I used to buy a lot of skincare products. I love supporting small businesses, but skincare is one of those things for which I have a real soft spot. Before I went zero waste, The Body Shop was the only place in the mall where I couldn’t stop myself from spending money. There’s something about taking care of myself that really touches me, and skincare has always felt like a soothing and nourishing way to do that. As I’ve come along in my zero-waste journey, however, I started seeing just how wasteful these companies can be. It’s pretty rare to find ones that are zero waste, sustainably sourced, vegan, fair trade, organic, palm-oil free, woman-made, and small-batch. When I do find one, I love to support them. But over quarantine, I started making my own skincare for fun, and something beautiful happened.
As I researched more about the essential oils that I had, and looked up which ones worked best for my skin, I started noticing a pattern. Oils sourced from the seaside suited my skin best. Sea buckthorn oil, lavender, spruce, orange…all of these turned out to do wonders for my skin. Not only that, but the smell brought me back to my childhood.
I was grew up on the San Juan Islands, up in Washington state. These scents that I am now using in my skincare are so prevalent in my memories. The smell of the forest, coastal lavender gardens, and sea spray all connect me to myself as well as to the land—to the Earth where I come from. Even the citrus oils that I use bring me back to my summers and winters spent in southern California, where my family is from. As I mix these oils together, it feels like the most grounding experience. It feels like I’m coming home.
Obviously, making my own skincare allows me to ensure that everything is ethical and sustainable. I have full control over what I’m supporting, as well as what I’m putting on my body. After educating myself more and more about the different oils and ingredients, it feels really empowering to know what my body and the planet need from me. This process is teaching me so much about myself and the way my body works. Each time I learn to make a new creation for it, I feel that much closer to myself, and that much more tied to the Earth that provides all of my ingredients. Using the Earth as a medium in this way makes it feel more alive and free. The Earth can do anything—be a home or paint for a canvas.
The more I learn to make, the more it’s clear just how tied to the Earth we really are. I started with just making an oil-based moisturizer, but I have since made and used my own handcrafted cleanser, toner, aloe lotion, hair texture spray, clay face masks, and perfume (on top of makeup and the home products that I always make). It doesn’t matter what it is, I keep finding that my skin responds best to those ocean ingredients. I use coastal cranberry in my toner, beach clay in my masks, and Pacific salt in my hair texture spray. Instead of spending my days bonding with harsh chemicals or slathering my earthling skin in micro plastics, I’m literally soaking myself in the coast. I’m painting myself and cleansing myself and spraying myself with the land. It feels almost holy.
Because this now feels so personal, I haven’t skipped washing my face very often, and nurturing my skin doesn’t feel like a chore anymore. It feels more like a ritual; a chosen, natural, and celebratory ritual. My skin is clearer than it’s ever been, and since I’m not buying as many skin products (because that’s still something I like to treat myself with every once in a while) I’m also saving money. That money can be saved or donated or used to improve my daily life. I feel centered and raw in the best ways, and tethered to my northern seas and beach roots.
Maybe your skin would respond best to more woodland ingredients or maybe it would thrive with jungle fruit oils. No matter what works best with it, it will still feel so wholesome, because it’s exactly that. It’s all natural and whole and organic. Make sure you know what you’re allergic to, and then start educating yourself about your skin type and what it’s compatible with. You might surprise yourself, but either way, you’ll feel more connected to yourself and the Earth than you would if you were paying someone else to do this for you. It will slow you down, help you learn something new, allow you to celebrate the Earth, and be a way to honor your own skin. Those are things that we all need more of in our lives, and they’re things that have really brought me so much wellness and holistic goodness to my life.
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Photo: Emily Degn