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Li Wong's Eco Living Articles
Written by Li Wong of Solarkat's Eco Blog   

     With the onset of colder weather, skin tends to get drier, dehydrated, and easily irritated.  Skin may produce less sebum and lose more moisture in the fall and winter due to changes in the weather and also the drying nature of heaters.  During the autumn and winter you may need to adjust your skin care routine.  Here are a few quick natural skin care tips to keep your skin looking its best during the colder months.

Change Your Cleanser:

     If your regular spring and summer cleansers are leaving your skin feeling dry and tight, you may want to change your cleanser to products that are more emollient and that do not strip away too much sebum from the skin.  Some people with normal to oily skin types may prefer to keep using soap and detergent-based cleansers that cleanse without over drying.  If you choose to use bar and liquid soaps make sure they are real soaps, superfatted (contain extra oils and butters), and still contain glycerin (see *note).  If you decide to use detergent based liquid cleansers make sure they are made with mild detergents like decylpolyglucoside or coco polyglucose (see **note) which most people find non-drying.  Try a bar soap, liquid soap cleanser, or liquid detergent cleanser made with ingredients like shea butter, coconut milk, or goats milk.  However, many people with normal to oily skin types may find soap and detergent based cleansers to be too drying during this time of the year, and may prefer using non-soap and non-detergent cleansers such as gel cleansers, which are rich in emollient or hydrating ingredients but are not drying like many soaps and detergents can be (be sure to read ingredient lists carefully since some gel cleansers are detergent based). 

     People with dry, dehydrated, or combination skin types may want to give the above suggestions a try but if soaps and detergents are too drying for your skin, try using a soap free or detergent free cleanser like cleansing oils (oil cleansing method), cold cream or lotion type cleansers, oatmeal, or saponin rich herbs like soap nuts.  These products and ingredients are also great for people with normal to oily skin types that find soap and detergent based cleansers too drying in the colder months.

Use A Mask:

     Use a hydrating mask at least once a week to soften and add moisture and nutrients to the skin.  Try the banana chocolate mask at the end of this article or the avocado agave mask on all natural beauty portal’s site (see link below).

Exfoliate:

     If your skin looks flakey and dull be sure to exfoliate your skin at least one to three times a week.  Don’t exfoliate daily (your skin may look better initially but long term over-exfoliation can severely damage your skin and may make certain conditions worse, such as redness, thread veins, acne, etc).  Try gentle natural exfoliants like certain fruits (such as strawberries), sugar (some types of sugar are not vegan), or oatmeal.  Many people also like using microfiber.

Hydrate:


     If your skin feels dehydrated, dry, or irritated, try using more products that increase moisture.  Aloe and hydrosols hydrate the skin, and some hydrosols also calm irritated skin or help with either excessive dryness (lack of oil) or over abundant oiliness.  Try lavender or chamomile hydrosols to hydrate and soothe.  Lavender also balances dryness and oiliness.  Aloe and hydrosols can be used to tone and set mineral makeup, and may be used throughout the day.  And don’t forget to drink plenty of water; at least 8 to 10 eight ounce glasses a day to hydrate from the inside out!
 
Change Your Moisturizer, Oils, Or Serums:

     If your current moisturizer isn’t working for you, switch to one that has slightly richer (but fast absorbing) oils and butters which help the skin better retain moisture.   Skin needs both water/water rich ingredients and oils or butters to be healthy.  These ingredients mimic the skin’s natural moisturizing and oily secretions (sweat and sebum).  Creams contain greater amounts of oils and butter than lotions, while lotions contain more water/water rich ingredients.

     Some people may prefer to use carrier oils, oil based serums (combinations of carrier oils and oil soluble ingredients like essential oils), butters, or balms/salves to seal in moisture.  These products should be applied (sparingly) to damp skin since oils and butters do not hydrate the skin by themselves (they do not contain any water or water rich ingredients) but rather they work by holding moisture to the skin.  Dampen skin with hydrosols, aloe, toner, distilled or spring water, or water based serums (which are made with water rich and water soluble ingredients).

     Be sure to use cold or expeller pressed, unrefined oils and butters whenever possible since they contain more vitamins, antioxidants, and nutrients than highly refined oils and butters.  Shea butter is good for most skin types and forms a breathable, non-greasy, non-pore clogging barrier on the skin.  Meadowfoam oil (which is very light and fast absorbing) may help the skin retain moisture.

Recipe:

My delicious smelling mask will soften, hydrate, and lightly cleanse your face and neck.

Banana Chocolate Mask


5-6 slices of organic banana
1 teaspoon of organic agave nectar or organic honey
1/4 teaspoon organic cocoa powder

Mash the banana.  Add the agave or honey and cocoa powder, mix well.  Apply to damp skin and leave on for 10-15 minutes.  Rinse well.

Crafting Notes:  If you find the mask too runny, add another slice or two of banana.  If you find it too thick, add more honey or agave.  Bananas are rich in vitamins and nutrients, and hydrate and soften the skin.  Honey and agave clean and soften the skin.  Agave is a vegan ingredient.  Cocoa is rich in antioxidants.  This mask needs to be made fresh each time.  This recipe can also be used as a body mask (triple or quadruple the recipe).

Link to my avocado agave mask recipe on all natural beauty portal.  This mask is wonderful for autumn and winter skin!  And it is vegan too!
http://www.anbportal.com/absolutenm/templates/?a=280&z=10

*Note: 
Most conventional ‘soaps’ on the market are not really soap but are either made with detergents or blends of detergents and real soap.  Most small hand crafters make real soap.  Many (but not all) large companies remove glycerin from soaps (since they can make more money selling it as a raw ingredient).  Most small hand crafters do not remove glycerin from their soaps.

**Note:
  Detergents are synthetic ingredients that are found in many natural based skin care lines.  Some are naturally derived (but synthetic) and relatively benign while others are irritating or very harsh.  My skin type can get dehydrated and I personally find detergents too drying so I don’t craft with them (I usually only craft all natural products) or regularly use them in skin care but some of them are excellent cleansers for most other people.


About The Author:

    Li Wong has a B.A. in Environmental Studies (Biology) and has nearly completed her M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy.  She has been crafting natural cosmetics and studying aromatherapy and herbalism since 2001, and is currently a student of Jeanne Rose’s Aromatherapy Studies Course.  Environmental interests include conservation, botany, ethnobotany (uses of plants by indigenous peoples), mammals, organic standards in cosmetics, urban wildlife issues, environmental education and awareness, and public perception.  Her all natural, eco-friendly, vegan cosmetic company will open this fall.  

For more information on environmental issues, eco living, natural cosmetics, aromatherapy, and herbalism check out: Solarkat’s Eco Blog.  http://solarkateco.blogspot.com/

If you have any questions on eco living please feel free to contact Li at:
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