Confessions of a Beauty Junky: What does your morning beauty routine consist of? Are you a "wash and run" type, with one or two products on your shelf, or a serious beauty addict with more products than you could count? I am a "recovering beauty addict" of sorts, a habit that I picked up on in my teens and early twenties. My bathroom looked like an explosion of products, and there were more skin care, cosmetics, hair care, and perfume products on me in any given day than layers on an onion.
Funnily enough, all of those products- each one supposedly designed to improve my appearance, didn't do a thing to actually improve the health of my skin or hair.
The first time I noticed a significant improvement in my combination/ oily and acne-prone skin was when I cut through the clutter and simplified my routine. It wasn't just limiting the amount of products I was using either, it was a complete change in the products I applied that I can credit with an improvement in my skin. This previous product addict was down to just three steps - cleansing, toning, and moisturizing. My skin looked so great that a simple swipe of the mascara wand replaced a cosmetics routine that used to take 30 minutes to complete.
Even more surprising to me than the reduction of time, effort, and sheer volume of products that I now use daily is the type of products that I am using. All-natural skincare that is completely chemical-free. Specifically, I am hooked on Annmarie Skin Care.
Annmarie Skin Care
Annmarie Skin Care products are organic and completely chemical-free. They contain zero amounts of alcohol. Every ingredient in the bottle is listed on the label. In developing her all-natural line of skin care, Annmarie Gianni was shocked to find that even products that claimed they were organic or natural on the market still contained hidden preservatives and additives. She set out to create a line of truly clean and natural products using organic and wild-crafted ingredients.
So which of Annmarie's products have calmed by breakouts, brightened my complexion, evened out my combination skin, and set my skin to glowing?
Annmarie Skin Care Aloe-Herb Facial Cleanser
A gentle cleanser that features aloe vera and healing herbs, the Aloe-Herb Facial Cleanser can be used by any skin type. My favorite thing about this cleanser is the smell - a bright and natural lemon scent that makes me think of lemon cookies! I dab it onto dry skin, moisten my hands, then massage it into my skin, inhaling the natural fragrance and wishing it would last all day. (Another confession - I will walk by this product in my bathroom and stop to smell it multiple times throughout any given day. I wish I could eat it. I want to take a bath in it. It smells that good.) My skin is clean without feeling squeaky or dry.
Annmarie Skin Care Neroli Toning Mist
After cleansing, I mist my face with Neroli Toning Mist. I must confess, I probably do this for the scent alone - a relaxing aroma of orange blossom. Fun fact - neroli essential oil has been used for relaxation, and to combat depression and anxiety. No wonder I like to begin and end each day with a spritz of Neroli toner! The toning mist balances skin and prepares it for the next step in my routine, my moisturizer (oil).
Annmarie Skin Care Herbal Facial Oil for Normal/ Combo Skin
That's right - every morning and every night, I massage an oil into my oily skin. The first time I tried Herbal Facial Oil for Normal/ combo Skin, it was with great trepidation and a sinking feeling that I was sure to have an explosion of acne waiting for me when I woke up. I am so happy to report that I was wrong, wrong, wrong! Just a few drops of Annmarie's facial oil rubs into my skin completely, and leaves it feeling soft, not greasy. I think that the combination of gentle face wash and natural plant oils has helped normalize my overactive oil glands - my skin doesn't get the "afternoon greasies" like it used to, and no breakouts to be seen!
Another one of my favorite Annmarie products is the Annmarie Skin Care Coconut Body Oil, a lavender scented oil made from coconut oil, olive oil, vitamin E, and aloe vera. I love the scent, and have even used it on my face with no ill effects! It also leaves my skin soft, but not greasy.
Annmarie's offerings don't stop there - there is an Herbal Facial Oil for Oily and Acne Prone Skin, and an Anti-Aging line that includes a treatment serum and a moisturizing oil. Masks, scrubs, and an eye cream are also available to keep all skin types happy and glowing.
What did I learn from ditching my tortured (and expensive and time consuming.... and potentially dangerous) previous beauty routine for one featuring all-natural organic products? I think that I was causing a lot of my own problems. Harsh skin care products designed to dry out and combat my problem skin was leading to overactive oil glands, and a constant cycle of breakouts and dry patches. Covering up the problem skin with layers and layers of cosmetics only worsened the problem. Most obvious to me is that my skin was not as problematic as I thought it was, instead it is probably sensitive to all of the chemicals that I was putting on it day and night. When I started treating it to pure plant oils, aloe vera, and herbs, my skin actually "normalized" itself.
Warning! Use of these products will lead to less makeup use, softer skin that you just can't keep your hands from touching, and a realization that everything you thought you knew about skincare was wrong!
Even MORE Reasons to try Natural Skin Care Products
There are some pretty scary and dangerous things lurking in conventional commercial beauty products and cosmetics. Want some examples?
Retinoic acid, a vitamin A deritvitive, is used in anti-aging skin creams. U.S. Government scientists have found that retinoic acid, and retinyl palmitate (added to more than 20% of sunscreen products) can speed the development of cancerous lesions on sun-exposed skin. That means putting these products on and then being exposed to the sun can actually increase your risk of skin cancer.
Oxybenzone is a common ingredient in many BB and CC creams available on the market today. Beauty Balms and Color Corrector creams have been all the rage this last year, and these multi-faceted products are designed to function as a combination of moisturizer, sunscreen, foundation, anti-ager, concealer and more-in-one. Oxybenzone is a potential hormone disruptor that is used in many of these creams. Commonly used in sunscreens, oxybenzone penetrates the skin, gets into the blood stream, and acts like estrogen in the body.
In March of 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that more than 35 imported skin creams, soaps, and anti-aging lotions had recently been tied to mercury poisoning that, in some instances, sent users to the hospital. Mercury is also allowed in mascara products, where it is used in tiny amounts as a preservative. Mercury is toxic to the brain and nervous system, and is particularly dangerous for a developing fetus.
According to the EWG, the FDA detected lead in over 400 brands of lipstick tested by the agency in 2012. The EWG sent a letter to the Director of FDA's Office of Cosmetics and Colors stating "... certain manufacturers consistently have higher lead levels than other brands. The most-contaminated brand, Maybelline Color Sensation made by L'Oreal USA, had lead levels more than 275 times the level found in the least contaminated brands, and more than seven times higher than the average found in all lipsticks." Lead poisoning in adults can cause nerve damage, hearing and vision impairment, increased blood pressure, reproductive problems, and can retard fetal development even at relatively low exposure levels.
My initial reasons to try natural skin care were purely "skin deep" - I wanted to improve the troublesome complexion that I had lived with since my early teens. Maybe you are more motivated to avoid the dangerous chemicals lurking in conventional products. Either way, trying all-natural skin care is a win-win.
Melissa Zimmerman, Healthy Goods