Are You a Skincare-Messie?

I admit, I was! I was addicted to skincare! I put a lot of effort into my morning and my night routine. I felt my skin would fall off if I didn’t. So I was using a day cream, a night cream, another special product for my eyes, sunscreen, cleansing lotions, facial scrubs and masks: I needed to know what these things felt and smelled like, and whether they would make any difference. Then I had a severe breakout and developed eczema. Those products effectively made a difference!

Why? I was caring for my skin with so much love! I tried EVERYTHING, tried to change routine, products, but still NOTHING changed. Instead my skin was getting worse and worse and – above all – hyper-sensitive. Then I went on holiday and I simply couldn’t be bothered to keep up my routine. One morning while brushing my teeth, it struck me that after three weeks of this benign neglect, my skin looked simply awesome!

That‘s how I made friends with the opposite concept – “less is more“!

I‘m no doctor or expert, but I gathered a lot of information about skincare over the last few years. I had to! After breaking out, I consulted the internet, books, made my own experiences. I had to learn most of those things the hard way. I was always on the run, searching for something better. But did you know that you might be doing more harm then good by exposing your skin to an overabundant amount of unnecessary toxins? Let me share my “knowledge“ with you!

1) Never Irritate Your Skin!

Rough peelings, hot water, ultra-harsh surfactants, daily extra-treatments, face masks, squeezing and picking – even the robustest skin type won‘t tolerate that for ever!

In my opinion, especially mechanical and chemical exfoliators can be pretty dangerous. The abrasive particles transport bacteria all over your skin, while acids burn and irritate it. If you exfoliate your face more often than once a week, you might aggravate your skin condition instead of improving it! As a reaction, your skin will increase cell production and become even thicker and flakier on the long run. Your skin simply tries to protect itself!

In addition, NEVER buy a product claiming itself to be “stimulating”, “activating”, “revitalizing” or to enhance “blood circulation”. These products often contain ingredients and chemicals that effectively DO stimulate your skin, which means: overproduction of sebum and skin cells! You want to avoid that!

As far as most anti-aging creams are concerned, the melodious advertising promise is the only thing that really “works”. On the contrary, certain ingredients in those moisturizers can even damage your skin! Anti-aging creams often contain substances that cause a slight inflammation. Your skin will just swell up a little bit so that your skin looks tighter for some hour. But don‘t forget: it is essentially your individual genetical disposition which determines how many wrinkles you will get as you get older. EVERYONE is getting older! You simply cannot outsmart your genes – but you can improve your look a lot by leading a healthy lifestyle!

That‘s why – instead of starting from the age of 13 to slather irritating anti-acne, anti-aging or anti-whatever products onto your face – I personally think it’s a much cleverer idea to address the problem holistically: try to exercise on a regular basis, eat a nutrient-dense whole foods diet including lots of omega 3 fatty acids, eat only few carbohydrates and get enough sleep! Did I sound like your mum? Give it a try!

2) More is Less

I think we all agree that beautiful skin is a radiant, velvety glowing and clear skin. Nonetheless, many people – like me a few years ago – do not follow a skincare regimen that is in a real balance with their individual skin type. Like me, they are fighting the problem they have with all possible weapons. Instead of strengthening their fragile skin, they dry it out or overload it. The result: pimples, hypersensitivity, general congestion, blisters or flaky skin. As a response, more and more topicals are applied, in the hope to find the one that will soothe away all redness and itchiness and combat spots or wrinkles for ever. But there isn‘t. So the eternal search goes on an on, while the skin gets worse and worse.

Many skin problems come from too much care instead of neglecting it. So-called film building agents create a pleasant layer on your skin and make it feel soft and supple – at first. But on the long run your skin will slow down its own production of moisture and sebum due to the constant external supply. After a while, your skin will start to look brittle and stressed, as long as it doesn‘t get some extra attention. In this case, the only remedy is a radical withdrawal of external skin care – at least for a while.

A few years ago I was pretty good at aggravating my own skin condition! I was treating my face just like my stomach at my own birthday party. Many of us are spreading layer after layer of toners, gels, serums, fluids, cremes and oils all over our faces and wonder why two hours after our morning cleansing routine our skin already looks that greasy! Or why our complexion seems to have forgotten how to glow on its own.

Just keep in mind that everything we put on our faces should sink in easily and give our skin exactly what it needs. Not more, not less. Our skin does not need 125 different oils and 598 different anti-aging ingredients, nor witchcraft or wizardry. It does not need any perfumes, preservatives, emulsifiers or thick layers of mineral oil. It will most probably only get an addicted cream-junkie!

A simple vegetable oil in a good quality, an all-purpose cream, a lotion or a balm (according to your taste) should be more than enough. Some of you won’t even need any external care at all. Keep it as simple as you can! We don‘t have to moisturize twice a day, once a day should be sufficient. And in late summer we don‘t have to prepare ourselves for a cold front that will presumably be approaching from the Northwest in February!

