Deep summer heat, blanketing the Virginia blue ridge with heavy waves of humidity, is when I feel most vibrant. I grew up here in Virginia, with summer humidity peaking around 99% (if it’s not just raining), and the heat feels like it penetrates through my skin all the way to my bones. I love this moisture rich region. I crave this late spring and summer heat in the dryness of winter. And now that it’s here, my skin care routine definitely changes.
Your skin is a changeable and sensitive organ, reacting and responding to hundreds of inputs every single day. Environmentally, topically, chemically, seasonally…imagine the endless things you’re skin is exposed to every day that you don’t even see. From sunlight and car exhaust, to luxurious oils and goop-able creams, our skin acclimates to all of it without even a thought. But sometimes how our skin responds to these inputs isn’t quite what we’d like. I’ve worked with literally hundreds of men and women for skin conditions, and I can honestly say the potentiating problems are often quite different from person to person. We’re all unique individuals, and what one person may react to, another will be fine with. Over the years I’ve come to the solid conclusion that less is always more. The more minimal we can be with our health and skin care routines, the better our body responds. That’s why I’ve stuck to a very, very minimal skin care routine for most of my life, and it’s what I often recommend my clients do, too. We work to narrow down a skin care arsenal to about three products, personalized for their own unique skin.
My skin is heat sensitive, dry, and very fair. My skin care routine changes from season to season depending on the humidity level, and temperature. I live in Virginia, where the winters are dry, chilly and mild, and the summers are quite hot with a thick blanket of humidity most days. As my skin tends to be in the drier side, it’s more balanced naturally in the summer months with all of the excess moisture in the air, but the heat can also dry it out. The sun is also my nemesis, and I burn very easily. So, I tend towards products that are cooling (with citrus, gentle rose, or cucumber undertones), moisture rich, and hydrating. Mountain Rose Herbs makes some of the best facial and body care products I’ve ever used, and I’ve stuck with them for years. I’m a huge proponent that less is more when it comes to skin health, and I keep products I use minimal in both number, and number of ingredients in each.
Cleansing: I wash my face with either an oil combination, or a gentle soap only once a day (at night). I keep this to a minimum because I want to keep the natural oils on my face balanced, and not scrub it all off constantly. I also don’t wear much makeup, but I do wear sunscreen every day, and gently wash this off in the evenings. In the spring and summer months, I use the Lemon Facial Wash because it’s gentle, light, refreshing, and super-duper simple with it’s ingredients. I also use this as a body wash sometimes too. With a base of coconut oil, organic olive oil, and organic jojoba oil and aloe vera, it’s a clean and effective and non-abrasive (and honestly, pretty luxurious) way to freshen up my face in the evenings.
Hydrosol: OK – hydrosol’s are absolutely my favorite body care item of all time. I LOVE hydrosols. In the spring and summer heat, my skin (and face especially) is really prone to redness and over-heating. Keeping my favorite White Rose Hydrosol on hand to spritz on my face anytime, anywhere, is a sweet and refreshing lifesaver for those extra hot days. I use this generously at any time, but most especially right after I cleanse my face to add in some extra cooling moisture. This is a single ingredient facial toner for all skin types with a very light floral scent. I use this as a base for room or linen sprays too. In the mornings, I wash my face with cold water, lightly dry, and then add a generous few sprays to my face and gently pat in. Afterwards, I’ll add a light moisturizer.
Moisturizer: This has always been the most challenging for me to find. Moisturizes are so often just loaded with crap and excessive ingredients. Once I found Mountain Rose Herbs’ skin creams, I was immediately hooked. In warmer seasons, I use the Cucumber cream lightly on my face and it’s absolutely perfect. This cream absorbs quickly without leaving a filmy or greasy residue. The ingredients are gloriously simple: Organic cucumber hydrosol, aloe vera gel, organic olive oil, organic sesame oil, organic sunflower oil, beeswax, organic refined coconut oil, vitamin E, and organic soy lecithin powder. The best part is that is has this unbelievably silken texture and a smooth consistency which leaves the outer epidermis feeling clean and bright, not like I have a facial cream on at all. These creams are crafted by hand and are completely free of chemicals and preservatives. It works well under your other facial products too, like sunscreens or mineral makeups.
Other Skin Tips:
Nutrition plays a huge role in the health of your skin, too. Our skin is mostly impacted by internal inflammation caused by consuming poor quality foods, food allergies or intolerances, strained detoxification, or imbalanced digestion. Paying close attention to your food choices and removing inflammatory foods can be enormously helpful to enhance your skin health and appearance. Some of the top inflammatory foods that contribute to skin inflammation are alcohol, processed sugar, processed meats, and low-fat dairy products. Everyone may react differently to individual foods, and you can always work with a holistic nutritionist to figure out what foods may be troublesome for you.
Sun exposure: direct sun exposure can very quickly damage exposed skin, and repeated sun burns are obviously something to avoid. Wear a zinc oxide or titanium dioxide based sunscreen as often as possible, or hats to protect your face and the top of your head and ears.
Avoid alcohol in any skin care products. Alcohol in products immediately dries out and irritates skin, and it’s in SO many topical products (especially aloe vera products, astringent products for acne prone skin, and even lotions). Read your labels carefully.
Herbs for skin support: I recommend herbs that are nutritive (packed with minerals!) like nettles and alfalfa, and also herbs that are rich in plant collagen like horsetail. I also recommend herbs with an affinity for encouraging elimination and detoxification, such as calendula, dandelion (leaf & root), cleavers, ginger, and aloe vera.
Developing a simple, luxurious and seasonal skin care routine can be oh so fun and rewarding. As I’ve gotten into my 30’s, taking care of my skin every day is more than just a ritual, it’s a preventative self-care luxury that I take pretty seriously. You don’t need to spend a thousand dollars a month on fancy, high end products to really take care of your skin. Simple, pure ingredients work well most of the time, and handcrafted herbal products are all the better.