Skincare is an intimate encounter with our skins. Everybody needs a different approach depending on skin type, lifestyle, habits, diets. We want to celebrate this diversity: in this post, each of Choiceful writers shares their skincare routine. The story of how we got into natural skincare, our foci while buying, everything is different. We hope our stories will help you find your way towards natural beauty.
Dora: the conscious buyer
A few years ago I started reducing my plastic waste at home. The kitchen was the first place to become plastic-free. My bathroom followed but it seemed much more difficult than the kitchen. While I was able to say goodbye to plastic-packed meat and switched to do groceries at the greengrocer and bulk shops, I realized that beauty products are packed in multiple layers of packaging most of the time.
Take a lipstick. It comes in a plastic or metal tube with a lid on it. But that metal tube sits in a cardboard box covered in plastic. Too many layers of packaging, in my opinion.
After years of searching and testing a few products, I settled with a few that I use regularly. Before going zero waste, I used toners, foundation, powders, bronzers, night and day creams and much more! My skin always had something going on and I never felt good without a bit of makeup. After downsizing I realised that I only need a few products and I do not even need them every day.
Since I have very oily skin, I have to wash my face every morning and evening. A regular face wash has a high PH value which does not take off any extra oils from my face. Therefore I use a soap bar that has a very low PH value.
The soap that works best for me is the Herbal soap from Werfzeep. This soap contains fennel, rosemary, thyme, lavender, basil, carrot seed, sage and spearmint oils. These ingredients calm my skin, reduces redness and gives an even look and feel.
I apply the soap with cold water on my face with my hands or with a linen sponge from Dille en Kamille. Afterwards, I gently dry my skin with a towel without rubbing it too much.
After washing my face I use a facial oil from Botanics. I just recently started using this 100% organic product but I am already satisfied with it. A few drops from this facial oil, directly on my skin, makes my skin more flexible and gives an even look and feel. It dries quickly and my makeup can be applied immediately. You can order it here for The Netherlands.
In the winter my skin needs extra nourishing. Therefore I use the Dream Cream from Lush in combination with the Botanics facial oil. This combination works best for my dry and oily skin in the winter months.
Next to that, I use the dream cream on my whole body as well. I apply it on my arms, shoulders, back, legs and feet as well. Essential oils, such as eucalyptus, lavender or tea tree, can be added to the creme for extra nourishment.
Lush products are vegan and never tested on animals. The company does use palm oil in its products – I acknowledge this, however, the cream I use does not contain palm oil according to Lush. Next to that, the plastic packaging can be reused for storage or plants but it can also be brought back to the shop for recycling in exchange for free face masks.
For ‘naked’ products by Lush, which are package-free, you can bring your container or another packaging to avoid unnecessary paper packaging.
Whenever my skin needs some extra care I use a Jade roller. The Jade roller improves circulation of the skin and gives the skin elasticity, even colour, it reduces redness, relieves tension and fine lines from the face. The roller can be cooled in a fridge for a refreshing treat – it is great on hot summer days or after a sunburn.
After washing my face, I put the facial oil and creams and massage them in with the Jade roller. It feels like a mini facial treatment, it is very relaxing and calms my skin.
The Jade roller that I use is made with Xiuyan Jade which is known as Wagou Jade from Liaoning Province in China. Remember to always look at the material, because in some cases the roller is sold as a Jade roller when in fact it is made of synthetic materials to mimic the look and effects.
After using the roller I wash and dry it before putting it back in its linen bag.
Next to the Jade roller, an Aloe vera plant is also a great option to relax the skin, reduce redness and give flexibility to the skin. Aloe vera has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. It is also perfect for sunburn or little cuts and scars on the skin. Follow our tutorial about how to care for and use Aloe vera plant on your skin.
Meow meow tweet is a vegan brand that sells natural skin care products. My personal favourite is their Vegan lip balm with sweet orange tangerine. This lip balm is vegan, contains no palm oil, and has a compostable paper packaging around it. The best combination if you ask me! It can be applied on the lips but also on the cheeks and elbows for extra nourishing.