3) Observe Your Skin CAREFULLY

I think many people still get pimples, just because they are fighting too hard “against” their pimples instead of caring “for” their individual skin type. Observe carefully whether fruit acids, lots of alcohol or other “stimulating” agents are really THAT good for your skin!

Apart from that, you can‘t care less, whether those silly rabbit-ear-test-lists (I‘m speaking about ZeroZits and similar lists) blame natural fats and oils to be comedogenic or not. Try it out yourself! In these lists coconut oil is simply coconut oil. There is no difference between “cold pressed” and “virgin”, “refined” and “hydrogenated” or “organic” and “conventional” farming. So how can you know for sure that it will make you break out?

And: if you suspect that your skin gets worse because it‘s simply overloaded – leave it in peace for at least two days or avoid to moisturize in the evenings! You might experience a huge difference in your skin‘s texture and appearance! Believe me!

Gain your own perspective and make your own judgments! Always.

4) Know What‘s in Your Skincare Products

Above all, don‘t believe in every swirling advertising slogan! Learn to research ingredients actively (make friends with Google!) and investigate if they could be good for your skin, simply useless, or even toxic.

Many anti-aging ingredients (vitamin C or Q10, for example) are almost completely ineffective! These ingredients oxidize as soon as they come into contact with air. That‘s why you won‘t want to buy a vitamin-C- or Q10-moisturizer in a pot for instance! Apart from that, your body itself produces plenty of coenzyme Q10.

Another popular ingredient is collagen. Collagen molecules are simply too large to be able to sink into the deeper layers of your skin. Like almost every other cosmetic ingredient. Thankfully. In the end, you‘ll never know if these substances would do more harm than good!

On the other hand, lactic acid and urea might be quite useful, especially if you have a generally congested skin. Lactic acid and urea allow a free flow of sebum – but only if your moisturizer does not contain too many film building agents! Glycerin, silicone, mineral oil and so on can block your pores instead. So – if you are struggling with blackheads, try a lightweight face lotion containing lactic acid (but no paraffin, glycerin or silicone). As an alternative, look out for a high quality organic and cold pressed oil that is rich in linoleic acid (hemp oil, grape seed oil, rosehip oil, evening primrose oil, borage seed oil, …). There are a few studies that confirm that linoleic acid is an effective anti-comedogenic agent.

If you have blemished skin, try to find out if it‘s really hormonal acne or if your skin is simply overloaded and irritated. Treating it gently and with anti-inflammatory ingredients (calendula or licorice extract, zinc oxide, vitamin e, allantoin or panthenol) is generally a good idea.

You see, anyone who learned to read INCI-(ingredients)-lists and made friends with Google can choose skincare products in a much more intelligent way! And anyone who wants to buy a lightweight moisturizer, can calculate how much of those wonderful, precious anti-aging oils are still in it, seen that it contains almost only water!

5) NO Aggressive, Frequent Cleansing

Don‘t maltreat your skin! A harsh and too frequent cleansing routine will ruin your natural acid mantle and will destroy your skin‘s natural defense against an unhealthy overgrowth of bacteria and yeast.

If your face feels tight and needs further moisturizing after cleansing, change your cleansing routine! An optimal cleansing method should always be that mild that you don‘t have to use any kind of serum or cream afterwards. Try out natural cleansing alternatives: an organic (or handmade) cleansing milk, clay or honey. The aim should always be “clean, but fluffy.”

Leave all commercial products praising themselves to be “deep cleansing” on the shelf! – “Normal” cleansing is just enough to get dirt and makeup off your face. Be careful with microfiber towels, the-oil-cleansing-method, soap or facial oil massages. Try these routines only very, very carefully, with a cautious eye on how your skin reacts to them.

6) Emulsifiers?

Last but not least, you have to understand what the term “cream” really means: a cream is a stabilized mixture of water and oil (which are normally immiscible). It‘s possible to do it in a mechanical way: Put water and oil in a bottle and shake it! This way, you‘ll only be able to create a short-term emulsion. In some modern moisturizers liposomes do a similar trick. Other products contain “natural” (lecithin) or synthetical emulsifiers (i.e. PEG-esters or anything labelled “ethyl-”, “ceteareth-”, “cethyl-”, “stearyl-”).

Synthetical emulsifiers can worsen acne, eczema or other skin problems by causing some kind of a disruption to the skin’s barrier by emulsifying sebum and intercellular lipids. As a result the skin gets dryer and dryer, whereas its natural acid mantle will be destroyed more and more. Bacteria can penetrate easily and irritate your skin.

If your skin often feels sweaty and greasy and you find that your moisturizer just “lies” on top of your face – check if it contains cetyl- or cetearyl alcohol or other synthetic emulsifiers (learn to read INCI-lists!). Test a cream, serum or fluid containing only lecithin instead. Lecithin is naturally occurring in egg yolks. There are also a few plant oils, which are naturally rich in lecithin such as avocado, grape seed or wheat germ oil. Even sensitive skin should get along with it!

