Everywhere you look in the health and wellness world these days, turmeric is there. The spice’s bright yellow hue and earthy flavor can be found in everything from traditional Indian food to juices, lattes, desserts – and yes, skincare. Find out why turmeric may just be the answer to your natural beauty woes.
Here’s the good news about turmeric: your skin may benefit from it both when used topically and taken internally. And while recent research has brought into question the validity of some previously published findings on its benefits, there’s no denying that this antioxidant-rich root shows results. Here’s why we love it as part of a skincare regimen.
1. Anti-Aging: Sure, that term gets tossed around quite a bit, but clinical studies have found curcumin, the most commonly studied compound in turmeric, can help to reduce chronic inflammation, which often shows up as bloating, puffiness, and skin conditions like acne and eczema. Its use has also been linked to a reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles associated with aging skin. According to the website Natural Living Ideas, “dark spots and changes in skin pigment were also reduced by nearly 15%.”
2. Balances Skin Tone: If it seems that no matter what the weather or which skincare products you use (or don’t use) that oiliness persists, turmeric may be your almost-literal pot of gold. Consistent use of turmeric has been linked to decreased skin oil production, helping to reduce the occurrence of breakouts. The benefit doesn’t come from the curcumin, though. According to Natural Living Ideas, “this beneficial effect was likely because turmeric contains fatty acids and phytosterols, which have been observed in other studies to reduce excess skin oils.”
3. Sun-Damaged Skin Reparation: Let’s be clear – there’s no magic pill to undo damage caused by excess sun exposure. And nothing except avoiding it can decrease your risk of skin cancer. That being said, turmeric is a bit of sun ninja. It’s got the ability to help prevent damage from ultraviolet B radiation due to its ability to block an enzyme that leads to the loss of collagen.
Want to give your skin a turmeric boost? Start with our Calendula and Neem Soap with Turmeric.
Photo by Ariel Lustre on Unsplash
In the world of natural beauty, there’s a seemingly endless array of skincare ingredients. But some rise up – the cream of the crop – as skincare superstars. They may even serve double (or triple) duty. Many make their way into skincare products, and some you can use straight out of your kitchen. Did your favorite make the list? Check out our top XX skincare ingredient picks.
- Jojoba oil – It’s often listed just as a carrier oil, but jojoba is so much more than that. It’s a highly moisturizing oil that treats a number of skin conditions including acne, psoriasis, burns, and chapping. It’s also great for reducing the appearance of wrinkles and improving skin hydration.
- Aloe vera – The gel of the aloe leaf may be best known for treating sunburn, but it’s also a skin savior in reducing inflammation, itching, and redness. Yes it speeds up wound healing, but not just bug bites or burns. Say goodbye to acne scars, dry, flaky skin, and infections. Aloe is loaded with anti-inflammatories, vitamins, minerals, saccharides, amino acids, fatty acids, enzymes, lignin, and salicylic acids, making it about as multi-purpose as it gets.
- Apple cider vinegar – While you may not see this skin superstar listed on a lot of packaged skincare products, we do recommend you keep a bottle in your bathroom at all times. ACV is an excellent skin cleanser and toner. It can help to heal and prevent breakouts and can keep skin balanced (it’s also amazing on your hair, too). Plus, some research shows that regular consumption of ACV can help to improve gut health, which may lead to healthier skin as well.
- Coconut oil – It’s the yin to ACV’s yang—a deeply moisturizing and hydrating oil that can serve as a base for DIY cosmetics, but it also works wonders all on its own, too. Coconut oil is rich in healthy fats that skin (and scalp) love to soak up. Its antimicrobial properties may also make it an excellent aid in reducing acne breakouts. Like apple cider vinegar, consumption of coconut oil has also been linked to improved gut health, which is good news for your skin, too. And trust: there never has been and never will be a better shaving oil than coconut.
- Tea tree oil – For those who simply think of tea tree as a spot treatment for acne breakouts, you’re only harnessing a fraction of its potency. Tea tree oil is rich in volatile plant compounds including terpene hydrocarbons, monoterpenes, and sesquiterpenes. This makes it excellent at refining the skin, helping it to maintain a youthful and healthy glow.
