I'm just a fat gal with a blog and an opinion. Well, lots of opinions.

Natural Skin Care: A Trial & Error Thing


I was talking about my morning routine the other day and how I consider myself a pretty low maintenance gal. I am also more of a natural gal. I like to buy and use more natural products. It took me awhile to come around, but my husband and friend Q convinced me to look a bit deeper into what goes on and in my body. So I started to do some research and look for products that would meet my needs and expectations, not kill my budget (what budget? shyaddup!) and be full of natural happy-goodness. This was no easy endeavor! And worse yet, it’s not over/done at all!

The hardest part for me was my shampoo. After many years of trying just about everything on the market, I now know what works for my hair and my dandruff and refuse to wiggle on this now. Oh the money I have spent of every “natural” dandruff remedy. Let me tell ya, very few dandruff shampoos work, y’all! And if you find one that does work, it won’t always work. If you do find the one that does work consistently, then it may smell awful! And if you’re lucky enough to find one that works consistently and doesn’t smell, I’ll bet that it’s no “natural” bottle of magic. I use Head & Shoulders “smooth & silky” and if I use it almost every day it works for me. This is the one thing (for the most part) that I just cannot do without or replace with a natural version.

I won’t lie, I love Pantene’s conditioner, but the ingredients are all kinds of scary. I love a nice thick and creamy conditioner. But dude, Pantene is full of nasty chemicals and I am finally ready to break this bad habit of mine (in my own opinion, not judging others at all). I still haven’t found the perfect and natural conditioner of my dreams, but I have switched to the Aussie brand (Sydney Smooth for me) because damn, it smells so good, does what it says and actually has some natural ingredients! I’ll keep looking for something more natural, but I’m fairly happy with this latest addition to my shower routine.

The one thing I just cannot live without is a good face wash. I have sensitive, but also combination skin (and pores big enough to store things in, but I’ll get to that). This means that it can be hard to find something that doesn’t leave my skin gasping from over dryness or drowning it it’s own oils. I also love a nice face scrub! I need to exfoliate daily. I never could find the perfect scrub on the drugstore shelves. I once found this lovely on at a natural grocery store, but it was $18 for a small bottle (smelled of cupcakes!) and had walnut shell bits for scrubbiness. Then my esthetician told me that I shouldn’t use the natural exfoliators because they can tear/damage/scar your pores. Boo! So I started trying all kinds of crazy ones and was just never satisfied.

Finally my husband had brought home a face wash that was all natural. (It’s by a fabulous company called Desert Essence, you can find it most places, but we get ours at Trader Joe’s which now sells it in their own packaging, but it’s the tea tree one!) I reluctantly tried it and it was magical! I cannot live without it! And then my good friend Q told me about the magic of baking soda! I got a little 3 oz. squeeze bottle and filled it with baking soda and every morning I squeeze a small bit into my palm, two pumps of the face wash and I am all rub a dub-dub, get this clean face in da club! (okay, not really. that was silly.) But it is just the right amount of scrub and cleanser (and I can control this) and it leaves me fresh faced and ready to moisturize! Because that is all kinds of necessary!

I’ve only been doing this for a couple of weeks, but I don’t see myself going back to all of those tubes and bottles of things to put on my face only to be devastated that it didn’t work for me. The only issue I have is that I think now that my pores are cleaner (they are I tell ya) they look more obvious. I have tried pore minimizers ages ago and they suck and don’t work. Is this a pipe dream? Can anything reduce the size of your pores? No big, for sure, I do have many many other things to worry about, but I do find that I think it makes me look a bit older (nothing wrong with that and I did get mistaken for a 20 something today, ha!). I’m open to advice/suggestions on this.

It’s a work in progress. I haven’t weaned myself off of my deodorant yet. My husband uses that crystal one. I know it’s bad for me, so I’ve taken to using only the tiniest bit. I go back and forth between wanting to use 100% natural things 100% of the time to “fuck this” and go back to my Pantene and other such things. Ugh! Why is it so hard to find a balance that works?! The other thing, too, is that I’m 33. I’m in between the acne and wrinkle worry states. I do get pimples from time to time and I do have some fine lines (no big, seriously), but right now I just want to find good things that work for my skin.

