more often.
My recipe for basic beauty, illustrated by me in pen and watercolour paint.
A lot of natural (especially organic) beauty brands come with a fairly hefty price tag or are so obscure that it’s difficult to get your hands on. Luckily for me, natural health and beauty is quite popular in Barcelona so it’s quite easy to discover new natural brands. There’s quite a lot of Russian beauty brands in this category in Barcelona which I found interesting and I guess comes down to trade deals established when Spain was still a communist country, can you believe it only ended in the 80s?! Anyway, back to the point. What’s really special about these natural ingredients is that you don’t need to buy something ready made to be able to enjoy the benefits, some of the most impressive ingredients from natural work beautifully on their own and some of them may already be sitting in your kitchen. So you really can enjoy better hair and skin without having to invest in a brand, if you can’t afford to or don’t know where to start.
At the start of the year I had my first bad skin breakout in years. The last time I had a breakout was acne style off the back of a very emotionally distressing time about 6 years ago. I had a similarly stressful situation recently which I’m going to blame for my latest breakout, there is evidence that emotions impact skin conditions, I learnt about this via working with Dr. Linda Papadopoulos in 2012, she’s written about psychodermatology if anyone is interested in learning more. This time, it wasn’t acne though, it was some kind of eczema like dermatitis thing, so very red and sore and disgustingly flaky. No product I had would soothe it, some of them made it worse which just made me more upset and made it worse. If I put make up on it just emphasised it and some of my products just irritated it further, so I was feeling pretty gross and low on confidence and in that old vicious circle, that I’m sure many can relate to.
So, I decided to strip things back and go basic with my beauty regime for a few weeks to see what changes this would make. I knew my basic natural ingredients stuff, so thought if I tried keeping it simple with single ingredient products that might be the wisest way to treat my skin back to some level of normality and I’m pleased to say that I’m nearly completely back to my normal. So, I’m going to share with you some of the ingredients that have saved my skin and how and why you might want to give them a go as well.
If you don’t already know about the wonders of coconut oil, where have you been? Coconut oil joined my routine with recommendation from Scott Cornwall (I used to work with him too) originally, since it’s the only oil that can penetrate the entire hair shaft, it makes an incredible moisture treatment, particularly if your hair is over processed. It’s also great for more than just hair. I’ve been using Coconut Oil as a balm cleanser and as a moisturiser when skin is VERY dry. I find it too heavy to wear all the time, but works as a treatment or whenever you might otherwise use Vaseline. I don’t use petroleum jelly based products like Vaseline, because it’s a byproduct of the oil industry and that’s a bit gross to me. So yes, if you want a super healthy and versatile replacement to Vaseline you should grab yourself some pure Coconut Oil, you can even cook with it and enjoy additional health benefits within your diet from this wonder ingredient.
I originally discovered a love for Rosehip Oil via Pai Skincare and later a Triology version. I’m currently using one from a Spanish brand called Esentialaroms which was less than £15 from a natural beauty store here in Barcelona. I love using oils on my skin and Rosehip Oil is packed with essential fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin C and B-carotene and a form of vitamin A. The vitamin E is especially great at helping scarring and skin trauma, so ideal to help your skin recover and heal. It has anti-aging benefits and has molecules small enough to penetrate through many layers of the skin, for deep down care. It doesn’t smell like rose, unfortunately, that is the only downside for me. I use this as a face treatment, on my hair and sometimes add a small drop to a moisturiser for daytime wear.
I used to hate avocados, but since I’ve become a less fussy eater and because of Miz’s obsession with these green things, I’m over it. Avocados on toast, for life and also on my face. You can make a super low effort face or hair mask from mushed up avocados, you can also add in other ingredients to tailor it to your particular needs. I often add honey, swirl the mix around and whack it on for a slightly gross looking, but very effective hair or skin treatment, especially soothing if you pop it in the fridge for a bit first. You’ll notice the difference instantly and you really don’t need much to make it happen. It has all the same benefits that it would from eating it, and helps skin appear more moisturised.
Ever since watching Bee Movie again and thinking about veganism, I’ve been feeling a little weird about using honey, however, it’s such an amazing natural ingredient it’s difficult to ignore completely. We tend to buy from small, local farms rather than from the supermarket so that settles my conscious a bit. I love bees. This tip only works if you use good quality, pure honey not added sugar/flavouring cheap types from the supermarket, so be savvy with your shopping. Honey is a natural antiseptic alongside having moisturising and anti-inflammatory benefits. I often mix a bit into other treatments and have used it as a mask and topical treatment with great results.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
This is my most recent discovery which originally entered my brain via the SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil range, I’m a massive fan on this brand for my hair. Did you know that Apple Cider Vinegar is an alpha hydroxy acid and can naturally balance the pH of your skin? It may make you temporarily smell like a chip shop (is that really a bad thing? I love chips) but the results have been incredible. I’ve been using it diluted with water as a treatment lotion and toner on a cotton pad. It tightens skin in no time and helps to dissolve away dead skin cells too. AMAZING! You can also use it as part of a clarifying hair treatment which is great for scalps prone to dandruff. Clever stuff!
Miz: “Thanks for the coffee!”, Me with the leftover grounds on my face, because why not?!
You know that fad for those coffee scrubs lately? I have no idea why people are buying them because you can do it so much cheaper whilst also recycling waste from your kitchen. So, when I make Miz his coffee in the morning, I like to save the ground coffee (not instant!) and use it as a face and body scrub, it’s amazing. For obvious reasons, it acts as a physical exfoliant as well as improving blood flow to skin and reducing swelling, the smell is also a great uplifting experience, particularly if used in the morning. If you want to make this fancier, you can add in other things too like coconut oil or almond oil.
One thing to note if you’re preparing basic beauty remedies at home, remember that you’re not using things like preservatives or stabilisers like they do in beauty products, so you will want to prepare these as you need them (rather than in a big batch) to avoid them going bad or separating and therefore creating possible problems. No one wants mouldy avocado on their faces, yuck!
Anyway, I stuck to this regime for about four weeks before my skin started to clear. I also had some of the stresses I was experiencing calm down, so that had an impact too I’m sure. I’m really impressed with how well this regime worked for me and it has certainly saved me some time and money too. I’m going to head back to some actual products soon, but want to move forward with care whilst my skin is still feeling a bit sensitive. I’ll definitely be incorporating these clever single ingredient, natural treats into whatever my future regime will be. Let me know if you have any other tips of recommendations and for sure, let me know if you try any!