By Dr. Anju Sodhi (Bams, Nd)
There are so many skin care products on the market now, it can be overwhelming. The products claim various purposes, making it easy to have several lotions and creams on one’s vanity table. However, are all of these different kinds of products for lubricating and healing the skin necessary? Natural and simple products may be to the key to healthy and beautiful skin.
Ayurveda has extensively used oils to lubricate the precious skin for millennia. These natural substances have a plethora of healing properties, each suited for different people. Furthermore, this medicinal system has used oils to carry herbs into the skin, further personalizing skin care with just a few natural ingredients.
Unlike most lotions, oils tend to not only provide hydration but retain it with the skin. This is due to the fact that plant-based oils (such as almond, jojoba, and sesame) mimic the natural oil produced by the skin. Because the molecular structures are similar, applied oils are able to penetrate the skin with ease, often times taking herbal molecules with it. The energetic qualities of oils can be taken into consideration to not only provide skin care but help the body balance itself. An example would be using coconut oil on a hot day. People feel cooler when using lubricating coconut oil compared to when using mustard oil (that produces a heating feeling).
Oils get applied in much smaller quantities than lotion. It is more spreadable and does not need to be applied as often per day. Oils are best applied after a shower but can be used any time, just like lotion. Using too much lotion may deposit materials that cannot be absorbed into the skin, leaving a residue that is seen and felt. Too much oil applied? No problem! The skin will eventually absorb it; however, you can remove the oil with a towel, leaving no visible residue. The oils create a glowing quality in the skin that cannot be matted by unnecessary chemicals.
Lotions can contain chemicals that shouldn’t be introduced to the body. Many common lotions contain ethanol, which is an alcohol that dries out the skin. Others contain parabens that can cause changes to hormone balances if used for long periods of time. Various fragrances within the products can cause irritation to the skin as well as the nervous system. Natural lotions do exist, but they are expensive and are not easy to customize to individual needs. Oils are not only a better financial choice but are also a much safer choice.
Natural oils can also be used as a sunscreen. Coconut oil is not only cooling during the summertime, but also protects the skin from the sun. It has been shown to be an effective sunscreen with an SPF of 4. To many, this doesn’t seem powerful enough. However, what an SPF of 4 means is that 75% of UVA/UVB rays are blocked from entering the skin. An SPF of 30 provides 97% protection. Though we do need to protect ourselves from the sun when we are outside, 97% of all rays are blocked using higher SPF, even the sunlight that provides vitamin D and the signaling needed for neurotransmitter balance. Coconut oil allows more of the sun’s rays to reach our skin and create the essential vitamin D. Using this natural option when you are not spending much time outside is plenty of protection. Coconut oil can even replace your facial sunscreen on days you don’t spend much time in the sun. This is not to say to ditch the natural made sunscreens if you plan to go to the beach and be underneath the sun for a large portion of the day. Use the higher SPF on such days but try the coconut oil on normal exposure days.
Antiperspirants have been a hot topic as of late, especially in association with breast cancer. Using natural oils such as coconut oil or beeswax eliminates exposure to chemicals that should not be absorbed by the skin, especially around the breast tissue. Adding essential oils such as lavender, citrus or frankincense adds pleasant scents and each provides their own unique medicinal properties. Here is a recipe for a homemade antiperspirant that is effective as a deodorant and also as a mild antiperspirant.
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons beeswax, either grated or pellets
- 2 tablespoons shea butter
- 1/3 cup arrowroot powder
- 2 tablespoons baking soda (if you are sensitive to baking soda, reduce to 1 tablespoon or use 2 tablespoons diatomaceous earth)
- 5-10 drops of tea tree essential oil (used for a deodorizer)
- 2-5 drops of frankincense essential oil (feel free to use another essential oil. (citrus oils can be photosensitive if your armpits are exposed to light often)
- Melt the coconut oil, beeswax, and shea butter in a double boiler or use a glass mixing bowl placed atop a pot of boiling water. Stir constantly until melted. Remove from heat
- Whisk in arrowroot powder to the bowl of melted oils. Then add the baking soda or diatomaceous earth. Continue whisking.
- Add in essential oils and mix thoroughly with a spatula.
- Quickly, place the mixture into a jar or into empty deodorant dispensers (found on Amazon).
- Let the mixture cool for 2 or more hours before capping the holding container.
- If the mixture is in a jar, use your fingers to spread over armpits.
- If in a deodorant dispenser, apply as you normally would.
If you do enjoy the texture of a lotion, try this recipe out. It allows you to customize the scent and medicinal properties of the lotion to your needs, depending on the season. This can be used on all ages of skin. If your baby has rashy skin, add in calendula oil.
- ½ cup Almond or Jojoba Oil
- ¼ Coconut Oil
- ¼ cup beeswax
- 1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
- 2 tablespoons Shea Butter or Cocoa Butter
- 5-10 drops of your favorite essential oil (peppermint is cooling for summertime)
- An 8oz mason jar or tin for storage
- Combine the Almond or Jojoba Oil with the coconut oil and beeswax on a double boiler. (This can also be done with a glass bowl atop boiling water) Once this mixture is hot, add in the shea or cocoa butter. Stir occasionally until all oils and butter are evenly melted together.
- Remove the mixture from the heat source.
- Add in Vitamin E and chosen essential oils. Stir to combine.
- Immediately pour the mixture into your chosen storage container.
- This will keep for 6 months.
If you find that this recipe is too moisturizing for your skin, disregard the shea or cocoa butter.
Skin is our first line of defense against the illnesses of the world. Treating it with healthy and natural products will ensure its integrity and health as well as make it look gorgeous.