When it comes to our skincare we’re often cajoled into thinking that the more we spend, or the more lavish and complicated the product appears, the greater likelihood there is of it perfecting our complexions. In reality however, this is rarely the case, with there being a lot of evidence to support the age-old wisdom of ‘less is more’.
Indeed, centuries ago women weren’t able to rely on super serums and uber technical night creams to help nourish their skin and keep wrinkles at bay - instead they sought the help of nature's remedies to soothe, heal and repair - and seemed to manage pretty darn well.
So, with that in mind we decided it was time to take it back to beauty basics and have been raiding our cupboards to see what simple ingredients could boost our skincare regimes - here's our top five.
1. Extra-virgin (raw) cold-pressed coconut oil
Not a new discovery, coconut oil has long been used and heralded by Asian cultures due to its multi-purpose healing properties. It’s only been in more recent times that it’s undergone a popularity boost in the Western world due to those such as Blake Lively and Gwyneth Paltrow attributing their glossy locks and glowing complexions to a daily dose.
Beauty benefits: “The topical benefits of raw coconut oil are down to its high vitamin E content and the presence of lauric acid, capric acid, caprylic acid and their respective antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial and anti-ageing properties,” says Sophie Thompson, Founder of natural skincare company Sister & Co. Not only will It deeply nourish and moisturise, but it is also often credited to improving breakouts, scars, cellulite, broken hair and dry skin.
How to use it: Essentially your one-stop beauty shop coconut oil can be used for a whole host of purposes - use as a cleanser, moisturiser, eye makeup remover, shaving gel, deep conditioning hair mask, teeth whitener, lip balm, cuticle softener, mouth wash and deodorant. (Don’t just pick up the first pot you see though, advises Sophie. “Always use unrefined extra-virgin cold-pressed coconut oil where possible as refined coconut oil, while ok for cooking with, shouldn't be applied to your skin because it's often been mixed with other compounds, bleached and deodorized.”)
DIY beauty recipe
‘Sister & Co Raw Coconut and Manuka Honey Hair Mask’
1 tbsp Sister & Co. Coconut Oil
1 tbsp raw manuka honey
optional: 3-4 drops peppermint essential oil
Gently heat the mixture in a saucepan - the heat will help your hair follicles open up. Apply the warm mask to dry or wet hair and apply generously from top to bottom, focusing on the ends where most damage occurs. Wrap your hair in a bun, put a shower cap over the top if you have one to hand to retain the warmth and let the mask soak in for 30-40 minutes. Wash the mask out in the shower using your normal shampoo - a voila, behold your beautifully restored head of hair.
Sister & Co Raw Virgin Coconut Oil, £7 for 60ml, buy online
2. Cold-pressed hemp seed oil
A lesser known beauty bargain, hemp seed oil is a true natural saviour due to its super high ratio of omega-3 essential fatty acids that meet exactly what the human body needs. Non-clogging and easily absorbed, it’s also particularly ideal for those who suffer from greasy or oily skin.
Beauty benefits: “ Hemp seed oil helps to reduce the size of pores, blackheads, acne, protects the skin from free radicals and provides the body with essential nutrients to maintain the skin’s water barrier, elasticity and softness. It’s also known to have anti-inflammatory benefits, helps to reduce redness and is sometimes recommended for the treatment of psoriasis and eczema ,” says Sophie. Read more on how hemp seed oil can benefit your skin here.
How to use it: Dab onto problem areas such as acne, dry patches or even burns to help soothe and calm. Alternatively combine with other essential oil such as lavender or jojoba to make a more indulgent cleanser/makeup remover.
DIY beauty recipe
' Jay Bradley’s Soothing Salt Scrub'
2 cups of brown sugar
1 cup of hemp seed oil
2 tbsp of ground cinnamon.
Mix all the ingredients together and apply to damp skin. Scrub gently in circular motions, then rinse with warm water. Apply twice a week to buff away dead cells and watch as your skin becomes softer, smoother and more summer-ready.
Cold Pressed Hemp Seed Oil, £8.49, buy online
3. Raw Manuka Honey
Already adored by hip and healthy food lovers for its antiviral and antibacterial properties, the benefits of manuka honey can also be reaped externally. It is however, a little more expensive than your average condiment - but rest assured - one jar goes a very long way and the contents are quite literally liquid gold for the skin.