- Argan oil – This multipurpose oil has been quite popular in recent years and for good reason. Native to Morocco, argan oil has been prized for generations for its high levels of vitamins A and E, antioxidants, omega fats, and linoleic acid, a known skin booster. It’s a jack of all trades from healing acne and bug bites to relieving itching and appearance of dry skin conditions.
- Shea Butter – Up the lux and creaminess of skincare products with shea butter and you’ll be thankful for this African gem. A truly multipurpose healer, shea works wonders for all skin types all on its own, or it’s fabulous as a base for lotions, skin cremes, and more.
Photo by Lex Phil on Unsplash
Summer comes along and all of a sudden, your “whatever” approach to shaving your legs all of a sudden becomes meticulously focused. You aim for such precision that you nickname yourself “the surgeon.” But no matter how detailed you are, you still end up with nicks, razor burn, and worse, “the patch” that seems to miss the razor Every. Single. Time. If this sounds familiar, you may need to revisit your shaving game. We’ve got the tips your mom may have forgot to tell you all those years ago.
- Exfoliate: Yes, you exfoliate your face, but what about your legs, too? Getting rid of dead skin cells before you shave helps for a more even and close shave. You can use a dry brush method before getting into the bath or shower, or use a sugar or salt scrub on the legs prior to shaving.
- Invest in a good razor: If you’re still using disposable razors, now is the time to stop. Not only are these so wasteful and bad for the planet, but they’re typically not the best razors to begin with. This means more likelihood of damaging the skin and getting a bad shave. No fun. Use a high-quality reusable razor. Safety razors are making a comeback, particularly among women, and can deliver a much closer and cleaner shave.
- Don’t lather with soap: Use shaving cream, hair conditioner, or an oil like coconut oil, but whatever you choose, stop using soap! Soap is not only drying to the skin but some can damage the razors more quickly than moisturizing lotions and creams.
- Shave with the direction of the hair, not against: When you use a high-quality razor, it’ll get all the hair and leave your skin less likely to break out in red bumps.
- Moisturize: After shaving, follow up with a soothing skin moisturizer to keep the legs smooth. Bonus if it has an SPF factor, especially if you’re heading out to the beach or pool.
Photo by Stas Kulesh on Unsplash
Products we love:
African Organic Body Oil Blend
Passionfruit Cacao Moisture Recovery Lotion
Inside the seed of the African baobab fruit is baobab oil – a rich and nourishing tonic for all skin (and hair!) types. Never heard of baobab oil? Consider this your lucky day!
The baobab tree stands on sacred ground throughout Africa. It’s often called the “Tree of Life” for its lush fruit loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. It’s one of the only foods available during the dry seasons on the continent, making the tree prized by many cultures. It’s also often called the “upside down tree” for its thick trunk and spindly branches that look more like you’d expect a tree’s roots to look.
But baobab oil may be the tree’s most impressive secret. Not only is it edible and especially rich in omega-fatty acids (3,6, and 9), as well as vitamins A, D, E, and K. But it also contains other skin-loving nutrients including dihydrosterculic acid, malvalic acid, arachidic acid, linoleic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, and stearic acid.
Rich in anti-inflammatory properties, baobab oil is excellent at smoothing skin and reducing the appearance of damage from the sun, aging, and a host of skin conditions. This of course makes it an excellent after-sun oil, but it’s also great as a multi-purpose skin and hair oil. Use it for dry, irritated skin (like eczema). Rub into your hair and scalp for relief of dandruff and dry scalp. Reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks. Relieve winter or summer chapped lips. Plus, baobab oil won’t clog pores, making it appropriate for acne-prone skin as well.
Like jojoba oil, baobab won’t leave skin feeling greasy or oily. The body quickly absorbs it and puts it to work. Baobab oil makes an excellent skin cleanser and moisturizer, even helping to boost collagen production. Collagen is responsible for keeping the skin looking and feeling more elastic. We naturally lose collagen as we age, making baobab an excellent choice in keeping our skin healthier and younger looking.
