When I was entering my 20s, beauty bloggers were starting to make their mark as influencers on social media. As an impressionable individual, I bought into the consumerism of the beauty industry. There wasn’t a blush, lipstick, toner or facial oil that I couldn’t convince myself superfluous in my kit/routine; because, hey! If it worked for them, it must also work for me, right?!
I went from a teenager who owned just one red lipstick to a young adult who ‘needed‘ a 10-step skincare routine and a makeup drawer full of concealers, eyeshadows and blushers.
Needless to say, my skin paid the price for it.
I won’t exaggerate and say that I was covered in acne, but it was enough for me to start feeling insecure and conscious about my break-out prone skin.
Only, I was then convinced that I needed more
products to help solve the problem than to take a step back and give my skin some time to breathe.
In the past eight months, due to admittedly abject laziness and other life priorities, I cut back on the time I spent on my skincare routine. Now, I have a simple, three-step cycle consisting of a cleanser, a toner and a moisturiser … and wouldn’t you know it? — there has been a significant improvement in my skin than ever before!
The results kicked in during the 2nd month of this trial when I went abroad on holiday and took minimal skincare with me. I was so worried that a change of water, pollution and climate would break me out even more, but was surprised to find that my skin continued to improve.
Since returning from holiday, I took inspiration from more natural products and methods tried and tested by real women around me: my friends and family. And the results have been spectacular!
1. Papaya Peel
I’m an island girl: born in Sri Lanka then raised in England, and I love exotic Asian fruits. Papaya is one of my favourites. When my mum once suggested rubbing papaya peel on my face as a mask-treatment, I rolled my eyes at her.
But if there is one thing that is true about my mum, it is the fact that she is as stubborn as a mule and will persist until you try what she says at least once. So, I did.
And I regret to say, she was right.
Papaya is a beta-carotene-rich food filled with powerful enzymes and phytochemicals that are good for the skin. The enzymes slow down the formation of fine lines and wrinkles by combating free radicals.
The secret beauty nutrient in papaya is papain, an enzyme that has skin-lightening properties and can reduce the visibility of blemishes and acne scars. Together with alpha-hydroxy acids, papain acts as a gentle exfoliator that dissolves inactive protein and dead skin cells. Applying papaya topically to the skin will soften your skin, leaving it smooth and supple.
So there you go, you can make use of all parts of the fruit.
2. Aloe Vera
This one is more of a recent discovery. Upon the recommendation of a friend and I started using aloe vera gel-based products at nights as a cleanser and moisturiser.
Applied topically, the gel (which has a high water content: 99.5%) is incredibly hydrating, soothing and cooling. It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory and can treat skin conditions including psoriasis, sunburn, acne, dry skin and frostbite.
My nighttime routine now consists of a double cleanse to remove all makeup and impurities from my skin and follow up with aloe vera gel. The transformation in my skin over the past six months has been nothing but miraculous. I no longer break-out as often as I used to, I still get the odd hormonal breakout, however, it is far less severe than it has ever been.
3. Rose Water Toner
There is a funny anecdote that goes with this: a friend of mine is never seen without her bottle of rose water. We laugh when she takes out a bottle at the end of brunch or during college class and starts spraying herself to give her skin a hydration boost. But in all honesty, she’s probably got the best skin I have seen.
Clear, unblemished and glowing.
The best thing about rose water is that it can be used as a toner and as a face mist. I bought a large bottle from Amazon and dispensed some into a spray bottle.
On nights where I have been wearing a full face of makeup or feel that my skin is looking a little bit dull, I soak some cotton pads with the rose water and wipe over my face to tone after cleansing. My skin always feels supple and bright the next morning.
4. Cucumber Water
This has been a newer addition to my skincare routine, it’s less of a topical application and rather more of daily intake.
I have heard and read time and time again during my research that drinking water is a must. Any good source will dictate your daily water intake as the biggest contributor to clearer, brighter and healthier skin.
One of the things that I have struggled most with is drinking my daily 6-8 glasses of water. Over Christmas, my friend suggested adding cucumber slices to my water as it not only adds flavour but also boosts hydration. Cucumbers are rich in vitamins A through E and K, beta carotene, manganese, and antioxidants.
Apparently all the models in New York swear by it.
How to Make Cucumber Water
Making cucumber water is pretty simple:
- Slice a cleaned cucumber into 1/2 inch slices.
- Combine cucumber slices in water, and top with ice. Allow it to marinate for at least an hour. (For best results, allow it to marinate overnight in the refrigerator.)
My mum’s homemade, organic honey & turmeric mask
2 tbsp Organic Besan Flour
1 tbsp Organic Honey
1tsp Organic Turmeric
2tbsp Organic Natural Yoghurt
1/2tsp Olive Oil
Simply mix these ingredients together and apply to face. Leave on for 20 minutes, or until the mix dries up on the skin. Gently exfoliate away with warm water until all residue is removed. Follow up with a toner to ensure all traces of turmeric is removed and apply your skincare to protect the skin.