Kjaer Weis is a Danish company by Kirsten Kjaer Weis. Weis grew up on a farm surrounded by natural materials. When she was introduced to cosmetics and modelling she could never find the right products for her skin. Therefore she started her own company that offers high-quality cosmetics made from natural materials. The company does not use palm oil in any of their products.
However, they do use mica.
The cosmetics are not only natural but also refillable. Their makeup comes in a stainless steel container that can be refilled after the product is finished. All their products come in recyclable and compostable paper packaging as well.
I use the mascara and lipstick that are both refillable and come in paper packaging. They last long and I think I will stick with this brand for a long time. On their Youtube channel, Kirsten gives you tips and tricks about how to best apply makeup and other skincare routines. Buy or order via Kjaer Weis or Skins Cosmetics.
Dr Hauschka is a German organic cosmetics brand that offers a huge variety of products. I use the Eye & Brow palette as an eyeshadow or eyebrow filler. The products last a very long time and are easily removed from the skin. However, the company does not offer recycling options nor are their products zero waste or refillable. Therefore I am switching to Kjaer Weis after I have used up all the products.
Zuza: the travelling alchemist
Dry and sensitive skin is not the perfect companion to my frequent travels. The most important part of my skincare routine is oiling and moisturizing. I am also addicted to nice smells.
My starting point for a transition to natural skincare was oodles and pinches, an online retailer offering a variety of zero waste and natural products for bathrooms and kitchens. I spent hours browsing through products I did not even know existed.
But that was some time ago. When I was preparing to write about my skincare routine, I realized there are not many brands that I am using. My adventure with clean cosmetics started from learning which ingredients to avoid. Since then, I check every product’s label before I buy it and most of the times I end up leaving without purchasing.
The safest way to get the lotions I want is to make them myself, which I have a lot of fun with. The extra benefit of making my cosmetics is my ability to use up any container I have left. It proves complicated, however, to sustain my inner alchemist while travelling. While on the road, I try to use raw products, such as shea butter, coconut oil or olive oil, to nourish my skin.
I only use soaps and shampoos in bars. Apart from the advantage of being plastic-free, more natural and more cost-efficient than liquid products, bars are super compact and therefore perfect for travelling. I packed a tiny metal box with pieces of body soap, face soap, and shampoo, for three months of backpacking and it was perfectly enough.
I started using Aleppo soap recently and I am really enjoying it. It is a mix of olive oil, laurel oil, and lye – nothing else. The traditional formula does not disrupt the skin’s balance. I mostly use it for my body. Now that I have been on the road for a long while and I do not have access to my favourite products, I also experiment with the Aleppo soap for my face and hair. It does wonders to my curls but I still need to test its long-term effects.
DIY body lotion
I tested hundreds of body lotions in my dry lifetime, some of them supermarket-bought, some hypoallergenic and expensive. None works as well as the one I make myself from a recipe by Wellness Mama. I was shocked to find out how easy it is to make: all I had to do is melt all the ingredients and add my favourite essential oil (or oils) for the scent. It works every time and the result is deeply nourishing (plus, it makes an original gift!).
DIY lip balm
I must admit: I got very excited after my body lotion turned out to be a success. I decided to play an alchemist a little more. A lip balm, made again from a recipe by Wellness Mama, is a top hit. Three tablespoons of ingredients make a solid portion that will last for a long time.
The face cream is my guilt in the quest for natural, zero-waste products. I tried not using anything, hoping for my skin to regulate itself but it only dried out. I also experimented with making my face cream out of rose water and coconut oil but it failed. I then surrendered to a hydrating cream from Clarins that contains shea butter, coconut water and fig. I have not yet found a natural product that could replace it.
