We think of beautiful skin and the image of a dewy faced, sun-kissed, beautiful bikini clad 20-something laughing on the beach comes to mind. It is the image of the perfect summer day as we envision them in the U.S. Ironically those picturesque moments from our ignorance-is-bliss past are precisely why we are struggling with what our skin looks like today. In a culture were youth reigns and beauty is everything, it is often an expensive and desperate attempt at correction.

Before we get into creating our beautiful goddess-like skin, we must first truly understand our skin. As with anything that has been created over time and contrary to the marketing, there are no quick fixes. There are however several ways to stop it from getting worse and help rejuvenate what you have and summer is the perfect time to starting making that difference.

According to statista.com, “by 2021, the global skin care market is expected to be valued at about 154 billion U.S. dollars. The United States is also the biggest market when it comes to skin care sales. The country generated sales of about 2.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2014.” A significant reason for the demand stems from the years of damage we allowed, having been conditioned to believe that tan is a healthy look since a very young age. It represented status, as only those with enough money could afford the amount of leisure time required to get and maintain a tan. Then tanning salons came along, so like a new name-brand knock-off, now everyone could have one. We are all now wishing we had listened to our mothers.

With the tens of thousands of skin care products available for every issue, type of skin, time of life, time of day, season or astrological sign, its no wonder we struggle to find what works. Even if we do find something we fall in love with, we may not be aware of what its doing to the rest of our body. Not unlike selecting food at the grocery store, we often fall victim to the extraordinary claims on the front of the package- of the fountain of youth, now bottled. Of course, it does not declare that cancer may or may not be a possibility with use.

Our skin is in the state it is, not because of what products we’ve used for the last several weeks, but because of our lifestyle over years. The quality of food we have eaten, how much sun we have been exposed to, how much water we drink, how much sleep we get, how we have cared for it over the years and- the weather.

Between the heat, extreme humidity and the sun feeling like it is only 100 feet away, our skin cannot help but show the effects during the summer. Compound the issue with so many of us truly embracing summer. The warmth, the freedom and pleasures of being in the sun, at the beach with friends, at the pool or the deep heating of laying out with our favorite magazines- we are really asking for trouble.

Unfortunately our face is the one thing that is always out there, taking in all of what the sun and air is so generously offering. As a result, your skin will quickly show the effects, almost as a self-defense warning. Our skin is the largest organ of the body and the skin on your face is by far the most delicate while also being the most abused. The sun, environmental toxins, chemicals from makeup, skincare, etc. all have cumulative detrimental effects.

Our body, including our skin, has an extraordinary capacity to heal itself from foreign matter and injury. However with all of our “advancements” in technology and science so dramatically changing everything we eat and products we use, our body isn’t fighting one or two things, it is fighting thousands, daily. (see article about the food I reference here http://naplesherald.com/2016/06/25/food-vs-medicine-id-rather-eat-strawberries/) and our bodies are breaking down under the assault.

According to the Environmental Working Group and the David Suzuki Foundation,

one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals,

including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors. Many products include plasticizers (chemicals that keep concrete soft), degreasers (used to get grime off auto parts), and surfactants (they reduce surface tension in water, like in paint and inks). Imagine what that does to your skin, and to the environment.”

Nature is an extraordinary thing. If we look to nature to collaborate with our own miraculous system called the human body, we can do amazing things without poisoning ourselves in the process. Not coincidentally, most of the ingredients that are extremely good for your skin in the most universal sense, meaning its good for the rest of you too, are mostly powerhouse foods that are found in most kitchens.

Did you feel a bit disappointed with that idea- that the best thing for your skin is in the kitchen and not in a 1 oz $175 bottle at the beauty counter? I would not blame you if you did. This is a three billion dollar, extremely competitive industry. They have spent a fortune convincing you, the aggressively pursued and easily swayed potential customer, that only the newest, most scientifically advanced, dermatologist researched, chemist concocted, patented and doctor recommended yada yada is the only thing that could possibly be good enough for you because you deserve the best. At Life with Moxie, we know you deserve the best and we also believe you want the best for your body. To do that, you need to know what is in the products you put on your skin.

Question it. Even if it is your dermatologist telling you, as they are prepped by skin care companies the same way doctors are prepped by pharmaceutical companies, with portion of profits included. To be clear, I am not saying not to use what they suggest, as many are focused on toxin free options, what I am encouraging is making your health, not just your appearance, the highest priority. Research the ingredients and make an educated decision.

I believe you do deserve the best, but the best in my world doesn’t create allergies or a cancer risk, nor is it linked to neurological disorders or a breakdown of your liver. We have become so conditioned to believe in the advancement of science as the bar for effectiveness that we have completely lost sight of thousands of years of proven wildly effective ingredients used to create and maintain beautiful skin that doesn’t destroy other parts of our bodies in the meantime. So let us go back a few years to the most legendary of beauties.

