My Natural Skincare Routine

A bit of lusting after someone does wonders for the skin. -Elizabeth Hurley

I’ve had more skin problems as an adult than as a teen. It’s been frustrating.

I’ve been to the dermatologist. The cream she prescribed made my skin 10 times worse.

I’ve purchased and tried many products – some expensive, some cheap.

At age 30, I’ve finally had a breakthrough. I have sensitive skin. This means many products won’t work for me. The chemicals and fragrances in traditional skincare lines irritate my skin. Maybe you know the feeling.

Another skin reality for me: Acne is mostly stress related. I’ve dealt with this by slowing down. I rarely get acne anymore.

My experiments with natural solutions

Some of my earliest posts on Peace & Projects were related to skincare. I wanted to go natural, but also be realistic – I wasn’t going to continue a regimen that didn’t work. I’ve tried:

  • All water method. (No cleanser, no moisturizer.) This did not work for me. I know a few women with stunning skin that use this method. It must be genetics.
  • Oil cleansing method. Many people – including Tsh Oxenreider of Simple Mom – have success with this routine, but  I couldn’t get it to work for me. I tried a variety of oil blends to no avail.
  • suki. This pure line from a local organic store did not work for me.
  • Olive oil as eye make up remover. Did using oil to remove makeup work? Sort of. I decided it left behind more traces of make up than the (somewhat gross) method was worth. Also, a few pimples popped up around my eyes from the leftover oil.

What works for my sensitive skin

After many years of trial and error, I finally have a system that works beautifully. I use.

  • Dr. Bronner’s lavender liquid soap. I am seriously in love with Dr. Bronner’s soaps. To cleanse my face, I dilute a drop in a sink of water and gently scrub with a wash cloth. The lavender is calming for my sensitive skin – another bonus. I only use the soap at night; plain water works fine in the morning.
  • Aveda all-sensitive moisturizer. This product is fabulous. I’m thrilled with how soft and supple my skin is. My dry spots are disappearing and the appearance of my skin is improved after only a week of use. It isn’t cheap, but I’ve found a little bit goes a long way.
  • Yes to Carrots moisturizing eye cream. Is eye cream necessary? I’m not sure. (I know it isn’t truly necessary. Maybe preferred is a better word choice.) I’ll need to experiment going without before I decide. For now, Yes to Carrots is light and lasts forever. It’s also paraben free.

Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart. -Kahlil Gibran

Do you use natural skincare products? Have you tried and failed? Share your story in the comments below.

Sharing is clearly caring on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo by Walt Stoneburner

Check out Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk, coming January 2016 from Delacorte Press/Random House. Visit her author site here.


1 Megan Swicegood June 28, 2011 at 8:00 am

I haven’t been brave enough to try any of the homemade natural stuff. I have adult acne issues and sensitive skin so I have to walk a very fine line between battling the acne and not irritating my skin. Like you, I just use water in the morning. I’ve bounced around to a lot of different skin care lines over the years but I keep coming back to Mario Badescue products. While not 100% natural, they are botanically based. I love their seaweed night cream and I’m loyal to their Enzyme Cleansing Gel (it has papaya in it and is amazing). And lots of exercise and yoga keep my skin acne free.

2 Melissa June 28, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Hi Megan,
It can be frustrating to fell like NOTHING is working. I’ve also heard that tap water can irritate the skin, but haven’t experimented with filtered water yet. I may try that next! Thanks for sharing,

3 Kelsalynn June 28, 2011 at 10:00 am

I’ve been following your blog for a while but just now commenting. Just 2 weeks ago (crazy timing) I made my first batch of homemade skin care- exfoliator, face wash, and moisturizer. I use bananas, olive oil, etc. Like you, I’ve had acne and it runs in the family. I would get breakouts so bad! It’s only been 2 weeks but I am so incredibly happy! I can’t believe I didn’t try this sooner! I’m no expert, I just googled the heck out of it. You can see my blog post- or just today I blogged about it again b/c I wanted everyone to know how happy I am with the results.

By the way, I tried the natural products including some of the same ones you described above but gosh, they were just so expensive & I was still getting breakouts.

4 Melissa June 28, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Hi Kelsalynn,
Wow, very cool information on your post. I’m intrigued to try it! I have most of the ingredients you listed, too. How was your skin tone after using coffee grounds? Did it irritate your skin at all?

5 JC June 28, 2011 at 10:41 am

Love the Yes to Carrots line! Right now I have the make up remover and eye gel. Wonderful and gentle.
I’ve also been really pleased with Avalon Organics C line. Love, love, love the night cream (though it’s a bit pricey).

6 Melissa June 28, 2011 at 8:10 pm

I’ve seen Avalon products everywhere, but never tried. If they have a fragrance free moisturizer, I may try it out!
Thanks for the tip.

7 Jean June 28, 2011 at 11:50 am

I have adult acne and I used to have combination skin. About six months ago, I started using a homemade cleanser (honey + lemon juice + olive oil) twice a day, followed by Morrocco Method’s Euro Oil or jojoba oil. My combination skin is now fairly normal and I have fewer breakouts these days. Since the air in my workplace is dry, a couple of times a day, I spray a bit of water on my face, then apply a few drops of jojoba oil. And I drink a ton of water. When I’m dehydrated, it shows on my face.

