Detox your face

Last week I posted on the very real dangers of conventional (and even some natural and organic) skincare products. I’ve been looking for human and eco friendly options. I’ve spent a long time searching and this is what I’ve discovered - it’s harder to find risk-free skincare products than it is to push a dead donkey up a steep hill.

This factoid has led me to take a step back and consider the most basic, simple and natural options; ingredients women used before man discovered he could turn petroleum by-products into a pleasantly fragrant facial moisturiser. And charge good money for it too.

I’m talking about essential oils, milk, honey, herbs and fruits. Ingredients that women and men used to clean, tone, moisturise, disinfect and treat for centuries before industrialisation. So over the next few weeks I’ll be trying out various natural ingredients and sharing with you. This week, I focus on my face and the three rituals most women follow on a twice daily basis – cleanse, tone, moisturise.

I’ve listed a few options for each purpose below, depending on your skin type, but essentially all you need for the most basic but healthy of face cleansing and conditioning routines is this little bag of goodies:

Natural cold-pressed oils like jojoba or sweet almond oil
1 or 2 essential oils to suit your skin type

(Can I also mention how much cheaper these options are than certified organic products?) 

Yoghurt. As I mentioned last week, the lactic acid in yoghurt acts as a gentle exfoliate, removing dead skin cells and other guck. You can add some raw honey to the mix for its soothing, antioxidant and antibacterial effects.
Cleansing oils. I use a cleansing oil twice a week for an extra deep and nourishing clean. Oil dissolves oil so despite how counterintuitive it may seem to use oil to clean your face, it actually works a treat to dissolve impurities. Jojoba oil is a good choice as it’s very light. Apricot or sweet almond oil are also great. To clean, massage oil onto dry face, then cover with a cloth that has been dampened with hot water. Leave the cloth on your face for 1-2 mins to open your pores and allow the oil to penetrate. Then remove by wiping gently with warm wet cloth. 

Toners are a wonderful thing. They help take the skin’s pH back to normal and can treat a whole range of skin conditions depending on the active ingredients you choose:

Floral waters (hydrosols). A bit luxurious (and consequently a bit pricey), floral waters are by-products of essential oil distillations. They contain the good stuff – water soluble essential oil constituents that have amazing anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. Just be aware that the cheap cooking rose water and orange flower water you find in supermarkets are not true floral waters. These have been made by blending food or fragrance essences into water, and so don’t actually have any health properties. Buy yours from a health shop and make sure it specifies it’s a product of the essential oil distillation process.
  • For sensitive or inflamed skin, use chamomile water
  • For blemished or oily skin, use lavender water, it has excellent healing properties
  • Combo skin benefits from orange flower (neroli) water
  • Rose water (my favourite) does wonders for all skin types, especially dry or sensitive skin.
Lemon balm growing in my garden, great for acne prone skin.

Herbal infusions. These are by far the simplest and easiest toners and half of them are growing in your backyard. It’s like tea, for your face. To make, pour boiling water over crushed fresh or dried herb, cover with lid and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain and use warm or cool. Use 250ml water to 45g fresh or 15g dried herb. They keep in the fridge for about 4 days.
  • For all skin types, especially sensitive, use chamomile
  • Again, lavender is great for oily or blemished skin
  • For combo skin, use elderflowers or cucumber juice (just peel and juice cucumber, that's it). Elderflowers were used long ago to help clear the complexion of freckles
  • For acne, use lemon balm, lemongrass, sage, thyme or calendula
  • Dry skin loves rose tea
  • Oily skin drinks up lemon juice and water (mix 50ml to 50ml).
At the moment I'm squishing the jelly from young almonds all over my face. Sounds weird, I know, but I tell ya it smooths complexion and clears pimples in no time. I get the young almonds courtesy of my mum's tree, but you can sometimes find them in greengrocers around this time of year, especially ones owned by old
greek men.
Me almonds. See the jelly-like almond kernal? That's what you squish all over your face for seriously smooth skin.

