You’ve decided to take the plunge. After reading frightening articles and hearing first hand accounts of toxic chemicals in skin care, you’ve decided to purge your cabinet of all things synthetic. Congratulations! Your face is about to be one happy place!
It’s scary, the unknown. Aloe? Okay, that’s cool. Herbs? Sure. Oils? On my face? We know, it can sound like a prank.
But why put organic, whole foods on your plate and then neglect your skin? Your pores eagerly absorb everything you slather on, so you've got to really think about what’s on the menu!
When you switch your skin care products, your complexion can get a little wonky. This is especially true for those with acne prone or sensitive skin. And yes, reactions can happen in general when you use new products, but side effects can be even greater if your skin has become addicted to harsh ingredients in conventional products.
Why Make the Switch?
We could write a whole article about why you should stop using unnatural skin care products. There are countless toxic chemicals in conventional skin care that aren’t doing your health or your skin any favors. Some show you quick results, but degrade your skin over time. Others are simply fillers or fragrance that are used because they are cheap or convenient. They provide no real benefits to your complexion, and can take an insidious toll on your health.
Another reason we advocate switching to organic skin care products is because they make your skin beautiful. The longer you use them, the more you will glow and love your complexion. Some people have a block to using natural products. They think they are less effective or not effective at all. Some ditch their cleanser and toner first, but cling to anti-aging serums or creams that they consider their (lab made) fountain of youth. Not all natural skin care is created equal, however. Simply omitting chemicals does not an effective natural skin care line make.
Synergistically blending herbs and incorporating them into oils and aloe without excessive heat or processing allows the ingredients to really shine. Packaging in miron glass ensures that quality is maintained without having to use harsh preservatives. Choosing an organic skin care line with the right ingredients and method is vital, or else lack of results will send you right back to where you came from.
Now let’s talk about how to ditch the less-than-natural stuff you’ve got in your cabinet.
When your skin gets used to using chemical ingredients, it can be hard to wean yourself off of them. Benzoyl peroxide is a great example.
Usually prescribed for acne, benzoyl peroxide clears up skin by killing bacteria and reducing oil production. In the long term, it is extremely drying to most all skin types (our skin produces oil for a reason…). It is essentially a bleach. Many people find that when they use the ingredient regularly, their towels and garments actually change color!
This drying ingredient is damaging your skin’s acid mantle, which acts as a protective barrier. The pH of your skin should be between 4.5-5.5, but those who use benzoyl peroxide will develop a more alkaline mantle. Then you stop using the ingredient and your skin, in it’s own way, has a panic attack as it tries to get back to its natural pH.
Benzoyl peroxide is not the only ingredient that can throw off your acid mantle. Most conventional skin care products are not pH balanced.
Your skin can become dependent on other ingredients, too, such as retinol, or even salicylic acid. If your skin is hooked on a healthy ingredient, nothing wrong there. But weaning yourself off of toxic ingredients is a necessary step in overall health, and can sometimes be a little tricky.
The rebalancing of your skin’s acid mantle can manifest itself as breakouts, especially if you are breakout prone to begin with. As your skin works towards a pH that it likes, you might also see skin that is dry or redder than normal.
If you are going off of an acne-suppressing ingredient, it makes sense that those symptoms would resurface. This is because the ingredient was simply suppressing, not healing your skin.
If you normally experience breakouts, pay attention to the size and location on your face. Maybe you normally get zits hormonally (which generally show up on your chin) or notice acne most often on your forehead (indicative of intestinal stress), but now it’s showing up in different areas of your face, or all over. That’s a sign that the breakouts are detox related. They might be a different size than you normally experience, also, so watch out of that.
The detox process should last a couple weeks, but if you continue to be breaking out beyond then, you should look into addressing the internal causes of acne.
Not everyone breaks out while their skin detoxes. Some people will see redness or dryness when switching to a new skin care line. Most natural ingredients are less harsh than chemical ones, but that doesn’t mean your skin doesn’t need to adjust to them first.
Tips for Skin Detox
- If you’ve been using benzoyl peroxide, retinol, or another harsh skin care ingredient, it’s a good idea to wean yourself off slowly. Over a two week period, decrease the amount of frequency with which you use products containing that ingredient. That will help your skin’s acid mantle adjust gradually.
- Don’t swap all of your products at once. If you’re switching to organic skin care, start with your cleanser, toner, and perhaps moisturizer. You can even go one by one if your skin is very sensitive. That way, you don’t shock your skin too much at one time.
- Help your body cleanse. Engage in vigorous exercise if you can, or visit a sauna to sweat it out. Make sure to shower afterwards and use a natural body wash to rinse everything off.
- Drink a lot of water, which is oh-so-necessary to help your body flush things out. You can add some lemon for extra detox power.
- It might not seem like an attractive option, but consider going makeup free while your skin adjusts to the new skin care routine.
- Use a mud mask to encourage impurities to leave your skin.
- Consider oil pulling, using activated charcoal tablets, or supplementing with neem to aid the detoxifying process. Heck, maybe it’s time to go on a juice clease. May as well do it all at once!
The feeling of getting clean with your skin care is peaceful, hopeful, exciting… and maybe a little bit scary. Tune in and spend some time with your skin, observing the changes as you go along. In the end, you'll find that natural ingredients really feed your skin and give it youthful radiance.
by Hope Freije, with help from the lovely esthetician Abby Stoecker