I Got Rid of My Deep Rolling Acne Scars Completely with a $12 MSM Cream


Today I have an incredible guest post from a reader named Tamar. I had always heard that there wasn’t really a natural way to remove deep pitted or rolling scars, but luckily she has proved me wrong!

She was eager to share her story for those of you who are suffering with deep acne scarring, so here it is:

Let me start out by giving a very brief background of my skin history. When I turned twelve, I started getting some annoying pimples on my face. However, it didn’t get really problematic until I decided to do something about it by taking antibiotics when I was eighteen (terrible, terrible idea, folks) and then going on birth control when I hit twenty (equally horrific).

Then my face began doing something it never had before: it started scarring, deep rolling scars and a full face pinkish-red pigmentation. With a clear face covered in scars, I felt a little cheated.

And Then, a Discovery…

One dull October day last fall, I was wandering through one of my favorite health food stores (Henry’s) when I stumbled across the skin care section and hawked a few random gems: a bottle of avocado oil, jojoba oil, Aztec clay, and a jar of MSM cream—most of which ended up just occupying space for the next few months since I was too timid to try anything new on my inflamed face. 

Come mid-January though desperation kicked in and I decided to give one of them a go, inflammation or not. So I slathered the MSM cream on my face once a day, religiously. Around that time, I stayed for a week at my sister’s house, relaxing my skin care regimen and this included the MSM cream. As we were lounging around the house one day, I noticed she was studying my face and, irritated, I asked her what she was looking at. To which she replied—to my general amazement and elation—“Your face just looks flatter—fuller. I can’t even see any scars.”

Intrigued, I rushed to the nearest mirror and tested my face out at all different angles in bright (fluorescent!) lighting, which is typically the opposite of what I do and might have accounted for why I didn’t notice any difference—at least with the rolling scars.

When I got home, (true story here) I snatched up my camera and exposed my virgin face to the sun and cricked my neck and turned up my jaw and looked like a total dork trying to determine if, indeed, my face was “fuller”. And discovery of discoveries, in less than a month, all my scars were nearly gone. Oddly enough, it was the more stubborn rolling scars which disappeared first followed by, slowly but surely, the florid pigmentation. Needless to allude to here, I was ecstatic.

Nuts and Bolts

It is now four months later and I have just purchased a fresh jar of MSM cream, which, to satisfy your curiosity, is $12 at my local Henry’s. Let it be noted, I used this almost every day and it has lasted four months.

It has a slight tingling and tightening feeling when I first put it on, but it’s not uncomfortable at all and I imagine, though I never have, that you can easily wear it under make-up if you so desire. Also, I have noticed that pimples I do have heal a heckuva a lot faster when I glob a little of the cream on.

For those of you interested, it contains no common irritants, allergens, artificial colors or animal products. It also has vitamins D3, E, and A and aloe and grapefruit seed extract (yum!).

Lastly, I should mention that back in August I took MSM in supplement form for quite a while and, not only did I not notice any improvement in my skin, it was quite a pretty penny to keep that up in comparison to using the cream.

Final Notes

I currently have a handful of pimples (it’s almost that particularly abysmal time of the month) and some scattered pigmentation from recent inflammations. Yet the bane of my life, those awful, dismal rolling scars, are nowhere to be seen. I really hope you guys give this a shot because, trust me, I know how disheartening acne scars can be. And, coming from someone who has tried everything from manuka honey to microdermabrasion to derma-rollers for my scars, when I say this is the cat’s meow you best believe it.

Finally, if you kind folks want to follow me on Tumblr, I promise to pique you’re interest.

Are you suffering with pitted or rolling acne scars?

Gentle Ways to Come Clean: 14 Natural Face Cleansing Alternatives

This is another epic guest post from my amazing (and funny, and smart, and talented) skin care correspondent, Svea. And good news! She’s started her own blog, so check it out here

After you read this article, I swear washing your face will be as much fun as this model is making it look

Many of you guys have been asking about gentle face cleansing alternatives lately, so I just decided to write an article about it. Here it is:

You probably know that most commercial cleansers contain surfactants or emulsifiers – which is pretty much the same from a chemical point of view. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), soap and even sugar tensides (a common ingredient in many organic cleansers) strip the natural lipid layer from the skin’s surface and destroy its protective barrier.

In other words, they are simply too harsh for sensitive skin types like acne skin.

I think that‘s the reason why you are looking for a safe and effective natural way to wash your face! The good news is that there are lots of home remedies you can try! It’s fun to do your own “spa treatment,” especially one that is beneficial!

Not only are many of the natural “cleansers“ mentioned below quite inexpensive compared to most store bought stuff, they are also environmentally friendly, even after they go down the drain (apart from the cotton pads, of course …)

However, none of these natural face wash methods will make your skin feel as “squeaky“ clean as those surfactant-rich cleansing foams, creams and gels from your local supermarket. And that‘s a positive point! If your skin feels squeaky, your cleanser is probably too “strong” for you. Many people think their skin is not clean enough after washing it the natural way – but it is! I swear!

Acne or no acne, switching to a gentle, natural cleansing routine means switching to something that it is NOT provoking inflammations and something that will NOT leave your face feeling tight, dry or looking flaky. You want something gentle for your skin, something that keeps it hydrated and minimizes the amount of moisturizer you need to use. 

A gentle cleansing routine won‘t cure your acne, eczema or other skin problems like a magic potion, but you can improve your skin‘s condition a lot by NOT slashing any more chemicals on it every single day. Treat your skin as gently as you can and never rub, pull or tug your skin!

Above all you really don’t want to over-wash your face! It could be making your skin worse. Once or twice a day is enough. To avoid intolerances or even allergic reactions, always make a patch test on the inside of your arm before you apply stuff to your face – even if it‘s mild and natural stuff!

Okay, I hear you guys! I‘ll stop preaching and come to the point! These are the single cleansing methods:

Natural Cleansers

So you want your own individual look? Try a full body clay mask!

1. Clay

Clay draws toxins from the skin and can calm inflammations. You cannot only use it as a face mask, but also as a daily face wash.

There are different types of clay: red, green or white clay, ghassoul (also called rhassoul) or healing earth. You can mix clay with water or other funny stuff like aloe vera gel, organic floral waters, organic full fat yogurt, kefir or buttermilk. It‘s simple, just like cooking. Get creative!

However, please remember not to add too many different ingredients all at once! Try only one thing at a time to find out how your skin reacts to it. Apply the mixture to your face, leave it on for just a few minutes, then rinse. Don‘t let it dry!!!

This cleansing method works especially well for oily or combination skins, however depending on which color of clay you use, all skin types can benefit.

oily skin:
ghassoul / rhassoul (moroccan lava clay), green clay, bentonite clay, kaolin clay or Fuller’s

sensitive skin:
white clay, red clay

dry skin:
red clay

dull, tired, or devitalized skin:
pink clay

If your skin tends to be dry, add a few drops of oil. To enhance antibacterial properties, try to add a drop of lavender, tee tree or laurel oil, a teaspoon of manuka honey or a splash of apple cider vinegar.

You can use clay as a mask for body and hair as well! Ghassoul is a fab hair wash alternative: applied as a mask, it strips the hair of chemical build up and other residues, absorbs oiliness almost like a sponge, makes your hair shine and adds volume! Don‘t massage it too much into your hair to avoid split ends.

Don‘t try clay if you are allergic to nickel. Clay may contain traces of it.

2. Orris Root Powder

Orris root = Iris germanica, Iris florentina, Iris pallida

Orris root powder is really moisturizing, very gentle on the skin and smells just like violets! Mix with water (or yogurt, aloe vera, floral waters, … ) and apply in the same way as the clay mixtures.

You can use it as a tooth powder as well! It might be a good alternative for those, who struggle with a severe intolerance or allergy to fluoride, SLS or mint oil (in the past, it has indeed been used as a toothpaste).

Depending on where you live, orris root powder might be difficult to find. You can try to browse online shops selling herbs or ask in a pharmacy for it.

For those living in the States, you will find it by clicking here.

3. Chickpea Flour

If you have very oily skin, chickpea flour might be good for you! Mix with water, floral waters, yoghurt, … and apply in the same way as clay or orris root powder.

You can buy it in most Asian or health food stores!

4. Organic Full-Fat Yogurt, Curd, Kefir or Buttermilk

Yogurt, curd, kefir and buttermilk are the most natural surfactant-free alternatives to cleansing milk you can probably ever get your hands on! It‘s not just emulsified fat and water: Lactic acid harmonizes with your skin’s acidity, dissolves lipids and helps to remove dead skin cells.

