Health

I wash my face with oil. I get some funny looks when I tell people this, but I personally think it makes more sense than telling people I wash my face with chemicals. Not only that, but my skin glows. It’s super clear, feels like a baby face and smells like a coconut! Does it get any better than that?! I’ve tossed all my store-bought face washes because I no longer feel the need to scrub my face with chemicals, alcohols, and other industrial cleaning products of unknown origins.

I became interested in using oil cleansing face wash when I was at the grocery store, reading labels on cosmetics marketed as “organic” and “natural.” I’m sorry, but can someone explain to me what is natural about Disodium Laureth-3 Sulfosuccinate and Cocamidopropyl betaine?

After some research, I found that many(probably the majority of) commercial face wash products contain chemicals like those found in antifreeze (propylene glycol – a skin irritant that can lead to liver and kidney damage) and crude oil (mineral oil – inaccurately named and classified by the World Health Organization in the most harmful group of carcinogens). Trust me – that’s only the very beginning.

These chemicals are so harsh on our pretty little faces that they can cause reactions, including dry skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Their short-term benefits are derived from industrial cleaning agents. Imagine washing your face with Clorox wipes.

That research was enough to make my skin crawl. Being a slight mother nature weirdo, this discovery was all the motivation I needed to switch cleansing methods, pronto.Weirdo or not, though, the benefits that come with natural oil washes and the health/beauty dangers that come with commercial ones make the option seem like a no-brainer.

I started my switch by simply Googling “natural face wash.” What I found was unbelievable. I realized that most stripped-down face washes I could buy still contain at least some kind of long-named chemical, but that I could make my own using only a few ingredients, namely, essential oils.

What?

It seemed so counterintuitive to clean my face by rubbing oil on it, but, like most people my age, I decided to blindly trust the Internet. I settled on a simple recipe that wouldn’t require me to purchase too many oils (being real here, I have almost no disposable income). I also didn’t want anything too complicated for my first try.

The Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need, if you want to try the recipe I use:

Coconut oil (1 tablespoon) – very cheap, grocery or health foods store
Tea tree oil (3 drops) – average, health foods store
Lavender oil (2 drops) – somewhat pricey, health foods store
[optional]: squeeze of lemon juice for oily skin
[optional]: a couple drops of honey
A bottle or jar with a lid (I used a mason jar to make it cute)

Mix as many “servings” of the recipe as you please into your container. This next step is optional, but you can stick it in the fridge, and it will take on a more lotion-y consistency.

The Method

When using it in either form, simply put some on your fingers and massage it into your face until you feel you’ve covered your whole face, jawline included.

Then, take a washcloth and put it under water that’s as hot as you can stand having on your face. Wring it out and put it over your face for about a minute – this is to “steam” your face and open your pores more so the oil can get in there and do its job.

Next, use a clean washcloth and warm water to wipe the remaining oil from your face. And voila! You’re done!

Other Options

There are endless variations on the recipe, because so many essential oils possess cleansing and antibacterial properties. I read about one girl who uses literally only coconut oil. I read another article listing possible oils to mix, including castor oil, which apparently is a fantastic gentle cleansing oil. I think I’m going to try it in my next recipe.

If you want to get creative with different scents and oils, do a Google (or Bing, I don’t know your life) search on essential oils, determine which ones have cleansing and/or moisturizing properties, and try those in a face wash blend! It’s all about finding the one that works wonders for you.

Results

The results are actually unbelievable. Like I said at the beginning, my skin is clear, soft, and glowing. My pores look smaller, too. I even put on some makeup to test it out, and the oil peeled all of it right off.

Whether you have extremely dry, extremely oily, normal, or acne prone skin, there’s a natural oil face wash out there for you. Best of luck in making the switch! Your skin will thank you.

cat in tub

Any other natural face wash ideas? Share them in the comments section below!

Images: Sharon_K, Flickr; Veganbaking.net, Flickr

Health

It’s summer and we all want to be able to feel comfortable in our own skin; with what’s on the inside and the outside. The magical ingredient for getting healthy? Water. You may not realize it, but water is the do-all wonder worker when it comes to getting healthy. Here are the wonderful things that prove the real secret to getting healthy is the most natural of them all!

Saves You From Endless Snacking

We all know of the temptation to snack endlessly, whether it’s while watching a movie, reading a book, or just lounging around looking for something to do. The need to snack is almost second nature to most of us. However, if you’re drinking at least eight glasses of water a day, I promise you won’t feel the need to reach for that second cookie at two-thirty in the afternoon! If you feel the urge to reach for a yummy treat, try drinking water instead. Most of the time our body makes us think that we’re hungry when in reality we’re thirsty. Drinking the proper amount of water is the first and, in my opinion, most important step when it comes to the journey of becoming physically fit and healthy.