We handcraft our most nourishing African Organic Body Oil Blend with baobab oil for a deeply nourishing, relaxing and long lasting hydrating benefits. Your skin will feel incredibly soft and supple.
Dealing with pesky summer breakouts is one thing. But blackheads? That’s a whole other beast altogether.
So, how do you get rid of blackheads? Is it even possible? First, know thy enemy. Unlike pimples, which can be filled with pus and blood deep into (and under) the skin, blackheads are mostly dead skin cells and skin oil clogging pores on the surface. The longer they go unclogged, the more they oxidize and turn black. And the longer they sit, the more dead skin and oil can build up, making them larger and deeper.
But excessive or rough scrubbing (or squeezing) can make the problem worse. Here’s how to safely and effectively get rid of blackheads.
- Exfoliate: It’s a key skincare routine all year round and especially in the summer when oily skin abounds. If you’re out and about all slathered with sunscreen, too, that can make skin even more sensitive to blackheads. Using a fruit-acid-based skin exfoliant can be extremely helpful in preventing the dead skin cells from building up, making pores less likely to fill up. Exfoliate once or twice per week, or talk with your dermatologist.
- Salicylic acid: A popular topical acne medication, salicylic acid may also be helpful in treating and preventing blackheads. While this ingredient is common in many over-the-counter and conventional acne treatments, it’s generally safe for most skin types. Common side effects include redness and dryness. If you’re a regular natural skincare user, look for isolated salicylic acid as many of the products can contain some not so natural fillers and preservatives. Use as directed.
- Charcoal: Activated charcoal is gaining ground as a natural beauty superstar for its ability to help dry up and prevent breakouts. It may also help to pull impurities, like excess dead skin cells and oils, out of the skin, leading to fewer blackheads.
- Don’t overwash: Dead skin. Excess oil. Of course it’s natural to think that you should be washing the heck out of your face to get rid of those offenders. But don’t overdo it. Too much washing can make the skin work to replenish the oil and that can lead to, you guessed it, more blackheads. Wash only when necessary (at least morning and night, but after a workout, beach sesh, etc). Keep water temperature on the cool side and don’t scrub. Wash gently, but thoroughly.
- Sun protection: You might think a tan will help dry the blackheads out, but what really happens when you roast yourself is you create more dead skin, more quickly. That, of course, causes pores to clog and form blackheads. Use a non-comedogenic sunscreen (and one with all-natural ingredients) and your skin will thank you.
Check out our favorite product picks:
Sea Kelp and Charcoal soap
Cleansing Grains Normal/Oily
Dragon’s Blood Cleansing Gel
Argan & Yarrow Sunscreen Mineral Moisturizer
Ah, the mysteries of combination skin. You know how it goes; some spots on the face are sheer perfection while others are burdens beyond compare. Is there any way to turn combination skin into uniformly healthy, glowing skin?
First things first: what is combination skin?
Like many skin conditions, combination skin presents in numerous ways. It can be particularly present in the T-zone area, where oiliness or breakouts may be more common while other areas of the face aren’t. You may suffer from both breakouts and dryness on the face at the same time. There may be larger pore sizes on your nose compared with cheeks or jaw line. And yet another indicator of combo skin may be a bit further up on the scalp. Dandruff can (but not always) indicate combination skin issues.
Combination skin can be impacted by the environment (hot weather = oiliness), diet, and skincare products. But it’s most often caused by your genes. So before you go knocking on Grandma’s door to air your grievances, give your skin a little love and see if you can’t ease the combination skin woes on your own.
How to treat combination skin.
- Wash properly: For oily T-zone areas, adding a cleansing brush to your skin cleansing routine can help to decrease the oiliness, particularly when the weather is warmer. In cooler seasons, where your skin may be more prone to dryness, use an oil-based cleanser to help boost and retain moisture in the skin.