If possible, use organic (non-pasteurized) milk products. Massage gently into your skin, avoid the eye area and leave on for a few minutes. Then rinse.

As a general rule of thumb, yoghurt and curd are a little more gentle to the skin than kefir and buttermilk. Especially buttermilk might be too strong for very sensitive skin types due to its high amount of lactic acid. For the same reason, it‘s a great exfoliator!

5. Cotton Pad and Oil

Apply just a few drops of oil (jojoba, olive, argan, almond, apricot kernel, evening primrose, …) on a moistened cotton pad and gently wipe across your face without rubbing. Splash with water afterwards.

If you aren‘t sure which oil could be great for your skin type, read the oils article first.

6. Mashed Fruit or Vegetables as a Cleanser or Face Mask

This is no recipe idea! Fact is that papaya pulp, mashed avocados, cucumbers, mangos or bananas are fantastic skin cleansers. Fresh fruit contains enzymes which will remove dead skin cells, clear pores and resolve excess oil. I think most recipes below are too complicated to become an every day solution, but you can still consider them as a mask or treatment every once in a while! Be careful though, not every skin type can deal with fruit acid. Make a patch test first!

A few ideas:

Oily skin / Combination skin:

  • Cucumber juice works extremely well as a skin cleanser. Due to its cooling effect it helps to soothe and soften the skin. Apply some cucumber juice mixed with raw organic milk onto your face. Use a cotton pad!
  • Papaya fruit is a rich source of nutrients such as carotenoids, vitamin C, B vitamins, enzymes and minerals. Papaya pulp also contains a variety of phytochemicals, including polyphenols: Massage your face very gently with a papaya slice or mix papaya pulp with raw organic honey or rose water and apply it as a face mask for 15-20 minutes.
  • Lemon juice is a natural exfoliant, skin brightener and anti-infective, whereas the starch from (sweet) potatoes will absorb excess oil: Boil some sweet (or white) potatoes, mash them, let them cool down and add a few drops of lemon into the mixture. Squeeze a real lemon! Do not use any ready-bought lemon juice gunk! Apply, leave on for 20 minutes, then rinse off with water.
  • Mix some lemon juice (from a real lemon) with raw organic (or manuka) honey and cinnamon. For some, it works extremely well to fade hyper-pigmentation marks. Leave on for half an hour, then rinse.
  • Bananas are rich in vitamin A, B and E and a good source of iron, magnesium and potassium. A fresh mashed banana facial can be great for your skin!
  • Mangos can have a nice effect on your skin as well. Mangos are rich in vitamin-A and rich in antioxidants. Use in the same way as papaya!

Dry skin:

  • Packed with healthy fats and phytonutrients, avocados and olives offer remarkable benefits for dry skin: Mix avocado pulp with olive oil to make a paste. Rinse off after 20 minutes.

7. The Oil-Cleansing-Method

I‘m not a big fan of the oil-cleansing-method. For me it wasn’t great, to say the least. The first time I tried this method, I ended up with cystic acne. It was too harsh on my skin because of rubbing too much, because of using the wrong or too much oil and because of the very hot water. That‘s why I don’t think it‘s suitable for sensitive or inflamed acne skin, so please be careful!

If, after all, you are still longing to try it, grab your favorite oil and apply some of it on your dry face in a circular motion. Use your fingertips. To avoid irritation, massage your skin in the most gentle way possible – or not at all, especially in the most inflamed areas.

Massaging with oil can be very stressful for your skin and might spread acne bacteria all over your face. Just let the oil soak for about 20-30 minutes. Excess sebum will be removed anyhow and even some impurities might pop out.

You don‘t even have to use olive and castor oil as described in most online articles. Castor oil might remove too much natural sebum from your skin, so your skin might produce even more sebum to protect itself. Try jojoba, hemp or grape seed oil, if you have oily skin.

For dry skin, macadamia, canola or olive oil should work fine. Then, instead of using a very hot wet cloth to remove the excess oil, use a warm one pressing it gently on your face without rubbing. Repeat a few times. Don‘t use microfiber cloths, but only soft muslin or cotton cloths.

8. Baking Soda

Dilute a pinch of baking soda in A LOT OF water and splash your face with it. Rinse thoroughly with clean water afterwards.

Don‘t use too much baking soda and never let the baking-soda-water dry on your skin! The granules are kind of abrasive when dry.

By the way, the naturally occurring chemical compound sodium bicarbonate (baking soda = NaHCO3 = sodium, hydrogen, carbon and oxygen) can clean anything from your face to your pans and pots to your whole household. Give it a try!

9. Raw Organic Honey

Raw organic honey is an extremely mild cleanser with antibacterial and moisturizing benefits! Simply apply, leave on for a few minutes up to half an hour, rinse. Be careful with your hair!

Tracy blogged about manuka honey some time ago. Here are the links:

Why is Manuka Honey So Special for Acne and Acne Scars?

I Switched to Manuka Honey… Why Am I Breaking Out?

How I Wash My Face to Prevent Acne

For Experts:

10. Self-Made All-in-One Cleansing Milk, Moisturizer and Body Lotion

Making your own natural skin care is a fabulous way to take care of yourself, save money and have fun all at the same time. Moreover, you can avoid harmful chemicals and other substances your skin might be reacting to and still have the advantages of a creamy and moisturizing product!

All you need is a good oil, some water and a little bit of liquid lecithin. Lecithin is an emulsifier which is naturally occurring in egg yolks and oils (avocado oil contains a lot of it) and is really kind to the skin.

Even my own crazy skin gets along with it, although it easily freaks out with any other emulsifier. You can buy it in some online shops, for example,

basic recipe:

  • 0.7 oz (20 ml) organic floral water (use it as it is!) or aloe vera gel (use it as it is!) or mineral water (boiled and cooled down) or distilled water (if you find boiling water is too much work!)
  • ca. 1 scoop liquid lecithin (you don‘t have to be too precise with this)
  • 0.35 oz (10 ml) cold-pressed organic oil (jojoba, grape seed, apricot kernel … ) or an oil mix

You can vary the amount of oil according to your skin type: 20% – 40% work quite well.

Sterilize a 1oz (30ml) glass bottle and any other type of equipment you might need (measuring utensils, spoons etc.). If you don‘t want to sterilize them with alcohol, boil them in a pot of water for at least half an hour and let them dry properly.

Pour the ingredients into the bottle, put on the lid, shake, and it‘s done! If the oil and water components should separate after a while, just shake the flask all over again to re-mix. If that does not help, add another few drops of lecithin. You can also add a drop of your favorite essential oil, such as lavender, manuka, chamomile, neroli, jasmine and so on.

Prepare only very small amounts, store in the fridge and use within two weeks (otherwise you‘ll have to use alcohol or preservatives).

If you suffer from very dry patches you could try to add a pinch/drop of ectoin, allantoin, d- panthenol or lactic acid (online-shop/pharmacy).

Natural Toners

Many people take the 3 steps of cleansing, toning and moisturizing as a rule to be set in stone. In my opinion the benefits of “toning“ as it is generally – and commercially – understood are questionable, but here are some very gentle alternatives for those who like to have another refreshing kick right after cleansing!

11. Water

Yes, water! I‘m not kidding! Chlorine or limescale are a common cause of itchy, red, dry and flaky skin. So if your tap water happens to be very limy, try to use mineral, filtered (or at least boiled) water to splash your face. This might make a huge difference for some people!

And, of course, water is a very natural and genuine toner! Guaranteed without perfume, essential oils and other unnecessary accessories.

12. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is an excellent choice, if you want to tone and hydrate your skin at the same time. Add one or two drops of oil to it to keep the moisture inside your skin!

Aloe vera speeds the healing process and acts as an anti inflammatory to calm down your skin. It is also a must have home first aid remedy: apply to burns, slow healing wounds, grazes, bites and stings!

However, aloe vera products available in health food stores are not always equal in quality.

Be sure that the aloe vera gel you purchase is organic and certified by the International Aloe Science Council (IASC). This label guarantees that your aloe vera gel is naturally rich in active polysaccharides and free from all kinds of skin-irritating stuff like pesticides and so on.

Nevertheless, make a patch test first, if you have never tried aloe vera before! Some people are allergic to it.

