Yes, I know, I had been slowly and steadily going through products in the proper chronological order: from cleaning oneself through to whatever the last stage is before clothes go on. Jumping the gun here to a few multi-purpose wonder-products.
I. EVERYDAY SHEA UNSCENTED MOISTURIZING BODY WASH
This is a simple creamy wash. Lathers a bit, not much. Leaves skin feeling soft, smooth, but not greasy-film-y. Minimal:
Water, Aqueous Neem Leaf (Azadirachta indica) Extract, Handcrafted Shea Butter Soap (Saponified Shea (Butyrospermum parkii) Butter* and Virgin Coconut (Cocos nucifera) Oil), Cocamidopropyl Betaine
- Face wash
- Double-cleanser for sunscreen (and any makeup) removal; works fine for “light” face
- Body wash
- Shampoo, at a pinch: not as moist as my usual beloved one, but will do if desperate, mixed with a little oil. Certainly better than many things that called themselves “shampoo.”
- Cleaning product for makeup brushes, sponge pads, and other tools (but NOT bristle hair-brushes)
- Cleaning the menstrual cup: for yes, I *am* a Diva.
- Hand-washing laundry detergent, for delicate smalls (cool to cold water)
- Laundry detergent for machine-washable delicates (cold water)
I use some combination or permutation of the following, depending on time of year; trying to unhook myself from mineral-oil dependence for strictly environmental reasons–the stuff is, after all, unsustainable–but in times of eczema and other serious skin condition, mineral oil alone is a saviour. So is sunflower, in most circumstances. And borage, the marvellous miraculous borage; but if you’ve got extreme skin, stick with doctor’s orders and don’t mess around… even if that means sticking with mineral oil. You can always alleviate ethical anxieties through a charity donation directly to an environmental organization.
- mineral oil: the plain stuff, that doesn’t contain anything else. Not, I stress, “baby oil” (unless it is, as is the case here in Canada, available in an unfragranced version that is just mineral oil). Sources: supermarkets and drugstores in the more pharmacy-angled aisle, or in baby section. UK: minimal extra ingredients in good versions from Boots Expert Baby and Elave.
- sunflower seed oil: the most basic, cheap stuff you can find in the cooking-oil aisle of any supermarket (or grocer’s, deli, other food store). More on this oil later: for present purposes, look for high polyunsaturates. This usually corresponds to cheap and refined, and not to expensive, unrefined, virgin, first-pressed, cold-pressed, and organic. Brands used: any, including supermarket own-brand.
- safflower seed oil: ditto
- sesame seed oil: ditto; usually bought from cosmetic-oils aisle, careful on the cooking ones, as they’re often made from toasted sesame seeds. Which is all very lovely, smells gorgeous, and I’m fond of cooking with and eating the stuff: but quite different from oil made from raw seeds.
- jojoba oil: small quantities added to the mix. Skin usually OK with up to 20%, if unhappy I reduce it to 10. Have used organic and not, haven’t noticed any difference in results between them. Positive of organic: more eco-friendly, re. sustainable agriculture. Found in cosmetic aisle of eco-/health-food stores (and some supermarkets), or else in the massage section. Brands used: Aura cacia, Desert Essence, NOW.
- sweet almond oil: heavier percentage used in winter and/or on drier skin. Source: same as jojoba.
- avocado oil: ditto.
- special case as usually applied straight to skin: borage seed oil: when skin is unhappy, dry, and flaky. I also eat the capsules; indeed, the capsules are the cheapest source of this. Found in vitamin etc. supplements aisles of various shops, more likely in the health-food ones. I have seen the caps placed with skincare recently in my local Whole Foods. Keep oil in fridge. Use one cap at a time–this oil goes rancid super-fast. Cut cap to open, pour oil into hand, apply from there.
Other oils may come and go, and be experimented and played with; and some oils are used on specific areas (olive, rosehip seed); but these are the regulars. With the exception of borage, they’ve got a long shelf-life, are low- to no-odour, and are somewhere between reasonable and very cheap.
See further: more on that multi-purpose oil
- Eye makeup removal, especially waterproof mascara
- Pre-cleanse if wearing more sunscreen (several top-ups through the day), more makeup, or simply more dirt and sweat and grubbiness
- If skin is very upset, as/instead of moisturiser
- If skin is very dry (winter), I either apply the oil like a serum in a layer right under moisturiser, or I mix it in with moisturiser. Just a drop or two.
- If scalp is dry, as a pre-shampoo scalp moisturising treatment thingie. Leave on for 30 minutes before washing hair. Shampoo once more than usual.
- In-shower body moisturiser. Rinse off if not too dry, usually leave on and let air-dry.
- Shaving armpits (and whatever else, as needed, etc.)
- Bathing, or having a hand or foot bath
- Nails and cuticles
- General household cleaning: I’m frequently surprised at what oils are capable of cleaning off around the house. Persistent grime on surfaces.
III. EMOLLIENT CREAM
Choose your poison: I’ve used E45, Elave, A-Derma, Avène TriXéra, Nivea, Nuxe, ShiKai, unbranded, pharmacy own-brand, with or without mineral oil. Current one: Allergenics.
aloe barbadensis – cetearyl alcohol (from palm & coconut oil) – borage oil – beeswax – glycerin (vegetable source) – sweet almond oil – shea butter – cetearyl glocoside (from glucose) – rapeseed sterols – zinc oxide (mineral source) – capryloyl glycine (from palm & sunflower seed) – rosa moschata oil – tocoperyl acetate (from cereals) – glycyrrhetinic acid (from liquorice root) – hyaluronic acid (natural mucopolysaccaride) – xanthan gum – citric acid.