- Exfoliate: Skin that’s too dry or too oily can both benefit from exfoliation. Exfoilating removes dead skin cells, which helps to retain moisture. Use fruit-acid based peels or exfoliating grains to remove dead skin cells 1-3 times a week.
- Tone before moisturizing: Toners can help to reduce the appearance of pore size, and they can also help to address excess oil production – key for your too-oily T-zone. Using a toner that contains fruit acids or apple cider vinegar may help to reduce oiliness while prepping for moisturizing. And, yes, you should still moisturize even if you’re having excess oil issues! Retinol-based moisturizers or those containing alpha or beta hydroxy acids can provide skin the moisture it needs to stay balanced while also helping to reduce the appearance of pores.
- Wear a mask: Not to hide your beautiful face, of course. But to treat it. Clay masks or those with activated charcoal are excellent at drying out oily areas, and can restore glow to all of your face, no matter whether it’s too dry or too oily. Use a mask once a week.
- Treat your scalp: For excessively dry and flaky scalp related to combination skin, use a shampoo with tea tree oil, and be sure to really massage the scalp to help remove the dead skin. You can also apply a few drops of tea tree essential oil or black seed oil to your shampoo to help relieve dryness and itching. Your scalp may also benefit from a deep conditioning coconut oil treatment you can leave on for a few hours or overnight.
Coconut Milk Cleanser
Black Seed Oil
Lavender-Licorice Complexion Toner
Chamomile & Blue Cornflower Toner
Are you a label reader? We hope you are – whether it’s your food or your skincare, ingredients matter. If understanding what they are make you feel like you need a science degree (or two), you’re not alone. A lot of even simple ingredients come with fancy sounding names, like hydrosol. What is this ingredient, and why is it in your (and our!) skincare products? It’s not as fancy as it sounds, actually.
A hydrosol is a botanical water usually made with flowers, but any botanical will work, like leaves, fruits, barks, or other plant material. Unlike essential oils – the pure, concentrated essence of a botanicals — hydrosols are mostly water.
These dilutes typically contain less than one percent (usually 0.01 – 0.04 percent) of the essential oil. A plant that contains more water naturally will be less concentrated than a denser ingredient.
Essential oils, if you’re not familiar, are extracted from a plant through various means. These highly concentrated oils are extremely potent (thus the reason they come via such small bottles). A little goes a long, long way. Not only are they usually fabulous to smell, but they’re most often recommended to be diluted via a carrier oil. While hydrosols aren’t oils, they are by definition, already diluted.
You can compare hydrosol to a diluted herbal tea. But even though a cup of ginger tea is less potent than a whole ginger root, it’s still got much of the root’s potent benefits, which is why hydrosols are often found in skincare instead of just plain water. It’s like a naturally enhanced water that is both hydrating and medicinal, delivering a boost of plant nutrients, be they anti-inflammatory effects, toning properties, wound-healing, calming, or rejuvenating aspects. You’ve got this perfectly useful water that’s going to do great things for your skin.
Because hydrosols are less concentrated than pure essential oils, they’re also less likely to irritate the skin or cause allergic reactions when used in a product or on its own.
If you’re a fan of essential oil fragrances, you’ll still pick up notes of the botanical in a hydrosol, but it will be less potent, and may have a greener or grassier scent more like the botanical would smell in your garden.
While hydrosols are often used in skincare products, they can be used on their own as a skin toner or as an aromatherapy spray. Still — be sure to read the label on your hydrosols to make sure it’s a clean and natural product.
Is summer your favorite time of the year? The warm weather, longer days, and pool or beach time almost makes every day feel like a vacation even when you’re working during the week (almost!). But with the warm weather comes an unwelcome visitor: summer breakouts.
If you’re prone to breakouts when you’ve got that sweaty layer on you and think there’s nothing much to do about it, we’ve got some good (and bad) news for you.
Okay, first the bad news: you’re probably going to breakout this summer, especially if you have sensitive skin to begin with. Whether it’s the sweating, the layers of sunscreen (yes, we mean layers!), or irritation from chlorinated pools (or less than clean oceans), zits will probably happen. But your best defense is a good offensive strategy. Even though there’s no guarantee to keep them away, you may at least, keep summer breakouts manageable. Here’s how.
