It can be pretty tough to find products that do good things for your skin.
And it’s probably tougher to find products that are natural, organic and/or non-irritating.
When it comes to skincare, I don’t really care a dime about names and celeb recommendations. But finding products that are made with natural ingredients, organic if possible, and don’t involve animal by-products or suffering in any way…that I do care very much about.
In a world so caught up in labels and marketing claims, and less about what is actually in the products we’re putting on our faces, trying to keep things au natural can feel like navigating a minefield.
But lately, I’ve been feeling pretty happy with the skincare routine I’ve honed over the past year. Though it has had its changes and experimentations, I’ve managed to learn even more about my skin whilst side-stepping corporate-owned, over-hyped products and saving some much-needed dollar at the same time.
My Previous Skincare Routine
I’ve always kept a ‘minimalist’ attitude towards skincare. For the last five years, I had used nothing other than my trusty Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish to remove both my face and eye make-up, and cleanse my skin. Then it would be a simple moisturiser and maybe some Liz Earle toner, depending on my budget. These products work so beautifully, I never felt the need to switch or change things up, which is why I used it for the longest time…the longest I have ever stuck with any skin brand, ever!
So why the sudden decision to switch up my skincare routine?
I guess the main reason is that I was striving for something even more natural, simple and pared-back to put on my skin. Liz Earle products are plant-based, made with lots of botanicals, but unavoidably contain some chemicals and perfumes, like any other off-the-shelf cleanser. Though it’s always given me awesome results, and I definitely have the Cleanse & Polish to thank for resolving some past skin issues, I felt that maybe there was more I could be doing to maintain a completely natural (or as close to) skincare routine.
My current method of cleansing I like very much, and it’s a lot cheaper than the Cleanse & Polish which means I save money longer term. It contains just a handful of completely natural ingredients, and so far my skin has responded just as well.
I daresay I may go back to the ol’ faithful C&P at some point in the future – it’s still a product I very much recommend. My only concern is that will go downhill now Liz has sold her company to Boots, but I do hope that it won’t.
In the meantime, I’m sticking with this; I feel I’ve got something good going here.
Oh, and if you’re wondering: I don’t use a specific eye cream; I’ve never ‘double-cleansed’; I don’t use a cream specially labelled for day or night etc. Though everyone absolutely should find their own skincare routine that works for them, I do believe that so many products we see touted by the mainstream market are nothing but hype, full of unnecessary, processed ingredients that are just filler for our money. Or worse, could be having a detrimental effect on the skin in the long term. Hey, with those long lists of scary ingredients, I don’t rule it out.
When buying off-the-shelf skincare products, I try to always go with natural, cruelty-free, vegan and organic ingredients if possible. That way, you know that at least some of it is good stuff.
And yes, I do exfoliate and I do like to use face masks sometimes. Read on through to the end to read my all-natural versions to those, too.
My Super-Minimal, Natural Skincare Routine
I will quickly say here that I use organic coconut oil to take off my eye makeup each evening. I simply massage a small smear of coconut oil over each eye, then wipe off with a clean muslin cloth moistened with warm water. I didn’t photograph it for this post, but thought it relevant to mention. 😉
1. Akoma African Black Soap
You may have heard of a little thing called black soap. I first came to discover this when I was reading up on how women who forego make-up take care of their skin. Black soap seemed to be a recurrent contender among their list of recommended skincare products.
Black soap is traditionally made in Africa – namely Ghana – and is made up of the ash of cocoa pods, along with a couple of other base ingredients like coconut oil and shea butter. It is said to be an age-old method of cleansing used by Ghanian women to maintain fresh, healthy skin. These days it’s become quite popular with the western world, too.
Black soap is said to be great for removing dirt and impurities, while also keeping skin soft and balanced thanks to the natural oils. It can help alleviate acne and oily skin; reduce red marks or bumps; even out skin tone and just generally encourage a glowing, radiant complexion, without stripping. I really would recommend it.
Black soap can also be used on the rest of the body as well as the face.
