The Beauty Alchemist: If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.

“Do you think I’m pretty?
I think you’re beautiful.
Beautiful?
You are so beautiful, it hurts sometimes.”

You know what also hurts?

Even more than our raw, wild and undomesticated natural beauty, what hurts beyond the skin and deep into the bone and dark into the mirror, are the painful, unnecessary and unhealthy steps we take to enhance that beauty.

Welcome to the sad world of conventional cosmetics. Another way of saying Hell is a toxic Matrix, where they think it’s a good idea to add all kinds of cancer-causing and hormone-disruptive chemicals to the products you apply daily to… only the largest organ in your body.

Because, you know, it helps sales and productivity—to the expense not only of your pocket (your money is work, your work is time, your time is life) but also of your health—whatever you don’t spend on cosmetics, you’ll spend on health insurance.

A very intelligent, fair deal, if you ask me. How come nature didn’t think of that first?

 

Pocket Chemical Rage:

Watch out for these mutants! 

 

But less about you and more about your Skin:

A waterproof, insulating shield that protects our body from damaging sunlight, harmful chemicals and extreme weather. It is responsible for one fourth of the body’s daily detox—about 1 kg/2 lb of waste acids leave your body through your pores daily. It receives around one third of all the blood that circulates through our entire body. It is all-embracing, patient and kind. It’s like an organic blanket over your fragile inner ecosystem.

The bad news is that our skin is the first to show signs of nutritional imbalance, mineral deficiency and body toxicity and as much as it protects us from extra, unwanted chemicals, it can also serve as their VIP direct gate into our bloodstream. It’s the biggest door into our health or out of it.

The good news is that, like the rest of our intelligent body, it can heal and repair itself under most circumstances and conditions. If we just learn what to feed it.

If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin. 

I don’t know where I heard this first, but it made so much sense that I did not just eat it (and put it on my skin) but slowly digested it and started using at as my personal cosmetic mantra.

It also serves as an adequate summary of what follows and as a motto for a homemade-handmade mini-revolution I’d like to inspire through weekly articles on How to Make Your Own Face Without Losing Your Health in the Process.

Who said that necessity is the mother of invention? Necessity is, indeed, a bitch, but it also ignites the imagination.

I got initiated into the world of homemade-handmade beauty out of pure necessity: “beautiful” brands for a lotion turned out to be too heavy on my pockets whereas the cheap, not-so-pretty brands were not working well on my sensitive, drama-queen skin.

Almost four years ago, as I made a life-changing shift in the way I relate to food and my body, I started wondering WWGD (What Would Grandma Do) as an essential filter-question, before buying any new and probably unnecessary beauty product.

So, when I ran out of my usual 50-euro lotion filled with parabens, and my budget getting tighter, I remembered something my father had said to me once:

“Lotion? You, virtual postmoderns, are out of your mind. If your grandma saw you she’d be ill.”

“Well, what else would I put on my skin?” I asked him with computered eyes.

“Why, oil, like all the ancients! By Zeus!” he replied in his purest otherwordly logic.

“Oil?! Ew. Isn’t that like, greasy?”

But soon enough, it was either oil or nothing. So I walked into the nearest health food store afraid of my own shadow and looking for the least heavy oil I could find.

This is how Mr. Grapeseed Oil first walked into my life. It was love at first sight.

It paved the way for other oils, now part of my daily routine—like coconut and argan oil. I bought it in part to use it on my face and in part to add it to my first vegan baking. They both turned out pretty decent for a newbie.

I remember doing a previous research online and reading that it had many antioxidants (concentrated in the grapeseed) and that it was lighter than other oils. That’s all I needed to know at the time. And all that my recently awakened mind could handle.

I haven’t used lotion on my body or face in four years, except occasionally, or in case of emergency (like a weekend trip or a hydrated handshake) and it was not well received by my new skin. 

I’m not old enough for deep wrinkles, but there has been a great transformation, a true before and after in the overall health and look of my skin, ever since I switched from conventional lotion to natural, virgin oils. All this, while I was growing older.

Most noticeably, whatever wrinkles were beginning to carve their way into my late twenties face, are no longer visible and there are no more excesses or mixed patches of dry and greasy skin on my face.

According to the cosmetic industry Skinometer, I used to be labeled as “Mixed Skin.” Now I’m just Skin.

And I have one single uniform human face that remains hydrated all day with the usual two applications (a few drops of oil, morning and evening, after cleansing).

 

I’m not afraid of old age or of wrinkles nor am I interested in an anti-aging beauty manifesto.