- SPF: I know I just said sunscreen can make you breakout, and it can if it’s heavy, greasy, or loaded with synthetic chemicals that can irritate skin. But protection from the sun also means less irritated, and thus less sensitive, skin. Use a light SPF moisturizer especially around the T-zone region where breakouts can be more common in the heat.
- Reduce exfoliation: Well-exfoliated skin tans more evenly, but it can also make your skin more sensitive, particularly if it’s sensitive to begin with. And, it can also cause your skin to produce more oil, increasing the risk of breakouts. So, if you’re exfoliating twice a week, cut down to once a week or once every ten days or go even longer if you can.
- Tone instead: A good toner is like a more mild exfoliant and can help to unclog pores, detoxify, and soothe irritated skin. Plus, it can keep your skin cool (especially a spray toner), which means less sweating and less the skin is prone to breakouts.
- Go natural: Yes, summertime is filled with more fun events and parties you likely want to look good for, but makeup, particularly foundation, powders, and blushes, can make your skin extremely irritated. Makeup can clog your pores causing breakouts, and in the heat of summer bacteria is also more likely to spread between makeup and brushes, so be sure to clean yours often.
- Wash your face regularly: While overwashing the skin can lead to breakouts similar to overexfoliating (removing the healthy oils), in summer, it can reduce the breakout risk. Not only do you want to get rid of the oil and sweat, but there’s also the environmental grime, pollen, etc, you’re exposed to by being outside more often. You’ll feel it – the urge to wash your face isn’t just the body wanting to cool off, it’s a legit reaction to wanting to be cleaned. All the more reason to reduce your makeup for the season, and carry a good toner and SPF moisturizer in your bag because you’re going to need them.
- Stay hydrated: This is an easy one for most of us during the summer, but it’s worth repeating. Well-hydrated skin is healthy skin, so make sure you’re getting your eight glasses in every day.
- Moisturizing masks: If your skin is mostly cooperative you can help to keep the momentum going by doing a deeply hydrating moisture mask, whether it’s a store-bought one or a mashed avocado and banana face mask. Adding moisture to the skin keeps it from overproducing it on its own, and that’s going to make it less likely to breakout. But if you’re battling a flare-up, don’t do a mask. Spot treat, relax, and do your best to enjoy the weather regardless.
Check out our favorites for summer skin:
Argan & Yarrow Mineral Sunscreen
Coconut Milk Safflower Cleanser
Lavender Licorice Toner
Collagen is all the rage in the beauty world right now. This animal byproduct has been touted for its skin-boosting benefits. You can find collagen powder, pills, and the messier version—“bone broth”—rich in animal collagen, which is the gelatin produced from the connective tissues, bones, and hooves of livestock animals. But if downing bone juice isn’t your thing, you don’t have to worry about your skin suffering. There are plenty of animal-free collagen boosting foods and treatments out there. All you need is a healthy diet that includes these foods.
Why We Need Collagen
Our bodies naturally produce collagen—it’s what makes our skin look young and strong. But over time, we lose collagen, our skin starts to sag and wrinkle. Add to time environmental factors like excess sun exposure, pollution, and even smoking can deplete collagen. Our diet plays a role, too—refined sugars and carbs, too much alcohol, and processed food in general can take a toll on our collagen production.
But even though collagen supplements are incredibly popular right now, some doctors say the science isn’t conclusive about its benefits for skin. It may seem obvious, but just because you drink collagen doesn’t mean your body will produce more of it or assimilate it any more than eating a tomato makes you sprout one out of your elbow.
Fortunately, there are many vegetarian foods and supplements that can help your body boost its own collagen production naturally. Here are a few.
7 Vegetarian Collagen Boosters
- Silica – Perhaps the most important ingredient in collagen production is silica. It’s abundant in bananas, whole grains, carrots, and raisins. But the best plant source is horsetail (not from actual horses). Silica supplements are available in most health food stores and are relatively inexpensive, too.