Cold-pressed oils make the best and simplest skin conditioners. They’re super gentle and extremely softening and smoothing. They supply the skin with essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals that can also help repair damaged skin (including damage done by the sun). Like I mentioned last week, make sure any oil you use is cold-pressed. Nutrients exposed to heat get destroyed, making the oil essentially ineffective. Some oils turn rancid at high temperatures causing them to form free-radicals that damage your skin.
  • Sweet almond oil is terrific for any skin type, as is apricot kernel oil
  • Rosehip oil is great at repairing damaged skin including scars and wrinkles. It’s suitable for any skin type
  • Evening primrose oil is especially good for sensitive, dry or flaky skin or if you can eczema or psoriasis
  • Jojoba oil is EXCELLENT for all skin types. I’ve used it on and off for years.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this sort of thing. Do you reckon it’s about time we take a stand against the beauty industry? Got any other ideas for natural skincare?


  1. Thanks Maria - I love this!

    It has come at a good time (even though I am only seeing this article now - months after its original post!)

    I found you via Sarah Wilson, and SO glad I did! Look forward to more of your wicked ( & REAL natural! lol) wisdom :)


    1. Thanks Liesl, glad you like it! Stay tuned for my natural beauty guide. Cheers!

  2. Yes! I have always dabbled in homemade beauty product since I was a kid, and mum helped me make my first mask out of oats, honey avocado and yogurt (I still can't get away from this mask, its the best!. At I am washing my face with raw honey, and using my crystallised raw honey as an exfoliant. I moisturise with a mix of freshly squeezed aloe vera gel, coconut oil, and honey. The trick is to just use the right amount of honey (a little little bit), and it gives the skin a beautiful glow. Not sticky at all if you get the right amount. I also use an apple cider vinegar and water toner to even out the pH levels. I dont really know why I use all these products, but I know that coconut oil is anti fungal, anti bacterial, and honey is anti bacterial. my face smells delicious :) And I know there are just a few ingredients on my face. If I have a reaction, there is less to scrutinise.

  3. Hi Maria,

    I have just discovered your blog and am absolutely loving going back through all of your posts.
    I was just wondering whether you think coconut oil would work as a cleanser in the way described above or whether it would be too heavy?

    I'm trying to make the change to natural products and also minimise the number of products I use in the process. Seeing as I already use coconut oil for a number of other reasons, I thought it could double (triple?) as cleanser and save buying new oils.
    Would love to hear your thoughts.


  4. Hi Maria,
    Do you have any further information about natural remedies for Psoriasis on the scalp? Would love it if you could do a post on it about ways to ease/prevent it!

  5. Sorry this is not Maria replying, but I had mild psoriasis of the scalp on and off for years and years. How have I dealt with it? By washing my hair in water only. Seriously. No soaps, shampoos, conditioners etc. etc. It looked a mess for the first couple of weeks, but after that it has been lovely and shiny. I brush it well every morning and night. I read this first in the SMH and was very, very sceptical about it. But anything was worth a try, and it worked. One other thing, b e careful blow drying your hair. Too high a heat and it irritates the scap - with me this encouraged the psoriasis to return. Hope this helps :) Kay

  6. Hi Maria,
    Do you have any further info on how to incorporate a sunscreen? I work outside much of the day so this is a real concern for me with natural products often not having SPF.

    1. Hi there, sorry for the late reply... check out my post on detoxing your suncare routine here:

      Hope it helps!

  7. Hi Maria
    I found you via Sarah Wilson blog. I love your blog and how you advise on using all natural products in our beauty regime, which i will start straighaway. I have a different question to you, i have Hashimotos desease just like Sarah (autoimmunine desease that affects thyroid) and recently i've been experiencing hair thinning and fall out,basically i've lost half of my hair in the last few months. It's really devastating and i dont know what to do or what to use to prevent it. I know it's all linked to thyroid function, however is there anything else i can do to strenghten them and make them look healthy.
    Thanks you

    1. Hi El, so sorry to hear that, hope this will help - nettle. Nettle is an ancient traditional remedy for weakened or thinning hair. You can make a nettle hair/scalp tonic really easily - here's some quick instructions. P.S you don't have to add lemon juice like they suggest, just nettle is fine. Sincerely hope that helps. Please do let me know how you go with it.

  8. Wow very interesting to detox our face. I've seen posts like this, Thank you for the article
    My favourite is Smart Detox with Fiforlif



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