There's a saying I go by when it comes to skin care: If you wouldn't eat it, I wouldn't put it on my skin. This is especially true of the face, which tends to be more delicate than other parts of the epidermis.
While I'm pretty sure I wouldn't eat the false eyelashes I wore on Halloween, or the glue I used to keep them in place, on most days I go au natural.
It's not just about looking beautiful, mind you--It's about allowing my skin to breathe.
We've all heard by now that our skin is the largest organ in our bodies, and that it's an important avenue of detoxification. If you scour it and clog it up with a bunch of chemical crap, it's not only going to show externally, but all that stuff will literally be absorbed into your body through your pores.
I don't want to sensationalize, but it's pretty basic: Your pores are just like your lungs. They breathe in, and they breathe out.
Nourish from the inside out
Let's get something else straight. You can use all the natural scrubs, cleansers and masks you like, but it won't be not enough to keep your skin in good shape if something's gone haywire on the inside. Read: poor diet, hormones and stress. The last two are the hardest to manage, but crucial. What on Earth can you do to balance your hormones? Change your diet and manage your stress.
It's true, some people are genetically pre-disposed to amazing skin. They smoke and drink, eat Cheetos and look like models. Don't worry, eventually the damage they are doing on the inside will catch up on the outside. They're dealing with those toxins in different areas of the body, and they probably aren't eliminating them efficiently. Who cares about them.
Others seem pre-disposed to horrible skin. I won't get into every skin condition and what causes it in this post, but the point is that most skin problems indicate an internal imbalance. One of the best things you can do for your entire body, including your skin, is a periodic full-body cleanse. I'm not talking about the Master Cleanse, which starves your body and causes ulcers, but something that nourishes while giving your body's systems a break and allowing them to heal themselves. Look for more in-depth posts on this later.
While your first order of business should be feeding yourself on the inside, there are still some fun ways to feed your skin from the outside in.
One of my favorites is this spirulina mask. I'd never really seen or heard of anyone doing this before I tried it, but the principle is the same as with any mask. Most of the nutrients that our bodies receive by eating food can also absorbed externally by the skin, in a more direct and localized manner.
What's so great about spirulina?
I'm a fan of spirulina for the spectrum and sheer concentration of vitamins and minerals that it provides. One teaspoon of Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica (pictured below) contains 230% the daily recommended value of vitamin A, 94% the DRV of vitamin K, and 150% the DRV of vitamin B12. It's also the richest source of chlorophyll on Earth. In fact, sea plants in general are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.
Vitamin A and K, and the B vitamins are all important to skin health. But the real show-stopper here is chlorophyll, nature's very own purification device. When ingested, it pulls heavy metals and toxins from the body and disposes of them as waste. (Remember how plants are cool because they clean the air and produce oxygen that we breathe? All thanks to chlorophyll--Just imagine what it does for your skin.)
Avocado is a great carrier for the spirulina in this case (I tried applying it with water originally, but it was just too messy.) It contains a ton of vitamin E and monounsaturated fats which moisturize the skin and leave it feeling hydrated and supple.
Spirulina and Avocado Mask
The recipe is simple: three tablespoons of mashed avocado and one teaspoon of spirulina. Wash and exfoliate your face before applying the mixture to damp skin. Let it dry and leave it on for as long as you like, then rinse it off with warm water.
My skin feels purified and refreshed after doing this treatment--It's softer, smoother, stronger, and I swear my pores even appear smaller.
If you have leftovers, add some sea salt, nutritional yeast, and a squeeze of lime, and you'll have yourself a turbo-powered guacamole. Popeye-approved.