It definitely helps to eat a diet rich in whole fruits and vegetables so that we get all of those antioxidants to support our detoxification systems and those channels of elimination. There are many herbs that help this process too - we call them Alteratives - and they include things like Artichokes, Dandelion leaves, Milk Thistle, Burdock and Sassafras among many foods like onions, carrots and apples. This approach is best tailored for the individual by a Naturopathic Physician or Registered Herbalist so that any weak areas of metabolism are not stressed in the process.
For now, I'll focus on skin care from the outside. I generally use a 3-step process to skin care and prefer to keep it as simple and sustainable as possible.
Some kind of exfoliation helps to clear away dead skin cells as well as the dirt, grime, makeup, etc. that we accumulate each day. This is best done once a day. The key here is not to over do it. This is particularly helpful if you have oily skin but those with dry skin can benefit as well. It is all in what you use. I like to use Oatmeal, Lavender flowers and Rose petals (you can grind them in a clean coffee grinder) and mix them with a little green clay. The Oatmeal and flowers serve as the exfoliants and the clay helps in making a paste as well as soaks up extra oils and dirt from the skin. The Oatmeal is soothing for any skin, the Rose petals are mildly astringent and anti-inflammatory, the Lavender flowers are antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. For dry skin, a teaspoon of honey can be added at the time of use. You can also turn it into a mask and add avocado for extra moisturizing or extra clay for oily skin.
Dr. Sheila's Face Scrub:
1/4 cup of Oatmeal (not instant, just rolled)
1/4 cup of Lavender flowers
1/4 cup of Rose petals
1/4 cup of green clay or China clay
Grind Oatmeal and flowers into a fine power and mix in the clay and store in a glass jar with a tight lid.
For use: Put a tablespoon of mixture into the palm of your hand and add just enough water (any honey if desired) to make a paste and rub onto your face for about a minute. Rinse off and follow with a conditioning treatment.
After exfoliation you need to replenish your skin with a moisturizer or conditioner to protect it and nourish it. I find that I have much healthier skin and less breakouts if I also add in some essential oils that are antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. I use oils like Apricot oil (thin and light), Sunflower or Sesame oil (also light and soaks in well), Argan, Borage or Pumpkin seed oil (nourishing), Olive oil (thicker and more protective for dry skin). I add essential oils like Lavender, Orange, Rosemary or Mint to this for the enjoyable scent as well as the benefits of keeping the skin from breaking out.
Basic Skin Oil recipe:
2 tsp each of Sunflower oil, Apricot oil, Argan oil
5 drops each of Lavender, Rosemary and Orange essential oils
Use: Apply about a 1/4 tsp of oil, massage into palms and rub over face, lightly covering the face and neck.
Note: a variety of oils can be used and have different effects on different skin types. An Ayurvedic skin care therapist could be really helpful in designing a personalized version of this. I also like the Ajara Ayurvedic skin care line available on line, and Acure facial oils available at most natural food stores.
3. Mild cleansing
For me I prefer to do my exfoliation and conditioning in the morning but you can switch these steps around if you prefer. I like to just do a mild cleansing at the end of the day to get rid of the days oils and makeup. Any mild natural soap will do. The key is just to not completely strip your face of its natural oils but to just get rid of the surface build up. Some of the natural blemish control soaps work nicely (like the Lather Blemish Control Cleansing gel available online) or a natural olive oil based bar soap. A mild natural face soap is easy to find at most natural food stores. If you have dry skin it might be helpful to apply a conditioning oil again or a night time face cream like Galen's Way Riot of Roses cream or Herbal Revolution's Luscious Body Butter creams.
Here's to creating happy, healthy skin, inside and out!