BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 03 Nov '18

Laura Pardoe reveals the benefits of using super-local natural skincare products

Turning to nature for our skincare ingredients, we find offerings from all corners of the world – skin secrets waiting to be discovered and deployed. But are the real benefits to be found closer to home?

Exotic challenges or local treasures?

Exotic ingredients are curious and, by definition, different and unusual. They excite and entice, but do they also present a challenge for our skin? Ingredients growing local to home may seem mundane in comparison – ‘just weeds’ – but their proximity to us could be the very thing that makes them ideal for our skin.

In a quest for the exotic, new and different, we could be missing the local treasures that have sustained us for generations. Historically people would always have used the plants growing closest to them.

Plants that have grown in the same climate as us, and lived through the same seasons, have potential to have greater affinity with our skin. They are more like us in nature than their far-flung cousins. Going with the things that grow around you doesn’t just mean your body will respond better, you’ll also feel more in touch with the world outside your window.

Just as we enjoy using locally sourced food when preparing meals, feeling the connection it brings with our community and the seasons, we can also find that connection when using locally grown plants in making our own our skincare.

A product of our choices

The products we turn to on a daily basis form us. To some extent this is literally true as we absorb their contents, but it is also true at a psychological level. Each time we buy a product off the shelf, admire the shiny packaging and believe the advertising, we are opting into a particular way of life and of being. Our skincare choices are typically so ingrained, so commonplace, so everyday that we rarely notice them. But they affect us all the same, unknowingly.

Making more conscious decisions about your skincare – what you want to do, what products to use, how or where to source them – can provide a subtle daily reminder (even if unconscious) of the person you want to be and the beliefs you have. It’s precisely because our skincare is a regular, daily occurrence and because it is a private occasion about us alone, that it is an ideal space in which to reinforce who we are to ourselves. It can be the pacemaker in our lives.

Conscious skincare

The natural cycles of days, months, seasons and years can be a gift to us of strength and stability. The more we align our rhythms and routines to these, the more powerful they can become in grounding and connecting us with life forces and the spiritual depth of nature. Your regular skincare routine, aligned with nature – through using natural ingredients and responding to the seasons – can provide a constant source of stability and connection with nature in your daily life.

When you’re confident of the ingredients in your skincare – when you know what they are doing for you and where they have come from – it is grounding. Knowing the connection between your skincare and the plants around you connects you to that world, it’s a little bit of nature in your life every day.

Consciously choosing skincare products that connect you to nature and being aware of that each time you use them can, bit by bit, impact your whole psyche. You can feel good about yourself, you can feel connected to the natural world around you and the seasons, you can feel positive about your role in your environment.

Why to go local

Freshly prepared skincare made from local ingredients isn’t something you’ll get from a big brand, so you’ve probably not heard many people talking about the benefits it can bring. It’s not really a commercial proposition. But when you blend it yourself you can use your skincare the moment it’s made so it can have all the benefits of fresh and local.

Using local has other benefits too: your ingredients won’t have incurred the environmental costs of transport and packaging and you have security of supply – as Brexit complicates our imports and exports, it’s good to know some things that you can be completely in control of and tariff-free.

Sourcing ingredients from your local environment naturally increases your awareness and desire to take care of it. Using super-local ingredients to blend your own skincare helps sustain a fulfilled life. It can be a defining part of who you are and how you connect with the world.

Local alternatives

If you’re looking for a closer-to-home alternative to Moroccan argan oil, tropical castor oil, desert-loving jojoba oil, far flung coconut oil there are so many temperate-grown options that are great for your skin, all with their own specific characters and benefits. You could try borage oil, hemp seed oil, hazelnut oil, sunflower oil, pumpkin seed oil, raspberry seed oil, cherry kernel oil … There are hundreds of options.

Vital Skincare, by Laura Pardoe

There’s further guidance on Laura Pardoe’s tips at fieldfreshskincare.co.uk and in the book, Vital Skincare by Laura Pardoe.

Use special discount code: MYGREENPOD here to get Vital Skincare for just £15 (RRP £19.95).

When you’re getting to know new ingredients for your skincare, whether herbs or oils, it’s good to hone in on just a few at first and really get to know them. Know where and how they grow, how to harvest them and which parts to use and what they can help us with. It’s much easier to do this if you start with plants that grow nearby, that you can see and touch and smell in their natural surroundings.

The wealth of ingredients we have on our doorstep, and the array of properties they provide, mean we have little need to go further afield.

Tips for starting a DIY skincare routine

FOR NEW STARTS

If you’ve never had a go at making your own skincare before, fear not: it’s really very simple.

  • Start with the familiar: use ingredients that you know already, like how they look or smell – what feels good to you – and proceed with fascination.
  • Try a basic oil cleanse with something simple that you’ve probably got already, such as olive oil.
  • Make in small quantities and use them absolutely fresh.
  • Take it gradually; do your patch tests and find out what your skin likes.
  • For beauty-on-the-go, you can make a quick blend in your palm: for example, a teaspoon of oil, a sprinkling of fine oatmeal and dash of witch hazel and you have a cleanser.
  • Think of it as you would cooking: the end result might not look like what you’d buy in a shop, but it’ll feel great.

EXCITING HERBS

Here are 5 simple ways to use herbs in skincare.

  • An infusion, like making a cup of tea. Use herbal water to cleanse, tone, spritz, add to your bath or blend with clay for a face mask.
  • Maceration: create a herbal oil to use as a serum or blend with wax to form a balm.
  • Cleansing milk: chose a milk to suit your skin type (the oilier your skin, the fattier the milk) and infuse herbs to create a simple personalised cleanser.
  • Herbal scrub: blend a herbal oil with salt or sugar – fine ingredients for your face, softening ingredients for your body and lips, coarser ingredients for hands and feet.
  • Facial steam: Hot water brings out the herb’s qualities and deep cleans your skin.