I’ve always been one of those lucky, lucky people who suffer from skin issues – eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, not to mention that my list of allergies (most of which are those random chemicals that they seem to put in everything) is longer than my arm. Both arms. In fact, my allergy list is probably longer than I am tall. And it was getting worse, until finally, about one year ago, I decided to substitute as many of my beauty products as possible for natural ingredients, to try and stop he constant string of allergic reactions and eczema attacks. I’m still prone to get a rash on my face or a breakout once a month or so (annoyingly, it always seems to be my face that suffers, regardless to whether I’m having a reaction to something that was applied to my skin, or something that I have eaten), but it’s a thousand times better than it was. I just thought I’d share a few of my ‘go-to’ ingredients, and how I use them.
Grey clay, green clay, red clay, pink clay… The most common use for clay on our skin is as a face mask, but mixed with a little water, and it also becomes a great facial cleanser. White or red clay is best for sensitive skin, red also being dreat to hydrating dry skin, while pink works best to bring life to dull, tired skin, and there are a whole host of clays suitable for those of you plagued by oily skin (green, rhassoul, bentonite, kaolin, fuller’s earth..) It draws toxins out of our skin and calms inflammations.
Other natural ingredients that can be mixed with clay and applied as a face wash or face mask include aloe vera, olive oil (though I definitely wouldn’t advice using olive oil unless you have really dry skin), organic yogurt, or buttermilk.
2. Raw Organic Honey.
I go through jar after jar of honey; I use it to lighten my hair in the summer, I use it to keep my skin silky smooth, and it also clears up any breakouts, as honey is antibacterial and so will fight against the gunk for you! While raw honey is better than processed, and organic is better still, it is pricier, and I’ve found that processed honey also works – it just takes an extra week or so to see a difference.
My go-to thing when I have an itchy eczema breakout. I tend to get them on my face, elbows and knees, so I mix oatmeal with honey (yogurt would also work), and apply it as a mask. It takes the itch away almost instantly, which is great, because the eczema is bad enough, but the red ribbons down my face the next day from trying to claw my face off isn’t pleasant either.
Dry skin tends to be an issue for me – an obvious result of my eczema, and there is no better exfoliater than sugar. A quick search online, and you’ll find thousands of sugar scrub recipes, and I think most involve combining sugar with olive oil. Lemon and sugar is great for buffing away a tan, if you prefer to remain pasty white and tan-line-free, as I do. Coffee scrubs are known for fading those pesky cellulite marks and orange peel skin. Sugar scrubs are also great for super-soft, kissable lips.
I’ve bookmarked a few of my favourite sugar scrub recipes here.
While I try to eat healthily, I always find myself with a few over-ripe bananas at the end of the week. They’re great for a hydrating face mask (though it looks disgusting when applied), or another sugar scrub recipe. Banana peel also has a number of great uses; placed on top of a painful area, it reduces the pain within 30 minutes. Weird, I know. Rubbing fresh banana peel over acne everyday will result in a visible difference after a week, as well as keeping wrinkles at bay. Who knew.. I also like to mix banana with honey and almond milk to help with a dry, flaky scalp (because lucky me, my eczema doesn’t just settle for my face!)
PS. Apparently while sugar scrubs are great for dry or normal skin, salt scrubs are better suited to oily skin types. I guess people with combination skin will have to make a judgement call on that one… or maybe alternate between the two?
6. Coconut oil.
Besides honey, this is the most important thing in my ‘beauty kitchen cupboard’. I use it as a moisturiser (at night only, as it’s quite heavy otherwise), eye-makeup remover, conditioner, eczema cream, as an anti-inflammatory, hand cream, anti-aging cream, and a dose of daily coconut oil helps with allergy symptoms. It’s wonderful stuff.
7. Almond/Hazelnut milk.
Not only is it yummy, but I was told fairly recently by my dermatologist that cows milk is one of the most common triggers of eczema… and on cutting it out of my diet, I did notice a dramatic difference. However, I do love my bowl of cereal for lunch (yes, I’ll have someone from the bakery for breakfast, and cereal for lunch…), so I knew that I had to find an alternative. Almond or hazelnut milk not only taste delicious, they are both actually very easy to make at home, they act great as a toner, or makeup remover. Yes, these alternatives are pricer than cows milk, but it’s definitely worth the extra pennies.
I could easily talk for hours about all of these ingredients, and more – each one has dozens, if not hundreds of uses in my beauty routine, as well as my diet and generally just my healthy, eczema-fighting lifestyle, so no doubt I’ll be writing more posts like this in future to elaborate on the contents of the ‘beauty cupboard’ in my kitchen. For now, however, I hope that some of you at least have found this quick peak of what I use to keep the dermatitis at bay useful.