How I use it
I use Akoma African black soap to remove my face make-up at night, as well as wash my face in the morning. I simply dampen my face with a few splashes of warm water, then rub a tiny bit of the soap between my hands until it lathers (a little goes a long way). Then I massage it onto my face (avoiding the eye area) and rinse off with warm/cool water. Finally I pat my face dry with my favourite bamboo face towel and voila! Clean, fresh skin just like the Liz Earle days.
Before buying this soap, I did a lot of research and some people online complained it made their skin dry and others break out. First of all, I do not find black soap to be drying for me, as I have quite oily skin. If you do suffer from dry skin, I would suggest seeing how your skin reacts. If it feels dry, you could always use ABS every three days or twice a week, in line with your usual cleanser.
Secondly, the results you experience will depend a lot on the type of ABS you’re using – see below!
Check it actually IS black soap
There is a lot of ‘imitation’ black soap on the market, so check what you’re buying is the real stuff. Black soap shouldn’t actually be totally black but brown and mottled. If it’s black it has probably been dyed.
Black soap should be made in Ghana and not in the US. There should be no synthetic ingredients or perfumes in the ingredient list. My go-to brand is Akoma, whose black soap bars contain just cocoa pods, coconut oil, shea butter and water. They also make bath and body products too, all centred around raw shea butter and/or black soap! So definitely check those guys out.
Kleem Vitamin C Serum
Vitamin C can be a temperamental ingredient in the skincare world. However, it’s also capable of some awesome benefits, such as anti-ageing, revitalising, protecting and repairing the skin and preventing fine lines and wrinkles.
Vitamin C is said to be te ‘healing vitamin’. When applied to skin, it can help speed up the healing/rejuvenating process and maintain the skin’s natural barriers.
The result? Even-looking, glowing, youthful skin.
Balancing skin tone and getting rid of old acne marks is a huge bugbear for me, so naturally the benefits of vitamin C had me intrigued. As with any other skincare product, I did my research before buying. I found this incredibly useful guide by My Awesome Beauty on how to choose the right vitamin C oil/serum, and that really did help a lot. I would seriously recommend giving it a read before buying your own vitamin C oil, as it explains about how vitamin C is different than a lot of other skincare products. There isn’t really a ‘one size fits all’.
The first vit C oil I tried was by SkinSolutions, and to be fair, it was a decent product. My only beef with it was that it was extremely runny, smelled weird and didn’t seem to have a huge impact. So a few weeks ago I switched to another by Kleem, and I have to say I like this one so much better.
Kleem Vitamin C serum is 22% vitamin C, so a little higher than my previous choice. I much prefer the gel-like consistency of the serum and the lovely citrusy scent. When I apply it, it leaves my skin with a lovely matte, ‘tight’ feeling but without drying it out. It’s almost as if you can actually feel it working!
Another thing I love about Kleem’s vitamin C is the packaging. Vitamin C is extremely prone to oxidisation before the product has been used up, which can be incredibly frustrating. Initially sold as a clear white/transparent colour, you will notice it slowly darken over time to become yellow, then eventually orange then brown. Though vit C still has potency when its turning yellow, it can actually become detrimental once it becomes orange or brown. This can lead to a lot of vit C serums being prematurely thrown away.
Keeping your vit C in a drawer or cupboard, away from light and air, will certainly slow down the oxidising process. However, most dropper-style bottles enable the product to come into contact with air every time you use it. This is why I love Kleem’s packaging. It’s a pump bottle, not a dropper, so you won’t be exposing as much of the serum to air. Keeping it away from light and heat is still important, though.
How I use it
Two or three pumps, rubbed gently into the face after cleansing. Vitamin C serums should be applied before moisturiser or day cream.
Choosing your own vitamin C – things to note
The guide over at My Awesome Beauty really does a great job of explaining vit C serums, so I really don’t need to here. But here are just a few of my own tips:
- Like anything, not all vitamin C serums are created equal. Do your research on the ingredients. It’s normal for vit C serums to contain other ingredients besides vitamin C, but they should be natural, if possible.
- Vitamin C is notoriously difficult to keep stabilised. Ferulic acid is often added to help stabilise the product. Always look for vitamin C with ferulic acid.
