Sunday, December 27, 2015

How to Get Healthy Skin Without Spending Tons of $$$

I love makeup. I love color and glitter and the way my eyes look when the edges are shadowed and shimmering. I like the way I can change my face, my attitude, everything, with a few strokes of eyeliner or a dark lipstick. I consider the whole deal a sort of creative outlet. I'm obsessed with temporary tattoos and anything sparkly.

But in order to enjoy using my face as a canvas for powders and paints, I feel it's only fair to treat my skin kindly the rest of the time. Skincare- and for that matter, hair/body/teeth care- is really important. Why? Because, like eating healthily, taking care of yourself matters! If you wouldn't put chemicals into your body… why would you put them on your body? I mean, you've seen what happens when you put lotion on your body, right? It gets absorbed. Basically, your skin eats whatever you put on it, meaning you should really know exactly what you're doing when you slather chemical-laden products across the largest organ of your entire body. Plus, buying cheap, harsh products is actually more expensive in the long run. Why bother when you can create your own equally effective stuff with better-for-you ingredients you already have in your kitchen?

Skin is incredibly personal, so I'm going to warn you that everything in this post may not work for you. I have pretty normal skin, not too dry or too oily or anything, and if you have a more problematic skin condition you should probably see a professional. I do, however, make a point of experimenting with everything I discuss- I will not recommend anything without having tested it first! This is merely the advice of your average girl on a budget.

 Let's start with some simple kitchen staples..

  • Drinking water is probably the single most effective (and cheapest!) way to keep your skin hydrated and healthy. The first thing I do in the morning is drink a big glass, before eating anything or having coffee, which ensures that even if I'm super busy all day, I'm at least a little hydrated! It's also a good way to wake up, kind of like splashing ice water on your face. Without the shivers.
    Delicious skincare salad!
  • Making herbal or green tea is a great way to add extra power to your hydration. If you can, use fresh leaves or dried herbs for tea, like mint or ginger, but if you prefer tea bags try to stick with an organic brand. Companies like Numi or Traditional Medicinals also make sure their teabags are free of chemicals, and that their companies are doing some good in the world. As for green tea, you can get Japanese matcha powder and mix it with hot water. A trick if you're not a tea person is to let herbal tea cool and drink it like you would regular water- but now with all the medicinal benefits! Adding ice and letting it melt will dilute the flavor if it's too strong.
  • Add water-rich and antioxidant laden foods to your diet. Eat berries for the antioxidants, and healthy fats like avocado and nuts. Some people hear the word "fat" and run screaming for the hills, but I promise, if you eat the healthy kind (I'm not trying to send you to McDonald's here) it will give your skin an amazing glow! I'm addicted to this "skincare salad" made of kale, walnuts and pomegranate seeds. I make a small dressing with a tablespoon of avocado oil, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, and some salt and pepper. It's great as a side dish or even a snack, containing those antioxidants (pomegranate) and fats (avocado oil, walnuts), plus greens, which are also a miracle food for your skin. I try to add spinach to everything because I know I don't eat as many greens as I should, but to be honest it's hard to find a way to enjoy raw kale. It tastes amazing sautéed with olive oil, salt and garlic, but this is my favorite way to eat it fresh! 
  • I don't condone full-on juice cleansing, but green juices are definitely a quick way to perk-up if you're having a really dry or dull skin day. I literally notice the effects of a good green juice within 24 hours. If you have a juicer, I recommend starting with some apple or pear, adding cucumber and celery, and then every kind of leafy green in your fridge. For me this is usually a couple handfuls of spinach and kale, maybe some sprouts or arugula if I'm feeling like I won't mind the bitterness. If you want a little less grass-taste, add a squeeze of lemon.
  • Coconut oil is my everything, I swear. I use it on my legs as a lotion, put it in my hair after I shower, and on my face as a makeup remover. But definitely make sure if you use it as a makeup remover, soap it off after! In Singapore I tried to use coconut oil as a facial moisturizer but it gave me the worst acne I've ever had. My cousin swears by massaging it into her face then washing it off. I tried this and it does admittedly make your skin smell amazing and feel soft, but I'm too scared to trust my skin with it long term. A lot of people recommend heavily oiling your hair and letting it sit for a couple hours before washing it out, and I did try this, but… ugh. Nope. It took me two days using tons of shampoo (which I don't ever use normally) to get it all out, and then it was all dry from the shampoo. Minimal oil on a daily basis works SO much better. 
  • I use a crystal deodorant, which costs $3.00 and lasts for a freaking year. It is amazing. However, it's not strong enough for working out, so in addition I mix baking soda and coconut oil to create the most effective deodorant ever. I was so skeptical hearing this the first time, but it feels good on your skin and also literally works better than anything else. You can also use baking soda as a natural teeth whitener! This tastes nasty but works SO well. Just don't swallow because you'll feel it weird, and it might hurt if you have super chapped lips.
  • Mixing coffee grounds and honey certainly smells weird, but creates a good body exfoliator, and leaves your skin feeling incredibly soft. You can make a super simple body scrub mixing honey with sea salt or sugar as well, as both have that same texture. The benefit of coffee grounds, I've heard, is that it "firms and tones your skin", but to be honest I don't notice that much, I just find it a nice way to reuse coffee grounds. Be careful with the salt one, though, if you have any cuts- don't salt your wounds!
  • Face masks can be made out of pretty much anything in your kitchen, depending on the effect you're going for. I used to do a cinnamon and honey mask, though it kind of burned to wash it off. It was effective but I worried that anything hurting my skin was probably not good for it. Now I combine honey, lemon and sugar, rinse my face with it twice a day, and HOLY SHIT GUYS. This had an INSTANT effect on my skin, and is also working perfectly long term. I also like making masks out of honey, banana or avocado and cocoa powder to help with dry skin. The honey helps to soften, the banana and avocado are both moisturizing, and the cocoa powder really just makes it smell good (if you buy raw cacao powder that has antioxidant benefits but that's too expensive for me!).
Here's the recipe for the scrub I use on my face:

1 1/4 cups sugar
juice of 1 lemon
honey to desired consistency- I probably add between 1/8 and 1/5 cup

This scrub will settle with the liquids on top, but you can just mix it up with your finger and it's fine.

In an ideal world, my entire beauty routine would be made out of things you can also eat. I haven't figured this out quite yet (if anyone knows how to condition curly hair without a store-bought product, hit me up!), but I do try to buy the most natural beauty products when I can't make them myself. This isn't to say I'm perfect- sometimes I cave and borrow my mom's styling cream or my little sister sprays some hairspray at me while her straightening iron sizzles. But in general, the closer to earth your product ingredients are, the better!

With that in mind, try to pick products that are best for you and the environment. Some of my personal favorites are Earthpaste, a toothpaste mostly made out of clay and salt, and Acure conditioner.

I do have some Aveda co-wash, for days when my hair gets too oily, but the ingredients aren't as great and it's really expensive. They do have a great rewards program- you get a lot of free samples- but I prefer simpler/cheaper products. I buy Alaffia's GOOD soap at Whole Foods, which is only about $4 for 3 bars, I think (though I do have a 20% employee discount) or I find odds and ends like homemade goat milk soap from Pike Place. Supporting local and ethical companies while buying luxurious, natural products? Awesome.


Avoid touching your face, picking at zits, etc. This not only makes your skin red but spreads more germs across your face!

Get outside! It's refreshing and moving around will increase circulation.

Take some days off from makeup so your skin can breathe. 

DO NOT wear makeup while working out, because it will get into your pores and ugh. Plus… you don't need it. You're working out!

Aim to use more natural makeup when possible. With the exception of my glitter and brightly colored eyeliner, most of my makeup comes from Whole Foods (partially because of that employee discount, partially because they use the same quality standards for beauty products they do for food, so I trust them). Try brands like Gabriel and Pacifica.

Always wash your face at night.

If you've been using too much nail polish or polish remover, soak your fingertips in olive oil or rub coconut oil into the cuticles.

Take lukewarm showers, as hot water will dry out your skin, and rinse your hair with freezing cold water at the end. This works super well to combat dry hair for us curly girls.

Finally, relax and have fun. Enjoy life. Smile. I've found these are always the ways to feel most beautiful!

. . . 

How do you take care of your body? Any questions on these ideas? Talk to me in the comments section below! :)