When I first discovered natural beauty several years ago, I admit that I overdid it a little. I bought many of the products I came across, products that appealed to me on several levels, be it their aesthetics, formula, or novelty. I went more than a little overboard because natural beauty was so new to me; I couldn’t fathom how such a fantastic practice of self-care was kept a secret from me for so long.
My maternal grandmother, originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, used some natural ingredients and products in her lifestyle, but to me these items were one-off rather than normal routine. So, since I was not formally introduced to natural personal care products and their importance in daily self-care, when I discovered it I couldn’t help indulging – completely and fully. I was determined to make up for lost time!
Over time, I bought fewer products as I became pickier about ingredients that I would not use. My ever evolving education made me into a serial detective, researching ingredient safety and which products would be ideal for my skin and well-being. Fast forward a few years and I started my own natural beauty company. While working on my dissertation, I put that on hold, but I still created products for my friends, family and myself.Now that I’m in a state of full consciousness about what I prefer to use on my body, in the past year I have been focused on simplifying my personal care routine so that I maximize the products that I have and treat my body (and bank account!) well. I emphasize the following three mantras: Quality over Quantity, Less of the Best, and Do it Yourself.
Quality over Quantity: Maximizing Skin Nourishment by Purchasing Less
It is important to know that unlike paraben-preserved products that you can purchase off the shelf in various drugstores and markets, natural products have a much shorter shelf life. A handmade cream can last up to a few months while other waterless and more stable products like salves, waterless body butters, and balms can last for several months to a year. Since truly natural and organic products are minimally preserved and ideally made with fresh, live, raw ingredients, products do not last forever.
For our skin’s sake we cannot afford to be proverbial “product junkies,” building a never-ending stash of products that will last us for years into the future. Within a relatively short amount of time, the potency of these products will decrease and your skin will not benefit from their nutrients like it would if the products had been used up more quickly. As our body’s largest organ and our first line of defense, our skin deserves nothing but the best.
While it is advisable to have one backup of your staple products for travel and emergencies, anything more than that is not working in your favor, even if there is a sale that tempts you. This is one straightforward tip for simplifying your routine: buy fewer products. Think about the difference between eating a fresh cantaloupe versus one that has been sitting in the fridge for two weeks. Though it may not be rotten yet, its nutritional value has definitely decreased tremendously.
Less of the Best: Edit Your Choices for the Cream of the Crop
Once you have found products that you love for your skin – your favorite toner, moisturizer, cleanser, body scrub – stick with those products. I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t have any variety (where would the fun be in that?!) but I have found that with really high quality products, I don’t need a ton of different products in the same category (for example, a dozen moisturizers) to be fulfilled and to address my needs.
Therefore, my goal is to purchase reasonably priced, high quality, concentrated products made with respect for natural resources. When I do, I am always pleasantly surprised at the products’ efficacy and content. On top of that, I really feel that I benefit from the positive vibes surrounding products made with ethical and healing intentions. Products that incorporate the highest quality local and fair-trade ingredients that are non-exploitative of endangered resources impart vibrant healing and nourishment.
I found that once I started treating my skin care similarly to how I treat my food sources, I got pickier and benefited from this selectiveness on all levels. I am now no-nonsense about purchasing and making the best products I can, just as I buy the best food that I can.
Do It Yourself: Local, Fresh, and Potent Products
One of the keys for me to successful and simple skin care has been making my own products. I started doing this a few years ago and my ingredients and the complexity of recipes I create have only increased; I recently took a soap making class so now I can make soap! I know that not every person considers herself crafty, but it is quite beneficial to make your own products, just as it is to cook your own meals. Not only do you know exactly what goes into the products, but you can save money and make products as needed.
I now make my own toothpaste, mouth rinse, body washes, shampoo, conditioner, body moisturizers, scrubs, facial masques, and several other products. But I didn’t start out that way. It took some time – a few years – to figure out the most ideal consistency of scrubs, the most effective ingredients for oral care, and more. I did a lot of research, which is still ongoing, and I remained committed to trying again and again until I got it right. And I’m still learning.
I would suggest starting small with simple 2-3 ingredient recipes so that you can create more self-sufficiency in this area. I now host spa nights at my home where I teach friends how to make products like bath salts, body scrubs, and bath and body oils. Take it step by step and you will see how doing it yourself will help you simplify your beauty routine tremendously, saving you money and eliminating ongoing worry about the lack of full disclosure of some bath and beauty companies.
Here are some resources on natural beauty. Remember: Quality over Quantity, Less of the Best, and Do it Yourself for the best and most lasting skin and health results!
All Natural Beauty Recipes: http://anbportal.com/homemade_beauty_recipes.htm
All Natural Beauty Books: http://anbportal.com/books_about_all_natural_beauty.htm
Questions and Answers from All Natural Beauty Experts: http://anbportal.com/meet_the_all_natural_beauty_experts.htm