Unexpected skin barrier influence from nonionic emulsifiers. International Journal of Pharmaceutics

A short summary:

– Always keep your fingers away from your face!
– Moisturizing once or twice a day is more than enough!
– There are no overnight miracles!
– Switching routines and topicals too often will probably make your skin freak out even more!
– Smoking aggravates your skin no matter which incredible moisturizer you are using!
– We all are aging in any case, and there is NO miracle anti-aging cure!
– After a few hours photoshop every one of us is ready to be printed on top of a glossy magazine!
– Avoiding sugar is key!
– Reduce the consumption of non-fermented and pasteurized dairy products.
– Meatless or not, try to avoid to eat hormonal meat.
– Eat plenty of omega-3 fatty acids.
– And: Vegetables are always an optimum choice!
– Get enough sleep!
– Go and play outside! Every day! Fresh air is good for you!

And these are my own favorites:

– Use a surfactant-free cleanser (I like clay+yoghurt or honey)!
– Try to moisturize without emulsifiers. I‘m using natural oils including rosehip and coconut oil.
– The only emulsifier I found to be acceptable is lecithin.
– No mineral oil, no silicones, no glycerin, no cetyl- (or ceteraryl-) alcohol!
– No fruit acids, no scrubs!

There are more important things than a pimple on your cheek or wrinkles around your eyes.
Honestly!

So are you a skincare-messie? Or have you ever been? What is your skincare experience?

© images by Svea

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34 comments
  1. Lizzie said:

    awesome post! i’m loving your blog, svea. I’m a huge fan of the love vitamin so I know I’ll be a huge fan of you too!!
    My skin is slowly clearing up but one thing I’m having troubles with is zits along my hairline and zits on the left side of my face where my hair hits it. Annoying! I can’t always clip my hair back. But the ones along my hairline puzzle me the most. Any suggestions?

    • Svea said:

      Thanks a lot for your flowers, Lizzie!

      It sounds to me like you might have a shampoo problem! Try to check if your shampoo or your hair styling product contains one of the following ingredients: sodium laureth or sodium lauryl sulfate, natrium lauryl or natrium laureth sulfate, phenoxyethanol, cocamide DEA, parabens, benzylalcolhol, cetearylalcohol (or other emulsifiers and surfactants), artificial fragrances, phthalates, propylene glycol, formaldehyde (including sodium hydroxymethylglycinate) or alcohol.

      It’s possible that one of these chemicals causes your breakouts. Unfortunately, even some “organic” skin care manufacturers make false “all-natural” claims, but still use a number of chemical irritants.

      You could try to use ghassoul instead to wash your hair. It’s a bit strange at first, but it works pretty well! At least my hair gets really shiny after a ghassoul mask! Mix with water to make a paste, apply and leave on for a few minutes (try NOT to massage it in!). Then rinse off.

      And yes, Tracy’s blog rocks! I love it too!

      • Lizzie said:

        So you don’t put it on your scalp or anything? Do you use the clay as your everyday shampoo? Thanks 🙂

        • Svea said:

          Just divide your hair a little bit and it will finish on your scalp too! Yes, it seems messy and complicated at first. But in the end, it isn‘t that bad at all! It just takes a little longer to apply. And it works! The best thing about ghassoul is that your hair won‘t become that oily anymore on the long run. I only have to use it once a week. When I was still using shampoos I had to wash my hair every other day!

          • Lizzie said:

            Okay, are rhassoul and ghassoul clay the same? And where might I buy it? Thanks

  2. Svea said:

    Yes, ‘rhassoul’, ‘ghassoul’ or ‘moroccan lava clay’ are exactly the same thing. You can buy it in some health food or ethnical food stores. In addition, you’ll find it in several online shops!

  3. Lizzie said:

    Thank svea! I’m totally trying this out.

  4. Melanie said:

    Hello, Svea! I’ve been following a GAPS, sugarless (no fruit, ect), dairy free, egg free, grain free diet for the past two months. As I’ve done so my skin seems to be either A) Detoxing, or B) Not liking the new diet regime. I eat mostly all cooked (to heal my gut). It’s breaking out quite a lot along my centre of my brows, along my mouth, and my chin. I’ve struggled with eczema for quite some time as well, but I think I’m dealing with more acne like symptoms. My skin care hasn’t changed much at all, so I know an internal balance needs restoration primarily. However, my skin has been appearing QUITE greasy this past month and I was hoping you could lend my your thoughts. Right now I cleanse with Ilike, (http://szepelet.com/productcategories/cleansersandcleansingconcentrates/12), spray with rose water, moisturize with 5 drops of jojoba, and at night use aloe vera gel. I was contemplating swithcing my cleanser to my manuka honey, and just applying rose water afterwards to seal in some moisture, and leave it at that. Do you think my cleanser could be aggravating my skin? Or that my jojoba oil is simply too much as we are coming into a new season? Maybe it’s just the diet change. Seeing how jojoba oil worked wonders for Fran and Tracy makes me want to use it, but it just feels so greasy! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Much love! XO.