- Different vit C serums can have different percentages, anywhere from 10 to 22%. Extremely sensitive skin may prefer a lower percentage. My skin responds well to 22%, so see what works for you.
- There are two types of vitamin C – L-ascorbic acid and Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate. L-Ascorbic is said to be better for oily skin; however, this is the type used in the SkinSolutions serum and it didn’t seem to do much for me. Kleem contains Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate which is currently working well, so don’t be afraid to try different brands and see what works for you.
- Once your vit C serum has turned dark orange or brown, seize using it. I continued to use my SkinSolutions once it turned light yellow, but once it got darker I threw it away. Luckily there was only a small amount left!
Green People Organics SPF 15 Day Cream
Wearing an SPF daily is definitely a grown-up thing to do. Even in the winter, we’re told time and time again that a daily SPF is essential for preventing premature ageing, sun spots and damage done by pollution.
I admit I don’t wear an SPF as much as I know I should. But the one I choose to keep on hand is Green People SPF 15 day cream. It’s a great formula that leaves my skin feeling smooth and matte, whilst also balancing out the oiliness. It also makes a great base for make-up.
I often have trouble finding moisturisers I like, as most of them leave my skin overly oily and make me break out in spots. Base line – they feel like an extra layer I just don’t need.
But Green People is different. Due to the fact that it contains 85% organic ingredients, their day moisturiser has never aggravated my oily skin or given me a breakout. It’s also of course vegan and entirely cruelty free. Green People are a great brand and I would highly recommend many of their products. Hot tip: their SPF day cream is now available in a tinted version!
How I use it
A couple of pumps massaged gently into the face in the morning, after cleansing and vitamin C serum.
Trilogy Rosehip Oil
If you’re not already aware, I’m a huge advocate for the use of oils on the face, hair and the body. One of the huge players in my bathroom is rosehip seed oil, which has probably been one of my best skin discoveries of the last two years!
Rosehip is what is known as a ‘drying’ oil, in that it helps to absorb oil rather than add it. The upshot is that it can be used on more oily skin zones to help moisturise and balance the skin’s natural levels. On top of that, rosehip is also high in vitamin E, making it powerfully potent in repairing and nourishing the skin’s deeper tissues. I can definitely say it’s had a profound effect on toning, moisturising and balancing mine!
I’ve tried a couple of rosehip oils, but none come close to Trilogy. I would put Akin at a close second, so if you can get either of those, do.
Trilogy’s rosehip oil is organic, has a pleasantly neutral smell and absorbs into the skin quickly and evenly. It’s by far my favourite and if I had to choose just one product to put on my face the rest of my life, this would probably be it!
How I use it
2-3 drops massaged into my face nightly, after cleansing. Applying this oil at night allows plenty of time for the vitamin E to penetrate the skin’s layers.
Occasionally, my skin might get a little dull or feel a little congested. This is usually when a little exfoliation is in order.
To exfoliate, I create my own sugar scrub by mixing brown sugar or coconut sugar with a couple of teaspoons of melted coconut oil. Then I just rinse with warm water and sponge away any excess with a clean muslin cloth.
Face masks can be a great way to unwind after a long day, or make your face look extra glowy the day before an event! Predictably I like to make my own face masks at home with natural ingredients I find in my fridge.
My favourite concoction is a tablespoon of ground oats mixed with lemon juice, water/oat milk and cinnamon. The oats helps to absorb any excess oiliness whilst moisturising and balancing the skin. Meanwhile the lemon juice acts as a marvellous brightener and astringent. If you have any favourite homemade masks, do let me know!
I like to use clean muslin cloths to wipe away eye make-up and make my face feel extra clean. If you’ve ever been a Liz Earle C&P user, you’ll understand!
However, even if not, muslin cloths are still an awesome way to clean your face gently yet thoroughly, as the nature of the muslin has a slight exfoliating effect. You can buy these in pairs from any Liz Earle store. They last for a few months to a year, and should be thrown in the wash every 2-3 uses.
I hope this post was helpful to you guys in some way, and provided at least some insight into natural skincare! If you have any questions, thoughts or your own tips you’d like to give up, please feel free to leave a comment below. I’d love to know what you guys think 🙂