Feed Your Skin

Is your skin hungry?  Wait, what? That’s right—our skin needs proper nutrition and regular feeding just like the rest of us. At The Cookery, our customers know that I am a professed food vigilante seeking out products made with fresh natural ingredients. I have the same mission for skin care. 

Most skin care products contain harmful chemicals added to extend shelf life, thicken consistency, or increase profitability for the manufacturer. Even many creams and lotions made with organic ingredients sneak in added chemicals to extend shelf-life. Some common chemicals used in skin care include formaldehyde, petrochemicals (petroleum and coal-based), phthalates (used to quicken absorption of products into the skin), and paraben, widely used as a preservative. All of these are known carcinogens and are used in deodorant, perfume, cleansers, mascara, moisturizers, and shampoo.  

My philosophy is that skin care should have a shelf-life just like food. I don’t want my cleanser, moisturizer, deodorant, or perfume to last forever if it requires the inclusion of chemicals.  Remember, our skin is able to absorb much of what we put on it and it’s an indisputable fact that some chemicals in beauty products do enter the bloodstream.

The good news is that there are an increasing number of products coming to  market that are made entirely of healthy ingredients. You may sacrifice some convenience, but you’ll gain a longer life. Now, that’s a trade off I can live with!

What to look for

It’s simple—and very similar to common-sense, real food guidelines. Read the ingredient list, and if you can’t pronounce any items or don’t know what it is, don’t buy it. Major retailers are not likely to carry completely natural products; they need products that have a long shelf-life. You are better off seeking out small producers and retailers who make products with fresh ingredients in small batches. Sounds like the good old days, right? 

Speaking of the olden days, more than one ancient, time-honored product deserves a place on our vanities, offering great solutions for skin care. Here are a few:

Rose Water

Used for centuries in the Middle East, rose water is a great toner for the skin. Look for rose water that has at most two ingredients: roses and distilled water. It has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce redness, and treat acne, dermatitis, and eczema.

Use as a toner after cleansing.

NOTE: rose water is also a delicious ingredient in cooking; a drop in tea, chocolate, or cake will add a lovely flavor.

Apple Cider Vinegar

You might be familiar with the old wives tale about drinking apple cider vinegar in the morning.  While a bit harsh on the palate, there is evidence that this is a good practice. Apple cider vinegar offers tremendous benefits to our skin too. Look for organic cider vinegar, preferable with evidence of the “mother”—bits of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria that makes the liquid look murky in contrast with the clear, pasteurized varieties.

Apple cider vinegar, the good organic stuff, is made from apples that go through a double fermentation process. This process releases enzymes and nutrients that are the secret to the health benefits of apple cider vinegar.

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The long list of benefits of ACV include:

  • ACV contains potassium that helps keep teeth strong and prevent hair loss
  • The apple pectin contained in ACV keeps blood pressure regular and can reduce LDL (bad cholesterol). Combine with extra-virgin olive oil for double impact heart health!
  • Malic acid—the sourness of ACV—provides a defense against viruses and bacteria
  • ACV contains calcium; good for bones and teeth
  • It also contains ash, which normalizes the body’s pH and a healthy alkaline balance
  • The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar slows the absorption of sugar into the blood after a meal and aids in the absorption of key minerals in our food
  • It's a very inexpensive beauty treatment

The bottom line? ACV functions as well in the kitchen as in the bath, so buy two bottles!

Ways to use ACV in your skin care routine:

  1. Diluted apple cider vinegar is a good face wash that can help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles; just soak a cotton pad or cotton cloth in diluted vinegar and dab on your skin. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.

  2. Rinse your hair with vinegar after a wash to remove product or oil build up and leave it with a gorgeous shine.

  3. Dab on mosquito bites to relieve itching.  

  4. Rub four parts vinegar and one part water to relieve sunburn and accelerate healing.

Notice a pattern here? All of these natural products have a place in your pantry and your vanity. They are truly food for your skin.

Olive and Coconut Oils

Both of these natural oils are magic for the skin. They have much in common, but offer distinct benefits. Combine the two, and you have a powerhouse of beneficial properties. 

Olive Oil is full of antioxidants and Vitamins A and E. It is a naturally hypoallergenic moisturizer and will not clog pores. Olive Oil helps stimulate cell growth and repairs skin that has been exposed to sun, cigarette smoke, and pollutants. 

Coconut Oil is used in many natural beauty products because it is antibacterial and antifungal. Thanks to the Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA) found in coconut oil, it absorbs quickly into the skin, leaving it soft and supple. Our skin’s natural sebum also contains MCFA’s, so it’s like our skin recognizes coconut oil as its kin.

In fact, both oils contain fats that mimic those native to our skin, allowing them to absorb quickly. Like coconut oil, olive oil improves the elasticity of the skin because it strengthens connective tissue. Both help to heal skin irritation, eczema, psoriasis, bruises, and small cuts and wounds. 

What’s more, these products are as at home in your pantry as they are on your vanity, offering great flavor and legendary health benefits. 

Many commercial moisturizers use mineral oil instead of oil or coconut. Mineral oil is a petroleum product, not something we want on our skin or in our blood stream.

Here are a few of my favorite DIY beauty treatments:

Hair Mask

Combine olive oil and coconut oil in equal parts. Rub into hair, massaging the scalp. Wrap with a towel, leave for 20 minutes, then wash. If you do this once per month, you will have softer more radiant hair.

Sugar Scrub

Sugar’s small round granules expertly exfoliate skin, a perfect eco-friendly alternative to recently-banned microbeads. Mix raw natural sugar (cane or coconut) with liquified coconut oil and olive oil (1 tablespoon of each to 1 cup of sugar). Add an essential oil and stir.  Use to exfoliate the body in the shower once per week. You’ll find this scrub leaves your skin smooth and without an oily residue. It’s gentle enough to use on your face, too.

Moisturizer

Mix 2 parts coconut oil, 1 part olive oil, and 2 drops of lavender essential oil. Stir until well-combined. Store at room temperature. Rub into skin morning and night, and you’ll have a new glow in no time.