  5. Svea said:

    Hi Melanie,

    have you ever tried to stop using topicals and to let your skin recover naturally? I’d suggest to try that for a few weeks and see if there is any improvement! Maybe your skin doesn’t need any extra moisturizing? If there is no improvement, you can still get back to your skincare routine. Try another oil, if you don’t like jojoba oil. We are all individuals. Maybe you would react better to different types of oil: http://www.thelovevitamin.com/3103/that-oil-is-ours-basic-skincare-with-oils/

    It’s also worth thinking about possible environmental triggers – is there anything you’re doing differently – apart from the diet change? Breakouts can occur after an emotional or physical shock to the body or can be triggered by stress. Maybe it’s simply your new diet your body cannot adapt to? Or it stresses you much more profoundly than you might think? Or is it something else? Try to analize your days. Write a diary. How did you feel? Why? What did you eat? What did your skin look like? It might help you to find out eventual environmental triggers.

    Meditation, yoga, autogenous training, general relaxation techniques and “mind work” can help a lot on the long term, but that’s hard work! Or is it emotional stress which causes your problem? Check out this free eBook: http://grossbart.com/. It can be extremely helpful, especially if you really WORK with it!

    Think of simple explanations! How is your tap water, for example? Is it limy or does it contain chlorine or fluoride? If so, try to use filtered water to wash your face – or mineral/distilled water, if it’s fluoridated. Yes, even flouride can cause acne-like outbreaks. Check this link: http://www.celluliteinvestigation.com/fluoride-acne.

    Well, you see, remote diagnostics is extremely difficult!
    Anyway, I hope this helps!
    XOX

  6. Melanie said:

    In the past I’ve used only honey and jojoba to wash my face, and it was wonderful! After a few months my skin became congested though. It wasn’t until I started using the Ilike products that my skin really recovered. Now, however, it doesn’t seem to be doing much at all. I thought jojoba oil was the lightest oil you could use on your face? I have some apricot kernal oil, and rosehip oil kicking around, are those less oily? I also make my own raw goat kefir, and have clays I could potentially use. When you say stop using topicals, do you mean anything at all? Have you also done the caveman?

    No matter what I eat I become splotchy and my acne is aggravated, I get new spots everyday. Of course this triggers serious stress, but my naturopath is encouraging me to press forward. Do you diet change a lot? Has incorporating certain things really helped out?

    Emotionally I know I’m very vulnerable. Looking in the mirror is awfully difficult sometimes. I feel as if I’m a stranger to my former self. Were you depressed for a period of time while you healed your acne? Once you began shifting your thoughts did you acne heal quickly?

    As for water, yes, there is fluoride and chlorine in it. I have a Santevia water system, but I don’t believe it removes the fluoride. I live at home and don’t drive so it isn’t easy to lug home a bit bottle of mineral water to drink and wash with. Especially in the shower, it would be difficult to avoid getting any on my face. I never had a problem with it before.

    So many questions I have! Jeesh, you ladies who run these wonderful blogs are truly amazing to give your time!

    XO.

  7. Svea said:

    Hi Melanie,

    remember, I’m no dermatologist! I’m simply going to try to answer your questions as good as I can:

    From the chemical point of view, jojoba oil isn’t an oil at all. It’s a wax. See Tracy’s post:
    http://www.thelovevitamin.com/3028/choose-good-jojoba-oil-acne/

    If you think it’s too oily:
    A – you are using to much of it – a few DROPS of it are more than enough!
    B – it’s poor quality
    C – your skin simply doesn’t like it

    Read my oils article! There ARE lighter “oils” than jojoba oil (the ones rich in linoleic acid – rosehip, for instance).
    http://www.thelovevitamin.com/3103/that-oil-is-ours-basic-skincare-with-oils/

    However, skincare is an EXTREMELY individual subject. The things that work for me, don’t necessarily have to work for you as well. It’s really tricky! And it’s almost impossible to give any external advice. Maybe a hint, but nothing more. Using no skincare at all for a while can make you understand, how your skin would be like naturally, without being influenced by cremes and potions.

    Yes, I did an almost caveman-like regimen for a few months (I still washed my face with water) and it helped me a lot to calm down my skin. And yes, acne did upset me a lot, when I had it! I found it helpful to concentrate on other activities and to spend time with my friends (they still like you, even if you have zits!). Guess what? As soon as I managed to forget about my skin for a while, my face began to look so much better! Cover your mirror or turn down the lights in your bathroom!

    And no, I’m not changing diets at all, but some time ago I passed on to eating mostly whole foods (including lots of greens and vegetables – antioxidants!). I avoid any processed crap, sugar and bad fats (I’m eating extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil or grass-fed butter, but NO trans fatty acids or Omega 6 fatty acids). I eat diary, but mainly products made from goats milk or raw milk products, and I also eat meat (organic or grass-fed, if possible). The only supplement I’m taking is fermented cod liver oil.

    And – please EXERCISE regularly! Personally, I found it was the most helpful thing I could ever do! Really! It helps SO much! It’s incredible!

