How do you approach the head-to-toe task of looking after your skin naturally? There’s so much to think about and remember, but really it’s very simple. Here’s an A to Z of tips to help you get into the groove:
Vitamin A is the A-lister of skin vitamins. You need to eat it and you can also apply it to your skin as a moisturiser ingredient. Vitamin A is important for photo-protection (protection from sun damage), reduction of photo-ageing (ageing related to sun damage), wound healing and acne prevention.
A great source of Vitamin A for topical application is apricot kernel oil, one of Okana’s favourite skincare ingredients. As far as nutrition is concerned, you’ll get vitamin A from orange and yellow vegetables and fruits.
Every kind of berry is good for your skin – in particular, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. They’re full of antioxidants, which helps to protect your skin from the damaging effects of sunshine. Blueberries go a step further, because they’re vaso-constrictors that help to reduce skin redness. And if you’re a strawberry lover, good news! Strawberries help to increase the production of collagen.
Cucumber and carrot
Peter Rabbit was onto something with the carrots he stole from Mr McGregor’s garden. Clearly he was chasing beta-carotene, a skin-friendly nutrient that converts to vitamin A when it’s digested. We’re not sure whether Peter was also fond of cucumbers, but they’re also a common garden ingredient that’s good for your skin. Eating fresh carrots and cucumbers often is a great strategy for healthy skin. It’s also smart to apply them topically, as ingredients in natural skincare. Check out cucumber’s skin benefits.
At the heart of a natural skincare routine is cleansing that really cleanses. By this we mean cleansing once in the morning and twice at night (double cleansing). The end of the day is the best time for double cleansing because your face is wearing everything the day chucked at it – makeup, sebum, sweat and environmental dirt. First step for effective double cleansing is using an oil-based cleanser, because oil is the ultimate way to lift all the grime out of your pores. Follow this up with a finishing cleanse, i.e. a gentle foaming cleanser to remove oil residue. More about double cleansing.
Exfoliation is a given, but what do you exfoliate with if you’re switching to a natural skincare regime? Obviously nasty things like polymer microbeads are right off the menu. What you need is a chemical or mechanical exfoliator that remembers where it came from.
A natural chemical exfoliator is lemon juice, which contains alpha hydroxy acid for removing dead skin cells. Fresh yoghurt is another example of a chemical exfoliator; it contains lactic acid.
Mechanical chemical exfoliators include sugar and oatmeal, although both are a little messy to work with. An easier solution is to use a product containing finely-ground bamboo fibres, like our bamboo bead face scrub.
The concept of skincare potions and lotions that smell nice is all very well, until you discover that fragrance of any kind is a no-no for genuine natural skincare products. Why? Because fragrance is a common cause of skin reactions. More about why skincare products need to be fragrance-free.
A great natural skincare regime will have a lot of emphasis on antioxidants, which are substances that neutralise free radicals. Free radicals are bad guys; unstable atoms that rush about damaging cells. They’re linked to premature skin ageing. Vitis vinifera extract from red grapes is a rich source of antioxidants. It’s one of the active ingredients we put into our night moisturiser.
Having an impeccable natural skincare regime is a waste of time if your lifestyle is less than natural. Your inner health will be reflected in your outer health, so maybe it’s time to pursue a better way of eating. Moving to a predominately plant-based diet is a way to increase the quality and quantity of nutrients you eat every day. You don’t have to be a total vego though; the Mediterranean diet is widely recognised as a great way to eat.
How soon can you expect to see an improvement in your skin after you switch to natural skincare? Experts agree that results are tied to epidermal turnover, the process that involves the generation of keratinocytes in the basal layer of the skin and their eventual loss as corneocytes by exfoliation (or time) on the skin’s surface. Epidermal turnover takes about three weeks in young adults and about one month in older people.  So while you might notice some immediate effects, caused by improved cleansing and moisturising, you’ll need to wait a few weeks to see the real results.
Fresh juice is often used as an ingredient in natural skincare products, although formulations require testing to ensure they are self-preserving. At Okana we use apple juice, berry juice, carrot juice, lettuce juice, cucumber juice and tomato juice in our product range.
Even the best natural skincare regime will be undermined if you don’t consume enough vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Vitamin C decreases cell damage from sun exposure, assists the skin’s healing process, supports collagen synthesis and helps to prevent dry skin. One of the easiest ways to get plenty of vitamin C is to eat a couple of kiwifruit every day. They contain three times the vitamin C of oranges.
You might love to lather up in the shower, but what you’re really doing is covering yourself with SLS – sodium lauryl sulphate, a foaming agent that’s commonly found in artificial products that make lots of suds. While not acutely toxic, SLS can irritate your skin and eyes. Allergy symptoms include itchy, flaky skin and redness. If you want a foaming product that doesn’t contain SLS, check out our apple juice foaming cleanser.