13. Organic Herbal Distillates / Floral Waters

Organic floral waters, also called hydrosols, are very kind on the skin (at least if you are not allergic to a specific flower or plant) and help to regenerate the skin‘s natural acid mantle after cleansing. There are lots of different choices: rose water, hamamelis water, orange blossom water, lavender water, chamomile water, thyme water, sandalwood water …

Floral waters are traditionally used in Ayurveda for toning the skin. Produced at high temperatures, they are somewhat acidic (with a pH between 5-6) and tend to inhibit bacterial growth. They are not however sterile, but a fresh product, just like food, and should be kept refrigerated.

Always buy floral waters in a spray bottle (because of the same reason). Spray liberally over face and body after cleansing as a toner or throughout the day to refresh and hydrate your skin.

However, be careful to choose the right type of floral water! Many hydrosols on the market are just water with a small amount of essential oils added and are some kind of a cheat! Make sure to choose a floral water made from a distillation as this extraction method retains the properties of the plant.

Have a look at the Latin (or INCI) name. True floral waters will be listed as one ingredient, e.g. ‘rosa damascena distillate‘ or ‘rosa damascena water‘ for example (rose water). Water and essential oil blends are listed as two separate ingredients (e.g. aqua, rosa damascena oil). Never use floral waters containing alcohol, as they will dry out your skin.

14. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a natural disinfectant with antibacterial properties. However, raw, natural, unfiltered and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar has some kind of “sediment,” called the “mother”, in it.

Don’t be scared – that strange substance is good stuff and contains all the skin benefits! Go for it!

Apple cider vinegar should always be diluted with some water so that it is much gentler on the skin! You can use it straight as a spot treatment though. To use it as a toner, mix one part apple cider vinegar with 8-10 parts (mineral) water and apply it on a cotton pad.

Natural Face Washes and Makeup

Personally, I do not wear a lot of makeup. Just a few dips of concealer (usually a mineral concealer) and some mascara every once in a while when I want to get all dolled up, but not on an everyday basis.

To get makeup off, the cotton-pad-and-oil method works really well. It‘s simple, but effective! Manuka honey mixed with oil (equal parts) is another great cleansing option, especially if you want to remove makeup.

Even a yoghurt-clay-mix might do the trick, but you should leave it on as a mask for at least 10 minutes before washing it off. Ghassoul has an enormous cleansing strength and works almost like a sponge absorbing oil, dirt and bacteria at the same time.

Tracy did a nice video about how to remove makeup the natural way:

What Can You Use for A Natural Makeup Remover?


You see, there are many great options out there if you want to cleanse your skin using all natural ingredients!

So, in the end, which cleansing method is the best one? The truth is there is no single, perfect cleansing method. It is a case of trial and error to find the right method that really suits you.

On the other hand, confusing as it is, you should never experiment too many different ways to cleanse your face at the same time! I know it‘s tempting! I know! We all are impatient and want to see immediate results. I‘m not different.

However, your skin needs time to adapt and does not like to be confronted with too many different substances – even natural ones – at frequent intervals. So please don‘t overload it!

That‘s all. I hope that helps! Take care, lovelies!

What does your typical face-wash-ritual look like? Have you ever tried one of the above mentioned methods? Please let us know what your experiences have been so far! Let‘s talk about any kind of face-cleansing-stuff you are using, chemicals or natural stuff, and how you get along with it!

photos by tessa watson, same old 2010, witch shoppe, rofi, missmeng, smabs, Andy Roberts

The Caveman Regimen Experiment – My Day 30 Update

To get up to speed on what the caveman regimen is and my 14 day update, read the previous articles here and here.

Hey there!

Sorry I missed the regular post on Friday – Youtube was giving me some serious grief. I guess that’s what you get for leaving things to the last minute :/

Anyway – here it is. My video where I tell you what has happened to my skin after 30 days of not washing it, not letting water touch it, no products, and no makeup.

Click here to read the Caveman Regimen 3 Month  Update

** UPDATE ** This topic has been so popular, I’ve finally decided to create ‘Caveman Regimen: The Ultimate Guide’ to answer all your questions and help you through the terrifying process of letting of of skin care (as well as help with modifying the Caveman to suit you and your needs better). Click here for more details!

I Finally Found a Great Makeup That Doesn’t Irritate My Acne

There’s been a lot of talk lately about ditching makeup, but from the sounds of your responses to this video, many of us are not ready to give it up. And that is perfectly understandable!

If you are going to wear makeup though, you might as well try and find something that isn’t going to irritate or make your acne worse, so here is a guest article from a Québécois reader named Noémie who finally found something that worked for her after years of searching.

Hiding a problem is never a solution. I know that. But sometimes, hiding your acne can be really helpful to lower your stress levels and make you feel more confidant.

There’s a lot of different view points about it, but for me, the most important thing in the process of getting rid of acne is to try to be less self conscious about it. And sometimes, the best way to do that is to hide it with a little bit of makeup.

However, you don’t want to make it worse by piling tons of products on your face. It will only irritate your skin because makeup products are often made with lots of chemicals, like BHA and BHT, PEG compounds and Parabens. Those products are used as preservatives in almost every foundation and concealer, in addition to silicones which clog your pores. That’s why I don’t recommend using those products. 

So What is My Makeup Trick?

You are probably asking yourself what you can use to cover your pimples if both concealer and foundation are not recommended, right?

Let me introduce you to BB cream – also known as blemish balm or beauty balm. That was the only thing I could use on top of my acne without breaking out from it.

BB creams were first used in Korea to help hide and heal marks left from a laser surgery. That means it’s very gentle on the skin, more than every foundation in your local drugstore. And the coverage is simply amazing.

But we have to be realistic – BB creams also contain chemicals. It’s very hard to find products that are completely free of it these days. However, in my personal opinion and experience, I could tell you that it’s at least much better than regular makeup products. And because the coverage is so great, you have to use less of it.

How to Use BB Cream

So now you know what BB cream is, but let me explain how to use it.

You don’t have to cover your entire face with it – I would recommend to use it only where you need it. For example, if you have a bad breakout on your forehead, but your cheeks are pretty clear, try to just put it on your forehead. In fact, BB cream, if applied in a thin layer, will take the exact color of your skin. But when we apply it only on the spots we want to hide, we tend to put it on way too thickly, and the colour will not match your skin.

So remember, use a thin layer only were you need it. With BB cream, less is more. Oh and the most important thing about it is that you will get ultimate result by applying it with CLEAN fingers. It will warm up the product and make the application smoother. I really want to insist on the CLEAN word, cause you don’t want to transfer bacteria onto your face.

Which Brand to Choose?

There’s a brand in particular that I highly recommend. I have used it for years now and it works wonders. It’s the Missha Perfect Cover BB Cream, and I used it in both of the shades 21 and 23. I order mine online from this website www.yesstyle.com. I also recommend the BRTC Blemish Recover Balm and Skin79 Super Beblesh Balm.

Now, if you don’t want to buy BB cream, there a little trick you can do with concealer. But as I said before, I don’t recommend it because concealer is highly comedogenic. But if you only cover your spots, it shouldn’t be that bad.

You can apply a bit of green pigmented concealer on top of a pimple with a small concealer brush. The green will neutralize the red of your pimple and make it less visible. Green concealer could be found on makeup stores like Sephora or you can sometimes find some in your local drugstore.

So that’s pretty much it!

I hope this was helpful in letting you know how to cover your acne the right way!! And remember, don’t try to hide your entire face with makeup. Simply use the least amount that is possible to make you feel comfortable, without covering every tiny imperfection on your complexion.

Which type and brand of makeup has worked for you?

My Experiences on the Caveman Regimen So Far

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Last post, I told you all about the caveman regimen and how to do it. Today I’m going to tell you all about what my experiences with it have been so far (it’s been about two weeks on the hardcore “no water” caveman regimen), and also how I feel about it emotionally.

So to begin, let’s break down my skin and its problem areas.

  • My cheeks, jawline, neck, are wonderful with perfectly normal skin. These areas have never been acne prone and hopefully never will be.
  • My most stubborn acne prone area is on my chin and the areas to the sides of the chin, below the mouth. I don’t seem to get a lot of blackheads/whiteheads in this area, but I get the most inflamed acne. And when I break out today, that is where it is. This area is prone to dryness.
  • My forehead is also acne prone, but it seems to be more prone to whiteheads/blackheads, oiliness, and general congestion than inflamed acne. It also responds the best to acne treatments and external skincare, where as my chin doesn’t.
  • My third most acne prone area is to the sides of my nose and along the smile lines that go from the nose down to your chin. To be honest, this area was never a big deal and I only ever had problems with it at the height of my severe acne. It never ever breaks out or gets congested anymore.
  • My nose never ever breaks out. It seems like a different type of skin than the perfect skin on my cheeks though… in other words, it seems like it would be acne prone, but it’s not and never really has been. I don’t know why, but I’m glad!

