Written & Photographed Holly J. Coley, The Upstate Edit (Recycled from July/August 2019, Edition 31)
Is there nothing exfoliation can’t do? Along with removing dead skin, it promotes blood circulation, draws out dirt from pores and encourages the turnover of new cells. However, not all exfoliants are created equal.
Back in 2016, President Barack Obama passed a bill banning microbeads, the uber tiny plastic balls found in facial cleansers and scrubs. Since you’re reading Organic Hudson Valley, you probably already know why the use of plastic in our beauty products is problematic. Along with being bad for your skin (some experts cite the material is too abrasive), it wreaks havoc on the environment. Bypassing most water treatments, the beads often make their way into waterways undissolved, negatively impacting sea life and even our food!
Of course, if you’re a beauty gal, this ban may have put you in a panic. You want to do right by the planet, but as stated above, exfoliation is a staple of good skin care. Fortunately, as Stacey Dugliss-Wesselman of Cold Spring Apothecary pointed out when I interviewed her for OHV in 2014, Mother Nature has a solution for all our problems—at least, of the skin-care variety. Cleansing grains—the natural way to exfoliate—are easy to make and use ingredients found in most kitchens.
Oats. Besides being great for your insides, when ground, oatmeal not only smooths rough skin but cleanses. It has naturally occurring compounds called saponins that remove dirt and oil. It also contains zinc, which is anti-inflammatory and has a mild pH. Switch it up: if you don’t have oatmeal handy, opt for a flour like rice, which is also a gentle exfoliant and natural brightener.
Clay. Bentonite—green, white or red—clays are a must. They draw out toxins and tighten skin. If you have extremely dry skin, stick to white. For normal to oily, any of the others work fine. They’re all fairly inexpensive and can be found at your natural-foods store and online.
Herbs and Oils (Optional). While completely optional, adding medicinal oils and herbs can increase the effectiveness of your cleansing grains and up the luxe factor. Dried flowers like lavender, rose hips and chamomile can all be found in natural-foods stores and ground to blend with other ingredients. You can also use loose tea leaves. █
2. Add blend to bowl, along with other dry ingredients.
3. Slowly mix with nonmetal spoon.
4. Move to sealable container and store in a cool, dry place.
5. When ready to use, put a small amount of the blend in your hand, mix with warm water to form a paste and apply to your skin.
6. If you’re feeling fancy (and I always feel extra fancy), blend with a gel-based cleanser for a deeper cleanse.
7. Cleansing grains can be used daily.