If you read my article last week, you’ll understand that above all healthy skin goes far beyond what we see on the outside. If we want healthy organs, we’re going to need a nutrient dense diet that includes healthy fats, antioxidants and minerals. In this weeks article I’m sharing my favourite morning and night-time skincare rituals.
The 2-in-1 thing we should all be doing for our skin
As easy as it is to slap some products on the skin, real results come from a little extra effort. Making time for your skin is something I believe we need to commit to making a regular part of our lives. I can’t recommend enough the value of oil cleansing and facial massage, which are two things that can be done simultaneously. Using plant oils on the skin is an ancient practice and one we’ve fallen out of the habit of in favour of (promised) quick fix alternatives. We know that water and oil repel, but many of us don’t realise that because one oil will bind to another (sebum – the natural oil we produce), we can use oils topically to enhance the cleansing process of our skin without disrupting the natural barrier.
When you use oil daily, it not only keeps the skin clean but it can also deliver nutrients that your skin may not be getting enough of. It also helps balance skin pH by giving back essential fatty acids to skin flora and it hydrates as it cleans. Oil cleansing is also much gentler than using a detergent as it doesn’t strip your skin of its own natural oils. Imagine a piece of wood that has been waxed and oiled for several years. Now imagine another piece of wood with water and chemicals repeatedly dousing it instead. Which one will look better in 100 years? Furthermore, oils feels incredible and they can leave your skin glowy and ultra-hydrated.
Massage is a great way to gently melt dead skin cells, break down collagen adhesions, boost circulation and lymphatic drainage (our waste channel), which, via the blood, is going to bring more hydration, oxygen and nutrition to the skin = glow. It also feels amazing and a few minutes self-care you will look forward to each day. I also believe we don’t realise how much tension we hold in our facial muscles, which of course over time can lead to increased lines and wrinkles. Regularly relaxing those muscles through a little self massage can have amazing effects, so I really appreciate this 2-in-1 ritual.
The effects of stress on your skin
Stress can harm your skin in several ways. The feeling you get when you’re stressed out is caused by neurotransmitters and stress hormones coursing through the system. Your face is usually the first sign that tells people close to you that you’re stressed out. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, I take a few minutes to deeply breath and perform some light facial tapping. Tapping, also known as EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is also a powerful holistic healing technique that has been proven to effectively relieve a range of issues, including stress, anxiety, emotional disorders, chronic pain, and limiting beliefs. I’ll be writing a separate Journal post on this another time.
I love to incorporate a few minutes facial tapping into my night-time cleansing routine. The skin’s cells need good circulation to heal, and tapping stimulates blood circulation, which is linked to collagen production and calms the mind. Here’s how:
With clean hands, follow these 6 tapping pathways – each for 30 seconds – tapping with a light to medium pressure. Also try to stay as symmetrical as possible to match with your facial nerves:
- Starting between the brows (known as your third-eye point), tap up the centre of the forehead, around the hairline and down to your temples.
- Next, tap against the inner eye socket area (against the sides of your nose), moving outwards, below the eye sockets, then up to your temples.
- Next, start tapping from the sides of your nostrils, following up your cheekbones until you reach your temples.
- Tap along your upper lip, outwards across lower cheek. Trace up past your ears, following the outer contour of your face, up to your ears.
- Afterwards, begin tapping from the centre of your chin, down along your jawline, up to your ears.
- Finally, stimulate the nerves in the neck and décolletage area. Start under your chin, following the centre of the throat downwards towards your chest. Finish tapping along your collarbones.
The rituals in my day that support my overall skin health and wellness
A huge part of my daily philosophy is to live an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. My “day” starts when I go to sleep. Sleep is when our bodies get the most cellular repair. I am fussy about my night time routine and aim to get a solid 8-9 hours of sleep each night. On waking, I start my simple morning routine with a large jug of warm water and lemon to gently awaken my digestive system and liver, which I aim to finish within the first hour or so of the morning. I’ll mediate for 15 minutes or practice some breath work. I really focus on exhaling all the carbon dioxide from my lungs and inhaling clean oxygen, regenerating all my cells and detoxing from the day before.
I’ll then move my body, which for me means either rebounding, ballet barre, or pilates. I also use a foam roller for stretching and releasing tight fascia and for extra lymphatic support. I shower in the mornings and precede that with a few minutes of dry brushing to get my lymphatic system moving some more and for gentle detoxing.
My morning and night-time skincare rituals
My morning skincare ritual actually starts by looking and feeling my skin to see what it needs for that day. I have a number of natural skincare products that I choose from and based on this morning assessment I give my skin what I feel it needs, so I do not have a set routine. I believe that just like food, we should avoid getting into a rut with what we eat and instead to be directed by the seasons and be in tune with our bodies, rotating the foods for maximum nutrition. As an organ, I view the skin in the same way; I do not have a set-in-stone regimen.
