Skin Care

I get a lot of questions about natural skincare, but I put off writing about it here because I still struggle with skin problems. It’s one of those topics that I feel like I can’t justify writing about until finding the secret answer that fixed my problems, and will obviously fix everyone else’s. Realistically though, everyone’s skin is vastly different, and what works for one person may not work for the next. Beyond that, most of my personal skin problems don’t come down to my topical skin care, it comes down to my hormone imbalances that I am constantly fighting with. That being said, I’m going to discuss various skin care techniques, and how simpler approaches can help heal your skin.

Keep in mind that natural skin care is not a once size fits all approach. Just as it took trial and error to find conventional products that fit your needs, it may take a while to find a natural approach that works for you. Since this is meant to be a comprehensive survey of skincare for various skin types and problems, it is highly unlikely that all of the things I recommend in this article will work for your skin–some of them might produce more breakouts. I always recommend spot testing new skincare ingredients/products.


  1. Acne is usually an internal problem–not an external one. Since this is primarily a post about how to care for the skin externally, I’ll try to not get too extensive about what can be done internally, but I have found most people get good results when cutting processed food, adding cod liver oil as a daily supplement, as well as consuming plenty of good fats in their diet, a good probiotic supplement like this one and/or this one, and ingesting collagen through something like bone broth. If none of these produce results, I’ve seen patterns of dairy, grains, soy, and/or nightshades to be culprits in persistent acne. I personally notice a huge difference in my acne when I am taking cod liver oil, both of the above probiotics, and consuming minimal processed food.
  2. Be gentle with acne spots. While the occasional blemish might be due to poor hygiene, a severely inflamed face is usually due to an internal problem, and therefore should not be attacked topically. By using extremely drying, bacteria killing methods to shrivel up acne spots, you will cause further irritation to the skin which will elicit both internal and external flare ups. Ouch!
  3. Most people who suffer from acne assume that they have oily skin, but a lot of acne sufferers suffer from dry skin as well. When the skin gets overly dry, the sebaceous glands will produce excessive amounts of oil to try and heal the skin and feed it needed fats. I’ve found that the easiest way to tell if you have oily or dry skin is to experiment with various oils in the form of oil cleansing and oil moisturizers (always spot testing a small patch first) to see which oils your skin responds well to. While I know some of you may be hesitant to use oils on your face, I encourage you to push yourself. Not everyone will get into oil cleansing or owning ten different moisturizers, but at least a small amount of topical oil is crucial to natural skin care. Oils are especially good moisturizers because they retain far more nutrients and fatty acids to feed the skin without needing to add synthetic compounds to petroleum derived moisturizers like the options in the isles of the drug store. Remember that all oils are very different, and they should not feel “oily” on the skin when you have found one that works for your skin type.

If your skin is oily, using the following oils help calm oil production by tricking the skin to produce less oil by using using topical oils that more closely resemble what is naturally there.

Commonly successful oils for oily skin include jojoba oil (this is probably the most popular among people with oily skin), hemp seed oil, caster oil (must be blended with another oil like jojoba), tamanu oil, grapeseed oil, and seabuckthorn oil.

If your skin is dry, using the following oils can help feed healthy fats to skin that is having a hard time feeding itself vital nutrients, which in turn allows the skin’s oil production to slow down.

Commonly successful oils for dry skin include avocado oil, rosehip oil, argan oil, tallow, and coconut oil (use this one with caution, it can cause breakouts for people with sensitive pores).


A note on cleansing: I only recommend cleansing at night. Morning is a time to splash your face with a bit of water and perhaps use some toner and moisturizer, but not deeply cleanse. Your skin spends the night repairing itself and balancing its acid mantle and oil layer in preparation for the next day, and it is best to avoid tampering with this as much as possible.

Oil Cleansing: This video is a useful resource on how to oil cleanse. Most oil cleansing blends will include a bit of caster oil, but I’ve found I don’t need it in mine. Avocado oil is a good base oil for dry skin oil cleansers, while jojoba oil is a good base for oily skin oil cleansers.

Honey: This article has great information on cleansing with honey. Honey was a long time favorite of mine before switching to oil cleansing. I find it works best as a gentle cleanser for people with highly sensitive skin. Manuka honey is highly popular for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, but many have success with regular raw honey.

