What do you value most when it comes to your skin? Is it a short list of ingredients you can pronounce, multi-use products you can use for your body and face? Are you interested in products that clear and prevent acne, soothe irritated skin, and smooth fine lines and wrinkles?
As a certified fitness professional and registered yoga teacher, taking care of my body is something I prioritize—and this includes my skincare.
My skincare needs have changed as I've gotten older—what I put in my body is just as important to me as what I put on it. My current skincare regimen is a mix of old school remedies, do-it-yourself recipes and beauty store products—plus plenty of research and experimentation on what works best for my skin.
Here are my top 8 skincare products that are helping me address these issues naturally with affordable products you can purchase (or make!) and get started using today!
1. Essential Oils in the Shower
After a long day or an intense workout, I create my own luxurious, healing steam room by adding a few drops of my favorite essential oils to my shower walls. Essential oils are potent, liquid plant extracts that are used for many health, wellness and beauty purposes. Eucalyptus, lavender or peppermint oil allow me to breathe deeper to calm my nerves and soothe my muscles before settling in for a good night's sleep. A little goes a long way—5-10 drops is all you need to relax.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar for Cystic Acne
I started getting breakouts of painful blind pimples, known as cystic acne, in my late 20s. I attributed these breakouts to my menstrual cycle, and then to stress and then to eating excess dairy. I made lifestyle changes to tackle each of those three areas, but the pimples remained, some months stronger than others. If you suffer from cystic acne, you know that it's like the iceberg of pimples. Small to the human eye but huge under the surface—making the area around it tender, painful and even itchy. Cystic acne is so deep under the skin's surface that popping them is nearly impossible, If they ever come to a head, popping what you see will spread bacteria, and could cause an infection and scarring.
My mom suggested I start drinking diluted Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) to help clear my breakouts as she had success in clearing hers when she was younger. ACV is vinegar made from fermented apple juice that has antiviral, anti-fungal and anti-yeast benefits. I started drinking 1 tablespoon of ACV in 8 oz. of cold water through a straw on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. After two weeks, I was amazed at the improvements to my skin's texture! Since starting this morning regimen six months ago, I haven't had another cystic breakout again. This worked for me, but definitely speak to your health care professional about all options if you're looking to treat your cystic acne.
3. DIY Sugar Scrub
Sugar is a natural humectant that draws moisture from the environment to help hydrate the skin. Sugar scrubs are used as topical exfoliants to gently scrub away dead skin to reveal the healthier and younger looking skin underneath. This is my favorite, simple DIY sugar scrub recipe:
1 cup organic granulated sugar (Brown sugar is softer than white sugar. I use white sugar because I make the scrub for my feet, but I recommend using brown sugar for a total body scrub.)
½ cup oil (Some online recipes recommend coconut oil or olive oil, but I prefer sweet almond oil for the scent and lightweight texture.)
20+ drops of essential oils of your choice (I use tea tree oil for the antifungal properties, especially when making a sugar scrub for my feet.)
1 wide-mouth glass jar
4. Epsom Salt Foot Soak
Epsom salt is a magnesium-based salt that is most often used with warm water as a soak for sore and tired muscles. Among its many benefits, the magnesium in epsom salt helps promote restful sleep, maintain a healthy blood pressure, promote bone health and muscle strength. I keep big bags of plain and essential-oil infused epsom salt on hand at all times. Once a week, I soak my feet, ankles and calves with a few drops of tea tree oil to clean my toenails while my muscles relax. Magnesium has very minimal reaction to cold water; mix with warm water to achieve the full benefits of the soak.
5. Aloe Vera Gel as a Skin Moisturizer
The medicinal properties of aloe vera gel—the substance obtained from the cells in the center of the plant's leaves—have been used for thousands of years. Aloe vera absorbs quickly without leaving a sticky film, heals dry skin, soothes sunburns, psoriasis and cold sores. The anti-inflammatory and cooling properties of the gel provide a protective layer to retain the skin's moisture. I mix a few pumps of 100% clear, fragrance-free gel with fragrance-free Alba lotion, and apply it to my entire body, paying extra attention to my hands and feet. It's lightweight and can be worn year-round without clogging pores or worsening acne.
6. Jojoba oil as A Deep Conditioner
Jojoba oil is an oil-like wax extracted from the seeds of the jojoba plant. It is rich in vitamins and minerals that nourish hair, including vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin E, copper, and zinc to prevent hair loss and promote thickness. I use it as a weekly hair moisturizer by massaging a few drops into my wet hair and scalp and then shampooing and applying a leave-in conditioner to seal in the moisture. Since using jojoba oil, my hair retains moisture longer between washes and keeps a healthy shine without my having to reapply oil sheen sprays. You can add jojoba oil to your shampoos and conditioners for extra moisture and shine.
7. Oil Cleansing
When I first heard of oil cleansing, I was confused by how “washing” my face with oil would clean my skin—especially when my goal was to remove excess oil, not add it back into my skin. However, researchers are starting to uncover the many benefits of washing your skin with oil and water. Oil cleansing removes makeup, dead skin cells and dirt, lifts excess oil and cleans whiteheads and blackheads. Do some research to find out which type of oil is best for you based on your skin type. I use almond oil or jojoba oil and wash off any residue with a salicylic acid cleanser. I tried this method every day for 1 week until my skin stopped responding (it started looking dull) and now I use it monthly as needed, primarily in the summer.
8. Vitamin E for Dark Spot Removal
Black skin is more prone to dark spots and scarring due to the higher levels of melanin as compared to other complexions. My cystic acne breakouts left me with a lot of scarring, so I use a few drops of vitamin E oil on those spots at night to help lighten and soften them over time. This sticky, fragrance-free oil also helps smooth and hydrate skin, lighten stretch marks and reduce pain and inflammation for newly forming breakouts. Use it at night (because of its super sticky texture) and rinse thoroughly with warm water before applying your favorite moisturizer in the morning.
Finding What Works for You
The beauty industry is largely unregulated and new products are introduced every day. It's easy to get swept up in the desire for skin that looks good, but what matters most is the health of your skin and finding a skincare routine that is easy, affordable and fits with your lifestyle. Before you spend big on products you might not need, research your skin type and consider trying natural remedies that are less likely to worsen any conditions you're trying to address. Try a sample of anything new on one section of your inner arm to see how it reacts before using it all over your face or body. And speak to your dermatologist if you're experiencing a chronic skin issue or other skin emergency.
Trinity Perkins, a HealthyWomen #BeHealthiHer Ambassador, is a well-rounded fitness enthusiast and nature lover! She builds activity into every day by walking her dog, taking midday stretch breaks, lifting weights and having random dance sessions between work emails. She's a full-time Certified Personal Fitness Trainer, Registered Yoga Teacher and Wellness Blogger. Her training programs, events, blog and nutrition resources help inspire women to reach their fitness goals with a whole-body approach. Her clientele ranges from competitive athletes to beginners but one thing holds true – she's an advocate of strength training for women and includes free weights in every workout. Trinity is currently completing a 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher training program as the next evolution of her fitness training career.