An important anniversary of mine is coming up. It's an anniversary that I had never thought I'd be celebrating: About a year ago, I stopped washing my face with soap, going completely against most dermatologists orders for someone with oily skin, prone to cystic, and hormonal outbreaks. Why? Because NOTHING I did my entire life made any difference. I tried treatments specifically engineered for women of color, prescription treatments, soaps for extremely sensitive skin, but at best I only managed to mask the underlying skin issues that plagued me well into adulthood. After a year, I look at my face and have a hard time remembering the deep dark spots, the painful bumps under my skin, and frequent cysts. It's been months since I've had a serious case of "I can't leave the house today" blues.
My skin problems have not been life-long. Like many folks, I thought I had seen the last of my acne and dark spots when I was in my late teens, around the same time that puberty finally stops ruining our minds and skin. For me, going on birth control cleared my skin up almost immediately. Unlike most of my friends, I didn't have terrible mood swings and hurl my teen angst at my parents, puberty was completely focused on ruining my face instead. It wasn't until birth control that I had a clear face, but it turned me into a bundle of mood-swingy joy. For whatever reason, I just couldn't handle it. At 27, I realized that I would have to have sex with a condom forever because birth control pills were ruining my life. Unfortunately, I hadn't even thought of how it would affect my face until the outbreaks began again.
My long story with acne finally came to an end last May when I switched my soap for honey, bananas, coconut milk, and French clay masks. I certainly wasn't trying to ditch soap because I was too lazy to wash my face. In fact, my soap-less face routine started out with a lot of work and sometimes ended in a lot of rashes until I finally got into the swing of things.
May 2015 vs May 2014, no filter and no makeup
For me, face wash has always been particularly drying on my skin, which caused my oil glands to react and produce more oil, which meant even more breakouts. This certainly isn't the case for everyone, but I found the battle between products making my skin too dry and products making my skin to greasy to be completely exhausting. I also found that many products didn't give a damn about keeping a balanced pH level in my skincare which is key to maintaining clear, healthy skin.
Emily, another soapless beauty, no cover-up or filter needed
In case I've peaked your curiosity, here are a few delicious ingredients that have become an alternative to soap for me. I've saved money, restored a vibrant complexion, and stopped frequent outbreaks. I look younger in my thirties than I ever did in my twenties, and my skin is positively glowing.
Raw honey was one of the first things I tried to replace soap with. It's natural ability to restore pH levels, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antibacterial properties made it an ideal treatment for my oily skin. The best part about this natural healer is that it never spoils, which can be an annoying trait of natural remedies. Mixed with the right ingredients, honey makes a great natural face wash.
I use coconut milk as my daily face wash. It's cleansing, hydrating, and healing which means it will clean and restore your face while fighting bacteria causing acne. Coconut milk is also starting to get a name for itself in the anti-aging department: According to sources like Livestrong, coconut milk is naturally antiseptic by nature and has the ability to nourish AND moisturize at the same time. It's ideal for all skin types.
Chamomile tea is pretty legit when it comes to soothing skin conditions like acne, wrinkles, and dry skin. With natural cleansing and lightening properties, it can treat acne and the spots that acne leaves behind without drying your skin out. According to Mind, Body, Green’s website, the alpha-bisabolol present in chamomile is said to decrease wrinkles and smooth deep lines from aging.
Lavender Tea Tree
When used with a light, absorbent carrier oil, lavender tea tree oil has taken care of some serious cysts brewing under my skin. As soon as I would feel a tender bump brewing under my skin, I knew that my period was coming, bringing a cyst along with it. Lavender tea tree has literally zapped those suckers overnight on more than a few occasions. This is a great ingredient to mix with sunflower, apricot, grapeseed, or jojoba oil for oil cleansing.
Turmeric is one ingredient that finally starting to make waves. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory with antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties that made naturally curing acne an easy task for me and the biggest bonus was that it evened out my complexion with its natural lightening properties. Turmeric is ideal for those with moderate to severe acne as long as it's in moderation and combined with other healthy ingredients.
Rose water is an amazing cleanser, make-up remover, toner, and face mist. I am constantly buying roses to make my own products that the guy at the deli probably thinks that I am doing something wrong in my love-life that requires frequent apologies with expensive flowers. In reality, I fear when my rose water gets too low because the cleansing, anti-aging, and complexion benefits are incredibly unique and can be used frequently without drying or irritation.