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As a teenager, I bought all my clothes at the Salvation Army, and all my shampoo at Aveda. I could handle holes in my jeans and skirts hiked up with safety pins, but the smell of my products was non-negotiable. It had to be plant-based perfection or nothing.

It might come as little surprise that my future career would involve the pleasure of reviewing hair and skin care products for our Worthy Goods section at Experience Life. And through my research I have come to learn that my fanatical finickiness (along with the disproportionate amount of income spent on delicious smelling plant-based products over the years) is not and has never been quite the indulgence it seemed. Synthetically scented products that make one dizzy, or come in bright unnatural colors, or leave the skin in worse shape than before they arrived (red, bumpy, peeling – no matter what the directions say is fine and to be expected) are genuinely unhealthy, not just gross.

You can read about those hazards and ways to avoid them in several places in our archives, “A Good Long Look“; “Beauty Beware“; and “Beauty Makeover.”

So I won’t go on about the risks here, except to say that if there’s one easy bit of advice I’ve gleaned from product research it’s this: Use Less.

The subtext, of course, is Use Better (and I will continue to live by that) but really, if you want to do one healthy thing for your skin, hair and internal organs – the parts of you that really take the hit from toxic additives in products – then Use Less is the way to go.

To that end, here is my favorite new face washing routine, which I adapted from the excellent guide No More Dirty Looks (De Capo, 2010) by safe-beauty mavens, Siobahn O’ Connor and Alexandra Spunt. If you have oily skin or a history of acne, you are 99% likely to panic at the thought of washing your face with oil. But unless you are working with a case of highly inflamed cystic acne, then oil cleansing is an outstanding and luxurious way to handle cleaning and moisturizing in one fell swoop.

Oil dissolves oil, so when you take the cleansing (read stripping) step out of your face care routine, skin has a chance to balance itself, your skin is no longer desperate for moisturizer. And best of all, there’s no guesswork about what you’re putting on your face. You know it’s safe enough to eat because you probably do eat it. Try it and let us know what you think.

Easy One-Stop Face Wash

  • 1-2 tablespoons argan oil (other great choices: jojoba, olive, coconut – anything cold-pressed and unrefined will do. Organic is best.)
  • A nice cotton washcloth
  • Hot water

Directions: Slather the oil over your face (include your lips, they’ll appreciate the extra help). Massage well for about a minute. Then press a steamy washcloth over your face (but not hot enough to burn, people) and use it to wipe the oil off. Voila! Baby’s butt soft and truly clean. Enjoy!

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