Suds: Soap based cleansers are highly discouraged for people with dry skin, but can work well for oily skinned folks–especially those who do not respond well to oil cleansing or honey cleansing. Charcoal based bar soaps, african black soap, and DIY soaps like this one and this one are all popular facial cleansers in natural skin care circles. Always tone and moisturize after using a soap based cleanser to prevent your skin from over producing oil after stripping the oil mantle.


A note on exfoliating: I only recommend exfoliating once or twice a week and by gently rubbing the exfoliant (do not scrub or scour your poor face). Too much exfoliation or too harsh of an exfoliant can cause minor scarring to the face by scraping to new layers of skin before necessary.

Baking soda is a highly popular exfoliant due to its microabrasion abilities. Always use a toner after exfoliating with something with a high pH level like baking soda.

Salt and sugar scrubs are also common exfoliants, usually blended with some moisturizing oils.


One of the most popular toners in the natural world is a blend of raw Apple Cider Vinegar and water. ACV when diluted is a good acidic balancer for the skin and naturally fermented versions like Bragg’s offer vital probiotics to the skin for extra power. The smell wears off after drying, but is something to get used to when applying.

Witch hazel is a highly popular skin balancing toner.

Hydrosols like this one are extremely gentle and probably not balancing enough if you often use soap based cleansers or baking soda exfoliants, but are good options for oil cleansing or honey cleansing days, and as a morning facial mist.


A note on moisturizing: I recommend buying your first few moisturizers from someplace with a great return policy like Target or Whole Foods who will take any item back after opening within 7-30 days since those small bottles can add up $$$ and finding the right oils involves a lot of trial and error. Usually a few drops is all you need.

Popular moisturizers include oils like rosehip oil, argan oil, seabuckthorn oil, jojoba oil, hemp seed oil, and tamanu oil.

You can also buy blends from companies like here, here, and here. However, I prefer to use single ingredients as much as possible because it’s more cost effective and it is easier to know what my skin is responding well to.

If you suffer from rosacea, extremely dry skin, or inflamed skin, I recommend Green Pasture’s Beauty Balm with a cod liver oil base. It’s as stinky as it sounds, so I recommend putting it on when you have some alone time, but the cod liver oil delivers nutrients that I haven’t been able to match in a plant based oil.


Zero waste living is not for the faint of heart. Honestly, I had to rewire how I thought about my consumption habits (just like I had to rewire how I thought about food).

Once I became aware of how much trash I was producing, I evaluated what was commonly in there so that I could find better alternatives. This isn’t about being a perfect (a constant struggle for me). It’s about becoming more aware and intentional about the things that you have control over.

Organic Waste

Organic waste refers to anything that is biodegrades in a relatively short period of time (usually within a year). This includes (but is not limited to),

food scraps
coffee grounds
animal bones
expired foods (without packaging)
soiled paper products (like pizza boxes)
paper products made from recycled materials (like paper egg cartons)
paper napkins
wax paper

Phew! That’s quite a long list of items that you probably throw away on a regular basis, but they shouldn’t go into your landfill waste.


Because even though all of these products should biodegrade, that process requires heat, moisture, and air to properly decompose. Landfills are full of plastics that prevent these materials from breathing and therefore, properly biodegrading. Instead, they rot and produce methane gas. Methane gas is highly flammable in concentrated doses, and is a simple asphyxiant (meaning it disrupts the levels of oxygen in the air).

Since it’’s a “simple asphyxiant,” methane can displace available oxygen. There are no workplace limits for methane allowed in the air. No standards exist for the amount of methane allowed in the air of homes. The limiting factor is the amount of oxygen available. The minimum oxygen content in the home or workplace should be 18%.

Source from HERE where you can read more about methane gas if you are a nerd.

A lot of products advertise being “biodegradable” which is not the same as “compostable.” Compostable items will literally rot away in a short period of time (usually less than one year), where as biodegradable products can include plastics. Everything is technically biodegradable according to labeling laws–even if we have yet to see those products biodegrade and it probably takes hundreds of years for them to do so.

Some trendy cities are starting compost pickup services with your trash service (convenient). Other cities have compost drop sites available for you to bring in your waste yourself (a little less convenient). Other cities have farmers markets or gardening centers with a compost drop service. And other places have nothing and you have to get creative.

A backyard compost is very easy to make and low maintenance if you are lucky enough to have a yard. Apartment dwellers that like to compost might invest in a fancy compost machine like this one.

