Although many skin-care products use synthetic ingredients to treat common skin problems, these products also often feature nature’s own solutions. These plants are used not only as a “natural” marketing trick, but also because they have antimicrobial, moisturizing and exfoliating qualities — all of which you can harness by using the ingredients themselves to create your own natural skin-care products.
For Acne-Prone Skin
Apple Cider Vinegar
It’s not likely that apple cider vinegar will melt away fat like some Internet ads claim, but it is an astringent and clears up excess oil as an all-natural acne remedy. Use a diluted amount, though, and don’t use it every day, as it may dry out your skin.
Tea tree oil is a great antibacterial, but it should be used in small doses. Some research has shown that it is as effective as benzoyl peroxide in spot-treating acne (and it’s so much cheaper!). Burt’s Bees Acne Treatment includes tea tree oil and sources willow bark as its exfoliating acid, and it claims to be gentle on your skin.
There are jokes about how coconut oil has become the do-it-all oil of the year, but it is probably best used as a natural moisturizer. If you’re prone to oily skin, use it to shave your legs and soften your hands and feet. Many people swear by making their own chapstick with coconut oil. You might love the smell, but fractionated coconut oil is an option if you don’t want the overwhelming perfume following you around all day.
Aloe vera may be the oldest cure for what ails you. Unsurprisingly, many products that claim aloe vera as an ingredient are watered down. If growing the plant yourself is not an option, you can buy aloe vera gel from most drugstores. The gel is less greasy than oils and lotions, making it a great natural face product to add glow. This will soothe sunburns or irritations more than brand-name creams, and its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties can speed recovery for minor skin wounds.
Oatmeal baths aren’t good only for treating poison ivy. Oatmeal’s soothing properties are actually anti-inflammatory, which makes it good for rashes and irritations of all kinds. It has natural fats that moisturize without adding a lot of extra oil to your skin, which means your acne won’t flare up.
Neem leaves have long been shown to treat eczema and reduce inflammation and fungus. They have a multitude of uses (toothpaste and even pesticide), and the oil is available if you don’t have it growing in your garden.
Mariko is a high school English teacher who has three children, illegible handwriting and an obsession with mail-order artisan ice cream. She lives in Hawaii, but she makes a point to eat her way through big cities as often as she can.