So, these days, I have pretty good skin most of the time. I’ve noticed the whiteheads on my forehead respond really well to jojoba oil and my healthy lifestyle, so it’s usually quite smooth with no inflamed acne. But I do get minor inflamed breakouts around my mouth (to the sides of my chin, particularly the right side) which seem to come and go at random, despite having no congestion in this area. I’ll be clear for quite a while, and then bam (and honestly, this has been happening a lot more than I would like since I’ve been in Australia, so I do have some minor pink pigmentation in these areas).

Either way, luckily the breakouts are always small papules and pustules that have a quick life cycle. Normally they can easily be covered with a dab of makeup and I forget all about them. Luckily I don’t really get any nodules or really persistent “is this ever going to go away” pimples anymore.

Please note that I began this whole caveman thing when my skin was on an upswing. It was naturally behaving itself. So the test is …. will it STAY clear? Will this actually prevent acne?

What I Have Noticed My Skin Doing Since I Began the Caveman

  • The first week, I noticed nothing happening. I didn’t break out. My skin wasn’t oily, or dry, or flakey (note that it was quite hot and humid where I was). It was just normal. The “dead skin mask” of caveman lore was no where to be seen.
  • After the first week, it did begin to form, but only slightly. The dead skin mask is most apparent on my forehead because that is the most oily area of my face. My forehead also began to become kind of congested looking. Tiny whiteheads across the board. There is also a dry patch on the right side of my forehead that seemed to emerge and get flakey more than the rest of my forehead.
  • Then I noticed that my minor pink pigmentation scars around my chin began to turn more of like a brown colour than before. And then these weird little spots along my smile lines between my mouth and my nose (the ones that don’t break out at all anymore but were acne prone in the past) have popped up, formed some congestion, and turned brown too. In other words, my face looks kinda blotchy, but not red blotchy – brown blotchy. Like I have dirt on my face, but I don’t (it’s not that obvious, but it’s strange). I don’t know what the deal is, but I like to think this is a sign of healing.
  • My skin generally just feels really rough, like super fine sandpaper
  • My skin has been pretty good acne wise- a few pimples but hardly any breakouts and it might be my imagination but it almost does seem like there is some stuff around my chin that WANT to form something, but haven’t due to the lowered irritation (mind you, not ALL irritation has been eliminated because I still have my bad habit of touching and feeling my face with my fingers, especially around my chin – I gotta stop!!)
  • With the couple of pimples that have come up, I’ve noticed that they seem to go away at the same rate as usual for me, but that the pigmentation isn’t going away as quickly. Makes sense since washing sheds the skin layers faster.

Here is a picture of my skin to demonstrate:

So … in conclusion… my skin doesn’t look great at this point, but it’s not too bad. My boyfriend says he hardly even notices I’m doing anything different (although he did try to wipe the “dirt” off my face one time, so maybe he’s lying). My acne is behaving itself to the point where it hasn’t been a big issue to not wear makeup, and I doubt anyone can see my dead skin mask or would notice the dirty looking patches that seem obvious to me when I look in the mirror.

However, since this is not a controlled experiment, I have no idea yet if my skin is being good acne wise because that’s just what it decided it wanted to do right now, or if it really has something to do with this caveman thing. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

The Emotions of Letting Go of Makeup

I’m glad that I finally decided that I could do the caveman, but I wish that I didn’t have to wait until my skin was practically clear before feeling ‘safe’ enough to do it. And yeah, I say it’s going well, but what would happen if I had a big breakout? Then what? Even if it was only minor, I’m so used to being able to completely get rid of that redness in with a quick dab of makeup, but now, for the first time in my life, I can’t – and that’s new and unfamiliar territory.

I feel like I could will myself to get through 30 days of this, but then I’m itching to have the option again of covering up some spots if I need to. The idea that I’d never able to ever again is pretty uncomfortable and makes me squirm a little. But maybe that’s a good thing – facing fears and growing out of them always requires you go through some scary shit. Yes I said shit (am I allowed to swear on this blog? Sometimes I want to but I feel I should be “polite”).

Like I said, when I started this, my skin was on an upswing. It was behaving itself. Funny thing though – a few weeks before I actually started doing this, I arbitrarily decided one day that I was going to do the caveman and I was going to start that day. I don’t remember why I decided that on that day, but I happened to be breaking out a bit at the time. And emotionally, I freaked out. I lasted one day and decided I couldn’t do it because I began picturing all the things I was going to do in the next month and just couldn’t deal with the idea of not being able to cover up.

When I actually started two weeks ago, I was on vacation at a festival in the bush, and wasn’t able to wash my face anyway. Plus I was busy having fun so I couldn’t stress out about anything in front of the mirror. It was a great place to start it – and now that I’m well into the experiment and announced it to all of you, I’m much more committed to sticking it out no matter what crops up.

But the thing is – what about you? What about you ladies out there who want to try this, but have a lot of active acne? Most of you don’t yet have the option of starting it when your skin is already pretty good. But if you want the benefits, you have to expose your acne for a while. It’s kind of a catch 22, isn’t it?

Frankly, even though I still don’t know how brave I would be to go all the way and do the caveman with some nasty breakouts, I still think I’m making some progress with how I feel about “allowing” myself to not look perfect and cover up every little spot and blotch.

The thing is, before my severe acne, my mild acne was normally not any worse than my skin is now. Yet I was petrified of ever having anyone see me without those one or two or three spots covered up. Absolutely petrified. And I never questioned that – it seemed normal to feel that way. I wouldn’t get it when others didn’t have a problem with being “seen” with a few spots out.

So I still think I’m making progress, even if I’m not brave enough yet to let it all hang out forever. This is still the longest I’ve ever gone, by far, without wearing any skin makeup to cover something up. And I’m doing alright with it, so I’m still gonna give myself a pat on the back for facing my fears – even if it’s only a little bit.

Click here for the 30 day Caveman Regimen Update!

** UPDATE ** This topic has been so popular, I’ve finally decided to create ‘Caveman Regimen: The Ultimate Guide’ to answer all your questions and help you through the terrifying process of letting of of skin care (as well as help with modifying the Caveman to suit you and your needs better). Click here for more details!

How to Do the Caveman Regimen: Clearing Acne by Not Washing Your Face

The Caveman Regimen: Clearing Acne By Not Washing Your Face

For the last 14 days, nothing has touched my face – no face wash, no honey, no oil, no fingers (well, no picking or popping anyway), no makeup, and not even water.

I am doing the caveman approach to skincare!

What is the Caveman Regimen?

Most of you know that I advocate a simple skincare routine full of natural, non irritating, non drying ingredients. I believe strongly that most people’s commercial cleansers, moisturizers and topicals are actually working against them instead of for them and could be giving you acne instead of getting rid of it.

Well, the caveman is just taking the idea of gentle skincare to the next level – it’s the ultimate simple skincare routine. You essentially do nothing.

The Theory of the Caveman Goes Like This:

Your skin has something called an “acid mantle” that it develops when you hit puberty. It’s like this shell made up of sweat and sebum that protects your body from invading bacteria. It has a PH of approximately 5.5. Slightly acidic.

Problem is, we are constantly stripping our skin of this acid mantle by washing it and slathering it in stuff – especially with harsh, drying chemicals that have inappropriate PH ratings. For example, the reason you shouldn’t ever wash your face with bar soap, is because it is always highly alkaline. It messes with your acid mantle.

So at the very least, you want to be using something gentle to wash your face that has a slightly acidic PH – luckily honey, the thing I normally recommend, does. That is one reason I chose to use it in the first place.

So anyway, the theory goes that this acid mantle – the sweat and sebum that we are taking great pains to keep off our skin – is actually what protects you from bacteria invading your pores and creating acne. Problem is that for most of us, from the minute we see that first spot as an adolescent, we’ve been using some form of cleanser or topical to keep the acne at bay. Most of us have never given our skin a break since the time we were 13 years old.

In fact, maybe – and especially if you’re an adult with acne that just never stopped after your teenage years – you don’t even have acne anymore at all. You are just creating acne with all the irritation from your washing and products – or at least greatly exasperating it. And even gentle products could still be changing your acid mantle more than you’d want and leaving your skin unprotected.

