Saturday, August 8, 2015

Vitamin E cream & DIY masks

This not-so-lovely picture is actually a two-fer of empty finished products. First, a long time ago I finished the original Puritan's Pride Vitamin E Cream. I got it from, you guessed it, my grandma's house. It was amazing! A really thick, lovely simple cream that kept my face soft and smooth through a harsh Chicago winter. I definitely planned to buy it again but haven't yet as I'm a product junkie and like trying new things. Vitamin E is a famous antioxidant and has moisturizing properties, so I was right to love this cream.

After I finished this jar, I cleaned it out and hoarded it, then later on I made a mask from activated charcoal, bentonite clay, coconut oil, aloe vera gel, chamomile tea, and peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils. The recipe can be found here. It made quite a lot-- I filled up three similarly-sized recycled containers. I didn't use it super often, and a little lasts a long time, so by the time I was finishing the last one the consistency had lost it's light fluffy texture, but it still seemed to work fine. The idea is that activated charcoal draws out dirt and oil out of your skin, and bentonite clay does as well. If I were to make it again I think I'd leave out the essential oils. I think they were in there as they have antimicrobial qualities, but Paula and others think they can be irritating to the skin, especially peppermint and eucalyptus. They did give it a really nice smell, though. I've already talked about how menthol is supposedly irritating even though I've never felt or seen any negative effects. Paula hates on all the "natural" plant-based ingredients that feel and smell "clean" to us, and she scares me by saying things like "skin can be very good at concealing it's being irritated." It seems counterintuitive to think that even if you don't notice irritation, somehow essential oils are damaging your skin anyway. She gives them some credit saying in low enough concentrations they are ok and they do have some benefits.

I'm on the fence about essential oils in general. Some people are really ALL ABOUT essential oils. There's a whole community of people online who are like snake-oil salesmen and swear by them for everything. This sounds mean but it's often the same people who live in Utah and are gluten-free even though they aren't celiac. Some of the essential oil hype I sortof buy and want to try: Lavender oil in your mascara for longer lashes! Essential oils as a bug repellant! DIY clove perfume! A subset of those people really caution you against putting them undiluted on the skin, but then you get others who are like, go ahead! As a teen, I used to get a cotton ball wet with water, drip a couple drops of tea tree oil on it, and use it on my face to treat acne. Now I think diluting it with oil would have been smarter. I still love my oils in steams for congestion, or in my winter humidifier, or I put my oil-cleaning mix in an old tea tree oil bottle so it has trace amounts of it and smells of it. More on that later. How do you find this shit, Amy? Pinterest. The answer is Pinterest. And Mormon bloggers. Enjoy that last link, I really am fascinated.

Right, but did the mask work? It was supposed to be a DIY version of the super popular and super expensive Glam Glow mask. I didn't feel like spending money on activated charcoal but found it was the main ingredient in some anti-gas capsules I had lying around (TMI??) and also I had some old Indian charcoal tooth powder, which although I couldn't confirm this, I suspect was made of activated charcoal. I just used a combination of those instead. Now that I finished it all, I think I'll just go with an easier version, which is Bentonite Clay mixed with apple cider vinegar. My bentonite clay is the brand Aztec Secret and I got it at Whole Foods. Because this mask is simple I can make it in one-dose batches and it has the same face-clearing effects. I don't have raw apple cider vinegar anymore but I have a load of regular kind, so I just use that, and it's nbd. It's better to use vinegar than water or the tea/oil mix in the charcoal recipe because it balances the pH making it gentler on your skin. It does smell funny but it helps to keep acne at bay and my face feels smoother afterwards. The charcoal one worked about the same, it helps dry up any pimples and to keep breakouts from getting started. I'm not great about regularly using a mask unless I have current breakouts, but my current skincare regime of oil-cleansing and the odd mask seems to be working for the time being.