    You say you are emotionally very vulnerable. You should definitely check out the eBook I mentioned. However, you have to sit down, dedicate some time to it and actually DO the things suggested. You’re doing it for your skin! It’s completely FREE and it is truely helpful!
    http://grossbart.com/
    Or check out what Tracy wrote about it on her blog:
    http://www.thelovevitamin.com/353/3-steps-to-emotional-healing/
    http://www.thelovevitamin.com/668/clearing-trapped-emotions-with-the-emotion-code/

  8. Melanie said:

    Hell, Svea!

    It’s an intimidating idea to not use anything at all on my skin. I stopped using the jojoba oil a few days ago, continued with my cleanser and followed up with some rosewater and a couple drops of rosehip oil. Today I stopped using the rosehip oil, and just used my cleanser and rosewater (my skin feels much too dry though). Tomorrow I plan on bidding farewell to my cleanser and simply using rosewater, and leftover tea to rinse my face. Do you think my skin will still find its natural balance this way? Nothing at all seems too drying, and how else will I keep out the dirt out of my pores, or wash off my dabs of coverup? Is the honey only method also effective? I found it too moisturizing the first time around.

    Just for curiousity, what made you begin a simple regime of yogurt, clay and rosehip after the water only method? Did you find you needed some kind of support to mantain healthy skin?

    Thank you for the links! “Skin Deep” seems like a truly liberating read! I’m loving it so far. I’m looking forward to your blog posts, so keep them coming!

    Finally, I have one last question, how long did it take personally to heal your skin? I often hear that in a matter of months people are able to clear up swiftly once they find the right tools.

    Much love!
    Melanie

  9. Svea said:

    Hi Melanie!

    Yes, I know! It seems sooooooo scary to ditch all topicals from one day to the other. If the idea stresses you more than you can bare, don’t do it! You want to avoid stress as much as you can! However, it’s always a good idea to keep your skincare routine as simple as possible. To use black or green tea to rinse your face is no bad idea at all! It can calm down your skin, since tea contains tannic acid. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can help to fortify your skin! It also has a cooling effect. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s worth a trial. Have you ever tried diluted apple cider vinegar as a cleanser and toner all in one? Mix one part apple cider vinegar with 8-10 parts (mineral) water and apply it on a cotton pad. Your rosewater could work fine as well (it’s also slightly acidic). Choose one method and stick with it for a while. Switching routines too often might make your skin freak out completely. But I think, you know that!

    As far as I am concerned: I have seborrheic eczema, a skin condition caused by an intolerance to a specific yeast on my skin that sometimes flares up and sometimes doesn’t show at all (depending on seasonal changes and so on). It cannot really be “healed”. Using no topicals at all for a while, helped me to get rid of my acne (apart from avoiding fluorides, getting enough sleep and regular exercise), but I find, that my minimal skincare regimen is beneficial for treating my eczema (as well as eating no sugar and stuff like that). At least it doesn‘t flare up at all as long as I follow this routine (honey, aloe vera mixed with pure msm powder and coconut oil also work well for me).

    However, I’m glad you enjoy reading “Skin Deep”! I’m sure it’ll help you too! Maybe you can also discuss it with your naturopath or someone else you feel is close to you and who can understand you. Acne is so difficult to cure, because it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack to find out the real reasons for your breakouts. I think, your problem is not so much skincare related, but it seems to be a combination of many different circumstances in your life. Food intolerances, stress, emotions, … You’ll have to start there.

    But keep your head up! You’ll get through it! I’m sure! Really!

    And: ask me whatever you want whenever you want!

    Lots of love,
    Svea

  10. Melanie said:

    When you wash your face with green clay, do you just apply it to dry skin? I’m used to puting on clay masks after cleansing but not as a cleanser itself. It’s only been a week and the “nothing” method has made me break out terribly and have awfully dry skin. However, it can get greasy in areas too.

    You really emphasized excercise, what sort of excercise, and how much would you recommend? My body is in a very unhealthy state, and underweight too, so I know I can’t handle a big workout, but something is surely good for me!

  11. Svea said:

    It’s okay to be impatient, but it may take a while (even up to two or three months) before you really notice your skin seeming healthier. The skin gets used to its environment and gets cozy. It doesn’t like change. Not at all. Yet, I believe that if you choose a simple routine that sounds right for you (or deciede to try the caveman regimen) and stick it out, your skin will find a balance and you will be much better off for it. If it doesn’t get better at all, even after 4-6 weeks, you can still try something else. However, I guess you’re putting way too much energy into thinking about external skincare. It’s really not that important. Believe me. But it’s surely lifting your stress levels, so that you’re breaking out even more! I’m almost sure that this is not the root of your problem. If you are getting acne, it is because of an internal imbalance. Plain and simple. If you find out what the internal imbalance consists in, you can treat it and your face will figure things out and regulate itself – no matter what your regimen looks like. I know that’s hard investigation work, but it’ll be worth it!

    Yes, I put the clay directly on my dry skin. I don’t consider it a mask. I leave it on for just a few minutes (maybe 2-5). It’s a cleanser actually, so you won’t have to precleanse.