The answer? Do nothing. Stop washing your face or putting anything on it. Let your natural oils and sweat build up and protect your face,  and your acne will greatly decline or go away. Let your skin heal itself with absolutely no outside interference.

–> Okay that’s the theory.

Don’t ask me if the theories are correct, and I’m certain this isn’t going to work for everyone.

Acne isn’t that simple, and we know that the acne machine churns on the inside, not the outside. But there are many different steps in the formation of inflamed acne, and one, is the introduction of bacteria into a clogged pore. Another is physical irritation of that clogged pore, which causes your body to then respond with inflammation there.

So maybe if you cut out some of the latter steps in the acne formation cycle and let your skin work its own magic, you could greatly reduce or eliminate your inflamed acne even if you are battling internal factors.

Whether it really works or not, I’ve always been incredibly enthralled with the idea. This whole ‘caveman regimen’ is all the rave over on the acne.org message boards, which is where I believe the idea was born and I came across it. It sounds like a lot of people have had some success with it. Not everyone, but lots have.

It was actually when my acne was severe that I came across this whole idea. It excited me a lot, because it seemed to make such perfect sense. What IF I was just causing my own acne? What IF the answer was doing nothing? How amazing would that be? I mean, I only seem to have acne on the parts of my face that I’d been washing and slathering with benzoyl peroxide for the last four years. The skin on the rest of my body is so perfect.

I think it was wishful thinking considering how bad my acne was then (definitely some sizeable inside issues needing to be addressed there!), but the theory stuck with me and I wanted to try it more than anything.

Of course – then came the one major roadblock in my amazing plans for caveman domination and that was makeup. My skin was so bad, I absolutely couldn’t bear the thought of not covering it up. I simply couldn’t will myself to do it. And I wasn’t about to just wear a ton of makeup and not wash it off day after day. (Although this girl did that and it still worked)

So even though I chickened out, I am still grateful to the caveman regimen because learning about it was the reason I was able to give up topicals for good and stay committed to only ever using natural, gentle ingredients on my skin. It took me a while to figure out the best thing to use, but I finally came across honey to use as a cleanser and it was like a match made in heaven (with a great PH rating to boot).

How to Do the Caveman Regimen

With such a simple regimen, you’d think there wouldn’t be too much to explain, but of course there is actually a heap to discuss.

First of all – not everyone does the caveman the same. To many, the caveman simply means ‘water only’. Splashing your face with water once in a while, or water that touches your face in the shower, and nothing else. That one’s pretty simple to explain.

But the more hardcore cavemen among us (including myself) are not even letting water touch our faces. Not forever, but at least 30 days.

This is because it serves to eliminate absolutely all irritation. There are chemicals in your tap water, after all. And water itself is actually quite drying, meaning that you’re going to need a moisturizer afterward, and then we’re just backpedaling into the “do something” routine.

The other reason for quitting water is that when you stop washing or rinsing your face after having done it twice a day for years, you build up a bunch of dead skin on your face. The ‘dead skin mask’, they call it. This protects your skin as it heals, regulates its sebum production, and restores itself to its youthful appearance underneath.

Allegedly your skin renews itself every 28 days, so sometime after a good four weeks, you can remove the dead skin mask by very gently exfoliating with a wet muslin cloth (or even just scraping it off with a clean fingernail) and your skin should be as smooth as a baby’s bottom if all went to plan. Then you can rinse or wash your face with something gentle every so often and stop completely avoiding water.

Wait – wait.

Dead skin mask?


Yeah I know. I never said this was going to be pretty. But it’s not as bad as it sounds, or at least mine isn’t, here on day 14. It’s not really noticeable at all if you aren’t looking for it. It seems it would only be obvious if you disturb it (I hear you can see it if it gets wet or if you scratched at it or something). It’s not the type of thing that looks like you’re wearing this:

However, I do hear it gets worse as times goes on, and you do look a bit crusty and flakey by the end. I will certainly let you know when I get to that stage.

Despite all this, I’ve also heard that it is quite worth it – inflammation goes way down, if you do get spots, they are usually much smaller and go away quicker, and after you remove the skin mask, your skin looks way better – not oily, not dry, just perfect – and you don’t have to wash as much or at all.

Essentially the caveman regimen is the “no ‘poo” method for your face. It might be really oily, or it might be excessively dry for quite a few days. You could have a purging breakout or congestion. Maybe it won’t be great for a while… but then you will reap the rewards of a self regulating face that doesn’t over or underproduce oil, isn’t as congested, and looks a hell of a lot of healthier.

Again – this is only a theory, but it makes sense to me, and some people do clear their acne this way.

Logistical Issues with the Caveman Regimen

Aside from letting go of the psychological attachments we have to washing and products, the most obvious thing that is probably jumping to mind if you’re a lady is ‘but.. but……. no makeup?’.

Yes, that’s right, no makeup, and for me, this is the biggest logistical issue, by far. And I’m not even someone with really bad skin anymore, and I was never even the type who ever wore full makeup, only directly on spots – but the idea of absolutely NO makeup, through thick or thin, no matter what happens, still makes me feel a bit panicky sometimes.

The emotional impact of the choice to go without is a whole ‘nother can of worms, and I’ll save that for next post when I discuss how my caveman experiment has been going.

But for now – the answer is yes – NO makeup (well, except eye makeup. I still wear mascara. Just no skin makeup). While I did link to someone above who piled makeup on her face and never washed it and this was still successful, somehow that just seems like a bad idea. Although perhaps maybe it wouldn’t be too detrimental if you only put a tiny dab on a pimple just to cut down on that redness and didn’t wash that off. I’ve done that before when I was camping to no ill effect.

Either way, putting a bunch of makeup on when your face is all flakey and crusty is usually a really bad idea anyway. Tends to look a lot worse than if you just didn’t put any on, doesn’t it?

I’d like to point out here that if you are a guy, I’d think about giving this a try. I mean, if you didn’t wear makeup anyway, what do you really have to lose by trying this regimen? Then if it works you can let us ladies know so that maybe we’ll have an easier time letting the makeup go for a while if we know it is worthwhile.

So that brings me to the next question – if you’re a guy, how do you shave?

From my understanding, guys doing this regimen use beard trimmers and set them to the closest setting. Or just really get into the whole caveman thing and grow a full beard!

Another question that might pop into your head is – how do I wash my hair or shower if I can’t get my face wet?

Well, personally I just have baths now. If you don’t like that idea, sounds like everyone else just tilts their head back and does their best to keep the water off their face (I’d like to note here that shampoo streaming down your face can be a source of irritation, so this is great as it removes that as well!). But yeah… it sounds like if you get your face a tiny bit wet with splashes from the shower, it’s not going to ruin everything.

Other Things to Consider Before You Start the Caveman

  • The caveman is best paired with a healthy diet and lifestyle. Since acne comes from within (and can be exasperated from the outside), this no washing stuff is going to be the most effective if you are also eating like a caveman – or at least not eating processed garbage.
  • The caveman regimen is also best paired with a ‘do nothing’ attitude toward your acne (I mean, aside from eating well and exercising, things every person should be doing regardless of acne status). This means that you also don’t spend hours in front of the mirror obsessing over your acne, you just do other fun stuff and ignore it. This lowers your stress levels significantly and will greatly improve your chances for success with this.
  • I’m guessing the biggest improvements with this regimen are going to be with people who have been using the harsh chemicals, topicals, and irritating cleansers. Since I’ve been using a gentle, natural skin care routine for some time now, I don’t honestly know how much improvement I’m expecting for my mild acne problem (especially because I know it’s digestion related) – but you never know – maybe I’m wrong and doing nothing is the last piece of the puzzle. That’s why it’s called an experiment!

Extra Curricular Caveman Reading

Here are links to some of the popular Acne.org threads about the caveman regimen. Some are about the hardcore no water approach, and some are just about washing with water instead. If you’re interested in this concept, have a read through some of them:

Acne.org Caveman Regimen Reviews (they’re mostly great reviews!)
The biggest caveman regimen thread on acne.org
Not washing 14 Day Log
Not Washing for A Month Thread

The Caveman Strategy

Okay, tune in for the next post on Wednesday, where I will be talking about my personal experiences with the caveman regimen so far!

What do you think about the caveman regimen? Would you ever try it?