If I feel dead skin, I usually exfoliate and apply a combination of oil and water based serum. If my skin appears dull, I’ll make a point to use a toner to balance the pH. If I’m puffy, I’ll do some light facial tapping to move out the lymph and fluid from my face. If my skin is feeling good that day and looks hydrated, I’ll simply splash my face with cold water and use a drop or two of oil or moisturiser – always moving my fingers from the centre of my face to the sides. If my skin feels dull I’ll do another gentle scrub and mask over the weekend to break down dead skin, which stimulates new cell growth.
I don’t often wear makeup, and if I am intentional about my skin regimen, I’ve noticed that my skin has a natural glow anyway. I call it my translucent makeup. If I do wear make-up, it’s just a few dabs of concealer under my eyes, a little cream blush, a coat of mascara and perhaps a little lip tint. I’ve included my favourite natural brands in the resources section here.
In the evenings I ritualistically clean my face using the 2-in-1 oil routine. With dry fingers and a dry face, I’ll massage some beauty oil into my skin for 3-5 minutes. With the facial massage, I make long continuous strokes in an upward/outward motion. After a couple of minutes I’ll spend a little extra time treating my skin to some facial tapping before heading to bed. Then, I remove all the oil with a clean washcloth or pads dampened with cold water. I never use hot water on my face. Firstly, hot water can strip your skin of essential oils and secondly, cold water causes the blood vessels to contract and then dilate, which improves the oxygen and nutrient supply to the skin’s surface and stimulates nerve cells. I follow oil cleansing with a gentle milk cleanser, which further cleans the “extras” off my skin from the oil routine. I then press a few drops of serum onto my face using my fingertips and apply a night cream. It takes about 10 minutes out of my night, but it is so worth it.
You can easily make your own cleansing beauty oil at home. The most important thing is to have high-quality ingredients. Always buy organic to avoid common agricultural chemicals and cold-pressed base oils if you can.
Here’s a simple recipe for an at-home cleansing beauty oil:
- In a 1oz dropper bottle, pour in a base oil of your choice (argan, jojoba, hemp seed, apricot, grapeseed, etc). You can even combine a few if you like.
- Add 3 drops of lavender essential oil, 2 drops of lemon essential oil, and 2 drops of cedarwood essential oil. This makes a 1% dilution blend that is safe to use on the face.
Lavender is calming to the skin and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, (other options: clary sage, rose, or ylang ylang).
Lemon oil is an antioxidant, aromatically uplifting and ant-infectious. It’s a great cleansing oil and helps other ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin (other options: orabge, grapefruit or bergamot).
Cedarwood is a wonderful respiratory oil to clear your sinuses as you clean your skin, thereby increasing circulation and oxygenation to the skin tissue, (other options: marjoram, jasmine or peppermint).
If you follow me on Instagram, you can find more of my natural at-home skincare recipes and rituals archived under the “Clean Beauty” highlight icon.
What’s in a product
For the most part, the beauty industry is essentially unregulated – skincare and cosmetic companies can legally put all manner of toxic and even known carcinogenic ingredients into the products we use every day. As a result, our bathroom cabinets and makeup bags are often, unbeknownst to us, filled with harmful chemicals. Your skin – the body’s largest organ – absorbs what we put on it: lotions, creams and oils, make-up, etc. So, if we care about our health and wellness on the inside as well as the outside, it follows that we need to be intentional about the products we are using. I wrote an in-depth article on it here, which also includes my favourite clean beauty brands and a downloadable, printable “Never List” of unwanted chemical compounds you need to look out for when you go shopping.
How your skin looks and feels as it ages depends on many factors, including hormones, and genetics. But wherever you are on the spectrum it’s important to find a daily regimen that works for you. Nurturing and loving your skin will ultimately leave you looking and feeling your most beautiful self.
A basic rule of thumb is what goes in must come out, and that includes thoughts, emotions and physical things like nutrition and water. When we hold on to things, emotionally and physically (constipation), we become stagnant, and that accelerates the ageing process and hampers our overall health and wellness. By creating these small rituals of regeneration, I feel that I’m supporting my health the best I can.
We need to source our food differently, we need to use our time differently, and we need to care for our bodies differently. We’ve been moving way too fast and I believe we’ve left a few things on the ancient stone table that are worth going back for. For me, this means being intentional about everything I put on and in my body, both energetically and physically. I do believe we can, and must, reclaim the ancient wisdom of how to live in harmony with nature – internally and externally. You won’t just be doing this for skin. It’s for every cell of your body. Beautiful skin is an indication that all is healthy and balanced (as much as is possible) within the body.
How about you? What are the skincare practices you turn to? Or which ones will you try? Please share in the comments.