Clears Your Skin

We’ve all struggled with acne at some point in our lives, and it can definitely cause a dent in your self-esteem and confidence levels. Drinking the proper amount of water allows your body to register that it is properly hydrated. When your body feels like it isn’t getting enough fluids, your pores produce more natural oils to compensate. This then causes your body to break out due to the excess oil. Staying hydrated is key to achieving clear skin.

Makes Your Hair Grow

Water also helps your hair grow faster; and which one of us hasn’t wished for luscious locks at some point in our lives? Being properly hydrated filters out the toxins in our bodies, allowing the nutrients your hair needs to grow to get to your roots quicker and thus grow quicker! A rule of thumb is remembering that if it’ll benefit you on the inside, it’ll show on the outside.

Filters Out the Bad

As stated above, water filters out toxins in your body from foods and fluids that can’t be processed or beneficial to our bodies. Getting rid of these toxins leads to a healthier and cleaner body on the inside and shows through clearer skin and healthier hair.

Keeps You Hydrated

Though this point may seem like an obvious fact, I can’t stress how much being properly hydrated has an effect on your daily life. No matter what your diet consists of, whether that’s being a pescetarian or eating all the unhealthy food your heart craves, I can speak from personal experience when saying that drinking enough water affects you in so many ways. Being hydrated keeps your body and mind strong, and without it, it can be really hard to function on a normal basis.

Overall, don’t forget to drink enough water throughout your day. It makes a huge difference and can benefit you in so many ways. Water is the first step to a fit, healthy, and happy life!

Image: cleanwateraction.org

CultureHealth

“Beauty comes at a price.” There’s a sentence we have all heard, without doubt. Physical beauty, especially, comes at such a price. Waxing, bleaching, plucking, shaving, and threading…things all us ladies (and some men) have spent countless hours at the salon doing.  But as Americans, what’s our take on beauty? What’s physically attractive, and what’s not physically attractive? Who decides these rules? How do American standards of pulchritude compare to those of the Eastern world?

I am currently in India, and I had the chance to interview several people about what they believe is beautiful in a woman.  Here are a few perspectives from the East:

“When I marry the girl of my dreams, I want her to be as fair as the moon…lips as red as cherries, and very black hair. I think a girl like that would be very attractive.”

“Milky white skin. Like Kareena Kapoor and Tammanah Bhatia, the Bollywood actresses. Intellect would be a great addition to those looks, though.”

“As a girl, I’ve always been told to use fairness products. They’re supposed to elicit the true beauty out of me or something. I don’t know though, they don’t really work. But that’s what everyone wants: whiteness.”

I interviewed 12 people, but I had to stop because everyone said the same thing: fairness, whiteness, and lightness. Everybody seemed to be in love with the concept of being light-skinned. In fact, what I like to call the “Fairness Industry,” is booming not only in India, but in Asia as well. Take a look at these creams and their purpose:

beauty cream

Phrases like “healthy white” and “fair and lovely” capsize the mind at first glance. It almost seems as though being white and fair is associated with being “healthy” and “lovely.” Is this a social stigma? Do young Asian girls have to be fair-skinned to be beautiful? Skin bleaching products such as creams and gels certainly do exist in the USA, but they are nowhere near as popular there as they are in Asia as a whole. Where does the idea of equating attractiveness to fairness stem from?

Back in the day, those who toiled in the fields and struggled in blistering heat possessed a darker skin tone than those who remained indoors, living in luxury and royalty. Having darker pigmentation became easily associated with being poor or part of the working class. Skin color became associated with wealth, and those who were more affluent were also seen as more desirable.

Let’s zoom forward to present-day Bollywood. Recently, the Hindi film “Gori Tere Pyaar Mein” came out. The title literally translates to “In your love, fair-skinned girl.” Why not make a film called “Kali Tere Pyaar Mein,” or “In your love, dark-skinned girl?” Once again, movies in India emphasize the glowing fairness of girl as beautiful, leaving no room for the majority of the olive to tan to dark-complexioned people. With subliminal messages like this, those of us who are not fair are almost forced to believe that we are not as attractive to our white counterparts. I can provide a personal example of this, as one of my North Indian friends (who is quite fair in complexion) teased me for being a dark-toned South Indian (we inhabit areas closer to the equator, so what do you expect?) once. Since when is being more pigmented a sin? Why are fair people automatically deemed beautiful, while darker skinned girls struggle to earn that title?