    And when I’m writing about exercise, I’m not thinking of extreme exercise. However, keeping your body in motion, might adjust many things (even digestive problems). I like to do yoga. Yoga postures contract and expand muscles helping to remove blockages and alleviate lymph congestion (which may be another cause of acne!). Tai Chi and other Movement Practices from the East are another great choice. Jumping on a trampoline is fun and can stimulate your lymphatic flow as well (due to the force of gravity)! I like rebouncing! Or go dancing. Or swimming during the summer months (if possible in a lake / the sea to avoid chlorine water). Play volleyball, badminton, softball, …, just for the fun of it. Or simply go out for a walk every day, if you can. Get some fresh air. It’s good for you! Avoid elevators and take the stairs instead. You don’t have to do any cardio work! Choose something you really LIKE doing, if not, you probably won’t have the discipline to keep up with it. Enjoy it! Enjoy your life!

  12. Yuriy said:

    This is an incredible post! I would really love to know what you think about cod liver oil… I did some research and a lot of people swear that it changed their skin…. and you could tell it did, but the side effects freaked the crap out of me. It involved blood pressure, inside bleeding and your brain…. that’s scary enough and I do not wish to go further.

    The benefits seem amazing as well but if I do decide to take it, it will be in much lower doses to make sure I do not develop any side effects in the future. Instead of taking it as a daily supplement morning and evening like most people do, I do want to take maybe one teaspoon 3 times a week, or every other day.

    There’s another thing I’m worried about. From what I understood the only way you can get side effects from cod liver oil is if you take too much of it… and since it has super concentrated amounts of vitamin A and D, too much of those good things could cause…. bad things. But for safety sake even if I do take lower doses as I said above, I do use superfood powders in my smoothies such as goji berry powder for example which is high in vitamin A (it says like 280% per teaspoon which is freaky), could there still be a chance of me having too much of it? I know you’re not a doctor lol, but I think if all in moderation I should be fine, but I’d like to know what you think.

    I know there’s also a chance of contamination crap since it is a fish liver oil, but assuming if I find a high quality brand I wouldn’t have to worry about that. (if you do come across one let me know as well though lol) I obviously will take it at my own risk, but I really do trust your opinion when it comes to this stuff (yes you’ve gained my trust and you didn’t even know it lol) I really do appreciate everything 🙂

    Thank you ❤
    Yuriy

    • Svea said:

      Thanks a lot, Yuriy! 😀

      I can’t really say that taking cod liver oil changed my skin that much. But taking it during the winter months makes me feel much better, much more active, and I don‘t get sick that easily! I don‘t take it during the summer months though: I think I‘m already getting enough vitamin D from (limited!!!!) sun exposure and I don‘t want to “exaggerate“ the intake of supplements – just like you.

      However, I‘m sure that cod liver oil might help some people with skin problems because of its high content of omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin A. In addition, vitamin D is a natural antidepressant, which might be helpful as well. You‘re already eating goji berry powder, so I don‘t think you‘re lacking vitamin A (i.e. taking cod liver oil at the same time could be too much of a good thing). Just be sure to add a small amount of fat (i.e. yoghurt, kefir, nuts, seeds, coconut milk, …) to your smoothies, since vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. This way, you‘ll get all the nutrients you need!

      On the other hand, most people‘s diets are lacking omega 3 fatty acids. But if you are clever enough, you can get it from real food as well: grass fed butter, walnuts, chia or flax seeds, fat sea fish and meat from grass fed animals.

      During the winter months, I‘m taking Green Pasture’s FERMENTED cod liver oil / butter oil blend, which is considered to be a food, not just a supplement. The only downside is that it is quite expensive! Tracy wrote a very informative article about it:

      http://www.thelovevitamin.com/3452/fermented-cod-liver-oil/

      I hope this helps!
      Be well!

      • Svea said:

        PS-

        Possible side effects of cod liver oil are usually associated with taking more than 3 g of it per day! Just take a lower dose, and nothing will happen! 😀

        • Yuriy said:

          Omg thank you soooooooo much! I was waiting for an email because I thought I would get a notification, but guess not lol! Can’t wait to purchase it!! 😀 Do you find the butter blend better and does it make much of a difference comparing to the regular cod liver oil?

  13. Svea said:

    I think the fermented cod liver oil / butter oil blend is a little more effective. The so-called high vitamin butter oil contains lots of vitamin K2, which will enhance the absorption of the Vitamins A + D. Take the cinnamon kind (tastes better 😀 ) or the capsules!!!

    Recommendations and dosages:
    http://www.westonaprice.org/cod-liver-oil/cod-liver-oil-basics

    Why should fermented cod liver oil replace other fish oil supplements (which could even be harmful for you)?
    http://chriskresser.com/when-it-comes-to-fish-oil-more-is-not-better

    • Yuriy said:

      Thank you ❤ 🙂

    • Yuriy said:

      Ps, I’d like to know how much you take of it. So 1 teaspoon a day should be fine? That’s about 3g I’m assuming. Also what’s the best way to take it? In the morning on an empty stomach or after a meal?? With water or without?? Sorry for being a little paranoid about this lol! But I’m ordering mine today and I’m excited!! ^^

      • Svea said:

        Hi Yuriy,

        I’m back from my trip without internet access!