**Update** – Get the updates on my caveman regimen experiment by clicking on the following links:

My Experiences on the Caveman Regimen So Far
The Caveman Regimen Experiment – 30 Day Update
“No Wash” Caveman Regimen for Acne – 3 Month Update

** UPDATE ** This topic has been so popular, I’ve finally decided to create ‘Caveman Regimen: The Ultimate Guide’ to answer all your questions and help you through the terrifying process of letting of of skin care (as well as help with modifying the Caveman to suit you and your needs better). Click here for more details!

That Oil is Ours! Basic Skincare with Oils

Svea. She’s got a sense of humour on top of her deluxe knowledge of oils

This is a guest post from a really cool girl named Svea who claims she’s not an oils expert, but compared to my knowledge, I think she sure comes close!

I realize that I’m a little too set on my jojoba oil and had a hunch that different people’s skin would react better to different oils, but I am not very good at external skincare subjects and I just didn’t know where to start.

Luckily I found Svea! Enjoy!

Also, check out Svea’s own blog here.

Let me introduce myself: I‘m no oil expert. I‘m an average girl, usually disorganized, dreaming, musing, but creative. I fear snakes, need 48 hour days, and love to watch Italian movies of the 1950ies – 1970ies. Maybe that‘s one of the reasons why I chose to live in Italy – apart from food, monuments and landscape. I love traveling, love to learn foreign languages, love the arts and architecture.

Before developing eczema and adult acne, I was an extreme skincare junkie, mixing and matching products with little consideration for what they contained. After a severe breakout, I was fed up with antibiotic pills and lotions that just masked the problem. Then I decided to take matters into my own hands: good food, sports, minimal skincare. I still have to lower my stress levels and – above all – I still have to learn to listen to myself much more.

However, I do not believe anymore in external skin care being able to fix a serious acne problem, but I believe in the force of nature. I think, a very mild and elemental skincare regimen can help to rebalance your skin. Personally, I love oils. I tried so many of them over the last few years, that I‘d like to share my experience with you.

But remember: Less is more! You will be surprised that I‘m washing and moisturizing my face only once a day. At the moment I‘m going mad for rosehip oil. Just two or three drops, and my skin feels like heaven. That‘s all.

How to Use Oils

First of all: Always apply only a few drops of oil to damp skin – or wash off the excess oil, patting the skin with a towel afterwards, just like Tracy does (or did, since she‘s living with the cavemen now). 

Good quality organic and cold pressed (or CO2-extracted) oils won‘t clog your pores, but you can still easily create a very thick layer of far too much oil on your face, which means your skin won‘t be able breathe! Forget about ZeroZits! I personally do not believe in those comedogenic ingredients-sheets. The listed oils and fats were tested years ago on rabbit ears without even differentiating between “cold pressed”, “refined”, “organic”, “non-organic” or “hydrogenated”. That makes a great difference.

On the other hand, I think that the combination of fats with other questionable ingredients represents the biggest breakout potential in most commercial products: fats plus emulsifiers (i.e. PEG-esters or anything labelled “ethyl-“, “ceteareth-“, “cethyl-“, “stearyl-“) or film building agents (i.e. silicone, paraffin, glycerin, triglycerides, …), not to mention preservatives, perfume and solvents.

So if you are courageous, just try different oils as a moisturizer! Do not expect an overnight miracle though. It just takes time to find the right dose of the right oil for your own individual skin type. Your choices might change with the seasons, your own personal life cycle or your mood.

Oils and Skin Types

I‘ll give you some brief indication about how to detect, which oil is good for you: If your skin looks matte, not stressed, feels well rested, dewy and moisturized, you‘re definitely on the right track. If your skin “feels wrong”, looks patchy, the oil just lies on top of your skin and does not sink in very well, don‘t continue to use it. Oils should be absorbed completely. If not, your skin might not need any moisturizing at all. Not every skin needs external care.

Nevertheless, let‘s have a closer look at those oils. What are oils, exactly?

Oils and fats consist of fatty acids. There are saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Every oil is characterized by an individual spectrum of fatty acids, vitamins and other substances (phospholipids, plant sterols, squalene, flavonoids, carotenoids and many more) that make it either great for your skin or inappropriate.

Everybody is different and reacts differently to different oils. There are non-drying (heavier) and drying (lighter) oils. That is basically just a figurative expression of how quickly and easily an oil is absorbed into your skin or if it is well suited for dry skin. In painting, for example, linseed and poppy-seed oil are used. Both are extremely fast-drying oils.

So what makes the difference between slowly and fast-drying oils? Their composition of fatty acids: oleic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, lauric acid and so on.

A high proportion of oleic acid – a mono-unsaturated fatty acid – characterizes all these velvety oils, which feel so soft and nice on dry skin: olive, macadamia, avocado, canola or hazelnut oil, for instance. These oils are slowly-drying oils and do not turn rancid too fast.

On the other hand, a high amount of linoleic acid makes an oil lighter. These oils are particularly good for acne prone skin because linoleic acid seems to have the ability to reduce comedones. Of course, it won‘t work in just a few days, but after a month or two you might see a difference!

Oils containing a high percentage of linoleic acid are: thistle/safflower oil, hemp oil, grape seed oil, sunflower oil and rosehip oil. Evening primrose oil, borage seed oil and black currant seed oil do not only contain a high amount of linoleic acid, but are also very good choices for dermatitis sufferers due to another specific fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is considered to promote healthy skin growth and works as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Unfortunately, all these lighter, fast-drying oils get rancid very easily and are not very resistant to sunlight, so be sure to store them in the fridge and to use them preferably at night or during the winter months (at least if you want to avoid hyper-pigmentation or age spots).

This is a summary of a very interesting study about linoleic acid used as a topical in connection
with acne:

“A major pathogenic factor of acne is the disturbed keratinization of the follicular infundibulum. It has been hypothesized that a relative decrease in linoleic acid in the sebum could be responsible, in part, for this. The aim of the present study was objectively to evaluate the effects of topically applied linoleic acid on the size of microcomedones in patients with mild acne.

The design was a double-blind placebo controlled randomized cross-over study. Evaluations were performed by digital image analysis of cyanoacrylate follicular biopsies. There was a significant effect of topically applied linoleic acid on the size of follicular casts and microcomedones, an almost 25% reduction in their overall size being achieved over a 1-month treatment period. In contrast, no change was found at placebo-treated sites. It is concluded that topical linoleic acid might play a role as a comedolytic agent in acne-prone patients.“

Letawe C, Boone M, Pierard GE: Digital image analysis of the effect of topically applied linoleic acid on acne microcomedones. In:
Clin Exp Dermatol., 1998 Mar;23(2):56-8.

Then, of course, there are oils composed by almost equal parts of oleic acid and linoleic acid. These oils are neither extremely light nor extremely oily. Almond, sesame and plum kernel oil (a little more on the oily side) or apricot kernel oil (a quite balanced oil) are some good examples.

What about shea butter and coconut oil?

These fats consist of mainly saturated fatty acids and are solid at room temperature. Shea butter, mango butter, cocoa butter, cupuacu butter and palm oil are rich in stearic acid and palmitic acid. Many people can use these plant butters without problems, even straight on their skin. Others might find them too heavy and greasy. Plant butters can provoke some kind of semi-occlusive effect, but might turn your skin into the smoothest ever due to palmitic acid! I LOVE plant butters as a cold-cream in winter, for example.

Coconut and babassu oil are another special case. These fats contain a saturated fatty acid called lauric acid – the same component, which makes soaps foam. Moreover, these oils are very stable, can be heated at high temperatures and are easily absorbed into the skin.

How to Chose a Good Quality Oil for Skincare

Most oils in commercial moisturizers – including products from organic brands – are refined or at least partially refined oils. Unrefined shea butter and argan oil in a good quality for instance could never become a bestseller just because of their “fragrance” – polite people might say it has some kind of a “nutty” touch.

Cold-pressed wheat germ oil is a very dense, yellowy orange liquid and smells like sourdough. Nobody wants that in a face cream. Organic rosehip fruit oil has an extremely fancy deep orange color (that’s the carotenoids), cold pressed avocado oil is of an intense emerald green color. Nature is so beautiful! Nevertheless, no customer would buy a frog-colored cream. That‘s why in most commercial products you will find only refined, filtered, deodorized or interesterified oils and fats.

First of all: prefer to buy oils from certified organic cultivation! You don’t want to slash pesticides and chemicals onto your face. Try to learn about organic certification standards. Use Google! Each label (USDA, Soil Association, BDHI, …) has its own guidelines as to what qualifies as “organic”. The purity and “naturalness” of a product can vary greatly depending on the body it is certified by.