Cleopatra, the women who time could not wither

Ancient Egypt, 3000BC-1070BC. Beauty and hygiene were near obsessions, with bathing happening daily for the royals. Both men and women of all levels of society were indulging in significant skincare and makeup rituals. The beauty of Egyptian skin is still the standard bearer to this day. What were these glorious products they used to obtain these extraordinary results? Were they imported from around the world taking months to arrive in tiny quantities? No. They were local, pure, clean, natural fruits, honey, nuts, herbs, oils, clay and salts. Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome used very similar products.

Egyptians made soap out of clay and olive oil, used honey for masks, bathed in milk and honey with fresh herbs, created perfumes from oils, flowers and herbs and removed hair with sugar scrubs. Coconut milk and olive oil for hair nourishment, Aloe for nearly everything from healing to moisturizing, avocado for moisturizing, rosemary, castor and almond oils for hair growth and skin moisturizing and Dead sea salt, a unique edition of sea salt, for bathing. Dead sea salt differs greatly from other sea salts in mineral content, being made up of only 8% sodium chloride with a high percentage of magnesium, sulfates, and potassium. According to SaltWorks, the world’s first day spa was set up by Cleopatra on the shores of the Dead Sea.

Judith Illes, who writes extensively about Egyptian beauty rituals detailed the ingredients for an ancient anti-wrinkle cream. It includes Frankincense, Moringa Oil, Grass and Fermented Fruit Juices, recommended to be applied daily. I’ve modestly revised so it can be replicated.

Ancient Egyptian Anti-Wrinkle Cream-updated

One Drop of Essential oil of Frankincense

One t Sweet Almond Oil

One t red wine

Dash moringa powder

Blend and apply nightly

Flash forward to today- Dr. Josh Axe, with innumerable others corroborating, still agree the best ingredients to use on your skin are Coconut Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar, Raw Honey, Dead sea or Himalayan Salt, Lemon essential Oil, Argan Oil, Aloe Vera, Jojoba Oil, Almond Oil, Olive Oil, Shea Butter and Castor Oil.

Lets take a closer look at a few of these ingredients so you start to understand the power they hold.

Aloe Vera Gel

Known in Ancient Egypt as the plant of immortality. The Indian Journal of Dermatology (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763764/)

noted over 75 different active components in the aloe vera plant. Aloe vera is full of vitamins and minerals, enzymes, mono and poly-saccharides. It is antimicrobial, it provides pain relief, and provides fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory. Aloe vera offers wound healing hormones and most of the human body’s required and essential amino acids.

There is scientific documentation that aloe vera is useful for dermatitis, psoriasis, herpes simplex virus-2 and burns. There is also clinical proof that aloe vera works for wound healing, radiation burns, acne and frostbite. Note that I have not included the extensive systemic benefits of consuming aloe that are equally impressive and I suggest you look into.

In summary, Aloe treats skin disorders, wounds, sunburn and dermatitis, and with regular use, supports a clearer complexion and will smooth the skin while reducing inflammation. Buy an aloe plant, the purest form available, super easy to grow and start adding it to your skin care regimen.

Coconut Oil

According to AnnMarie Skin Care, a 2004 study published in Dermatitis, found that when they treated people who had xerosis (skin condition that produces dry, rough and scaly skin) with coconut oil, the skin showed significant improvement in hydration—but also showed an increase in the lipid levels found on the surface of the skin. That means that the oil actually helped the skin increase the number of “fats,” in the lower layers, which help it appear more hydrated, smooth, and youthful.

Rich in vitamins and antioxidants as well, this natural oil is one of the most powerful anti-aging ingredients we can find in nature. Not only is it moisturizing, it contains both disinfectant and antimicrobial properties that help kill bacteria, microbial infections, reduce breakouts, and even soothe skin from sunburn. I keep a jar in each bathroom and the kitchen and use it for everything from smoothies to night cream.

Honey (Raw and Organic!)

Honey has the longest documented history as a medical treatment of any ingredient we know. Honey has been used for healing wounds and diseases both internally and externally with it use first documented in Stone Age paintings of 8,000 years ago. According to the medical journal article Traditional and Modern Uses of Natural Honey in Human Diseases: A Review (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3758027/),

honey contains oligosaccharides, proteins, vitamins and minerals and has no adverse effects for use.

It has powerful antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-leishmanial effects, rivaling the effectiveness of many serious prescription drugs. It also acts as an antioxidant, a protective agent against DNA damage. These benefits are for both topical and systemic uses, so washing your face with it as well as drizzling it over your almond milk brie will support you on the path to total health. Most fascinating of all, with all these amazing properties- it never goes bad.

