The earlier you start caring for your skin, the healthier it will be and the easier caring for it will be for the whole rest of your life. I wish I had a beauty routine when I was a teenager. I also wish I had not left my face out in the sun unprotected as often as I did. A tan complexion may have looked hot when I was 17, but now that I am almost 39 I regret all the years of sun damage that cannot be undone now. Oh well. I can’t go back in time but I have been doing a better job caring for my face recently and I would like to share what I have learned with you so you can start showing your face more love right away! This post will focus on an at-home beauty regimen just for your face (as opposed to listing the myriad of things you could do to care for your skin at large). I also recommend supplementing your at-home routine with regular acupuncture treatments and lymphatic drainage therapy for even better facial care.
- Cleanse twice per day: Use a mild cleanser, gentle scrub (like our Honey & Herb Facial Scrub) or dry cleansing grains (a blend of oatmeal, clay and herbs). It is best to cleanse your face once in the morning and once before you go to bed. If you choose to use a scrub, BE GENTLE! Remember – it is your face, not dirty tile grout. The skin on your face is delicate and should be treated with great care, especially if you have rosacea. Exfoliating helps remove dead cells and dirt, but overdoing it can cause damage. Use gentle circular motions and don’t apply much pressure. Just pure honey makes a great cleanser all by itself. It is moisturizing and antibacterial. Apply raw honey to damp skin or it will just be sticky and tough to spread around. There are many books that have great recipes for cleansers you can make from foods and other ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. After rinsing, gently PAT dry, do not rub with a towel.
- Use a toner/astringent after washing to tighten pores. Apply with a cotton ball/pad or mist it on from a spray bottle. To make your own toner, simply add 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar to 3/4 cup distilled water. Witch hazel extract is also great and available in any grocery store (you can dilute it a bit with distilled water if necessary). Unless you have oily skin, avoid toners with alcohol in them as they strip natural oils from your skin. Be sure to avoid any toner that has an alcohol content higher than 35%. I have rosacea and I only use a toner once per day (in the morning) as my skin is very sensitive. For sensitive, fair or dry skin use rose water (or other floral waters). You can buy rosewater in most health food stores, but be sure it is 100% rosewater, distilled from roses (not rose oil in water with preservatives). Don’t have the time to make your own? Check out our choices of herbal toners designed to match the specific needs of your skin.
- Apply moisturizer. Apply a light moisturizer to damp skin to seal in even more moisture. Avoid creams and lotions that contain mineral oil or petrolatum as these can block pores. I could go on and on about the ingredients and quality of lotions, but I will leave that for another post. (I make my own facial oils and lotions that are infused with herbs and I hope to make these available for sale soon).
- Spritz with a mist of rosewater or other hydrosol to re-moisten your skin in the middle of the day.
- Drink lots of water to keep your skin hydrated from the inside.
- Apply a mask (made of clay or other ingredients) once or twice per week. Again, there are great recipes available in books that list lots of ingredients you can make into facial masks. Raw honey is simple – when using as a mask, apply to dry skin and leave on for 10 minutes before rinsing. It is sticky, but will leave your skin glowing. Yogurt, avocados and pumpkin make good masks, too. For dry skin, grind up rolled oats (in a coffee grinder) and add enough water to make a paste. Apply the paste to your face and let dry before rinsing off.
My favorite facial masks are made with cosmetic clay and Chinese herbs. There are a variety of clays available for different skin types. Green clay is best for oily or blemish-prone skin. White clay is excellent for dry or sensitive skin. For any masks that contain clay, mix with enough liquid to form a paste. You can add water, milk, coconut milk, half-and-half. Use water if your skin is oily or prone to blemishes. If your skin is dry, use milk or cream to form the paste. You want the mask to be the consistency of thin mud or wall paint (thick enough to not drip off the brush, but thin enough to spread easily on your skin, and not so watery as to drip down your face). Use your fingers or a cosmetic brush to spread the mask over your entire face (and throat if you wish). Allow to dry completely (usually 15 to 30 min.). Clay masks can be a little tough to rinse off, so it may be helpful to apply a wet washcloth to your face for a few minutes to soften the mask before rinsing it off. (If you use a washcloth, choose one that is dark in color as some formulas can temporarily stain light colored fabrics.) Alternatively, you could rinse it off in the shower; let it soften a bit before wiping it off. DO NOT SCRUB it off, be gentle.
- Do a facial steam once or twice per month or before special occasions. A facial steam is a lovely way to open pores and allow dirt and toxins to get out to the surface and cleansed away. It is also an excellent way to improve the circulation in your face. However, I do not recommend facial steams for those with rosacea as it may exacerbate the redness. You can use just plain steam but it is even better to add herbs or a few drops of essential oil to the water.
Wash your face first. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a pot. Add your choice of herbs, dried flowers, or your favorite dry herbal tea blend. Cover and let simmer for a few minutes. Remove the pot from the heat source (be sure to place safely on a cooling rack or potholder). Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil if desired. Tie your hair back if necessary and drape a large towel over your head. Place your face over the steaming water (stay about 10 inches away so you don’t burn yourself with the steam). To regulate the heat, lift the corner of the towel to let a little cool air in. Steam for 5 to 8 minutes. Follow up with a toner and moisturizer.
Make your facial skin care routine special. There is power in allowing it to be a ritual, a ceremony. Perform each task with kindness. Show yourself some love. Be grateful for your face and your skin and do not take it for granted. Caring for your skin doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be fun, especially the facial masks and the facial steam.
You can invite some friends over for a spa night (they will love the special treatment!) or just make it relaxing “me time”. I look so forward to my Thursday night ritual: I pour myself a glass of wine (which I shouldn’t really drink since it makes my rosacea worse), light some candles and give myself a facial. I watch Grey’s Anatomy, sip my wine and eat brie or sushi while the clay and herb mask dries. It is my time to unwind and relax and care for myself. It is a luxurious pleasure that makes me feel special. I hope you take the time to enjoy your new facial beauty routine, too!