The craziest Beauty Challenge – ever!

Adventurers, you know by now that I love me some challenge: Sleep Lab, Wheat-free weeks, vegan baking… Now prepare for the Craziest Challenge a beauty insider can take up!

“Disclaimer” of sorts:
No horrifying images or descriptions ahead.
No medical advice included.
Describes only my experiment, and while I believe that we over-do skin care, our skin is our biggest organ and shouldn’t be approached with bits that we pick up on the Internet. I sure did my share of research and medical consultations prior to this decision!


Dear kittens, here’s a second “sort-of-disclaimer” for you.
You know, I have fought with myself, deciding to put up a picture of myself or not.
I didn’t feel like doing so.
Especially a close-up of really not perfect skin.

But then I thought, heck, that’s how I look, and that’s also exactly about the point I’m making, and it’s not THAT bad at all, given WHAT I’m talking about.

Well, then.

You might’ve guessed already, I’m in my thirties. I consider it as great an age as any decade before.
And while my skin, hands and neck included, is fair, firm and healthy, and doesn’t give away my age – no wrinkles, no weird pigmentation (except for a sprinkle of freckles), no sagging – it’s really prone to irritation of any kind.

Now, of course I’ve tried every moisturizer, serum, face oil, cream, mask, peeling, treatment… out there!
I’ve had a 24-carat-gold treatment that left my skin clogged with “high tech dry oil” (read: pure silicone), and I went to amazing Dr. Hauschka lymph drainage sessions that left my skin glowing – but the irritations and inflammations stayed, no matter what.

This is my skin without makeup (except some concealer and a two-toned lip gloss) that I can show now, after 4 weeks without any lotion, cream, or serum.

Each and every new product would start amazingly well for the first two weeks.
After that time while I’d be thinking “yes! I finally found it!” the skin rocketed back to normal aka bad:
The pores – clogged, the skin – irritated on a scale from “oops, a zit” to “probably a stress-induced acne flare” to “wonder what it says in braille?” 😦

Dermatologists offered even harsher methods: killer peelings and antibiotic serums. One of those pharmacy-made creams gave my skin the look & feel of white plastic, but I don’t want to look back in anger, really.

The problem, of course, was me.

BAD DECISION #1 >>> I’ve been competely reluctant to the fact that my mother, who looks nothing like her age, only started using moisturizers in her early fifties, finally succumbing to beauty ads.

BAD DECISION #2 >>> I’ve been ignoring the fact that my boyfriend got his skin issues only after I talked him into men’s moisturizers.
Men’s moisturizers are a brain-child of devilishly clever marketing guys who thought that the smell of marine freshness and a gel-like texture plus a manly blue shade (sometimes orange, the colour of power), was all a guy wants. My boyfriend, though, quickly started a “Leave Me Alone with Your Girly Stuff, Woman!” revolution and his skin relaxed.

BAD DECISION #3 >>> I’ve been totally oblivious to the fact that the most fragile skin on my face, the skin under my eyes, the one that “beauty experts” say needs the most slathering-on and covering-up was completely skin-care free. And miraculously it looked the best.
(I was just too lazy for it, in fact. Dotting eye serum around the eyes, ain’t nobody got time for that!)


I had (and I still own) a lot of products.
I admit, I was addicted to my face tonic, several moisturizers for different skin conditions, a soothing serum, a night serum, an eye serum I never used but kept updating, a couple of masks and peelings, different face oils, makeup base/primer, foundation, cover stick, powder, makeup remover(s)…

I swear, at that time I thought that if I lost those, I would not survive. I kind of got over it a couple years ago, but I thought organic would then be the cure for me – but not all things organic are great things organic, either.

The trouble was: the more products I used, the more other products I needed to balance out.
The more products I used, the more problems occurred.
I used drying serums for the zits, and then I needed a powerful moisturiser. I used more and more efficient peelings to fight the not-too-small pores that suddenly popped up out of nowhere, but the reddened skin asked for a foundation with strong coverage, etc.
Doomed, doomed, doomed!


But I knew that one day, I had to give the “moisturizer cold turkey” a try. Deep down inside I knew it.
I’ve given up smoking – so I could give up this vicious circle, too.

You can’t simplify your food from ‘overprocessed’ to ‘home-cooked’, and try to go as toxin-free as you can, and not smoke, not drink, go veg, AND THEN LOOK LIKE BLOODY CRUMBLE CAKE! It’s no good advertisement for a healthy lifestyle!

Sure, my diet really helped my skin, but it wasn’t enough.
Health checks with several specialists proved only one thing: I was perfectly healthy. No room for improvement.
Not even excess weight to drop for improved metabolism.
So what the hell was wrong!?

There were few, precious days of amazing glow and pureness, followed by weeks where I was forced to hone my makeupartistry, applying as much makeup as a Geisha would, just trying to make it look as natural as possible.
Ironically, many people would compliment my skin on bad days precisely, and I knew they were not lying – I have the best primers and finish products and beauty tricks on hand.
And if you can draw or paint, you can draw and paint your face, too; period.