Beauty benefits: “Manuka honey is a skin miracle,” says Sophie. “High in the antibacterial methylglyoxal (MG), it contains up to 100 times the amount of MG contained in standard honey and promotes the structural growth of collagen in skin cells, leading to more youthful looking skin. It’s also a potent anti-inflammatory as well as a natural humectant (drawing moisture into the skin). This hydration helps to further enhance the skin’s elasticity and cell regeneration, as well as promote healing.”
How to use it: Having tried and tested a number of methods Sophie advises that the best way to use manuka honey is in a face mask, alone or mixed with another oil such as coconut oil. “Spread a thin layer and let it sit on your skin for up to 20 minutes, two to three times a week - You'll be amazed at the difference.” It can also be used externally on cuts, wounds and ulcers to assist with the healing process.
DIY beauty recipe
'Jay Bradley’s Ultra-Nourishing Face Mask'
3 tbsp of fresh Greek yogurt
1 tbsp of manuka honey
Mix the ingredients together in a blender and apply to skin for roughly an hour (the longer you leave the greater the benefits will be). Rinse with warm water and repeat any time you’re looking to give lacklustre skin a reviving re-boot.
Raw Manuka Honey, £12, buy online
4. Activated Charcoal
It may look terrifying and very similar to the type of fuel you might find on a BBQ - but make no mistake - activated charcoal works wonders and is a veritable impurity magnet. “Activated charcoal is an amazing ingredient and potent natural detoxifier,” explains Sophie Thompson. “It has the ability to draw out and 'adsorb' toxins thousands of times its own weight (an electrical action, rather than absorption, which is a mechanical action).”
In fact, activated charcoal has actually been used for centuries to treat people who have accidentally ingested poison - which means when it comes to cleansing the skin it must be pretty good...
Beauty Benefits: When used topically, activated charcoal will draw out skin impurities , heal breakouts and help prevent further problematic skin conditions from occurring. By expelling these toxins from your body, your immunity will also be increased and inflammation reduced. If that wasn’t enough, It's also an incredible teeth whitener.
How to use it: Sophie advises to add a teaspoon of charcoal power to some coconut oil and sea salt to make a body scrub or to sugar for a face scrub. Alternatively try brushing your teeth with it to help whiten them and detox your mouth.
DIY beauty recipe
'Sister & Co Activated Charcoal Purifying Face Mask'
2 capsules activated charcoal (readily available at health shops)
1/2 tsp. bentonite clay (readily available at health shops)
1 tsp extra-virgin coconut oil (softened/melted)
1 tsp water (filtered is best)
Break open the charcoal capsules and mix the powder with the bentonite clay in a small bowl. Try to avoid using any metal objects as both activated charcoal and bentonite clay will try to draw out the metals. Mix in the coconut oil and water. Apply to a clean face, allow the mask to dry (about 20 minutes) and then remove with a facecloth. (A note of warning, activated charcoal is messy so be careful and avoid getting it on anything!)
Activated Charcoal, £8.85, buy online
5. Cold-pressed pumpkin seed oil
Recently championed as the new ‘it’ oil on the block, pumpkin seed oil offers a trifecta of health and beauty boosts to skin, hair and nails.
Beauty benefits: “Pumpkin seed oil is uniquely beneficial for skin,” says Sophie. “It contains a high amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids which regulate proper skin sebum (oil) production - so it's great for both oily/acne-prone skin and dry skin. It's also a rich source of minerals, especially selenium and zinc, which is a powerful antioxidant and therefore anti-ageing. It also contains vitamin A, which stimulates new skin cell growth and vitamin E which improves skin tone, helps imperfections and soothes breakouts.
How to use it: It can be applied topically into areas of aggravated skin or simply massaged all over for a nourishing night-time treatment. It can also be added through the lengths and ends of hair to help replenish tired out tresses. However, to get the full benefits for nails it’s often recommended to take the oil as a supplement.
DIY beauty recipe
'Anti-ageing Daily Facial Cleanser'
Half a cup of raw honey
1 tbsp pumpkin seed oil
1 tsp nutmeg
Tea tree oil (optional)
Mix together all the ingredients - adding a few drops of tea tree oil if you prefer. While this mixture won’t take off your makeup, it will help to re-invigorate and rejuvenate your skin tone, which means it’s ideal for first thing in the morning. The added nutmeg also helps to act as an extra anti-inflammatory that will help to heal any blemishes and prevent further breakouts.
Pumpkin Seed Oil, £7.99, buy online
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