This is only my second time contributing on Rubies & Radishes, and already I am getting the chance to talk about one of my very favorite topics: organic skin care that can be whipped up at home!
I am a licensed esthetician, so I care a great deal about the products that I put on my face. Yes, I want them to be truly non-toxic, but I also want them to work. And when I say work, I mean that I want them to both benefit my skin now and in the long run.
One impactful component of skin care is exfoliation. You may already know this; the right type of regular exfoliation can brighten and freshen the skin, diminish signs of aging, improve texture, and reduce acne scars and hyper-pigmentation! Looking into the future, it can also play a big role in helping you age well.
THE KIND OF EXFOLIATION WE DON’T WANT
Many DIY exfoliation recipes—and products for sale, for that matter—focus on a physical or manual exfoliation (like scrubs containing large sugar or salt granules). The idea behind these is to “brush” or “dust” away the top keratin layer, supposedly leaving you with the under layers of glowing, healthy skin. Sounds great, right??? Well, it can be, but manual exfoliation can also shortchange you!
Scrubs are many times too abrasive for regular use on the skin and may even “dust” away the layers unevenly. Though manually exfoliated facial skin may feel great at first, continually using this technique can cause the skin texture to become rough or even bumpy over time. Damage can also take place to the skin’s barrier, which may ultimately let moisture out and allow bacteria in. No bueno.
THE RIGHT KIND OF EXFOLIATION
A more helpful form of exfoliation, in my opinion, is dissolving it evenly using gentle peels instead of sanding it off. This method works by using acids, like ones that can be naturally found in fruits, dairy, and sugar!
There are two main acid “families” used for skin peels:
- ALPHA HYDROXY ACIDS
AHA’s work to dissolve the inter-cellular cement or “glue,” which allows for dead skin to fall away healthily. They can have great effects on overall skin appearance and condition, signs of ageing, and texture. Some popular AHA’s are glycolic, lactic, malic, citric, tartaric, and mandelic.
Warning: AHA’s are photosensitive and can increase sun damage to skin in the days following application. It is a great idea to apply it in the afternoon/evening, and to be sure to wear some kind of sun protection in the days following use.
- BETA HYDROXY ACID
BHA usually refers to Salicylic acid (derived from willow bark, sweet birch, and winter green), which is oil-soluble and great for clogged pores and acneic/oily skin. It gives a milder exfoliation and works by penetrating the pores and dissolving oils, bacteria, and unwanted junk!
HOW TO KILL IT AT HOME DIY’ing CUSTOM PEELS
If you want to DIY your skin care and do things from home instead of through an esthetician, you’ll need more than just recipes; you’ll want the tools to look at what your skin actually needs and how to create and deliver it. Obviously the ins-and-outs of that are more than one blog post can handle, and I invite you to hang out on my own blog for our upcoming series on Advanced DIY Skin Care Techniques. But today, I can certainly get you pointed in the right direction!
1. LEARN TO ASSESS THE NEEDS OF YOUR SKIN
In order to choose the right treatments for your skin, it is important to know what skin type you have, and any skin conditions that need to be addressed.
SKIN TYPES are genetically determined and can usually be identified by looking at pore size in the t-zone area.
- Dry skin: Follicles are usually small or hard to see, and sebum (oil) is minimal. Stick with AHA’s.
- Normal skin: Good water-oil balance. Follicles are a normal size and skin is generally free of blemishes. Stick with AHA’s.
- Oily skin: Follicles are larger due to excess oil production. Pore size is visible or large over most of face. Use AHA’s or BHA.
- Combination skin: Both oily and dry (or oily and normal) at the same time. T-zone, nose, and chin is oilier, outer edges will be dry or even flaky. Use AHA’s (possibly BHA).
SKIN CONDITIONS can either be something that a person is genetically predisposed to, or completely caused/affected by other internal and external factors. The conditions I am asked about most in relation to peels are mature/ageing skin, sensitive skin, and issues with hyper-pigmentation or acne. Yes! Peels can benefit all of those!
2. VOW TO TAKE IT SLOW
Let’s be honest, when something works once, sometimes we get a little addicted to it. Well friends, over-exfoliation can cause just as much damage as good. As a general rule I suggest that my clients use a fruit enzyme peel to exfoliate once a week at home, and also add a good glycolic recipe to their monthly facial routine.
3. GET CREATIVE!
Now for the fun part! Using the list of foods and methods below, have fun creating a recipe that works for your own skin type and the condition that it is currently in!
I’ve also listed the approximate pH values of all food ingredients to give you an idea of how acidic they might be. pH values run from 1-14 with 7 being neutral, anything lower being acidic. The skin’s pH is around 4.5-5.5. The overall pH of your peel needs to be lower than skin for it to be effective, with an ideal pH being around 3.
Just Dilute the Fruit + Blend!
I like to blend 1-3 fruits/juices with either raw honey or homemade yogurt to help bind the ingredients together and dilute the acid. Both honey and yogurt have great skin nourishing properties, and yogurt also has a good amount of lactic acid to offer. I then apply directly to my face and leave for 10-20 minutes, washing off with lukewarm water. Why not follow it up with a nourishing mask? Don’t forget to moisturize after!
Just a Spoonful of Sugar…
I have found evaporated cane sugar to be an awesome glycolic ingredient that actually works to exfoliate as an acid peel, not scrub! (See my recipes images below). When mixed with the lactic acid in yogurt or fruit enzymes and acids, the granules seem to dissolve pretty quickly themselves and be applied to the skin without being abrasive at all.
Get your BHA on…
Want to DIY a salicylic acid peel? Make a paste using white willow bark powder and apple cider vinegar. Apply to clean skin and leave on for up to 15 min, rinsing with lukewarm water. Can be done 1-2x per week.
A FEW OF MY RECIPES
WORDS OF WISDOM
- Please remember that AHA’s are photo sensitive and can cause irritation, sun burn, or sun damage if time is spent in the sun following application.
- The pH and acidic content of food can vary greatly based on variety and ripeness. We have no way of accurately measuring the strength at home, so don’t overdo it! Sensitive skin types should do a patch test on the underside of their wrist or behind their ears prior to rubbing all over their face.
- Though I am a fully trained, examined, and licensed esthetician, my suggestions are based on general information without seeing or assessing your skin.
If you have made it through this post and are hungry for more, be sure to access my FREE resource library and get notified of our upcoming Advanced Skin Care Techniques blog series!