I am well aware and sometimes puzzled and troubled by the fact that I will eventually degenerate into nothingness and disappear. And before that happens I sure hope to grow old enough to be a wrinkled and toothless great-grandmother and hopefully inspire my virtual and by then perhaps half-alien great-grandchildren to return to their natural origins.

But I believe there is a more gracious, beautiful and healthy way to aging than through a polluted, prematurely wrinkled skin and intoxicated body.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t our body the medium through which our thoughts come to life? The physical extension of our souls? The matter to our spirit? They must co-exist in harmony, or else I’m utterly confused about what it means to be alive.

The great news, again, is that our body’s innate intelligence allows it to regenerate. In a seven-year span every single cell in our body has been renewed. At least physically speaking, you are an entirely different person.

Whatever excuses stand in your way back to You, please toss them into a recycling bin. No matter how advanced your self-pollution, there’s always a good time to stop (now) and a chance to start over (now).

As Vernon Howard so kindly put it,

“It is a mistake for anyone to think he has lived too long in his old, unsatisfactory ways to make the great change. If you switch on the light in a dark room, it makes no difference how long it was dark because the light will still shine. Be teachable. That is the whole secret.”

 

*****

In this first episode of my (and hopefully yours too) homemade-handmade beauty revolution, I’d like to recommend, in a nutshell, a few oils I have found to be extremely beneficial to the health of my skin and superior to most oils I’ve tried. I try to keep these top four at hand and use them regularly.

 

Recommended Face and Body Oils.

1. Grapeseed oil. 

Incredibly high in antioxidants (bye-bye wrinkles), it evens your skin (bye-bye darker spots), it is high in oligoelements (hello moisture). 

This is by far my favorite daily anti-aging potion. I alternate this with argan oil, on my face and body. It is lighter than argan oil so it works best in the summer but I use it all year long.

It’s harder to extract than most oils and, just like argan oil, slightly more expensive in its raw, virgin form. But the costs of it—and of all these natural, partially homemade remedies—can’t even compare to my past life, chemical Dior romance. Oils also last much longer (quantity-speaking) than your typical lotion.

To neutralize its somewhat awkward never-been-kissed virgin scent, I add a few drops of orange essential oil to the mix, and then I just want to eat myself.

You don’t have to use it in its most raw version to experience its multiple benefits. Every little bit adds, but the less refined, the more effective.

Fair Warning: Insects love this oil more than any other. Do not use in the jungle or when camping or in a hot humid area with mosquitoes (unless you also use a natural insect repellent along). You might wake up one day in some swampy place with tiny red ants and other save-me-god insects, dancing all over your face. And you’ll cry and scream like a girl. That’s how yummy it gets with grapeseed oil. They’ll all want a piece of you.

 

2. Argan oil. 

Tissue healing properties (bye-bye scars), anti-inflammatory, sun-protective and high in disinfectant properties. It is also more resistant to oxidation than olive oil. It improves skin metabolism and contains high levels of Vitamin E, antioxidants and saponins (skin-softening agents). 

I only use argan oil on my skin, but its benefits on the hair are also well-known and widely reported. Compared to grapeseed oil, it smells heavenly in its most virgin version.

Its health benefits for your inner world (when eaten) are equally amazing and its nutty flavor will resurrect your salads and remind you of Morocco (even if you’ve never visited).

 

3. Coconut Oil. 

 

High in protein, vitamin E, disinfectant and anti-microbial properties, high in fatty acids, incredibly hydrating and great as a massage oil. 

I’m afraid I’ll be too redundant if I start praising coconut oil as if you’d never heard of it. Doesn’t everyone else in the universe already love it in one way or another? I prefer it in the winter and use it mostly on my body and as a hair mask. It makes it shiny and I feel pretty.

I also spread the thicker version on whole-grain toasts. (You won’t believe it’s not butter!)

Since it’s a heavy skin-lover, it works best for extra-dry (and callous) skin and hearts. I only use it on my face when in deep need of a moisture hug, that is, when real cold hits town.

 

4. Hemp seed oil. 

 

It has the highest content in essential fatty acids (80%, more than any other plant). It so closely matches our own skin lipids, it is able to penetrate our cells and lubricate the spaces between them, which basically means it rejuvenates and prevents your skin from degenerating more than any other substance out there in the city jungle. High in Vitamin E, calcium, potassium and amino acids. It also contains the perfect ratio (3:1) of Omega 6 and Omega 3 (imperative essential acids), as well as Omega 9 (hello, elasticity). It moisturizes without clogging your pores. Add anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and detoxifying properties to the mix. 

This was my most important discovery of the century… after quantum physics, imagination, literature and life on other planets.

It’s not too heavy or too dry. It is both from this world and from another. It’s like life… It just is.