- Vitamin C – We think of vitamin C as the cold and flu buster, but it’s also critical for collagen production in the body. It’s readily available in a diet rich in fruits and veggies—no supplements needed. But if you think you need a vitamin C boost, plenty of supplements are available. Note that vitamin C can be destroyed in the cooking process, so if you’re adding more C-rich fruits and veggies to your diet (bell peppers are an excellent choice as are kiwis), try eating them raw.
- Beta Carotene – Another fruit and veggie superstar, beta carotene is abundant in carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, spinach, kale, cantaloupe, and apricots. This vitamin is also important in collagen production – did Bugs Bunny or Popeye ever look sallow?
- Anthocyanins – Hard to pronounce but not hard to love, anthocyanins are the chemicals in deeply colored berries and cherries that help our bodies not only fight off free radicals that can damage the skin, but also to boost its collagen production.
- Copper – Bust out the chocolate covered almonds because this combo is rich in the mineral copper, which is critical for collagen production. Vitamin C aids in the uptake of copper (which is where the “C” comes from), so it’s no wonder both chemicals play a role in getting your glow on. Other foods high in copper include sunflower seeds, lentils, apricots, and asparagus.
- Soy – The versatile soybean may be controversial because of the ubiquity of genetically modified soybeans, but there’s no denying its heath benefits, specifically the presence of genistein, the isoflavone that increases collagen production. Genistein may also help to quash free radicals which can damage and age the skin.
- Proline – An amino acid essential to the collagen process, proline is found in a number of delicious plant foods including peanuts, watercress, chickpeas, beans, cabbage, asparagus, cucumber, and even chives.
Once that clock springs ahead, not only do we lose an hour of our precious beauty rest, but we get more daylight—and you know what that means, right? Your skin—and your pores are on full display. Like, all the time.
Now, we know it’s what’s on the inside that really matters, but oversized pores can make us feel self-conscious. There’s nothing wrong with seeking to remedy that even if you can’t reduce pore size without surgery (and even then it’s pretty darn sketchy).
But even though you can’t shrink your pores, you can make your skin look more dewy, glowy, and healthy with a few all-natural DIY tips and tricks, which of course we’ve got for you just below.
How to Make Pores Look Smaller, Naturally
- Exfoliate: It’s kind of our answer for everything, but for very good reason. Exfoliating the with a fruit-acid-based product removes the dead skin cells that can clog your pores making them more noticeable. While our serums are rich in fruit acids, we also offer cleansing grains that can help put a little exfoliating punch into your skin care regimen. You can also try using diluted apple cider vinegar for a little exfoliating action as well. To really notice a difference, exfoliate twice per week.
- Cleanse: The rubbing and rinsing may make it feel like you’re just breaking open your pores but like exfoliating, cleansing is crucial to remove dead skin and debris. And as the weather starts to warm up, your sweaty skin will need regular cleansing a few times per day. While some makeup can effectively cover up pore size, some can just clog them and make it worse. So try to decrease your makeup in warmer months, especially heavy foundations.
- Bump Up the SPF: I know, trust me. Spring is here and you just want to roll around in the warm sun like a puppy. And you totally can. Just dab that sunscreen on ‘fore you get your roll on. Sun-damaged skin will show pores more readily, and over time, it can lead to wrinkling and sagging, too. Hats are super on trend right now, so slather on the SPF and don your favorite bonnet to keep those pores perky.
- Needle: MIcroneedling is super on trend right now. It’s a procedure that can be done by a licensed esthetician or at home. And yes, it does involve tiny needles all over your face. But according to devoted microneedlers, it really works to improve skin tone and reduce the appearance of pores. And compared to laser treatments or fillers, it’s incredibly affordable, too.
- Retinoids: Vitamin A when applied topically in the form of retinoids are like a supersize exfoliant that prevents dead skin cell build-up. They also boost collagen production which keeps the pores firmer and can make them appear less visible. But be cautious when using retinoid-containing products as they may make you more prone to sun damage. So be sure you’re adequately armed with sunscreen.