>The more natural path3:44 PM
I'm not using any salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide on my face now. The only things I use are water, olive oil, aloe vera gel, and a bentonite clay masque. I wash with water daily, using very warm water first to open my pores and wash away surface sebum and dirt, then cold water to close my pores. Once a week I apply olive oil to my face and sit in steam to open my pores up and allow the olive oil to get down deep in to my pores. This helps to loosen up down deep dirt and sebum so that when I wash it off and apply the bentonite clay masque it can easily soak up the sebum and dirt from my pores along with the olive oil. It is the deepest cleansing method I have ever used in my life and it's not over drying; probably because I soak my skin in warm oil prior to using the clay masque. After I'm done cleansing with which ever method, I apply aloe vera gel as a lightweight moisturizer and pH corrector. My skin is clearing up beautifully. I noticed today that even my dark circles have lightened up so much more than they did when I was using expensive eye gels and creams (now I dab a little aloe on them). And all of this is starting to make me realize I had all these skin issues in the first place because I was overtreating it. If a problem came up I went out and bought something to resolve it, then if another problem came up I bought something else to resolve that without even thinking that maybe the first product was causing the problem, and on it went.
I have also realized that there are ethnic products that I really can use on my hair besides cholesterol conditioner. I've also learned a lot about my hair and its unique biracial needs. I was doing good by trying to get all natural style products, but where I went wrong was I was buying products for Caucasian hair and using Caucasian hair care techniques. Umm... guess that's what comes of being raised by my Caucasian mom, LOL. But it's more than that, too. My hair ended up having more fine strands and mixed/medium strands than coarse strands, so it looks more Caucasian than it does African American (I hate that word, I'm part West Indian, but for sake of political correctness I will use it here). But true to its African American roots, it's got a hard time keeping itself moisturized and oiled. The problem was that I knew nothing about ethnic hair care products so what I tried (with the exception of protein and cholesterol conditioners) was way too heavy on my hair. That along with seeing my African American friends struggle with their kinky 4 hair was the driving factor in making me decide that I was supposed to be using Caucasian hair products.
Well, thankfully, going without shampoo helped to start making me realize how thirsty my hair really was. I started washing with conditioner and adding a little bit of olive oil to my hair after each wash. I was really cautious because I was scared of weighing my hair down too much. Then I went to a hair stylist that knew how to work with ethnic hair and she gave me some suggestions on products to try instead of the olive oil and mousse I was using. Wow, they made such a difference. I could not believe the hair I was looking at. I didn't know it could look that nice and healthy. I finally understood why she said, "people pay hundreds of dollars to have hair like this" and "everyone wants to have a perm that looks like this."
Since then I've gone ethnic hair care crazy. I've been reading posts at BHP and reading ingredient lists on products in stores. I'm really impressed by how natural even the cheapest ethnic hair care products are.
There's the braid sheen spray that my new hair stylist recommended in place of olive oil. It's based on jojoba oil and also has shea butter and a ton of plant extracts. It's extremely lightweight and it feels like I'm misting water on to my hair (the bottle says it's conditioning as well which I won't argue with). Gives a nice shine to my hair and helps keep frizz at bay better than anything I've used (including Frizz Ease). It cost me all of $2.50. The foaming wrap lotion she recommended to take the place of my mousse is a lot like mousse but wetter and collagen based instead of silicone or wax based. It doesn't dry out my hair at all, and gives the most natural hold I've seen a styling product have. It also helps seal in moisture and shines up my curls. It was $3.50.
I found out soon though that these products alone weren't going to cut it for my hair. So I started using my conditioner as a leave in as well by working a dime sized amount in my hands until warm and frothy and then applying it my wet hair. I still had issues, but they were more easy to pinpoint now. First I noticed I needed to do something for my hair at night as through out the day no matter what I do it seems by night time it's ready for some extra moisture. So on the recommendation of the BHP forums I started putting aloe vera gel in it at night. I also noticed that the reason my hair goes afro in the morning is because it's dry, and again the BHP forums helped explain that it was because my pillow was wicking moisture away from my hair. So today I got a satin wrap to sleep in so that doesn't happen. I am going to be so thrilled the first morning I wake up without my hair sticking out like a dry bird's nest!
Anyways, so far I have completely eliminated soap and most artificial skin/hair products from my life and have replaced them with water, a hemp rope exfoliating mitt, a facial cloth, and oil. My hair and skin are a lot healthier for it, too! I no longer have issues with dry skin or allergic reactions or even body odor. The only reason I wear deodorant now is to keep my underarms dry. There's no odor for it to fight.
Makes life not only simpler but a lot sweeter as well. :)