Growing up, I thought my grandmother was a witch. Once a week, she would make concoctions in her kitchen with a mortar and pestle, mashing avocados and mixing the stuff with a tablespoon of honey. She was so absorbed in the act that it almost looked like she was praying.
Once she was finished, she would go up the stairs and disappear into her room for an hour. I would hear her get into the shower not so long after and when she went down to join us for breakfast, she looked refreshed with skin so supple and dewy – even more so than my own mother’s.
I was determined to know her secret. One time, I followed my grandmother upstairs after she mixed her ingredients in a bowl in the kitchen.When I opened the door, I saw her sitting in front of her vanity mirror, her hair tied in a knot and her face all green.
From the mirror, she smiled at me and beckoned me to come closer. She slathered a bit of the gooey mixture all over my face and sat with me in silence for a few minutes. Together, we washed it off. I ran my fingers over my cheeks, shocked at how smooth my skin was.
Since then, the avocado mask became my favourite weekly beauty regimen with my grandmother. I had flawless skin until my adolescence, thanks to her.
A Bad Shift
Once I moved out of my hometown after college, I no longer had the privilege of sharing face masks with my grandmother. When I started working in an office, I met girls who bragged about buying the latest cleansers from drugstores and how much it sucked out the oil from their skin. My then gullible selffell into the commercial skincare hole.
That was when my cystic acne started. In winter, I would have large zits on my forehead, cheeks and jawline that I popped when I was bored. My face calmed down in spring but it was filled with acne scars and hyperpigmentation – I was beyond frustrated.
One night, I called my grandmother and told her all the problems I had with my skin. With her help and a bit of research on sustainable skincare, this is how I transformed my skin, from an acne-ridden surface to a face as smooth as a baby’s bum.
Just like my grandmother told me, I don’t wash my skin in my morning. I splash my face with warm water first, then pat with my hands. I top it off with cold water, then pat again. This way, my skin is able to retain its moisture throughout the day.
I exfoliate once a week – on a Friday night, to be specific. Using the avocado and honey mask recipe (and a dash of salt for a bit of exfoliation), I let my skin recover from a week’s worth of damage.
At night, that’s when all the magic happens.
It’s important to cleanse your face after all the dirt has accumulated on your skin throughout the day. Once I was through with my foam cleanser, I switched to pure jojoba oil. I bought a bottle from a bulk store and a reusable cotton washcloth from a Zero Waste shop for my oil cleansing routine.
With just a teaspoon of jojoba oil, I rubbed it all over my face to dissolve the dirt. Then I used the washcloth to wipe off the oil from my face. I applied another teaspoon of jojoba oil and massaged in gently into my skin for a minute. Using the clean side of the washcloth, I wiped it off again and just massaged the excess into my skin.
A toner always follows a cleanser. Toners are meant to rebalance your skin’s natural pH levels to bring back the lost moisture after cleansing. But since I’ve switched to an oil cleanser, I don’t necessarily need a toner anymore.
But, for a boost of moisture, I made my own aloe vera face mist. It soothes my skin and gives it a natural glow.
If you have sensitive skin, try a rose water face mist. Apple cider vinegar is great for those with oily and troubled skin.
On most days, I skip this step. However, I find that my face lacks moisture during the colder months.
In the winter, I apply a moisturiser that I can use as a sleeping mask before I go to bed. My grandmother recommended a tub of shea butter to me when I was on the phone with her and it was a miracle. I no longer had flakes on my skin despite the chilly weather and my mother keeps telling me how envious she is of my skin (and that she should have also listened to my grandmother when she was young).
Just remember that having ten steps to your skincare routine doesn’t automatically result in a flawless face. Using gentle and natural skincare products give your skin the food it needs – and you’re helping out the environment, too!