Sunday, March 6, 2011

Beauty of an Irony

When I was in grad school, I had a clear complexion and full head of thick healthy hair.  It was easy, really.  I used Dove bar soap and Pantene shampoo.  I did little else.

Then I started working for a large and successful beauty company.  I had all the best that beauty could buy at my disposal.  Tubes and tubes of goop that women would pay through the nose for, and it was all there for the taking.  So of course, I started in on all sorts of complicated skin regimens.  There were creams that were going to prevent wrinkles, lighten skin tone, even skin tone, remove age spots, chemically peel off surface-y dead skin cells, remove redness of the skin, firming and toning, cellulite disappearance.  And then the hair - who knew there were so many issues with hair!  I decided that my hair was oily, so I had started using the best haircare products for oily hair.  I was going to look like a supermodel by the end of this all!

Instead, my hair became incredibly dry - not unlike having sticks of hay on my head.  It also became oili-ER and I couldn't go a day without washing my hair what with the grease puddle that would form from the roots and make its way down the hair shaft.  Totally disgusting, I'm telling you!  My skin started breaking out and for the first time since puberty hit, I had this mask of red and pimply agitated skin that let me and every else know how much it hated life.  

All that time, I thought I was hitting this weird younger-than-mid-life-crisis.  Years later - yes, that's right, years later - I finally bought some bottles of Proactiv, and it only served to make my face worse.  More irritated, redder, more agitated.  

As I slowly moved my way into the local, pesticide-free food culture, it dawned on me that my SKIN is the LARGEST ORGAN of my body, and what was this nonsense of continuing to expose it to chemicals all day long?   So a year ago, I started playing around with a more natural way of cleansing.  Today?  Here's my new very effective, very inexpensive skin and hair regimen:

Organic Raw Honey is unadulterated and unpasteurized, so its enzymes, vitamins, and minerals are all intact.  Honey is also a mild antiseptic.  It's a great facial cleanser!  I know, it's totally crazy to think about smearing honey on one's face, and I had a lot of questions around how this actually went down - like how do I keep everything from getting sticky?  I have a little butter knife that I use to scoop out about a quarter teaspoon.  I dampen my skin with warm water, easily spread the honey in my wet hands, and then onto my skin.  It applies smoothly and feels quite nice.  Then I rinse it all off thoroughly.  You'll know if you missed a spot because it will become sticky again.  So be sure to rinse everything well.  Raw honey cleansing is thorough and non-drying.  And if you get some in your mouth, it tastes great!!  This jar costs about $6.50 and it lasts me for half a year.  Plus - I use it in the kitchen to sweeten things up.  

For washing my hair and the rest of my body, I now use this shampoo bar.  I know, a shampoo BAR?!?!  It seemed that it wouldn't lather up, that it might leave my hair all limp and gross.  But it's really hard to find a liquid shampoo that doesn't have a bunch of stuff I can't pronounce even though it purports to be "All Natural."  Really?  

When I used this shampoo bar for the first time, I could hardly believe it.  There was a richness in the lathering - now, it wasn't sudsy like a washing machine exploded on my head, but there was a nice thick lather with just a little bit of the soap on my hair.  The experience was really quite nice, and it was comforting.  The rinse was surprisingly squeaky clean.  After drying, my hair felt really healthy.

With just these ingredients:  Olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, fresh pure new hampshire spring water, sodium hydroxide (a binder) and essential oils for fragrance, I feel really good about this product.  This bar of soap is about $3.50 and is equivalent to a 24 oz bottle of shampoo.

And then for the moisturizing.  I've started to use organic extra virgin coconut oil.  If you read all the literature about coconut oil, you'll see that ingesting and using for external purposes has great benefits, not the least is actually being able to clear up the skin because of its antibacterial properties.  It's also a great hair conditioner.  Around $7 for a 15 oz. jar.  Lately, I've been cooking with it.  It lends a pretty strong coconut flavor that has been difficult for me to get used to, but if I use it for Thai or other coconut prominent foods, it's awesome!

Check out some of what they're saying:

And that's it!  Skin feels good, hair feels good, pocketbook feels good.  Love it!  I get all these items on  It's a pretty good site with good prices.  Let me know if there's a better one out there!


Nathan_W said...

I can relate to this article. I have a dry scalp and for the life of me I cant find a product that will stop itching. I've tried Selsun blue, head & shoulders, and other highend shampoos from Saks, but to no avail. I never would have thought honey would be good for skin, but I'm not sure I'd like the sticky feeling haha. I'm glad youve mentioned Proactive because I've tried this as well, and it dried my skin out. Finding a good facial cleaner has been hard as well.

- nate

Alexa said...

I use this brand of coconut oil to make my face moisturizer (I also add Jojoba oil and neroli oil). I only use this brand to make granola, muffins, cookies etc because of it's strong coconut flavor. There are other nice brands out there that don't have such a strong flavor when cooking like Wilderness Family Naturals.

Lina Bierker said...

Hey - thanks for the tips! What are the reasons you add Jojoba and Neroli oil? I'll check out Wilderness Family Naturals for cooking. I do love the smell of the Nutiva, though. It's very soothing.

Kelly Crawford said...

I also use coconut oil for my hair and it's even shinier than ever. Got mine from I also use it for my skin. I really love coconut oil! :)