If you ever woke up a sudden stress breakout or bags under your eyes from lack of sleep, you can be sure your skin is trying to tell you something. Listen closely, because your largest organ never lies: The skin is in constant communication with the internal parts of our bodies, and there are some natural ingredients that detox your skin that you definitely need to get familiar with. A dull complexion or breakout can be a direct link to an internal problem that a detoxing body scrub can flush out in no time. As explained in this study from Northwestern, skin issues like eczema can come with underlying issues that dermatologists are starting to consider in their treatment. Even though those problems have internal origins, board certified dermatologist Dr. Michelle Henry tells Bustle that detoxing through topical applications is possible due to osmosis. "Fluid moves from less concentrated areas to more concentrated area," she explains. "They may not fully penetrate [the skin], but they can cause detox by diluting the highly concentrated area. This depends on the size of the molecule and not necessarily the [opening of the] skin." Essential oils can get into the bloodstream quickly, so including them in body scrubs can treat the topical conditions of skin irritation as well as internal issues.
You may already know that external pollutants like cigarette smoke, air pollution, and pesticides that come in contact with our dermal layer can cause premature aging, breakouts, dry skin, and irritation. The U.S National Journal of Medicine also points out that those same toxins can affect what's happening inside our skin by causing damage to our internal cells. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, the skin is a pathway into the body for toxins, because pollutants can be absorbed in the moisture of the surface of our skin. The good news? That also means the skin can be a pathway for nourishing ingredients, like botanicals rich in antioxidants. Picking ingredients in your skin care routine based on internal support can give your body and skin a synergetic explosion of nutrients that help flush out the toxins on our skin.
Since body scrubs are crazy easy to make and affordable, they are a great application for a weekly detox. When body scrubs are used in the shower, the warm water and steam gives the pores a chance to open up and toxins to be flushed out. While these natural ingredients are not miracle cures, they're all known for assisting detoxing in the body, so make great additions to your favorite DIYs.
1. Black Pepper
Black pepper is known in the natural skin care world for its tremendous ability to detox the skin and the organs it protects. As Wendy Allred, education manager at Bliss Spa, told Health.com, black pepper stimulates circulation, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the surface of your skin. Moreover, the consistency of pepper alone can slough off dead skin and make room for healthy skin cells. Black pepper has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial agents that work to fight free radicals. According to this University of Michigan Cancer Center Study, the piperine found in peppercorns is a chemical compound that may prevent the formation of breast cancer tumors and can reach the bloodstream when ingested or inhaled through the essential oil.
Black pepper is often considered a sharp ingredient because of the stimulating properties it brings to the skin, respiratory, and circulatory system. I like to combine black pepper with an exfoliate like salt or sugar and add mint and black pepper essential oil for a detoxing scrub. The essential oil can support the digestive and respiratory system making this scrub great to use with a common cold because the essential oil travels through inhalation and skin absorption.
Cardamom is the hidden gem in your spice cabinet. It works to stimulate our mind, blood circulation, and even has potentially cancer-fighting agents that are beginning to be explored in scientific studies. Cardamom is a known detoxifying agent, often used in aromatherapy, herbalism, and Ayurveda because of its strong ability to release free radicals from the body. According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, cardamom's antioxidant activity is effective in impeding the development of certain types of cancer cells. On a more personal level, cardamom's antibacterial properties help treat my oily skin and breakouts.
Cardamom is one household ingredient that I use regularly for a variety of dermal applications, but for detoxing, I like to use it to support the digestive system and urinary tract. Since the steam of a shower allows for inhaling the aroma of both cardamom seed and the essential oil, adding it to a scrub is a great way to receive multiple benefits. It's incredibly easy to add to a sugar, salt, or body scrub with an antioxidant packed ingredient like bilberry to support the effect of the cardamom. I used a tablespoon of bilberry powder and a tablespoon of cardamom in an oatmeal sugar scrub to flush out toxins.
3. Black Sesame
Black sesame is a famous detoxing agent. The oil from the seeds contain natural anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation from acne skin and its nutrients help keep the longevity of healthy skin. Both black and white sesame seeds are amazing anti-aging ingredients because they have antioxidant properties which, as Refinery 29 points out, can to protect and heal the skin from those environmental pollutants that we interact with daily.
When I'm making a detoxing scrub with black sesame seeds, I like to use the oil and the seeds together and add freshly dried ginger to give my scrub substantial detoxing abilities. Grind up the black sesame seeds and use it as a base, adding oil to achieve desired consistency.
4. Matcha Green Tea
Matcha is one of my go-to ingredients for clients that have a history of using loads of chemicals in their skincare because of its extraordinary detoxing power. This form of green tea is high in polyphenols which are known to protect the skin from free radicals. Its innate ability to remove harmful toxins from the body is most studied internally, but fortunately it's been shown that polyphenols can be absorbed through our skin as well. Matcha is rich in antioxidants and according to a study published by the National Library of Medicine, topical application of green tea has shown to reduce inflammation and prevent skin disorders like photoaging, melanoma, and nonmelanoma skin cancers. That's more than enough reasons to go green while making a detoxing body scrub.
I like to work with a ceremonial grade or organic matcha green tea powder for body scrubs with a sea salt base. Matcha is pricy, but luckily a teaspoon for every four ounces you make will get your skin feeling cleansed and free of environmental pollutants. Add soothing ingredients like calendula which has shown to prevent and treat dermatitis, relieve inflammation, and redness of the skin to take your detoxing scrub to the next level.
A relative of the mint family, scullcap leaves are used to balance hormones and stimulate endorphins. The detoxing capabilities can help rid the skin of bacteria that causes acne. Scullcap has rich antioxidants and brightening properties that are excellent for a body scrub. According to board certified dermatologist, Craig Kraffert, in this article published in Dermascope, studies have shown scullcap protects the skin from sun damage and that's something we should be doing for our skin year round.
To incorporate scullcap into a body scrub, I like to use the dried, organic scullcap leaves and scullcap extract with a combination of oats and sugar. The aroma of scullcap is herbaceous and since I love smelling like herbs, I add dandelion root to give me a nice woodsy scent that brings my mind and skin back to nature.
These natural detoxers are super easy to work with and you can be the master behind your own scrub by combining them together in a scrub or incorporating dried flowers and other nourishing items for the skin.
Image: Kristin Collins Jackson (12)