- as a creamy cleanser / cleansing cream. Very like Pond’s or any other cold cream.
- as a face moisturiser, in cold or otherwise drying weather. Use a very little, goes a long way.
- body moisturiser: can also be mixed with aloe vera gel or with oil for a more fluid texture
- leave-in conditioner / hair protector, when swimming in salt or chlorinated water: wash out afterwards
- and, indeed, can be used as a conditioner on dry ends if need be. I’ve done this when camping (or travelling or a long time) and unable to wash hair: put hair in plaits / braids, rub in some cream at the ends.
- eye cream: doesn’t always work, and depends on circumstances, and where and how used may well vary. Eyelids if eczema, undereye if very dry.
- hand cream
IV. BALMY STUFF
My current usual one is shea butter (L’Occitane refined or Alaffia unrefined). Have also used, for same purpose: Vaseline, assorted lip-balms, solid balms by Trilogy, BalmBalm, Boots Botanics, Nuxe, …
- lip balm
- eye cream, especially on drier areas; I found the refined version was better on my skin (some irritation with unrefined)
- nail and cuticle cream, especially if mixed with The Oil (above)
- elbows and knees and any other rough patches
- feet: apply thick layer in the evening before going to bed, leave it greasy, put on socks (I use wool: cotton tends to get greasy and spread the grease; silk is apparently good, but I don’t have any silk socks, sorry… maybe when I win the lottery…). One can also do this in the morning, if wearing wool socks during the day.
V. AND ALSO
- (especially UPF15-ish Manuka honey) topical antiseptic and antifungal: on zits
- on other irritation-spots or -patches
- applied to these or indeed the whole face as a mask, best of all if mixed with other things: avocado, banana, oatmeal, yoghurt/milk
- mixing in with various potions and lotions for face, body, hair
- for further uses, see the MakeupAlley product reviews for honey (listed in order most helpful > least: there’s a breathtaking range of uses …)
USES (filched from my MUA review; see the full entry, as the full 167 reviews are well worth reading, as are–as ever–the notes of caution and cautionary tales):
- Emergency: apply yoghurt to skin. Straight out of fridge or at room temperature. If in a state of desperation, straight out of the yoghurt container, and using the hands. Good for calming irritation and sensitivity. Burns, rashes, bites – I first used this on sunburn when a child, before the dawning of the great age of modern sunscreens that actually work. Apply a layer to affected skin, and leave it for as long as possible. Some will absorb – nice and moisturising – and the rest will dry, then can be washed off very easily, with plain water. A thicker yoghurt works best for this, simply because the texture makes it easier to apply and helps it stay on: e.gg. full-fat, and Greek-style (or Turkish or variously Balkan) yoghurt.
- Basic face mask: mix 1 teaspoonful of yoghurt + 1 teaspoonful of honey. Applied in a thin layer to face, neck, and bosom. Can be left on for as little as 5 min in shower (while washing hair and rest of self), or up to 30 min (till really dry and crumbly). Then rinsed off. Skin is soft and soothed afterwards. Excellent if skin’s been misbehaving or upset. Being very mild, can be used daily if so desired. Takes seconds to prepare in kitchen beforehand: I recommend using a small container (ex. egg-cup) to transport the mask to the bathroom. Unless you’re a luxurious person with an in-bathroom fridge …
Works with any honey tried so far. Fine with a thinner yoghurt (and – see other reviews below – low-fat is recommended, for AHA reasons). The mask should be sufficiently non-liquid so as not to fall off the face: other than that practicality, texture is a matter of individual preference. I’ve had perfectly satisfactory results with many a yoghurt: though I do still prefer to use the same pot for eating and for skincare, being a lazy shopper (and a pedestrian, with at least a 30 min walk between shops/public transport and home).
- Face wash: speeded-up version of the in-shower mask. A thin yoghurt or a drinking yoghurt (the plain drinking yoghurt you get in cartons in Europe) also makes a good simple cleansing milk. As does milk (the clue’s in the name). Use as any other creamy non-foaming cleanser: dampen skin (tepid water), apply a little yoghurt or milk (1 or 2 teaspoonfuls: again, best via the intermediary of an unbreakable container), rub in, rinse off. No guarantees on heavy-duty make-up; it does remove lightweight sunscreen; above all, nice and refreshing in the morning.
- The complete face mask: add oatmeal. Best ground down a little, and soaked in warm water (as if making porridge), then mixed in. Quantities: for a good solid mask, a little more oatmeal than the total quantity of the other ingredients combined. This mask can be applied and left until it dries; it can also be used as a super-gentle scrub. As a mask, works well with cold teabags on closed eyes, as an eye-mask. Happy memories of many girls’ nights in, over many years. (Not keeping the same mask on for all these years, I hasten to add.) Infinite variations exist: e.g. the addition of mashed banana and/or avocado on drier skin. The world’s your oyster … Same proportions again: at least 50% oatmeal. Easiest to make in a larger batch, and thus either for a bunch of people or for a weekend of intensive and thorough pampering.