Fact: I have a crush on my skin. Yes, it’s sick and awkward, but amongst other things that I have found joy in this past year, skin is by far my most prized one. And I wasn’t always in love with my skin, but I have, in fact, fallen in love with it simply because of the positive effects natural products have had on it. Allow me to explain further, I’ve been reading a lot about different natural herbs and I’ve been fortunate enough to learn one very wise thing: for everything you want and need, there is a natural byproduct for it. Take manmade salt, for example, it has over 32 chemicals in it just so it doesn’t stick together when it’s in its packaging. Simply using sea salt (the natural alternative) in half of the dose, which you would usually use with manmade salt, allows you to not only reap the same ‘salty’ benefits but it also decreases your chances of getting high blood pressure by about 86%. There’s power in knowledge and the man who has knowledge can never be controlled by the man who withholds it. As this is all still a learning process for me, I’ll be sharing my research and experiences with you all throughout my little insert clever name here journey. Along for the ride of trying tons of new things, is my best friend, Asia, (pictured below). Three years of research and eight months of experimenting has now resulted in this post! Here are a few natural products that I’ve been using to substitute my manmade skin products. Not only have I listed them but I have also provided a bit more information that may be very helpful to those who are considering trying them out. Enjoy!

SEA SALT I substitute my soap and exfoliator with sea salt. Putting 30-50 ounces of it in my bath water works well for me as it gives me a Jacuzzi feel (because of the temperature), as well as, a beachy feel (because of the obvious saltiness). Sometimes I’ll add a little bit of Hydrogen Peroxide in the water as the combination is quite therapeutic. Sea Salt is Alkaline rich & Hydrogen Peroxide is Oxygenating and most genital diseases cannot strive in an Alkaline & Oxygenating environment. I must, however, admit that after such bath I don’t feel clean. There’s just something about salty skin that doesn’t strike me as being fresh. So when I’m done soaking for 20 minutes minimum, I do still lather up with a natural soap. So here’s my process in (not so much of) a nutshell: I soak, then I exfoliate (put some sea salt on my bath gloves or sponge and scrub my body and my face — not with the same glove/sponge of course), then I towel dry, and apply my oils. Whole Foods has both natural liquid and natural bar soaps that start at $3. Here they wrote about one of their top sellers, the Organic Castile Soaps. Note: Target now sells Castile Soap, however I find that it is $14-15 there and $10-12 at Whole Foods and other co-op natural food stores. Perhaps this is because green stores sell more of it. The differences I saw in my skin: my pores were cleaned out, my blemishes slightly lightened up, my dead skin cells were removed, and my skin was softer than a newborn’s booty cheeks. The benefits of this: my skin is prepped for any oils or lotions I want apply, as my now opened pores are ready to binge drink. But what the sea salt is really doing while you’re naked body lays in it is: removing toxins from the inner body, increasing blood circulation, reducing stress levels, and increasing the body’s pH levels. But for the things we really care about, sea salt aids in relieving and/or eliminating acne, arthritis, injury, dry skin, and eczema (again, this is just a shortened list). Yes, I love the beach, but again I can tell the difference by having the luxury of being in my waveless clean tub and watching movies from my hanging iPad. Girlie Girl Tip: If you’re all about fragrance and want something that won’t totally defeat your natural cleanse, purchase an oil (lavender, peppermint, etc) and add it to your water. You can get them for as little as $1 each. And just think, you’ll never be limited because you’ll be able to mix up your body potion before every shower, allowing you to switch up your sexy for him. Sea Salt ($4+) + Sponge ($0-2) + Oil ($1-2) = About $5. No excuses.