Done that, have another close look at the label: “virgin” AND “cold pressed” or “CO2- extracted” oils are the best quality you could probably get. Don‘t be put off by a little (!) bit of turbidity, an intense color or a very specific scent: this is actually an indication of quality and authenticity. Unfortunately, the world‘s oil market is dominated by a handful of large companies aiming to maximize profits. So it‘s no surprise, why most often the small oil mills try to offer much higher quality products. Just be aware, that an excellent oil requires a high level of manual skills, expertness and careful elaboration – this also means that a good quality oil cannot be cheap.

Anyway, thinking about the small quantities we might actually need (30 ml should be sufficient for approximately 4 months used on face, neck and décolleté!!!), prices are still quite low compared to most commercial moisturizers. Therefore, buy only very small quantities! One, two or three small flasks of different oil types should be enough!

A Little Oil Encyclopedia (For Hardcore-Readers)

Food Grade – Cosmetic Grade?

If possible, buy edible oils! Food grade oils are subject to clear legal regulations, whereas the quality of “cosmetic grade” oils is not always that clear: in some countries oils HAVE to be refined to be marketed, if the proportion of free fatty acids and peroxides exceeds the prescriptive limits. Other oils might be blended with cheaper qualities. Unfortunately, this is not always declared on the label and affects mostly almond, avocado, olive and wheat germ oil. So check your local (health) food store first for organic cold pressed oils: it’s much cheaper, too! You might find safflower (thistle), sunflower, sesame, olive, coconut or even grape seed oil or cocoa butter. – I guess I don‘t have to tell you not to eat “cosmetic grade” oils and fats! You won‘t buy them anyway!!!


The term “unrefined” apparently seems to express absolute pureness, but “unrefined” oils aren‘t necessarily as pure and natural as you might think: the seeds might have been roasted, the oil might have been filtered after being extracted, treated with hot water, steam or externally added heat. “Unrefined” only means that the oil has not been bleached or deodorized.

Cold Pressed?

A frequent eye-catching quality attribute for vegetable oils is the statement “cold pressed”. Despite the processing name, a certain amount of heat is produced during the process due to friction. For an oil to be marketed as “cold pressed” though the temperature must not rise above 120°F (49°C). Unfortunately, the term “cold pressed” is not legally protected and allows a broad field if interpretation. “Cold-pressed” simply means that no external heat is added. Cold-pressed oils can be subsequently refined, deodorized, treated with hot water or steam or come from previously roasted seeds. If you buy oils labeling only this short term, you cannot be entirely sure to purchase a high-quality, “virgin” or “native” natural oil. The term “cold pressed” assures higher prices and is therefore used very frequently.


However, technology is constantly developing. CO2-extraction is a good example: CO2 in its fluid state is passed through raw plant material, extracting all biologically “active” components. This process takes place at about 85°F (30°C) without any thermal stress and without using any kind of solvents. The low temperature and lack of emissions make it an extremely environmentally friendly process. The extraction is done in a virtual vacuum, with no oxygen present. No oxygen means absolutely no risk of oxidization. This is particularly important for oils prone to turning rancid such as sea buckthorn, rosehip, hemp or grape seed oil. During cold pressing oxygen is present throughout, causing the oxidization process of these oils to start immediately.

Virgin (or Native) Oils

The term “virgin” (or “native”) is a high guarantee of quality. “Virgin” oils are “cold-pressed” and have not been treated with external heat before or during the extraction process. No further processing is allowed. This means: no refining, no washing, no filtering, no centrifugation, no deodorizing.

Extra Virgin Oils

This is the maximum! The term “extra virgin” is used for olive oil only. Until now, there is no precise legal regulation for other oils to use this term. Olive oil that comes from virgin oil production contains no more than 0.8% acidity and is judged to have a superior taste. During the extraction process the temperature must not exceed 86°F (30°C). Extra virgin olive oil does not undergo any kind of further treatment after extraction.

This is the end. Finally.

Well, almost. I‘d still like to propose some oil-mix ideas:

Oily skin: hemp, safflower and apricot kernel oil / rosehip, evening primrose and jojoba oil

Dry skin: macadamia, almond and wheat germ oil / olive, avocado and hemp oil

Invent your own mixes! Just be creative and have fun!

And please remember: less is more!

Have you ever tried different oils as a moisturizer? What have your experiences been?

photo by Julie70

How to Choose the Right Jojoba Oil for Your Acne Prone Skin

A little while ago, I wrote an article about manuka honey and why some people might break out when they switch over to a more natural skin care routine.

From what it sounded like from the response to that article, people definitely have more problems with jojoba oil than they do with using honey on their face. Oils do tend to be pretty controversial when it comes to skin care – some people’s skin loves them, but others break out from them.

I think it tends to be the case of finding the right oil for your skin. If one breaks you out, it doesn’t mean that others will. I know I harp on about jojoba oil because that’s what I use, but it is okay to use other oils instead.

However, I’m just not an expert on which oils are best for which skin types (yet), so I haven’t written an article on all the various oils and what’s good for who. Maybe I’ll get it all figured out and do that one day.

** [UPDATE] – you can now read two excellent articles about oils and finding the right ones for you both here, and here. **

However, I’m not sure it’ll happen, because you’ve probably heard me mention before that I don’t even really like the topic of external skin care very much. In fact, I’m honestly considering just throwing away every single product I own and doing the caveman regimen instead (but that’s a story for another day!). I’ve already started only washing my face once a day again, in the evening.

But anyway, back to jojoba oil.

While some people’s skin may genuinely not like jojoba oil (or other oils), often the issue is simply a matter of quality. Most oils out there are crappy, or rancid. If you get a refined, pesticide laden product, you shouldn’t be surprised if it breaks you out. 

What is Jojoba Oil, Exactly?

Jojoba oil is the extract of the seeds of a jojoba plant, which is a desert plant that originated in the Sonaran Desert in the south west United Sates.

The reason jojoba oil is so frequently recommended as the best oil for skin care is because it is actually not like other oils at all – in fact, contrary to its name and appearance, it’s actually a wax ester. It is made of long straight chains of wax molecules instead of triglycerides (fatty acids) like normal vegetable oils.

This means that unlike regular oils, you don’t have to worry about it going rancid and it has a very long shelf life. This waxy property also makes it the most molecularly similar thing to human sebum.

Because it is so similar to human sebum, it can be used on oily skin to trick your pores into thinking they are already saturated with oil and therefore that they do not need to overproduce.

Personally, my skin is more on the dry side, so I use it as a moisturizer and for many people it works fantastically for this purpose. However, I just learned that jojoba actually has some mild astringent properties too (ie drying), so if you have really dry skin, and find that jojoba isn’t helping, that could be why. You might do better with a heavier oil like extra virgin olive oil.

Which Jojoba Oil Does Tracy Use?

Before I talk about anything else, you probably just want to know which jojoba oil I use. To be honest, I’ve only used two different brands – one wasn’t even a brand, it was an organic jojoba oil that was packaged for the specific health store that I bought it from in Vancouver, so it’s not widely available.

The other one, the one I’m currently using, is the Australian golden jojoba oil that Fran sells in her shop at High on Health. It’s very, very good quality, and I really, really like it. However, it’s pretty expensive (but all good jojoba is), and the only reason I even bought it was because I’m currently in Australia, so the shipping is cheap. I don’t have a clue how much the shipping is on her products to overseas addresses – maybe I will find out when I go home to Canada and run out of jojoba oil!

So either way, if Fran’s jojoba oil is out of the question, you need to know which properties to look for when hunting for a good jojoba oil to try.

UPDATE: You can now get Australian Golden Jojoba Oil on Amazon.com

What to Look for In Your Jojoba Oil

Well, first of all, your jojoba oil must be organic. Don’t cheap out and buy non-organic jojoba oil… you don’t want it bringing pesticides and chemicals into your pores.

Okay – what else?

You need to make sure that what you’re buying is 100% first-pressed expeller-pressed (or “cold pressed”) organic jojoba oil. This is often labeled ‘unrefined’.

What that means is this: they use a machine called an expeller press to extract the oil from the seed. What is left is jojoba meal, and the unrefined, first pressed jojoba oil.

That is the stuff that you want.  You don’t want refined jojoba oil. You don’t want jojoba oil that was solvent extracted from the seeds (ie, chemically extracted). You don’t want the second press jojoba oil (which is from a second pressing of the same seeds), because it’s often of much lower quality and needs a lot of chemicals to make it look and smell good. You also don’t want a blended jojoba oil that contains both unrefined and second-press refined stuff.