I, like Dora, love using aloe vera for soothing the skin. I usually buy a big leaf, hollow it and put it in face masks, body lotions, or apply directly on irritated skin. While travelling, though, it is hard to find leaves and I have no space to store the remaining parts. I bought Aloe Vera gel from De Tuinen with the full awareness that it is not an ideal product (it contains alcohol, for example). Yet it still gives the comforting cold to my sunburnt skin and my tired-from-walking feet.
I love treating my body with aromatherapy. I use essential oils in my DIY cosmetics, for example, I mix them with my lotion. I also put them directly on my skin, just a few drops on my wrists, behind my ears and in my hair. I use lavender for sleep, eucalyptus and a pine tree for a cold, and others, scent depending on the mood, as perfume or in my hair. Essential oils are admittedly not the cheapest but they last forever.
I am still, after more than a year of switching to natural cosmetics, finishing up the stock of make-up products I collected over the years. They work well on my skin but their manufacturing brands are involved in all the social and environmental evil that I stand against. I feel too bad about throwing them away, though, plus I rarely use make-up, so they will still last a long while. I take the make-up off with either coconut or argan oil on a cotton remover pad.
Liz: the body listener
My skin care routine is super simple and quick. I am lucky to have a quite easy, or let us say predictable, skin. Officially you would label it as the “normal skin type”. What I mean by predictable, though, is that if I treat my body and my mind well from the inside, my skin will be nice and even. Whereas I used chemical stuff to treat pimples or any form of blemished skin in my early 20ies, I have learned to understand and appreciate them as signs for either a certain hormonal phase or (more often) my body’s cry for healthier food, less stress or more self-love. Some say that the skin can be seen as “the mirror of the soul” and that is very much true for me. So, if you want to know how I am doing, take a look at my skin! Knowing that, I rather focus on going within to find the trigger or the source, rather than investing my energy in curing the symptom.
Even if I try to use as little products for my skin as possible, I certainly use a couple of daily basics to clean and moisturize my skin. I, for example, take a (real) quick shower every day whereas I only clean my body with (ice cold) water. No shower gel, no soap or whatever, just water. It wakes me up, improves my immune system and keeps my skin tight (which gets a bit more important over 30!). Using water only also keeps the natural balance of the skin as well as its self-sustaining properties. On weekends, when I have more time I also use self-made coffee scrub to lift away dead skin and further improve blood circulation. We will share the recipe on the coffee scrub soon.
I am super boring with experimenting with new face or body moisturizers. I found two brands that work for me a long time ago and I still stick to them: Dr Hauschka (Revitalizing day cream for my face) and Weleda (seabuckthorn care cream for my body). Whereas I am still convinced about the ingredients and how well they work for me, I am certainly not happy about the packaging. So, I am trying to use as little as possible at the moment, but also consider following Dora in trying out Kjaer Weis instead. However, specifically, the thought of changing the day cream poses as big of a challenge for me, basically as much as it was to change my trusted hairdresser. So, deep inside, I still hope that Dr Hauschka and Weleda will soon offer re-fill or at least significantly more sustainable packaging options.
The only make-up I use every single day is mascara. Unfortunately, I have not found a sustainable one yet that makes me equally happy as the one I am using at the moment (#notsharingthebrandtooevil). So, I would be over-the-top thankful if someone shared their hot sustainable mascara secret with me!
On special occasions or just days, I want to feel glamorous, I additionally wear lipstick. I cannot share any brands with you since I have never bought a lipstick myself in my life. How? I still use the old one’s that my mom does not wear anymore, and there are many! Maybe it reminds me of the times as a kid when I watched my mother putting on red lipstick from the bathroom doorstep. I remember how beautiful I always found her and how I always wanted to also become “a real lady” when I was older. Using her leftover lipsticks is therefore not only one of the most sustainable options there are, but also feels like receiving a part of her glamour and beauty.
To remove my make-up I have been using just plain, organic coconut oil in combination with a simple washcloth. It is super simple and really works well for me. However, I have become more curious about making my own. I found an interesting recipe that uses a mix of olive oil, water and witch hazel. I will be happy to share more on that after I have tried it out!