        Yes, 1 tsp should be fine! Just take it the way you prefer to take it. It’s considered to be a food, so I don’t think it really matters.

  14. johen said:

    Hi Svea, great article!
    If lactic acid is not harsh, what about glycolic acid? Below is the INCI list of a toner that I have my eyes on, what do you think? Do you use toner? Or do you apply oil on your face right after cleansing?
    Aloe barbadensis (certified organic aloe vera gel), Hamamelis virginiana distillate (witch hazel) extract, Lactic acid (natural fruit acid), Maleic acid (natural fruit acid), Glycolic acid (natural fruit acid), Camellia sinensis (Japanese green tea) leaf extract, Allantoin, Cucumis sativus (cucumber) extract, Anthemis nobilis (chamomile) flower essential oil.

    • Svea said:

      Hi Johen,

      thanks a lot!

      Pure glycolic acid, generally sold in concentrations of 70% or more, is extremely dangerous to exposed skin. In fact, any product with a concentration of over 10% is considered to be hazardous. Glycolic acid belongs to a group of chemicals called fruit acids or alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA – an AHA peel means the peel is derived from fruit acids). Usually, glycolic acid is derived from sugar cane, so it can be considered a natural product, but this doesn’t mean it cannot be dangerous as well (the concentration makes the difference). Lactic acid is made from sour milk and is considered to be a milder peel than glycolic acid. If you have sensitive skin, you may find glycolic acid too harsh for your skin and irritation might result. Also, those with the skin condition rosacea should avoid glycolic acid because it can exacerbate rosacea. The same applies to other types of fruit acid.

      Personally, I do not use any toner at all. I simply don’t think it’s necessary. However, the ingredients you listed sound quite okay, but please be careful: We don’t know the exact quantity of fruit acids contained, so I’d recommend completing a patch test before applying the toner to your whole face to find out if you will have an adverse reaction or not. Simply apply a small amount to the inside of your elbow, as this is another thin and sensitive part of your body, and let it sit overnight before applying the product more broadly. If your skin doesn’t react to the combination of fruit acids in it, it’ll be fine to use.

      Anyway, there are also a few natural toner alternatives. Look at this article about natural face cleansing methods I wrote for Tracy from The Love Vitamin a few months ago:
      http://www.thelovevitamin.com/3477/14-natural-face-cleansing-alternatives/

      I hope this helps!

      Lots of love,
      Svea

  15. johen said:

    It helps a ton, thank you so much! oxo. Saved me a lot of money too, since I already have bentonite powder, Moroccan red clay and tea tree oil at home. The bentonite powder is so hard to swallow anyway. And after reading your articles on sunscreen, I decided to get the Devita one instead of Kiss My face’s.

    The longer I live, the more I found out how well educated I am…by advertisements and propaganda! But thank God there’s always an opposite force from the bright side. First reading Born To Run by Christopher McDougall dispels the glamorous cloud swirling around big names sports shoes for me, and now you! What an enlightenment. I didn’t know glycerin is not good. I thought I was pro-natural on skin care regime, but after reading your articles, I realized I don’t have to slather toner, moisturizer, serum, eye cream, one layer after another on my face. It is a great relief, cuz I’m kinda lazy. We are here to play, not to put make up on our face!

    I also read your Basic Skin Care with Oils. That oils should take care of it all makes sense, cuz they are so packed full of vitamins, antioxidants, and all these good stuff that moisturize, repair and promote healthy skin growth, you just don’t need a cream with 40 things listed on its INCI! It’s like eating orange instead of taking vitamin C supplement.

    Svea, can adding German Chamomile essential oil into clay cleanser give it a soothing properties? Have you tried bentonite clay as cleanser before? Yesterday I did, it took so long for water and clay to blend together, like an hour. And there were these mud clot that just refused to join the group. Do you know anyway that I can speed up the process? It’s true that clay cleanser is not drying. How strange.

    Keep up the good work. I believe you are doing a lot of good to a lot of people.

    • Svea said:

      Hi Johen,

      thanks a lot for your insights – and for all your compliments! I liked to read your comment!

      A few thoughts:

      Glycerin in itself is not harmful. Glycerin is a hygroscopic substance, i.e. it has strong water binding properties. That is an advantage, most natural skincare manufacturers like about it (apart from the fact that it’s quite inexpensive). However, as an important factor, glycerin should always be saturated in a watery substance. That’s why a concentration higher than 10-30% (depending on the cream mixture and your skin type), might slowly dry out your skin instead of moisturizing it. See, if a cream contains hardly anything else than glycerin, it will most probably have an addictive effect on your skin. To avoid that, always have a look at the INCI-list: it should never be listed as one of the first ingredients. If your skin tends to break out every once in a while, a high concentration of glycerin might also contribute to clog your pores.