A deep breath.

It was a Monday. The last Monday in May. Four weeks ago.
I looked at my cosmetics shelf in the bathroom and bade adieu to three moisturizers that looked at me sadly with their innocent certified-organic seals, waving their meter-long ingredient lists…

I washed my face with a very soft, organic lavender liquid soap.
On day one I dried it. Big mistake! As big as the Sahara desert!

So starting with day two I didn’t even dab it with a towel. While my face was still wet from washing, I sprayed on a good amount of thermal water and let it air-dry. Much better! No burning, no itching, no cracks in the surface of the moon… Just kidding 🙂

Thermal water in spray bottles is really THE cure for me. This, and my charcoal Konjac sponge.

The only product I have permitted myself to use, is face oil. I have a bit of a range to pick from (of course).
I use Skin & Bones, Talika, and a selection of organic cold pressed oils, bought at food shops and pharmacies.


I’m not ready to roam the streets bare faced, but the skin has gained a sort of a balance.

On days I use makeup, I apply a small amount of an organic liquid foundation.
If it’s not enough, I apply Everyday Minerals concealer or/and mineral foundation which has very good, natural-looking coverage – with cotton pads, a trick I’ve learned from a Erno Laszlo beautician – makes it almost germ-free.
I remove makeup as soon as I can.
For this, I use Santé makeup remover tissues, then I wash my face. If needed, with a sponge.
Then again, the wet skin gets a thermal water splash, and I’m done.


While my skin is not looking gorgeous, it doesn’t certainly look worse.
Indeed, there is slow improvement I can feel – and see – in slightly smaller and finer pores, in less irritation.

I think I will experiment with lotions and waters, say, Dr. Hauschka Face Toner or Night Treatments; test other thermal water brands and organic plant water (rosewater, neroli water, lavender water). I will use a little dab of oil here and there, and probably get vitamin E capsules at the pharmacy and apply those to the skin. I heard Martha Stewart swears by it 😉 [UPDATE JULY 2014: VITAMIN E CAN CLOG YOUR PORES LIKE NOTHING ELSE BUT IT SEEMS TO BE AN INDIVIDUAL REACTIONS: SOME BREAK OUT, SOME DON’T] I just don’t want anything emulsified and complicated on my skin anymore.

So yes, I’m following this simplified beauty routine Quest whenever it takes me, but heck, it already saved me a month’s worth of moisturizers!



Geeking out about all things truly green, healthy and ethical over at (Avatar illustration by A. Goncharenko)

21 Responses

  1. Heather in Arles

    Ooh, this is interesting. It makes sense to me!
    One thing I apparently have been doing right is that I spritz my face with rosewater every morning when I wake up. It smells good and feels nice. An elderly hispanic lady with amazing skin told me to do this…um, at least twenty years ago? I liked the old-fashionedness of it and so I did it. It makes such a difference!
    I am still a big believer in Bioderma Crealine Water for cleansing and makeup removal though…oops!
    Question: what are you using for sun protection?

      1. Heather in Arles

        Wow! Really? As a blue eyed redhead (we are just after albinos in terms of skin cancer danger, truly), I can’t take that risk, especially as both my Mom and Dad (redheads too) had cancer scares. But, you so clearly know your own skin and what it needs so I love that you are being true to yourself!
        PS. Because of you, I did a major sunscreen change this year and switched to Caudalie’s Soleil Divin +50–which is AT LEAST paraben-free! It’s a start! 😉

  2. Din

    I can literally see me crying! Having all the so called beautiful things in my bathroom that need to be used although my skin has the best time ever during vacation at the sea – only an oil fits my travel purse that I am using to cleanse and treat my skin plus a SPF. Not sure why I am addicted to the other treatments as soon as I am back home. Maybe little baby steps bring me back to a more natural skin care routine when I am at home, too. Let’s try some small things first.

  3. Michelle

    I stopped using moisturizers and my face went super dry except when I used Dr. Hauschka’s cleansing milk (which gave me spots). Finally a friend told me to just stop using cleansers. It freaked me out to try it but she persevered and I gave it a shot. My face has never looked better in my life. I wash it with warm water and a wash cloth and if it gets a bit dry, I just put a thin layer of pure jojoba oil (which is antibacterial and antifungal). There are days, though, when I really want to wash my face, and on those days I just use a mild cleanser. But most days, only warm water in the shower and only once a day!

    I encourage all beauty product addicts to let go of the cleansers and the tonics and the moisturizers and the masks and the this and that — it goes on forever. Just eat your vegetables and superfoods and give your face (and wallet) a rest.

    (About makeup: if you wear makeup and are desperate to get it off at night, you can literally cleanse with water and jojoba oil, and everything, including mascara, will slide right off, leaving your face glowing.)

      1. Michelle

        Yes, I must admit that using plain rosewater from the bioladen from time to time is a nice little treat. I’d use it every day but it’s unnecessary (therefore expensive) and I think I’m just too groggy to remember in the mornings.

        Have fun with your experiment. 🙂 I look forward to reading about your results.

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