Anyone else short on time and need a beauty shortcut? I might have just the trick.
But first, I would like to dedicate this post to my peace-loving, wilderness-defending and human-rights-advocating, Great Aunt Eve. She died just short of her 107th birthday (31st of May).
She lived in her own home where she looked after her cat, garden and the peace park up the road. A child of the 1920s cultural revolution who never married, because she didn’t think it benefited women. She taught me the Charleston dance when she was 95 and when the roads authority took her driving licence away at 100 years of age she bought a bicycle.
Vale, Great Aunt Eve. Thank you for teaching me that feistiness and speaking out for what you believe in are not just for the young.
Apple cider vinegar
I’m not sure, but Great Aunt Eve was probably an advocate for something as wholesome and enduring as apple cider vinegar. If so, she would’ve been ahead of the cool kids, like Scarlett Johansson who apparently washes her face with it.
This time saving factor of doubling as a face wash is one of the reasons why I love this toner, although I need to warn you, it does smell vinegary. This doesn’t worry me as it seems to disappear quickly, but if it bothers you, it’s fine to rinse it off with water.
Our grandmothers (and great aunts) were on to something, because apple cider vinegar apparently contains powerful alpha hydroxy acids to help remove dead skin cells and reveal a fresher and healthier complexion underneath. Fermented beauty products like apple cider vinegar also help the beneficial bacteria on the skin to fight the good fight.
This means it’s important to use the real deal vinegar with its mother (the cloudy plume at the bottom of the bottle) intact. To keep the mother load, the vinegar is made by fermenting the sugars in pressed apple juice without heating, filtering or pasteurising.
We’ve started making our own apple cider vinegar and it’s very easy and great knowing we’re working with the real thing. The only challenge is having enough left over apple cider to top it up.
Diluted apple cider vinegar is fanastic by itself, so by all means keep it simple, but I was really keen to include green tea. The polyphenols in green tea are credited as an amazing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, with some scientists getting very excited about consuming or applying green tea to the skin as a, ‘Possible strategy to reduce UV-induced skin cancer risk.’
Who knows where this research will take them, but if they’re looking into it this seriously, then I think green tea makes a mighty fine addition to our toner. Besides, the Geishas have been using it to beautify for centuries and it’s a lot more pleasant than nightingale poo, another of the Geishas’ reputed beauty secrets.
Mention the word toner and a lot of people will reply with, ‘Meh, take it or leave it.’
What if I told you toners can be one of the most important parts of the beauty regime and if you use this green tea and apple cider vinegar toner you can skip the cleanser if you’re travelling or short of time. Just get your Scarlett on and use it as a face wash – easy peasy.
You see, a lot of cleansers are alkaline, but skin is happier when slightly acidic (around 4.7 pH) and in better condition. This study shows that skin in the moderately acidic range suffers less water loss too. This makes me want to dip my pH stick into everything.
After reading all this research I was curious and tried using a foaming cleanser without a toner and sure enough my skin started feeling weird and after three days I could feel the rumblings of a break out, so I started back with this toner and everything went back to business as usual.
Optimal skin pH has a small window, so it’s important not to go to extremes and go hard core acidic, as this might cause its own problems.
Most apple cider vinegar skin recipes recommend a dilution of three or five to one, but these are still very acidic (my test showed about 2, very acidic), whereas the seven to one ratio in this recipe had a pH of 3.5 in the test. There will be variance, but irrespectively this should gently pull an alkaline skin into the acidic realm. This is of course assuming you’re not using too harsh a cleanser.
The skin is designed to naturally rebalance itself and toners can support this process provided we use gentle cleansers, like the almond wash for normal to oily skin and oatmeal for combination, dry or sensitive skin. Or if you really need a foaming cleanser, but it’s even more important to follow with a slightly acidic toner.
The right essential oil
Sandalwood is nourishing for dry skin
Lavender is soothing and rebalancing for combination and sensitive skin types (as long as there isn’t an allergy to lavender!)
Thyme is rebalancing for oily skins prone to break outs (not if pregnant). It’s really important to test for irritation, because this is a very active oil.