Am I driving myself nuts for no reason? Do you have trouble finding skin care things that work for you? Tell me about it! Tell me your woes and frustrations. And hey, if you have some suggestions? Lay ’em on me! Ha!

posted under Shopping
21 Comments to

“Natural Skin Care: A Trial & Error Thing”

  1. On January 19th, 2011 at 7:17 pm G Says:

    Good luck finding the skin/hair care combo that works for you! For a few months last year I gave up shampoo, using only conditioner daily. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best idea, I don’t think it really helped my hair much and my scalp was kinda weird. I can’t do it in the winter anyway– I blowdry so my hair doesn’t freeze and that scalp + blowdrying = not a pretty picture.

  2. On January 20th, 2011 at 8:50 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Wow, no shampoo? Brave! I swear by a good conditioner, but I know with my dandruff issues I couldn’t go without the shampoo. I’m with you on the blow drying thing, it’s freezing and dark when I get up! =0)

  3. On January 19th, 2011 at 7:52 pm Jenna Says:

    You should give Totally Tomatoes shampoo and condish a try… I get my normally expensive high end organic stuff at Ross and TJ Maxx actually! Ive even found body shop stuff at TJ Maxx 🙂

  4. On January 20th, 2011 at 8:51 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Oh! Are they the same ones who do the carrots ones? I always wanna try ’em but they’re crazy expensive. Never thought of Ross or TJ for that. Thanks for the tip! =0)

  5. On January 19th, 2011 at 7:54 pm Jenna Says:

    oh and a natural deodarant does NOT work for me… that crystal thing? I dont know anyone who can pull that off eh. I was also told by my dermo to use whats called Aqua Glycolic, you need to ask for it at the pharmacy but it doesnt need a scrip it comes in toner and lotion its great for the aha’s and rejuv the skin then at night in winter i mix up pure vit. E with org. face lotion… people normally age me about 3-4 years younger 🙂

  6. On January 20th, 2011 at 8:52 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Aqua Glycolic? Is this for skin or in place of deodorant? Sorry, I didn’t catch it. Where would one get pure vitamin E? What benefits does it have? Pure anything sounds great to me! Thanks!

  7. On January 19th, 2011 at 11:06 pm ladymeag Says:

    For conditioner, I know a lot of people that use apple cider vinegar and/or baking soda. I, personally, use the Whole Foods Whole Body brand of conditioner – it doesn’t have the heavy-in-the-hand feel that most conditioners do but it does a great job without leaving a lot of stuff behind.

    For deodorant, I keep going back and forth on this. Standard deodorant is a migraine trigger for me (which is apparently not uncommon – it’s about the stuff in it and not the fragrance, really.) The crystal stuff? Has never worked. I’m still hunting for a good natural alternative. Shaving seems to help and maybe someday I’ll give waxing a go for the armpits. So, mostly, I alternate between being really too stinky for my own comfort (though others have never made a face or said anything) and having horrible migraines.

    I have horribly sensitive skin, so I spent a very long time buying only Clinique’s fragrance-free makeup and facial wash – my mother had me convinced it was the only thing that would work! Now I use a mild fragrance-free natural baby soap on my face and moisturize with the simplest cocoa butter (with no shea! I’m allergic) lotion I can find. I stopped it with all of the astringent/harsh cleaning stuff and my skin seems to freak out less. Since N was born, I rarely wear make up – I’m up to once in two years – I’m pretty sure everything I’ve got has gone bad. I do use lip gloss daily and recently found Alba’s Unpetroleum Lip Balm – it’s like Chapstick but without the unpronounceables. I’ve found it in tangerine (my favorite), cherry and vanilla.

  8. On January 20th, 2011 at 8:57 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Yes, the deodorant thing is tough. My husband loves the crystal, but I can’t stand it. He tried Tom’s of Maine, but it gave him a rash. I am worried about venturing too much because I get sores in my pits quite often and worry about reactions and worsening of sores.
    I have tried apple cider vinegar, because people say it helps dandruff…it doesn’t help mine! And I get weird about my hair smelling of it, I love a light fragranced conditioner, but it’s not essential. I do love a thick one though. Adding baking soda to shampoo helps get rid of residues, I have found.
    Oh! I love Alba, but are the lip balms tinted at all? I love Carmex (cherry) and tried to ween myself off of it because of chemicals, but damn, nothing natural lasts as long and feels as good on my lips. I would love one that does all of that and is tinted (but no shimmer/sparkles, enough already). Sounds yummy though.

