What costs $7, is usually found in the kitchen, and has become my new favorite facial care product? It's so obvious you'll never guess!
By Janeen Ellsworth
Yesterday I had my one-year, full-body, skin cancer scan and am happy to report that I’m cancer-free! A year ago, I had a patch of squamous cell carcinoma removed, and while it’s not the biggest health deal by any means, it was pretty alarming.
So, these days, I’m pretty obsessive about my skin, even without watching new wrinkles appear each day. But I’m also determed to live a Reductionist lifestyle, so you might think my Oil of Olay daily moisturizer with SPF 15 would be good enough to keep me covered. I use it every day for the sunscreen, and because it’s affordable and fragrance-free. But it gets a lousy score from Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep rating system, and is full of chemicals I haven’t had the balls to admit are awful for me.
But I’ve discovered a new skin care product, which I vetted yesterday with my dermatologist. She gave this offbeat new facial care product the thumbs up, adding two expert pieces of advice to make sure I use it properly.
No, it isn’t some $40-per-ounce high-end organic cream. It isn’t made by any fancy brand or sold at a cosmetics counter. You can buy it at your average grocery store.
Long-winded back-story before I tell you what it is: After my surgery last year, my friend brought me a gift. It was a little vial of Moringa oil, which she said was great for healing scar tissue and cost about $9.
Rich in nutrients, it’s ideal for treating dry skin and hair. My friend said she’d been wearing it on her face—I’d always admired her radiant glow, but had chalked that up to her natural beauty and Latin descent since she’s typically a warm, golden hue.
I tried the Moringa on my scar, a little dab every day for a while. I don’t know what the scar would’ve looked like had I not used Moringa on it, obvi, and I did have a great surgeon who was really careful at slicing me open, but truly, my scar is invisible now.
Once the oil is squeezed out of the seeds, what remains can be used as fertilizer. Even the roots and flowers are chopped up and made into a relish, I hear, in Bangladesh. Every part of the tree is packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants, so eating it could help fight chronic illness like heart disease, stomach ailments and Type 2 diabetes, according to Healthline.com.
And yet, do an inter-web search and it won’t take long to find pop-nutrition-skeptics telling stories about “abuse” of Moringa, risks causing infertility, and general warnings of “this stuff hasn’t really been tested so much, so use it at your own risk.”
Fair enough. Don’t say I told you to try it;)
Even so, I fell in love with Moringa from Day 1 and started slathering not just on my wound, but chin, cheeks and forehead each night before bed. It has a faint peanut aroma that I actually liked, was viscous enough not to be runny and thin enough to spread easily. When I’d wake up in the morning, I’d still feel adequately moisturized. And have I mentioned the radiant glow? This made a visible positive difference in my skin’s texture and appearance.
You can probably tell this story started off, months ago, being titled, “Moringa Magic!”
But six months after my surgery, my vial was empty. I wanted more, but went to my local co-op to buy some and was told they’d suddenly stopped carrying it, with no explanation for why.
So I did something I hate to do, which is go to Whole Foods. Lo and behold, they had abruptly pulled it from their shelves, too.
Which got me wondering if all those pop-nutrition-doubters sending cautionary warnings actually had a point.
So I pulled out my smart phone there in the beauty aisle and did some homework on the spot, which is when I discovered there are all kinds of other pure oils that are great for skin.
Take Argan oil, which I ultimately settled on that day. The Argan tree comes from Morocco, and the oil is pressed out of the tree’s ‘Kernels,’ according to Wikipedia. Aside from being a wonderful moisturizer for aging skin like mine, people dip crusty bread into Argan oil and drizzle it on salads. Who knew?
It has a pleasant earthy scent, and it spread onto my face a bit more thinly than the Moringa did. I loved it almost as much. A tiny vial cost me about ten dollars and lasted three months.
Since I’d proven I could use pure oil as moisturizer, I was excited to test the boundaries and see what else worked.
I used olive oil for a few nights. My husband said I stunk like salad dressing as he laid in bed next to me, but when I woke up I had the freshest, softest skin ever. Mind you, it’s wintertime in Pittsburgh, and I am DRY with a capital D. So olive oil may not work so well in the summer when I turn into a greasy sweat-hog, but it sure is moisturizing. One more awesome benefit: olive oil is great for fighting wrinkles!
Which FINALLY brings me to the product I’m now using: avocado oil! It’s rich in antioxidants and is anti-inflammatory, which is great for wrinkles, and it can be a healer of psoriasis or eczema for those with sensitive skin.
Just to be sure this experiment wasn’t doing more harm to my skin than good, I ran it past my dermatologist yesterday at that full body scan. To my relief, she assured me that plenty of people use oils in this way; for night cream AND day cream.
But there’s one caveat: she cautioned to make sure I put the avocado (or olive or Argan or whatever) oil on first, let it soak in, and THEN put a sunscreen product on last, because SPF should be the outermost line of defense shielding your skin from the sun.
Next I’ll have to work on replacing that Oil of Olay SPF to something with no harsh chemicals.
One final friendly word of warning: using food oils could cause some skin types to break out because they can make your pores clog. So if you decide to go for a natural oil, be sure to wash well every day, and if you start to notice zits, maybe it’s time to switch it up.
I'm Janeen; writer, mother, wife, and full-time, radical Reductionist. I share stupid-easy tips on how to save money while reducing your impact on the environment, & I'm committed to helping others live a life of simple sustainability.
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