Contrary to popular belief, a compost should not smell bad. My trash area became much less fowl when I separated the wet waste from the dry waste. The smells largely come from the rotting waste that is not able to breathe properly through all the plastic. Smells can also develop if the compost becomes too acidic. If you have an indoor compost machine, adding a bit of baking soda and sawdust solves the problem. If you have an outdoor compost, try to incorporate more straw or shredded cardboard into your compost. For more information on the proper Carbon to Nitrogen ratios for successful composting, check out this page.

For now, we bring our compost to a drop site once a week. It’s annoying, and I’m hoping that my area will continue expanding the compost pickup service locations, but I make my situation work. I know finding compost services is difficult in some places. Example? My hometown is pretty behind the curve and has no city compost service options that I have been able to locate.

Since compostable materials and plastics make up most people’s landfill waste, reducing and properly disposing of them significantly reduces your trash output.

For more information on how to start your own backyard compost, check out THIS link.

That being said, remember that this isn’t about being perfect. This is about being aware of your choices. If you can’t compost, even something as little as using a refillable water bottle or bringing your own grocery bags when you go shopping makes a big difference. 

Zero Waste

Pardon that unintended hiatus. Long story short: I started school and dung hit the fan. Since I want to keep this space free of stress and deadlines, I chose to just step back when I needed to prioritize other things.

So, in the name of making a grand entrance, I’m making an announcement:

I got rid of my garbage can.

No, I’m not just being a disgusting hoarder that wants to snuggle with rotting banana peels (ewww…).

It all started sometime around September of 2015 when I saw this video on YouTube of Bea Johnson speaking at a Google conference. I admit, sometimes I watch YouTube to pass the time while my one year old watches a movie that I can’t bear to watch for the billionth time. Anyway, this video started auto playing after I watched something else because Google likes to show off how well he knows you, and this crazy woman got on stage with a jar and announced that that was all the trash her family had produced in the last year.

2014-11-24 14.38.32
Image of one family’s yearly waste, credit to Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home.

I confess, I only continued watching this video because I didn’t believe her. I continued watching to prove her wrong. I wanted to find the garbage she wasn’t admitting to tossing.

My arrogant self was put in my place. That jar really did represent whatever her family couldn’t reuse, donate, compost, or recycle. Instead of sending those items to a landfill, she uses it as a stellar opener for her inspirational “green living” speeches.

Bea has a five step system for eliminating the need to send items to a landfill:

  1. Refuse the items you don’t need
  2. Reduce the items you do need
  3. Reuse whatever you can
  4. Recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse
  5. Rot (or compost) the rest

I admit, her home feels rather cold to me (even with my new found preference for minimalist design). That being said, the lifestyle still interested me.

I had actually heard of Bea Johnson prior to watching this video through a natural and minimalist blogger named Dawn over at Minimalist Beauty. She talked about wanting to switch her lifestyle to a zero waste one because it disturbed her that even though most of us are aware that plastic takes forever to biodegrade (thus far, it still hasn’t), we continue to toss our trash “away” every day.

But “away” doesn’t mean these things disappear. They have to go somewhere.

That “somewhere” continues to grow and overflow until it contaminates the homes and health of the people living nearby, as well as collecting in oceans where it becomes a garbage mass the size of Texas called garbage island.

This idea disturbed me, but I didn’t think there was a lot I could do about it. After all, everyone throws stuff away. What I add or reduce can’t make much of a difference. However, I decided the only person that I can control is me. And if I manage to fill a garbage bag daily or even once a week, reducing that is quite a lot of trash that isn’t being added to overflowing landfills.

Why do I care about landfills and reducing my impact?

I haven’t talked about my faith much here, but I feel that this situation is an appropriate opportunity.

I believe that God made this earth for us to enjoy, and even though I know that the pre written finale indicates that this world will no longer be here, I also know that human beings were given one job in Eden: to take care of His creation. 

Landfills that damage other people’s homes and living conditions as well as eco systems and aquatic life is most definitely not taking care of something that I was told directly to care for.

What I imagine God doing when gesturing to all the crap we do that ruins the earth:


Basically, I started this because I couldn’t justify it, and I started to feel guilty every time I tossed things in the trash, especially things that don’t need to be there (like compost) or things that are stupid to begin with (single use plastic).

I’ll be making a sequel post about how this experience has been for us, as well as how much waste I have produced since starting. I will also discuss how you can make this work in your home (even if you aren’t a hippy and don’t live near fancy eco friendly grocery stores).