      Yes, German Chamomile essential oil has very soothing properties. I read somewhere on the Internet that Roman Chamomile should be even more effective, but I never tested if there really is any noticeable difference. However, if you never used chamomile oil before, make a patch test before applying it to your face. There are quite a few people who have allergic reactions to it (and other essential oils).

      As far as the bentonite clay is concerned: Regular Bentonite clay doesn’t mix well with water, but you could try to put the clay and water into a bottle with a big mouth and shake it vigorously for a full minute just before you apply it to your face – or simply try another type of clay.

      And yes, laziness might be much better for your skin than you ever dared to think! I hope the Devita sunscreen will work for you. On the internet, a handful of people seem to be complaining about problems with tearing eyes, at least as far as the face moisturizer is concerned. If you want to save a little money, you could try to use the body sunscreen for your face instead. It absorbs quickly and doesn’t feel very oily or sticky. Personally, I tried the Badger Balm Sunscreen Lotion Aloe Vera (SPF 16) this summer, and I must say that I like it a lot! On the contrary to those heavy Badger Creams, this one goes on smoothly and sinks in very well. In the beginning, you’ll notice a slightly white cast, but it’ll disappear within minutes. It’s only that the listed protection factor isn’t that high…

      Well, I’ll try to write a few more articles, but time and life circumstances don’t seem to match at the moment.

      Thanks again for stopping by!
      Svea

  16. johen said:

    You are like a walking treasure trove with all these knowledge and I think that’s just… plain SEXY!

    What brand of aloe vera are you using? I bought from Aubrey Organics, but it’s not listed in IASC certification. I tried to look for one, but there are so many varieties, aloe vera juice, whole leaf juice, aloe vera gel, etc. My brain just went short-circuited.

    I asked you a question by leaving comment on Basic Skin Care with Oils on Tracy’s blog, but that didn’t seem to reach you as fast as here. Hope you don’t mind me asking again in your blog.

    What do you think of squalene? Like this product? http://www.botani.com.au/shop/olive-skin-serum-15ml/

    I understand it takes time to write a good article, and I shall wait patiently for your new post.

    xoxo!

    • Svea said:

      Hehe, thanks again, Johen! Well, let’s be sexy:

      Squalene is a substance that is found in vegetable oils (for example, olive oil contains 0.7% squalene), but also in shark livers. It is rich in antioxidants, and researchers have found it in human sebum as well. It is an oily secretion of our skin glands, which keeps our hair flexible and helps retain moisture on the skin surface. In addition, squalene has the ability to reduce the oxidative breakdown of our skin lipids. That’s why it’s also a great stable element for summer skin care products.

      Anyway, the vitamin C in the product you linked doesn’t make much sense. It’ll oxidize as soon as you will open the flask. And it’s extremely overpriced. You could google some online shops selling cold-pressed vegetable oils, herbs and DIY-equipment for making creams or boiling soaps instead. Generally, they sell olive squalene as well – at a far better price. There will also be squal-A-ne, which is a refined form of squalene. It is a light, colorless, and odorless substance and feels a bit like silicone on your skin. If you don’t like that feeling, squalane won’t be the right choice for you – and most probably even the more “natural” substance squalene won’t be so much different. I don’t know your skin type, but you could also try olive, wheatgerm or argan oil. These oils are packed with antioxidants and contain a very high amount of squalene (but are more suitable for normal or dry skin types).

      XOX

      • johen said:

        Thanks, Svea. I truly appreciate your opinions. 🙂

        xxoo

  17. johen said:

    Hey Svea, how are you?

    I’ve found some pretty good products with minimal ingredients, just wanted to share with you.
    SOOTHING ORGANIC MILK & OAT BATH – LAVENDER Though it’s for bath, I think it’s mild enough for face, right?
    OLIVE OIL SOAP This one is even cooler, with only 2 ingredients.

    • Svea said:

      Thanks, Johen!

      These products seem to be great. However, keep in mind that both of them have an alkaline pH-level (sea salt / saponified olive oil). Some skin types love it, others don’t, but it’s definitely worth a try. If your tap water happens to be very limy, you should opt for something slightly acidic instead to cleanse your face. Calcium carbonate (lime) plus soap might form soap scum, which could clog your pores. Calcium carbonate plus salt might irritate your skin. On the other hand, soft water (or filtered water) plus soap or salt work fine – and won’t clog anything at all!

      So: Go for it and try it! And let me know how it works for you! 😉

      • johen said:

        Oh I’m going to try them, but not anytime soon. I still have my Moroccan red clay and Kiss My Face’s pure olive oil bar soap (I call it poo bar lol). Don’t know about the pH-level of water, guess it’s filtered. But so far so good. I just thought since you like oat + yogurt cleanser, maybe you’d like to know that there are such products.

        Question: Should you wash more or less face in humid weather?

        • Svea said:

          Just wash it once or twice a day, as you usually do. Not more often. In the morning, water only should be enough.

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