For more elaboration on all of this, please read this webpage, as it explains it all very clearly.

Quality Jojoba Brands that I Recommend

Many people out there are using a brand called Desert Essence because it’s very widely available. While it’s organic and says it’s ‘pure’, I get the impression that this jojoba may be refined, or at least a refined blend, and that the word ‘pure’ here is just a meaningless marketing term. I seem to recall somewhere reading about people having problems with this particular brand. Plus, it’s cheap, and good quality jojoba oil is usually not, so that isn’t a good sign.

To be honest, in my searches, it’s been difficult to find a good brand that lives up to all the right quality standards aside from the Australian Golden one.

However, I have found one that is available from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Here‘s another good one that I found on Amazon.com from High Altitude Organics.

Aaaand that’s about all I could find. There’s obviously a lot of crappy jojoba oil being sold out there, so it doesn’t surprise me so much that people are having trouble with it. So before you write it off, make sure you try out the good stuff!

Oh, one last tip:

I’ve also been hearing that people have more issues with jojoba oil when they use too much of it. If it sits on the skin, I can see how it may begin attracting dirt and other particles into the pore. I find that rinsing the jojoba oil after you apply it and then patting the skin with a towel seems to take off the excess and leave just the right amount.

Have you been using jojoba oil? What brand? What quality? What has your experience been?

I Switched to Manuka Honey… Why Am I Breaking Out?

Hi friend!

In today’s post, I want to clear up some things about my manuka honey and jojoba oil face routine that I use and love and also recommend to others.

It seems like I get a fair amount of comments from people saying they love the manuka honey, but I also get a lot of emails and comments from people saying things like “I was all excited about the manuka honey, but then I tried it and I’m breaking out. What the heck? Will this pass?”.

Well, what I’ve generally been saying is that “yes, it will pass”, but I’d like to gather some user experiences here…. are you someone who’s used the manuka, had a bit of an initial breakout and it passed? Are you someone who’s used manuka for at least a month, it broke you out and it didn’t pass? Are you someone who used the manuka, had no problems, and love it?

Tell me in the comments…. what has your experience been with using manuka honey as a face wash or a mask?

Until I get your feedback, I guess I won’t know the answer for certain, but what I currently believe is happening when people complain that they are breaking out from it is any of the following:

1. You Still Think External Skincare is The Messiah

Personally I think people just put way too much stock into external skin care. If you are getting acne, it is because of an internal imbalance – plain and simple. 

Bad, chemical filled face washes and creams can totally inflame the problem and make it worse though, and that is why we are switching to something gentle, natural, and non-irritating, not because we expect it to cure us.

In fact, if you are someone who ends up seeing mega reductions in your acne from switching to manuka or something else that’s gentle and natural, it’s likely to be more about what you quit using that was irritating your skin, rather than the manuka itself being the saviour.

But if you aren’t seeing the miracles you expected when switching over, it’s because the truth is this:

If your body is unhappy and wants you to get acne, it doesn’t matter what you put on your face, no matter how good it is.

But people just get so worked up thinking that the next product will clear their skin and be the answer to all their problems, when it won’t be. This is all just conditioning from the advertising that’s been pumped into our brains over the years.

Personally I like manuka honey combined with jojoba oil because it has definitely improved the appearance of my skin. It is smoother, calmer, and it looks a heck of a lot healthier than it did when I used chemical face washes and acne creams. I take comfort knowing that it is not provoking inflammations, and I do think it helps prevent it in my not-so-stubborn acne prone areas. But it has not cured my acne, and I don’t want to promote it like it’s some kind of a miracle.

So ask yourself…. you got a few pimples after you started the manuka, but would you have gotten those anyway? Were you getting the same sorts of pimples before you started the manuka? It’s easy to freak out and blame it on your new routine simply because you expect unrealistic results from it.

2. Skin Sometimes Freaks Out When Switching Routines

That’s all well and good, you say, but now you’re telling me that your acne is actually WORSE than it’s ever been now that you’re on the manuka.

Well this is where I do think it will pass. I think there can be a definite transition period where your skin may get a little upset when switching skin routines, and I think this is especially true if you were using something all chemically before it.

Like you, the skin gets used to its environment… it gets cozy and doesn’t like change. And if you were using chemicals on it, it has been absorbing those for a long time. Suddenly you give it a chance to breathe and it’s going to go through a bit of a detox period where it will purge those toxins and you may break out (this often begins a couple weeks later after the switch).

Again, it’s more to do with what you were using before rather than the manuka itself. However, I believe if you stick it out, the skin will find a balance and you will be much better off for it.

3. You’re Impatient

It’s okay… we’re all impatient!

Initial breakouts aside, I want to remind you that moving from chemicals to natural stuff is definitely a process and it may take a while (even up to two months) before you really notice your skin seeming healthier.

This is something that I learned from my boyfriend’s experiments with quitting shampoo and the whole No ‘Poo movement.

If you don’t know what the “No Shampoo” thing is all about, let me explain:

People are starting to realize that the chemicals in shampoo are very damaging to our hair and scalp, leaving our hair limp and our head’s super greasy. This happens because the chemicals are stripping out the body’s natural oils, causing it to overcompensate with more and more oil. The more you wash with your chemicals, the greasier your hair gets, the more you need to wash, and the cycle goes on and on.

People are doing the same thing all the time to their faces. Think about it.

Anyway, people are discovering that if you quit shampoo and move over to natural, chemical free ways to wash your hair – like with baking soda and apple cider vinegar – your head will not get super oily 24/7 and your hair will have much more volume, bounce, shine and life than it did before.

The thing is, in order to get your head back to producing the right amount of oil so you an enter hair nirvana, you have to go through a really gross, oily phase as you quit shampoo and your scalp learns to stop overproducing.

Some people make the transition really easily and don’t go through any greasy phase, but for others it can take up to two months or more.

What I’m trying to say is that when you switch to natural facial products, you are expecting to see an instant difference. Don’t – learn the lesson from the No Shampoo’ers and realize you have to do your time before your face will figure things out and regulate itself. We’re in this for the long term benefits, guys.

4. Maybe Your Skin Really Doesn’t Like it

I can’t lie…. no one thing works for every person. Honey is generally very non-reactive, but maybe your skin really doesn’t like the manuka. Some people have very, very sensitive skin and even that is too much for it. There is also a chance you could have an allergic reaction to bee products, but there’s no way for me to determine from across the computer if that is what is happening to you or not.

While I’d recommend giving it a chance for at least a month to see how it goes, if something doesn’t make you feel happy, then don’t use it. I’m not selling manuka honey, so it’s not like it matters to me if you use it or not. Just mull over everything I’ve said here and then use your intuition to decide if it’s something you want to continue with or not.

Alternatives to honey for a face wash that you could try are aloe vera, straight jojoba oil, or jojoba mixed with aloe vera.

In Concluuusion…

I hope you found this helpful. Please let me know below what your experiences have been with using manuka honey, or your experiences with switching from chemicals to natural stuff. I’d like to know if my theories are correct!

photo by jbaker5

No Shampoo Method Update Before and Afters

Some of you long time Love Vitamin fans may remember WAAAY back when I made a video about “The No Shampoo Method“.

In that video, I described why people all over the world are choosing to shun commercial shampoos.

The reason is because conventional shampoo and chemicals actually harm your hair a lot more than they help (hey… kinda like your skin too?). Many people who have ditched shampoo have ended up with glorious, healthy, bouncing locks as a result… unlike the greasy, limp mess that they used to deal with when using conventional shampoo.

Since I already don’t really wash my hair (partly due to the fact that washing my dreadlocks is a huge pain, and partly just because my head doesn’t get greasy at all anymore since I began phasing shampoo out), I employed my normal-haired boyfriend to carry the torch and do the experiment.

In the video below, I describe how the experiment went and what we found. I also let you know how he washes his hair now:

By the way, here is a great instructional article that I found on exactly how to do the “no poo” method.

Anyway, here’s what Luke’s hair used to look like pretty much the next day after washing with conventional shampoo, and what his hair looked like for about two months during the no shampoo experiment:


And here’s what his hair looks like now with just the baking soda. As you can see… a LOT better. It stays this way for 3 or 4 days after washing and actually doesn’t ever seem to get nearly as greasy as it used to. No shampoo experiment = SUCCESS.

Have you ditched shampoo yet? Has my boyfriend’s head convinced you to?

photo by JamesDPhotography