I don’t know how to put it into words, but it adds an extra shade of life to your face and hair and everything you apply it to, a sort of eerie glow. I think I’m going to try applying it to my relationships, as well.

In its rawest, yummiest version, it has a faint scent of algae (or fish, if you might, but fish that is still alive). You don’t need to add any additional scent to neutralize its natural smell, since it is not as noticeable as grapeseed oil, and a little after applying it, it imitates the scent of your own skin. (I’m telling you, it’s alive!)

You can use it on your face and body and it is spectacular on your hair. But, being pricier than other oils, you might want to save half of the bottle for food. Add to rice noodles with tamari and wakame flakes, and you will understand the real meaning of food porn.

*****

This is how nature is: multifaceted. It doesn’t get wasted, it serves more than one purpose. Truly natural products are not just good for your skin, since we are not just our Skin. They’re good for the entire, wonder-full and mysterious whole that is Life, that is You.

What oils rock your world? Let me know in the comments. Tell me what they do for you. My skin is curious. 

More Wellness Alchemism

>> Vegan Turbulence: Detox & Despair.

>> The amazing health benefits of turmeric.

>> Easy avocado for green, busy people. 

*****

{Beauty Alchemism}

 

 *Want more FREE creative resources, tips and game-changing goodies? Sign up for my Weekly Stroke of Renaissance

 

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Andrea Balt
Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Rebelle Society, Wellness Alchemist at Rebelle Wellness & Professional Dream Chaser at Creative Rehab. Unfinished book with a love for greens, bikes and poetry; raised by wolves & adopted by people; not trying to make art but to Be Art. Holds a BA in Journalism & Mass Communication, an MFA in Creative Writing & a Holistic Health Coach degree from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition®. In her work she tries to reflect the wholeness of the human experience by combining Art & Health + Mind & Body + Darkness & Brilliance into a more alive, unabridged and unlimited edition of ourselves. She is also on a quest to reinstate Creativity as one of our essential Human Rights to (hopefully and soon) be included in the UN Declaration. Connect with her in the Social Media Jungle via Facebook, Twitter & Instagram and sign up for her FREE MuseLetter.

