Skincare: My natural journey
Skin problems have always dogged my family – it’s in the genes and no amount of wishing will make it go away. Having trained in conventional medicine, my approach to the management of chronic skin ailments such as eczema, seborrhoeic dermatitis and plantar dermatosis had always been exclusively focused on trigger-avoidance and chemically based pharmaceutical agents.
Things changed when my husband took up a new consultant post in Northern Ireland.
My husband’s family have had a farm in North West Co. Donegal in the Irish Republic since the 1850s and our move to Northern Ireland in 2000 gave me access for the first time to a well on the farm which has for many years been highly regarded for the purity of its water.The water we drink every day from our taps is free from bacteria, but of course it does contain chlorine, alum, oestrogens and often fluoride, whereas the water from this spring flows crystal clear and pure, like all natural waters directly from the rocks below.
I have always been a keen crafter and the temptation to make my own natural fragranced soaps immediately became irresistible. Initially I made fragranced soaps often with local goat’s milk blended with the spring water and essential oils (I have always used only natural oils and plant derivatives, such as seaweed and flowers to make my soaps) but soon found that by varying the oils I used I could change the qualities of the soaps I produced and by choosing the oils carefully I could make soaps which were beneficial for the skin of the people who used them.
Having struggled with eczema and seborrhoeic dermatitis among other skin problems within my own family for years and having gone through what seemed like tonnes of steroids, selenium and antibiotics, the possibility of helping my family with nature’s own alternatives was too good to turn down.
My experiments with an international range of organic plant oils, research into soap-making and conversations with other soap makers really opened my eyes.
Neem oil for example has been used in India for centuries to ease dry skin conditions and allergies, in Africa shea butter is used on the skin of new born babies and to keep skin supple and conditioned all year round, while the virtues of jojoba oil (strictly speaking a wax, whose composition is identical with our own skin oils) extracted from the jojoba plant in the South West of the USA has long been appreciated by Native Americans.
I found that by blending these and other additional oils selected for their particular unique qualities and saponifying them with our spring water I could create blends which help keep skin moisturised, supple and conditioned using only pure and natural plant oils.
This was been a revelation: it had never entered my head that part of my sons’ problems could actually revolve around their cleansing regimes. Once they stopped using commercial cleansers and turned to traditionally crafted soaps rich in natural oils it soon became obvious that it was shower gels and liquid washes based on detergents such as sodium laureth sulphate and sodium lauryl sulphate that were leaving their skin dry and itchy and often making them irritable and uncomfortable. In other words they were undermining their own skin health and leaving themselves vulnerable to any factor which might set off a flare-up of their underlying atopic eczema. For them, cleansing and conditioning their skin with pure plant oils has become second-nature.
However sophisticated and technologically-driven our lives become we are all fundamentally living breathing organisms reliant on the our environment to sustain us and nature can provide more than we often realise to fulfill our potential. It has been the most fascinating journey and I hope to enthuse my readers with the same passion for natural skincare that I feel myself.
Did you enjoy reading this post? We’d love to hear your natural skincare story. Have you discovered a great natural product you couldn’t be without? Share your top tips with Maria and NaturalCures below.
Remember to always consult a licensed healthcare practitioner before embarking on any treatment, it’s your health and it’s IMPORTANT. Disclaimer
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