What about America? What do American girls believe will make them look beautiful? The answer is essentially the opposite of Asia’s: America wants tan girls. The tanning industry prospers in America: fake tans, tanning beds, and other “tan-in-a-can” products are quite the profitable investment. When summer comes around, millions of girls rush to the beach to bronze themselves. I’ve seen girls from my high school spend their paychecks on tanning beds in the winter…yes, in the winter, when there’s barely any sun and being slightly pale is a commonplace occurrence. It’s ludicrous to see what our young girls do their skin…whether they want to bleach it or bronze it. I had several Caucasian friends tell me “Wow, I wish I was tan like you. Your tan lasts year-round.” It feels weird to be castigated by one community for being tan, and complimented by another for the same thing. Why can’t we all just be proud of our original skin color?

However, there is one characteristic of beauty that seemed to be popular in India and America: skinniness. Perhaps the struggle to be slim is a global epidemic, as well. Dieting pills, weight-loss programs, V-shapers…they’re everywhere. Magazines, movies, retweets made by several of my guy friends that I follow on Twitter all depict skinny actresses and models. As girls, we are constantly surrounded by sources that tell us that skinny is right and that people need to see our collarbones…or else we are just not beautiful.

And once we gain that skinny body through hours at gym and spent dieting, we need to show it off, don’t we? Let’s take a detour and play the skin game. The more skin you reveal, the sexier you are. That sentence should’ve made most of us feel somewhat uncomfortable. We live in a society where the female body is such a weird object: people want to see girls naked, but once they do, certain girls who exposed their bodies are slut-shamed. Girls are heavily imposed with a double standard in this sense. What do you want her to do? Take her clothes off? Will you still respect her after? These are the relevant questions that you should ask yourself if you’re interested in a particular girl. Find those answers and don’t dive into a cesspool of hypocrisy.

So girls, what makes you beautiful? Your complexion? Your weight? The amount of clothes you wear? Truly, there is no right answer. Society tries to oppress you with what it believes to be beautiful. Certain people assume that there is only one ideal look for beauty, whereas in reality, that’s just not that case. We need to celebrate our diversity. We can do so by not succumbing to a certain weight and pigmentation. If you want to wear a religious veil and cover your body, you should be allowed to do so. If you want to keep your original skin color, you should be allowed to do so. If you want to eat that juicy sandwich from McDonald’s, you should be allowed to do so. If you want to embrace your originality and the looks you were born with, you should be allowed to do so.

Your youth shouldn’t be spent on altering yourself physically to gain acceptance from society. It should be more about educating yourself and being happy. Society will always say one thing or the other, but it’s up to us to choose what we want to listen to.

Image: The Resurgence

CultureHealth

I’m a blend of German Irish heritage. You know what that means? I have camouflage abilities that are most suited for Polar Regions. As a youngster, I was blessed with the most delightful smattering of freckles that I then, of course, hated. What I would give to have those damn freckles back! I always envied my naturally bronzed friends and would frequent a tanning salon with dreams of one day, having that all over golden look. When article upon article started to surface about the terrors of tanning beds, I convinced myself they were just conspiracy theories and continued fake baking. It wasn’t until my uncle got a serious case of melanoma that cost a pretty penny for surgery did I start to listen.  (Just an FYI, the articles and various medical studies are not conspiracy theories. Please take them far more seriously than I did.) This really got me thinking. My originally perceived “ideal” appearance wasn’t worth putting my health at serious risk or worth a years worth of tuition. Instead of bed tanning, I decided to pursue an entirely different avenue of tanning possibilities and I found myself in front of the drug store’s selection of self-tanners. I. Have. Tried. Them. All. Seriously, I have. I’ve read review after review in search of a streak-less, smell-less concoction that would turn my alabaster to any shade of bronze. But alas, they all have had their pitfalls! They might not smell bad, but they washed off instantly. They might go on streak-less, but I’d be a ghastly shade of orange. No matter my conviction and determination to uncover this mythical perfect self-tanner, it was always evident that I was using a self-tanner, and that is the exact opposite reaction you hope to have.

So I went off the stuff.

Trust me when I say it was difficult. I had become so accustomed to a semi-darker completion that when I saw it as it really is (after several showers), I was appalled. I have nice skin. Granted, I’m bruised and scratched up from several years of reckless exploring and overall klutziness, but that’s just because my skin has got some serious personality. And that’s how I like it. Even though we are so accustomed to the norms of beauty, or as I like to call them the Triple T’s (tall, thin, tan), I realized this doesn’t apply to me. Sure, there are some things you can change about yourself. You can dye your hair, put on makeup, change your clothes… These things are great additions or frills (I do all three), but they do not provide your body with protection like your skin can. Your skin is all encompassing and has been with you since day one. That isn’t something to take lightly. Never thought about it like that, did ya? Neither had I until I started seeing more and more of the women who I consider role models embracing their epidermis. It’s empowering to take a stand and be unconventional especially when it is something that holds you all together. So think about it. Can you come to terms with your translucency?