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR Thanks to my cousin Soraya & best friend Asia, I love Apple Cider Vinegar. Okay, maybe I have a love-hate relationship with it. But I won’t get side tracked and will follow the same format above, while still including the pros and cons of this God given goodness. I substitute my toner with Apple Cider Vinegar. I either add it to my Sea Salt Bath or I use it by itself after a shower. I don’t, however, use it unless it’s in a diluted form as it does burn otherwise. Apple Cider Vinegar is a natural toner that leaves my our skin shiny. The reason my relationship for ACV is a love/hate one is because it STINKS! Super disrespectful! Hate: The smell. Love: The fact that the smell doesn’t stick. It’ll smell during the process, in which it’s being used, but once you’re out of the shower it leaves no traces of being on you. The differences I saw in my skin: my skin started breathing after using it and my skin was soft and shiny. The benefits of this: My skin feels fresh, my skin is prepped for any oils or lotions I want apply, and my makeup goes on much smoother (especially when used with/after Sea Salt). But what does Apple Cider Vinegar really do when it’s licking the nasty off of your skin: circulates blood flow, restores the skin, increases elasticity, delivers oxygen, purifies and revives. And for the things we really care about, ACV aids in relieving and/or eliminating acne, varicose veins, eczema, and/or dandruff. Find a lotion or oil to use after an Apple Cider Vinegar application, as it can dry out your skin. Apple Cider Vinegar starts at $3.

CASTOR OIL My oil of choice is Castor Oil. Although many oils reap many benefits, I just love the thick consistency of Castor Oil on my dry skin. I only apply it after showers/baths. Some would say that Castor Oil is a natural Anti-Aging cream, but because I was born with the Fountain of Youth in me (shameless boast), I can’t attest to such research. Some use Castor Oil to reduce acne as it is an oil that is able to penetrate the skin. Also, it is important to know that Castor Oil does thicken hair (slightly) on areas that grow hair. No it’s not miracle oil, so don’t get too scared (or too excited), but after long-term use, the results will be noticeable. Girlie Girl Tip: Applying Castor Oil to your eyelashes and eyebrows nightly for six months does thicken them. Castor Oil also is known to: break up external and internal scar tissue which prevents new scars from forming and to cure skin infections (ringworm, athlete’s foot). When I originally was purchasing Castor Oil, I could only find it at my local pharmacy near the laxatives. I now have found it at Whole Foods in a larger bottle for a better price. Castor Oil starts at $5.

Add all of this up and you’re not spending a fortune more than you usually would! Now, I feared becoming an herbal goddess because my boyfriend’s mom is quite the herbalist. And I don’t want him to think that our long talks are resulting in me becoming her. However, I can’t be naive to the fact that natural herbs, oils, and byproducts have won over the very entities of my heart. There’s just something about being beautiful in our most natural forms that is so captivating to me. I’m a minimalist, and everything about my lifestyle is pretty simple — from my daily activities, to my wardrobe. And yes, this is the reason why I look naked in pretty much every picture you may see of me. I enjoy the skin I’m in. Okay — I’m not really naked, I just wear tons of tube tops. So please forgive my bare shoulders and my admiration for my collar bones. But do stay tuned for more natural beauty secrets. And if you’re anything like me — super sensitive and a germ & life-a-phob, you’ll find these beauty secrets quite helpful. But as much as I’d love to do more research on things like acne, I don’t have acne prone skin so I’m unable to share information based on experience. However, I will include it in my research, as I have done above, and will generously and happily share it with those who otherwise are unable to find it on their own. But I do encourage you all to research as much as you can and for you to never stop asking questions. And if you don’t like reading or don’t know where to start, start with Youtube videos or by googling what you’d like to improve with yourself. All of what I share with you is based on research and then on personal experience, but again, everyone’s skin and bodies are different, so what works for me may or may not work for you. You’re body is a machine – constantly working to keep you working, so listen to it, do for it, and live everyday trying to master it.

DETAILS ABOUT THE HEADLINE PICTURE ABOVE (CAPTIONED ‘SKIN CRUSH’) I’ve been faithful to my hair since July, don’t judge my honesty. July, coincidentally was also the last time I got a perm. I only flat iron it once a month and this was it flat ironed last month and pinned up in the back. I was channeling my inner sexy Secretary. Again, with simple makeup that enhances me and doesn’t smack me my face like a Scream mask (although I am making the Scream face here). Holding off of the flat iron until Thanksgiving, which may also be the next time I get a trim. Stay tuned, per usual.