About Face – All-Natural Face Cleansing

20130630-111754.jpg

20130630-111804.jpg

Skin. It seems such a trivial subject. If you are one of the “lucky” ones, you have a clear complexion and rarely think of it. But if your skin has any amount of issues: acne, uneven tone or texture, dryness, oiliness, and the list goes on, you probably think about it a lot! In the morning when you first get ready, each time you are in front of a mirror throughout the day, washing up at the end of the day. If you have major skin problems, it has likely led to self-consciousness, embarrassment, and in some cases even depression.

I wish I could tell you I have the miracle 5 second cure. I don’t. Skin is complicated and everyone’s is different. What I do have is an arsenal of natural options and tips to help you clear up most issues. It may take some playing around and testing what makes your skin happy. In the long run, it is so worth it, I promise!

At the top of this post are 2 photos of me “before.” This was a little ways into my natural skin routines, and let me tell you, it has been much worse in the past. I only show you my photos “au naturel” because I love you. This is filter and edit free (so are my “after” shots)!

I had never had bad acne, just the odd breakout, and small whiteheads along my forehead. I have always followed the more is more approach to skin care. Scrub twice a day, use toner, exfoliate a couple times a week. Now, this in and of itself is not the issue, per se, but rather the products used to achieve it.

One stupid decision to try a certain highly televised acne brand left me with cystic breakouts along my jawline. They were nasty to look at, impossible to cover, and hurt like the dickens. Enter a dermatologist. He informed me said acne routine was too strong for my skin, and prescribed a topical gel with an unpronounceable name. It stung like crazy, but seemed to dry up a few zits. But the breakouts kept bubbling up, and I knew it was more than just the result of me being so “proactive.”

A few years later, and I was in full Eco Housewife mode. So wouldn’t it make sense to find out the natural options for my skin?
I tried the trusty health food store, but wasn’t 100% satisfied. I was sure there was an easier option. Enter the Internet. Apparently there is thing thing called the “OCM” or “Oil Cleansing Method.” Here is the general idea: facial soaps over-dry the skin, irritating it and leaving it susceptible to contamination and causing it to over-produce sebum, therefore breaking you out. Similar to the scalp in Nicole post here, all I needed to do was help restore my skin’s natural moisture balance and it would look after itself!

The other tenant of OCM is that like dissolved like. What this means is that oil dissolves oil. So using oil to “wash” your face actually helps to break down the clogged and hardened oil breaking out your skin. I think of it like paint – if you have ever used oil-based paint, there are two ways to clean your brushes – stripper or oil – which one damages your brush more? The chemical stripper! The oil will not only clean your brush, but soften and condition it!
Now, since this post gets into more than just OCM, I will direct you to two websites that lay out the “how-to” beautifully: Crunchy Betty and This Page.

So – did the OCM fix it all? Not all at once. I have to admit that it is time consuming and on days when I hadn’t worn makeup, I often skipped it. So I stopped washing my face. I left it alone. If it felt dry, I used a little of my OCM mixture as moisturizer (this works wonderfully by the way!), and I use a little toner in the evening to keep it happy and remove excess dirt. Once a week I exfoliate with a honey scrub to remove any dull, dry skin, and that is it! And my skin has never looked better! The photos of my extremely improved skin are at the bottom. (Recipes for all of this goodness below)

But here is the clincher – I am eating healthy! The husband and I are majorly cutting back on grains and white carbs, we have all but eliminated processed food, and also stopped eating dairy.
WHAT? NO DAIRY? I know, I know. But here’s the thing – my naturopath long ago discovered that I am allergic to dairy (casein, specifically) and it was causing my runny nose, earaches, digestive upset, and quite possible BREAKOUTS. So if you have chronic acne, I highly suggest a visit to your local naturopath, as you may have an allergy that is the underlying issue.
Ok-back to diet. Since we cleaned up our act, I break out less, and I notice that I am more prone to breaking out on our “cheat” days. So as much as I miss ice cream, I love being able to put on less makeup before heading out in the morning. And I love that my skin care routine is really so simple!
So here are my personal concoctions – so easy to make and not expensive at all (the oils can be pricey at first but a little goes a looooong way!)

Aubrey’s OCM Mixture:
2 parts castor oil
1 part sweet almond oil
5-6 drops tea tree oil (the husband and I like the extra zit-fighting power here)
*all oils are organic and high quality – this is going on your face, right?!