We reckon macadamia is the king of nuts. Not just delicious, but absolutely packed with nutrients, vitamins and minerals. From a natural skincare point of view, macadamia oil is fantastic in both cleansers and moisturisers. It’s rich in Omega-6 linoleic acid, which is highly emollient, yet light and penetrating. We also think you should include a few macadamias in your daily diet; the fats they contain are MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids), which are really, really good for you. 
Night-time is the right time to give your skin an all-natural beauty treatment. Begin with a double-cleanse (oil cleanser followed by water-based cleanser), then tone and moisturise. It’s best to use a purpose-built night moisturiser, which will be slightly heavier and more nutritious for your skin than a day-time moisturiser. Change your pillowcase a couple of times every week, because it picks up oil from your face and dust from your bedroom (and maybe jam spills from breakfast in bed).
Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil is a supremely versatile product for natural skincare. You can use it as a cleanser, although it could be a little on the heavy side if your skin is inclined to be oily and spotty. It’s also useful as a hand and nail treatment at night. At Okana, we like to use is as an ingredient in our day moisturiser.
Olive oil contains three major antioxidants – vitamin E, polyphenols and phytosterols. Vitamin E’s anti-ageing benefits restore damaged skin cells and prevent ultraviolet light from penetrating skin layers. Polyphenols protect the skin and help control the ageing process; phytosterols promote the production of collagen.
These are ingredients you want to fiercely avoid. Commonly used to prolong the shelf life of skincare products, you’ll see them in ingredient labels as methylparaben, propylparaben, isoparaben and butylparaben. Parabens are known hormone disruptors and use of them can lead to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive problems . More on harmful chemical here.
There are numerous brands competing in the natural skincare space, but they’re not created equal. Some pay lip service to the concept of natural. The front of the packaging says all the right things, but the ingredients list reads like a product that has nothing to do with nature. Before you make a purchase, check that you’re buying something which is good enough to eat. You need to see evidence of high-quality, natural ingredients. How to understand the ingredients list on skincare products.
Not the nicest-sounding name for an ingredient, but rapeseed oil – aka canola – is an excellent source of Omega 3 and 6. It’s also a good source of vitamin E. These attributes make it a natural for a back-to-nature skincare regime. You’ll find it in our mango + apricot cleanser.
Stay away from sugar as a food, but get into it as a body scrub. Raw sugar crystals are made from sugar cane juice, so they’re actually pretty natural. Combined with olive oil, rapeseed oil and apricot kernel oil, brown sugar will get your body skin smooth and soft.
The three pillars - cleanse, tone and moisturise – still apply to a natural skincare regime. Toning is a step you mustn’t skip, because it helps to keep your skin barrier (acid mantle) in good working order. During cleansing, your skin’s preferred pH moves toward alkaline. Using a slightly acidic toner brings the pH back to an optimal 5.5. Our Cucumber + Lettuce Toner has been carefully designed to rebalance your skin’s pH and is suitable for even the most sensitive skin. More here.
Uniform skin tone
Time, spots and sun can mess with your skin tone, creating darker-coloured scars, age spots and freckles. If spots are your issue, taking a gentle approach to acne treatment can help you to avoid the red and purplish scars that follow nasty breakouts. And if hyper-pigmentation is your problem, being vigilant about using sunscreen can make a big difference. You should also choose products that are rich in natural antioxidants, to neutralise free-radicals – they’re the bad guy molecules that speed up skin ageing.
If you’ve chosen to pursue a vegan lifestyle, good on you! Along with carefully choosing your food and clothing, you’ll want vegan skincare to complement your lifestyle decision. All Okana products are 100% vegan. Order our Radiant Skin gift box to get started.
Water is the biggest ingredient of your body. It keeps your blood flowing, your organs functioning and your skin glowing. And even though people have been banging on about drinking enough water for decades, many of us still aren’t guzzling the required amount of pure water every day. The simplest strategy is to drink a big (400ml) glass of water with every meal and snack. If you have three meals and two snacks a day, you’ll hit the mark with water consumption.
Combining a natural skincare regime with plenty of water and a Mediterranean-style diet helps to give your skin an x-factor luminosity that you can’t achieve with cosmetics. And if you add exercise into the mix, you’ll be as close-to-perfect as a human can be. Build exercise into your week with a couple of cardio workouts, like cycling or running, and a couple of strength workouts, such as weight training, power yoga or Pilates. To avoid injuries, never do the same workout two days in a row.
If you’ve dabbled in various forms of yoga, you’ll know that the inverted poses make you really pink in the face. This is blood flow, which is a very good thing for skin health. And nothing could be more natural than hanging upside down (if you’re a bat!).
Getting enough beauty sleep is not up for negotiation. While humans might one day evolve to a point where sleep isn’t necessary, for now it’s essential. For optimum body performance and skin health, 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night is the goal.