  9. On January 20th, 2011 at 8:45 am heavyaura Says:

    The best deodorant I’ve ever used (and that also works amazeballs for chub rub) is the stuff I make at home out of coconut oil, baking soda, and cornstarch — it lasts forever, and I can add whatever scent I want to it if I want a scent at all (currently lavender, because I’m obsessed with lavender). It’s pretty economical, too. Once you buy the ingredients, you have enough for months and months to re-up whenever you run out. I recommend it to everybody. :p

    Before I shaved my head, I used apple cider vinegar (diluted with water) as a conditioner. I have scalp issues, so I usually have to use some kind of non-natural option for that, but for conditioner the ACV blows my mind. I know it stinks to some people (the smell fades quickly after you rinse), but it left my frequently-dyed hair really soft and manageable in a way that’s quite different from typical conditioners. Plus, my bangs and the hair at the side of my face can sometimes cause break outs, and the ACV reduced that a bit.

    I have to ask about the Desert Essence — how troublesome was your skin before you tried it? I’ve been looking for what feels like my entire life for a cleanser that will actually work. :/ I have sensitive, combination skin — it can be both extremely dry and oily at the same time, and I break out … pretty much everyday. I’m always tempted to buy face cleansers with good reviews from folks, and DE is so affordable compared to most other options — I just wondered if you could give me a bit more information about your experience (if you have time, of course).

  10. On January 20th, 2011 at 10:38 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Desert Essence tea tree oil cleanser is made of pure castile, so it’s not over drying and while it has tea tree it doesn’t make your face all tingly (I hate that). They have a fab range of products, I’ve tried others, but this is the one for me. I also have dry/oily skin and while my breakouts are now only monthly, I find that this one leaves no residue or clog my pores. Just gentle and lovely, but gets rid of the oily bits, too. Hope that helps. Cheap enough to give a shot I would hope. thanks!

  11. On January 20th, 2011 at 10:34 am purplekeychain Says:

    As someone who suffers with dandruff (the gross, psoriasis-related kind), I have spent tons of money on products and treatments. There are, in fact, natural remedies that are almost as effective as the chemical stuff.

    Since dandruff has been linked to a) an inflammation of the skin, one of the best things to treat it are anti-inflammatory essential oils. This includes rosemary, tea tree, peppermint and lavender (all good smelling shit). It’s also related to b) a fungus that causes an overproduction of skin cells (usually on the scalp, although people can get dandruff anywhere), so ant-fungal medications and treatments are also effective.

    The BEST OTC shampoo I’ve found to treat it is Nizoral-D, which has anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory chemicals in it. It’s kind of expensive, at around $9 a bottle, but it’s worth it.

    However, my favorite option is the essential oil-route. I take a “natural”, unscented shampoo (like one from Trader Joes or Whole Foods or wherever) and divide it up into 3 or 4 smaller bottles, then I add about a teaspoon or so of one of the oils. So I have a rosemary shampoo, a tea tree shampoo, etc. Not only does it work and your scalp is clean and shiny, but your hair always smells good!

    Okay, sorry for the novel, but as someone who have suffered with this for a long time, I just wanted to pass along my tricks!

  12. On January 20th, 2011 at 10:45 am Not Blue at All Says:

    I believe I have the fungus type of dandruff. I never would have thought of simply adding oils to a regular natural shampoo. Hmm…
    I used Nizoral for many years, but at one point it seriously stopped working for me. Not sure if I built up a tolerance and became somewhat immune or what, but I was bummed. That stuff was rad, no odor at all, one bottle lasts a long time and I would even mix in some nice smelling cheap-o shampoo to make it feel more girly for me. That is like the one place I want girly things I think; the shower!
    Witch Hazel? Doesn’t that sting? I know it can tighten…Food for thought. I will try this and let you know how it goes. =0)
    Thanks for the fab info. Never apologize for writing to me, my dear. I love it! =0)

  13. On January 20th, 2011 at 10:37 am purplekeychain Says:

    re: obvious pores, use a cotton ball and witch hazel — both of which you can find at the dollar store!