Daily Toner:
1/8 cup witch hazel
1 Tbsp organic thyme (the fresher the better, but dried is ok)
Soak the thyme in the witch hazel for 2-4 days. Strain out thyme. Place witch hazel in a bottle and add desired essential oil. Lemon oil brightens, but can make skin more sensitive to sunlight in summer. Good ol’ tea tree for acne ka-pow!
Soak a cotton pad with mixture and wipe over the face. Witch hazel helps to balance skin’s moisture and other lovely things. Thyme fits blemishes too! See why this is working so well? (PS – Crunchy Betty has a recipe similar to this too – so I’ll give her some props, credit where credit is due and all that)

Another great toner is a simple mixture of 1/3 apple cider vinegar and 2/3 water. It works wonderfully on breakouts.

Weekly Exfoliator:
1Tbsp baking soda
Drizzle raw honey
2-3 drops lemon essential oil
Stir it all up to avoid clumps. Scrub before getting into the shower. Shower off, or wipe off with a warm washcloth. I make this one in small batches because the baking soda fizzes up a bit and doesn’t feel as nice a few days later.

20130630-111917.jpg

20130630-111934.jpg

Do Some Sprouting!

I love this time of year! If you were on the ball you might already be harvesting goodies from your garden! In our neck of the woods,   cherries are almost ready and we are on our second crop of yummy leafy greens like kale, lettuce and spinach. However, if you hate gardening or if you have a black thumb but still want to enjoy fresh, raw, nutrient dense greens in  your diet you should try sprouting. It’s so simple and you only need a couple days before you can enjoy the harvest!

Sprouts are a superfood for so many reasons. They are excellent sources of essential nutrients, high in protein,  great sources of enzymes, easy to digest and good for weight loss. I usually sprout lentils, beans and fenugreek, but broccoli, radish and clover are also  yummy options. Just be sure to avoid alfalfa as it is mildly toxic and also inhibits the immune system.

I usually get my sprouting seeds from Mumms. I love Mumms because they are a Canadian based business out of Saskatchewan and all their seeds are certified organic.

DSC_0115

Now to the good stuff….How to sprout.

There are several ways to sprout seeds, but I will tell you how I do it. All you need is a mason jar. Dump about 2 Tbsp of seeds into the jar, add water, swirl and drain. Refill the jar with about a cup of water and soak your seeds for about 2-6 hrs. Drain the water. Rinse your seeds twice a day by refilling your jar with water. Drain the water and lay your jar on its side so that your seeds don’t mold in water. You could also cover your jar with mesh and keep your jar inverted to prevent mold from growing, this also makes the rinsing easier!

DSC_0204DSC_0206

You can eat your sprouts whenever you want. I like eating them with longer tails, but some people enjoy them sprouted with no tail. They are perfect in sandwiches, tossed in salads or you can just grab a handful and enjoy!

So, who wants to add sprouts to their diet?

If you do, just comment here and we will send one lucky reader the “Get sprouting jar” from Mumms.

image 129 small

Share this post and let us know you did for an extra entry. Winner will be chosen June 19th.

The Great Microwave Challenge – Update!

So – the Great Microwave Challenge. Here I thought I was being such a go-getter, ditching my microwave. Only to have a bunch of friends comment that…they had ditched theirs ages ago. OK – so maybe my idea wasn’t a new one. But I still think it was a good one!

And the overall concensus – I don’t need, or want, my microwave. For the first few weeks it sat with a huge ugly sign on it. Then I had to make sure my visiting in-laws knew that although there was a big ugly sign, they were allowed to use it.
And I am proud to say – I only broke down and used it ONCE! We had made BBQ’d ribs, but I had to leave for book club before they were done (insert me wailing and gnashing teeth here). So I got home from book club late at night. And I wanted. RIBS. NOW. So I did it – I nuked them. And it ruined them. I should have eaten them cold…or later…or watched some PVR’d Real Housewives while they heated in the oven. Moral of the story – microwaves suck the big one.

Ever since the ribs, we haven’t touched our microwave. There are times when I think “HOW WILL WE MAKE NACHOS?” and then I remember that oven nachos are actually tastier. Crispy, warm chips. No raw cheese in the middle and burnt cheese on the edges. It doesn’t seem so desperate anymore.

So my microwave has been dethroned. It is unceremoniously waiting to be sent to the thrift store. There was a large empty space on my counter that now holds my coffee maker, which used to be squished up tight to the microwave. There were crumbs in that section of counter that deserve to be carbon-dated. I felt very good about myself while I wiped that part of the counter. Go me. All “ditching the microwave and cleaning stuff too.”

I am also ditching those nasty plastic covers made for preventing splatter in the microwave, but dripping BPA into our food. Next on the docket is the piles of plastic containers we own. There are some that haven’t seen the light of day in months.

If you are still hemming and hawing about ditching your microwave, just do it. You will survive. Your husband WILL get over it (I bribed mine with a toaster over). Your inlaws will even be ok. Your nachos will never be better.

PS- Completely off topic…but someone told me this week that “my hippy was showing.” Apparently you can’t say “hemp hearts” out loud without that happening…