What is a holistic skincare routine?
As you can expect from someone who wrote a book about acne, I’m a self-proclaimed skin care fanatic. I encourage holistic skincare, which addresses the health of the skin from both the inside-out and outside-in. One of the most influential people in my journey to health skin is aromatherapist Michelle Ornstein, founder of Enessa Organic Skincare. These extraordinarily pure, effective formulations use plant oils, essential oils, and potent plant extracts to address all skin concerns.
I’ve had the privilege to learn about holistic skin care from Michelle. Last year, we shared a discussion on the Top 8 Skincare Oils for Glowing Skin. In this post, I want to share what I’ve learned from my own skincare routine trial-and-error as well as Michelle’s wisdom.
This post is generously sponsored by Enessa. Like always, it is my strict policy to only share content that reflects my genuine experience and I only recommend products from companies that meet my high standards for integrity.
How to practice a holistic skincare routine
Here are the 5 steps which I believe are key to create a transformative holistic skincare routine.
1. Avoid harsh, oil-stripping cleansers
When cleansing my skin, I used to believe the goal was that squeaky-clean feeling. If you aim for a cleanse that gives your face that shiny, dry feeling, however, you strip your skin of protective sebum. It is the balance of sebum – not the absence of it – that creates glowing, blemish-free skin.
When cleansing, strive for the balance of removing makeup and impurities without drying the skin.
In the evenings, I oil cleanse with pure jojoba oil. This is a process of massaging the oil on your face before removing it – along with impurities – using a warm cloth. If you want to use a combination of oils for oil cleansing, Michelle suggests mixing jojoba with non-comedogenic hemp seed oil.
At night, our skin detoxes, rejuvenates, accumulates dead skin cells, and perspires. In the morning, Michelle recommends using a gentle cleanser to remove impurities and enhance the absorption of moisturizer. For acne-prone/oily skin types, Enessa’s Bergamot cleanser is purifying but extremely gentle. It features natural surfactants from Coconut oil along with Aloe Vera and botanical extracts, removing excess oil without stripping the skin.
2. Befriend Skincare Oils
Your skin needs oil. That’s why it produces oil! However, when we strip our skin of its natural oils – or when we mummify it with too much oil – we disrupt the delicate sebum balance.
As Michelle and I discussed in our previous skincare oil post,
The right combinations of of oils targeted for different skincare needs provide powerful properties to normalize oil production, reduce the signs of aging, and refine the skins texture. When blended according to skin type, natural oils do not cause oily skin or clog pores. Only when we use synthetic oils (like mineral oil) or some heavy (comedogenic) oils do we run into these problems.
If you struggle with oily skin, don’t avoid oil-based skincare. And if you have acne, skin oils are one of the most powerful treatments! I swear by Enessa’s Clove Acne Control for reducing cystic acne overnight.
The Rescue Blemish Control is another of my staples for treating breakouts. Although these blends feel like oils, they are made with Golden Jojoba( a liquid wax ester). This natural liquid wax ester is ideal for all skin types, non-greasy, is very similar to our own skin’s sebum, does not go rancid and is non- comedogenic.
For moisturizing, opt for a blend of oil suited for your skin type. I recommend Enessa’s Facial Nourishments.
3. Know when to opt for expertly formulated products vs. homemade
The beauty of a holistic skincare routine is that it can, potentially, be crafted from ingredients in your own pantry. You can create a simple toner with diluted apple cider vinegar, moisturize with macadamia oil, and call it a day. Alternatively, you can use high end natural skincare products that may leave you questioning if the results will be worth the price tag.
I’ve been on both sides of that spectrum, and landed somewhere in the middle. I do make some of my skincare products, but I invest in the products that I cannot effectively formulate at home.
For example, I make my own oil cleansing blend by mixing 1 part jojoba oil with 1 part castor oil. For body care, I love simple sugar scrubs made with sugar and avocado oil. I also use straight macadamia oil as a body moisturizer.
When it comes to facial toners, treatment oils and moisturizers, I can’t blend anything that measures up to Enessa’s powerful formulas. I’m unable to create Enessa’s toner with plant extracts, the ideal balance of essential oils, and hyaluronic acid, for example. Additionally, when it comes to using essential oils for skincare, I believe it is wise to leave it to experts like Michelle. Using too much or the wrong type of essential oil can sensitize the skin, cause damage or lead to photosensitivity.
4. Avoid Over Exfoliation
In my past skincare life, I fell for the promise of glowing skin from enzyme peels and heavy-duty glycolic acid masks. I wish I knew then what I know now. While these harsh treatments do reveal softer skin, they essentially damage the skin by disrupting the acid-mantle and pH balance.
Michelle takes a conservative approach to exfoliation in order to preserve the integrity and delicate balance of the skin. Her best-selling Seaweed Bio-Exfoliant is the only facial exfoliant I buy, and I use it a few times per month. It uses a gentle blend of very fine himalayan salt, Dead Sea salts, seaweed powder, flaxseeds, and essential oils.
This facial scrub can also be used as a spot treatment for acne by applying a small amount directly on the blemish and leaving it on the skin for 10 minutes ( as a mask), rinsing well and applying the Clove Acne Control directly on the area to be treated.
5. Choose Safe SPF
In the midst of writing this post, I had a very enlightening email discussion with Michelle regarding SPF. She shared hear wealth of knowledge on the subject, and here are the most important points from our conversation:
- Both UVA and UVB rays contribute to cell damage . Sun exposure does damage skin, but is also necessary for vitamin D synthesis. The challenge is in safely exposing ourselves to the sun, while reducing the damaging effects of UV radiation.
- Use SPF to avoid sunburn. Sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before sun exposure and reapplied every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
- Chemical sunscreen ingredients are often linked to hormone disruption, increased estrogen levels, and cell damage. Further, these non-natural ingredients can irritate the skin and may even pass into mother’s milk. These chemicals include: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.
- When seeking SPF, use a mineral sunscreen agent. The active ingredients in mineral-based sunscreens are zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Titanium dioxide is a possible human carcinogen (reported by the Canadian Center of Occupational Health and Safety) and may disrupt cellular communication, so choose zinc oxide sunscreens.
- Although research is inconclusive, non-nano zinc oxide is likely safer than nano zinc oxide. Nano refers to the size of the molecule, and non-nano is less likely to be absorbed into the bloodstream.
- Zinc oxide can be drying to the skin when used daily, so seek an SPF treatment with additional moisturizing ingredients.
My favorite sunscreen that meets Michelle’s requirements? Enessa’s Sol Anti-Aging Moisturizer, featuring moisturizing plant oils along with non-nano zinc oxide.
Have you made the transition to holistic skincare?