  14. On January 20th, 2011 at 10:47 am ladymeag Says:

    Dr. Bronner’s baby soap is also unscented, pure castile soap – and easy to get pretty much anywhere. You can chose a bar or liquid.

    Witch hazel can be drying on the skin – it’s drying enough for me that it causes flaking and zits! I’ve found that the longer my pores stay clean and don’t need the extra room to breathe around product, makeup, heavy moisturizer or harsh cleaning the smaller they look.

  15. On January 20th, 2011 at 10:56 am Not Blue at All Says:

    I knew I had heard something bad about witch hazel, but couldn’t remember. Thanks!

  16. On January 20th, 2011 at 11:14 am purplekeychain Says:

    witch hazel isn’t supposed to sting — it’s supposed to be pretty mild to the skin, but that may not be true for everyone. yep, it’s drying, too, like rubbing alcohol, but it does shock the pores into shrinking. if you have a bad reaction, definitely don’t use it. the best thing for young-but-almost-older skin (mid-30s, i’d say?) is WATER. skin needs to be hydrated, so i always look for products that say “hydrating” rather than “moisturizing”. another good thing for the skin is, once again, adding essential oils to simple, unscented products. it does a world of difference.

    re: oils in shampoo, i didn’t believe it either until i started using it myself. i usually have dandruff breakouts on my scalp or around the edges of my hair once a month or more. since i started putting the oils in my shampoo, i haven’t had one yet (it’s been over 2 months). nizoral is SO drying to the hair. but mixing i with other stuff can definitely cause it to stop working. the anti-fungal chemicals in it treat the fungus in your skin, so when you dilute that with other chemicals, it doesn’t work the same. you can also mix it in with some natural conditioners, too. for me, rosemary works best, but i like the tea tree smell better.

    having dandruff really ruined my life for a LONG time. i didn’t understand the science behind it and, as a black woman going to black haircare professionals, most of them didn’t understand the science of the condition either, and the solution was always to add moisture to my SCALP, which works for regular “white flakes” dandruff (malessezia), but not for the greasy yellow kind (seborrhoeic dermatitis) or the thick, silvery kind (psoriasis – aka “cradle cap”). in fact, most OTC dandruff shampoo treats malessezia, but not the other 2 kinds. you might add a drop of tea tree to your palmful of H&S and see if it makes a difference!

  17. On January 20th, 2011 at 11:19 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Oh my gosh! I forgot to mention that I just bought (and used this morning for the first time) this hydrating serum for sensitive skin. It rocks! I used it before my moisturizer and it was a dream! Lets hope it continues to work so well, because my skin is not loving winter this year at all!
    Thanks for all of the info and tips. I will jot some of these down and try.
    I think my bff has witch hazel, so I’ll try it once before buying.
    That is one thing about any type of dandruff: how insecure it makes you feel. Like the entire world can see it or something. Even when it’s not that bad I always felt a spotlight on me somehow. I feel for ya, doll, I do! I hope you’ve found something that continues to work for ya.

  18. On January 20th, 2011 at 11:17 am purplekeychain Says:

    sorry — cradle cap is a form of seborrhoeic dermatitis, not psoriasis.

  19. On February 3rd, 2011 at 9:23 pm Kath Says:

    My skin care regime is the lazy woman’s skin care regime. Stick face under stream of shower. Give a good thorough wash down with a wet face washer. Towel dry.

    If I use any products on my skin, it screams at me. Either gets oily or dry. So water and a face washer is all I use.

  20. On February 4th, 2011 at 9:03 am Not Blue at All Says:

    When you say “face washer” are you referring to a wash/face cloth? Like a mini towel? Wow, that is an impressive thing if that’s all you need. I’m with you on the products bit. So frustrating. =0)

  21. On February 4th, 2011 at 7:18 pm Kath Says:

    Yup, those things. Water and a face washer. I think my skin is so sensitive that using products just messes with it.

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