8 Melissa June 28, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Interesting, Jean! I’ll have to keep track of my dry skin and water intake. That may be another link in my skincare problems.
Take care,

9 Alyssa June 28, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I’ll have to try Dr. Bronner’s. I think I have sensitive skin, too. Acne meds made it worse. Tried the jojoba oil method and while my skin was softer, still had zits. Right now I’m using a face wash and moisturizer from Mountain Rose. They do a decent job but I’m still having breakouts (I know for sure due to stress), and my regular acne hasn’t gone away even when I’m not stressed out.

10 Melissa June 28, 2011 at 8:12 pm

I use Dr. Bronner’s for so many thing – cleaning the house, bathing the dog, face wash, body wash. It is seriously one of the best products ever made. I know you’ll enjoy it! Good luck finding a skincare solution. I know how frustrating it can be.

11 Amanda June 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm

My morning routine now includes a baking soda and water face wash, it works! Dr Bronner’s lavender castille soaps works wonders too!

12 Melissa June 28, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Hi Amanda,
That reminds me, I HAVE tried baking soda to exfoliate, but it seemed to harsh for my sensitive skin. Maybe if I reduce the amount I use, it will work beautifully. Thanks for sharing,

13 Bethany June 28, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I don’t really have a skin care routine, but I really love all the products at It’s simple, handmade makeup.

14 Melissa June 28, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Thanks, Bethany! That site looks like an amazing resource.
Take care,

15 elise June 29, 2011 at 12:35 pm

hey guys! i’ve found that sensitivity and acne really start from within! we can use skincare products to help us, but much more important to get at the root cause of the problem – diet! the skin nutritionist on facebook talks that relationship between diet and acne…!/pages/The-Skin-Nutritionist/106163476143251

16 Melissa July 5, 2011 at 8:59 am

Hi Elise,
Thanks for sharing the link! I’ll check it out.

Take care,

17 Amanda (36broadway) June 29, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Melissa – I’m so glad I found this in my reader because apparently I have sensitive skin too! Just earlier this year I had a bizarre reaction on my lips and around my eyes – it was itchy, bumpy, and certainly not anything I could find online. Come to find out, I was using way too many different products on my face & body. After taking a hiatus, and switching to all natural alternatives, I haven’t had any issues!
Another example of consumerism and big companies brainwashing us to believe products with a ton of crap in them will make us beautiful, but I digress.
Love your site! And yes, just like the rest, I am jealous of your life 😉 It will be someday for me!

18 Melissa July 5, 2011 at 8:58 am

Hi Amanda,
That’s a good point you make about companies brainwashing us. For instance, I recently stopped using shaving cream and I don’t miss it. But every shaving cream commercial goes something like: “Still using PLAIN SOAP and water to shave?” As if that makes you a bad person or something.

Good luck on your journey to freedom. I wish you all the best!

19 Lori June 30, 2011 at 11:54 am

I love Burts Bees products. I use the daily cleanser and the carrot day creme (as an eye moisterizer both day and night) right now. I’m also trying out some Arbonne products right now. Pretty expensive but natural. Their mixologist came from Aveda. I’m pretty happy with what I’m using but I don’t know if I can keep up the expense…though the products last forever. I’ve had the foundation since December and I’m not even halfway through the bottle and I use it every day. Very sheer and light on my skin.

20 Melissa July 5, 2011 at 8:57 am

Hi Lori,
Someone else just recommended Arbonne to me – I’ve never tried their products, but now I’m curious. Thanks for sharing your experience.
xoxo Melissa

21 Mel July 3, 2011 at 1:17 am

Hi Melissa – Thought this link would be useful for you and for your readers so you can check just how ‘natural’ your favourite cosmetics and cleansers are:

22 Melissa July 5, 2011 at 8:56 am

Hi Mel – That’s a great site for checking products! Thanks for sharing.

23 Bes July 8, 2011 at 12:21 am

I have had bad skin (serious acne since puberty). What I’ve learned is simple, natural products, good diet & stress control are the combination for me. This past Spring 2011, my skin was the best ever when I was on “the clean diet”. I followed the diet outlined in Alejandro Junger’s book for 3 weeks & my skin was clear & dewy. Unfortunately, I’ve fallen off the wagon since…

24 Cheri August 2, 2011 at 12:23 am

Simply Divine Botanicals line is AMAZING!! Order the samples… You will never turn back and friends and family will openly comment on your radiant and youthful skin. Check out my “spa disaster” story and the healing properties of these products on my blog ( labels on the right sidebar). My skin is supple and firm…at 45 after a year of these incredible products.

25 Cheri August 2, 2011 at 12:26 am

P.S. Forgot to add all products are ENTIRELY chemical and paraben-free, which is how I found the company, looking to avoid parabens, SLS, and phytoestrogens.

26 Lucent Imagery November 2, 2011 at 6:47 am

Wow, the timing of me finding your blog and this post couldn’t be more perfect. I too am 30 and have just been back to my allergy doctor after I was left dissatisfied with the dermatologist recommendations. He has advised me what kinds of things I need to look for in simple products and supports my desire to try more natural products. I just starting drafting a post today about it. Am going to read more on here now!

27 Melissa November 7, 2011 at 9:19 am

Great! With all the chemicals in typical cleansers and moisturizers, it’s no wonder we break out. Add to it the chemicals in our shampoos, laundry soap and make up – it all starts to make sense. Simple, natural ingredients are what I look for now.
Good luck on your mission!

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