13 Comments

  • Naga Nath commented on October 9, 2012 Reply
    Hola Andrea-Devi, Love that you posted this article as the first of your series on Beauty Alchemy! In Ayurveda applying oil religiously is paramount to health and wellness. Currently in the rainy season, I personally apply extra-virign olive oil every morning to my entire body (excluding those super white virgin sensitive skin areas) as well as my hair. Contrary to what one might think, applying fresh oil does not clog pores nor cause blemishes, quite the opposite, it actually is a good way to clean the skin. You need oil to clean oil, water based products will just leave your skin drier in the end. For the hair I like to add a few drops of lavender oil and apply to wet hair after a sunset shower, yum! When the weather starts to get really hot in the dry season, I switch over to extra-virgin coconut oil for it’s cooling effects. I am fortunate enough to have a neighbor who makes it fresh!! This oil treatment is all I need to do as far as sun protection as well and it seems to be doing the job despite being half English, the other half being Italian so I tan easily but can freckle in certain places. I have been doing this for many years and not only live in the tropics but in the jungle and I have yet to have any insects devour me! According to my closest friend, my skin looks the best it ever has and she thinks it might be reversing the skin’s aging process. I don’t look in mirrors too often so she is my litmus. om always, naga
  • ladyfi commented on October 10, 2012 Reply
    I use Argan oil as well as raw shea butter – on both skin and hair.
  • Richard La Rosa
    Richard La Rosa commented on October 10, 2012 Reply
    Pardon the fanboy gushing, Andréa, but I have to say you rocked the opening paragraphs of this article. And, you are spot-on about the grapeseed oil. As a professional bodyworker that regularly works through layers of skin into the deep connective tissues, I use grapeseed oil to provide the glide and nourish the skin while massaging surly contractures of muscle fibres into submission. And, I use grapeseed oil from the grape seeds of the Napa Valley in California, where I work, so I’m with you on the benefits of this oil from also using it on my own skin. Coconut oil is another favorite, though I rarely use it for no reason other than out of sight out of mind. Never used hemp seed oil or argan oil, so thanks for the suggestions — I’m looking forward to the experience of trying them out now. Postscript: Bonus points for the anecdote about dear old dad and the shout out to quantum physics, life on other planets, and food porn.
  • Adrienne commented on October 10, 2012 Reply
    More ideas for WWGD-style skin care– 1) Superfoods. Antioxidants keep us healthy inside and out. Some of the best: WATERMELON=lycopene, OREGANO=ORAC, RED BELL PEPPERS=A&C, PRICKLY PEARS=flavonoids and carotenoids, MUSHROOMS=B6, folate, niacin, riboflavin, iron and potassium, STRAWBERRIES=major antioxidants, papaya=A, C and E, MACADAMIA NUTS=reduced cholesterol levels/increased the absorption of nutrients/ calcium and magnesium, KIWI=nutritionally dense/antioxidants/daily requirement for vitamin C/+potassium, fiber, A and E, POMEGRANATES=antioxidant/UVA- and UVB-induced damage control/skin regeneration/hyperpigmentation control/collagen production/enhance topical effectiveness of sunscreens… 2) Water. Lots of it. Flush those toxins out. Add the juice of a lemon to alkalize the blood. 3) DIY Facial Masks. Easily created from food ingredients for problem skin days (I have many recipes and they all work beautifully). 4) DIY Scrubs. Try papaya-honey-sugar. 5) Hair Growth. A combination of the following oils: wheat germ, hemp, coconut, emu, olive, grapeseed, avocado, caster, and evening primrose. Add essential oils of clary sage, rosemary, basil, bay and peppermint. 6) Sun Spots. Mix L-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) with acai oil (rich in ferulic acid).
  • Penny commented on October 18, 2012 Reply
    I have used grape seed oil on my body for a long time (I work in a very dry environment) and have loved it. After reading this article the first time, a few weeks ago, I decided to give it a try on my face. I had been using O*l of O**y for many years and was suddenly aware that I actually DO look like a 50 year old woman! And a damn fine one! So, back to the grape seed oil…it is wonderful! I love it! My skin is not greasy, it absorbs quickly. I have even experimented by applying three or four successive coats, to see if it would build up and get icky…Nope! I love it (again)! My only problem so far is in finding a container to carry it in. I’d like something durable, not plastic, with a lid that’s tight and it must be pretty or at least interesting. It’s tough getting through security at airports with what looks like a 1L bottle of salad dressing…in the meantime, I’ll just carry it around, a cup at a time in an old pesto jar! PS, I love this site! Keep it up, we love your writing!
  • Carmena commented on February 14, 2013 Reply
    Thank you so much for posting this. I just subscribed to a hemp oil delivery every two months. Bring on the good stuff.
  • Linda Sardilli commented on April 5, 2013 Reply
    Dear Andrea, Thank You for ALL that You do to promote our well-being, physically and emotionally!!! PLEASE know that your Contibution to society is making a profound Difference!!! ALL of your articles are Amazing!!!
  • JoAnna commented on June 18, 2013 Reply
    Great article! I’ve been exploring different oils for my skin & hair. I do have a question… You say at the beginning that Grapeseed is you favorite daily for your skin but then Hemp Seed Oil was your most important discovery. If Hemp Seed was your favorite discovery, why do you use Grapeseed? It is a matter of switching then on and off? How do you decide what to use when? Thanks!
  • abc commented on September 10, 2013 Reply
    hey there — I know what you mean when it comes to pretty containers — next time you have an empty tabasco or challula bottle keep it, peel off the sticker, sterilize it and use if foryour face lotion – it looks really cool you can wrap a little raffia or just some thick natural yarn around the top to give it an even more intersteding / organic look. The top of the bottle has a little plastic insert that can be carefully removed for cleaning and pops back in for tight seal and it then dispenses the perfect amount for your face oil/lotion. You can also go to the thrift store and see what glass containers you can find — I like to use glass containers because they can be sterilized at a high temperature … Good luck
  • Sarah Fischer commented on September 25, 2013 Reply
    As I was reading your suggested oils I was thinking I need to tell her about hemp..another scroll down and my face lit up. Hemp is my favorite!!! I oil cleanse my face with it as well as use it pretty much anywhere on my bod. I tried oil cleansing with other oils, like olive and castor, but I’m so prone to clogged pores that those don’t work for me. Hemp is my miracle. Thank you for this article. It’s inspired me to keep on this beautiful path. Love, Sarah
  • Dee commented on February 6, 2014 Reply
    I’m surprised nobody has mentioned jojoba oil! Jojoba oil is available in nearly every health food store (in the States, anyway) and is seriously amazing. The plant that it comes from is native to Arizona, the state I was born in, so that makes me love it even more ;) I use it on my face as makeup remover/moisturizer as well as on my body to remedy dry skin. Awesome stuff! :D It unclogs pores and keeps skin so soft and hydrated. Argan and coconut are wonderful as well!
  • amy commented on April 30, 2014 Reply
    Yes, Jojoba oil! It’s my main massage oil (I am a massage therapist and aromatherapist)!

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