Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Witch's Apothecary: Facial Cleanser

Sometimes when I look around at the plethora of goodies available to me in the supermarket, I am eager to purchase and consume goods that I just "have" to have in order to be prettier, brighter, shinier. Yet, when you start looking at the ingredients in so many of the products (if they're actually listed on the container), most of the time I have NO idea what the hell the ingredients are! So I did some research and found out that more often than not, most of the ingredients are just garbage. Most commercial soap is more dehydrating than nourishing, despite claims of jojoba and aloe. Most toners have more alcohol and perfume than anything that actually tones your skin. 

And then, the crux of it: most of these goods can be made easily and cheaply at home. So that's what I'm going to do. I promised myself in my eco make-up purge that once the goods started to dwindle, I would replace them with more sustainable choices.

One of the things that I've been considering is which ways I'm going to go about revamping my facial cleansing routine. And I've decided I'm going to go back to the basics that I know work (or have worked in the past for me).

First up: facial steam once a week. This is a trick my Mom or my Grandma taught me as a young teen and honestly, I used it fairly often and never really had bad acne as a teen (I think partly due to the steams and partly due to living near the ocean). Since moving to the big city, I've noticed that my face needs a lot more care so I think going back to the maternal tricks are just the right recipe!


Steam (once a week)
Super easy.
  • Boil some water. 
  • Pour it into a large bowl (I use one of my baking bowls). 

  • Grab a towel.
  • Add a few drops of real essential oil (not perfume oil). Good ones to try: lemon, lavender, chamomile, rose, tea tree (any good aromatherapy book can help you with this). Please note that if you use lemon, you'll need to be careful in the sun as it makes your skin a bit more sensitive to the sun (but if you want to lighten your hair, lemon juice is a great way to do it naturally). Also be aware if you're pregnant that you need to investigate to make sure that the oils you use are safe!




  • Lean over the steaming bowl of water, about 10 inches away, place towel over your head and bowl to create a sealed off space for the steam to work at opening your pores
  • Stay in steam for 5-10 mins
  • Wash face in warm water
  • If you have really clogged pores you can exfoliate  after the steam wash 
  • Pat face with cooler water to close pores




  • Enjoy healthy, glowing skin. It makes your skin feel super soft. I always love the day or 2 after doing a facial steam. Honest to god, this is the best facial cleanser that I have ever used. It works better than any commercial products out there. When I have bad acne, I use it 2x a week. This time around I used organic tea tree oil because its antiseptic/antibacterial and I've been sweating a lot in the summer heat. Sometimes if my pores are really bad I do break out a bit just after a facial steam, but it passes quickly and consists of very small acne. I'd just recommend letting your skin breath for a couple days and then doing a 2nd steam that week. 



  • Plus, since I'm a waste not, want not kind of girl, I upcycle the water after it's cooled to use to scrub my house. Tea tree, water, and then some vinegar = excellent toilet bowl cleaner. Though I have to admit... knowing that I use the same thing on my face (minus the vinegar) as I use on my toilet... not so luxurious a thought!
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