In summary, Honey is naturally antibacterial, so it’s great for skin issues like acne or rosacea and prevention. It is full of antioxidants so great for slowing down aging. It is extremely moisturizing and soothing, creating a beautiful glow and it is clarifying, opening up pores making them easy to unclog. Be sure when selecting and using your honey that it must be raw and you cannot heat it (no putting it in hot tea) as heat kills all the elements that are so valuable. Also be certain that your honey is not sourced from China or India as their purity and safety has them banned or on watch lists of many countries because of contaminates such as lead or antibiotics. Buy local or look into my favorite, YS Organic Bee Farms certified organic raw honey (https://www.amazon.com/YS-Organic-CERTIFIED-Unprocessed-Unpasteurized/dp/B00014JNI0/ref=sr_1_2_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1469208100&sr=8-2&keywords=raw+organic+honey).

Inspired to try these ancient beauty methods? Summer is the perfect time since we are likely are wearing less make up and letting our skin breathe a bit more. Now lets get the secrets to our summer skin uncovered!

The skin of a Goddess is really dewy, clean and well-moisturized skin.

To get our skin optimized, we need to




use non-toxic mineral broad band sunscreen

eat a plant-based diet

drink water

wear a wide brim hat

sleep well.

Knowing that, I encourage you to try a weeks worth of all natural skin care as described. I find it to be the most indulgent and luxurious approach to skin care, all while offering me dewy, healthy, radiant skin.

Here’s a new regimen to consider: Try raw organic crystallized honey (the opaque, not the clear kind) for cleansing, follow with a scrub, no more than twice weekly, of coconut oil with fine Himalayan salt, baking soda, and drop or two of lemongrass essential oil, then moisturize with a blend of aloe and jojoba oil with a drop of lavender and rose essential oils. Want to do a mask? Bentonite clay with olive oil and a drop of Essential oil of Frankincense. Luxury bath in your summer repertoire? Add Almond oil, raw honey, coconut milk, essential oils of jasmine, ylang ylang and rose. If you are feeling especially indulgent, enjoy a glass of wine while you’re in there. I’m certain Cleopatra did.

If you need a hard-core jump start to the process due to more extensive skin damage, look into IPL or other laser treatments. Not only do they offer significant results, they also don’t send any toxins into your system. Just know that you will need to keep your face completely out of the sun for several days, think umbrella through the parking lots, then becoming diligent with a serious non-toxic sunscreen like MDSolarSciences Mineral Crème Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen. Laser treatments do work effectively, I have done them and it was completely worth it. Now my aim is to keep my skin nourished and well exfoliated so I do not need it again.

As for the “badditives,” those ingredients that are known to be toxic, yet are everywhere, we have to start somewhere. So I have taken the time to manually list some of the worst offenders. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) rates every ingredient from 1 to 10, with 1-3 being least harmful and 8-10 being the most harmful. I’ve listed only the most harmful with a few exceptions of a seven here and there and one level three due to the extent of their use. There are clearly many more, with one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products being industrial chemicals there are several not listed. I highly encourage you to manually look up any ingredient you don’t know. Not unlike food ingredient lists, the fewer ingredients the better, and you should be able to say them.

The list below is a collection based off of the EWG’s extensive database and cross-referenced with a few others to ensure coverage. The EWG cosmetic database list (find here http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/) is the most extensive I have come across as it includes all ingredients banned in other countries (but not here, yet should be) and includes maximum limits for exposure. Take a few of your favorite products and see what they are made with. You may be shocked to find that the more expensive products are some of the worst offenders.

When you know better, you do better ~ Maya Angelou


Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Use restrictions, Occupational hazards, Cancer, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Ecotoxicology.


Allergies/immunotoxicity, Cancer, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Developmental/reproductive toxicity


Allergies/immunotoxicity, Cancer, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Developmental/reproductive toxicity.


Allergies/immunotoxicity, Endocrine disruption, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Biochemical or cellular level changes.


Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs).

Coal tar dyes: p-phenylenediamine and colors listed as “CI” followed by a five digit number

Cancer, Neurotoxicity.

DEA-related ingredients (MEA/TEA)

Cancer, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)

diazolidinyl urea

Slowly releases small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer.

DMDM hydantoin

Slowly releases small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer.


Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity.


Allergies/immunotoxicity, Miscellaneous, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Ecotoxicology. As innocuous as this one may seem it has the potential to be the most dangerous. Since they are calling it fragrance instead of what the ingredient is, you should be concerned.


Use restrictions, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Ecotoxicology

imidazolidinyl urea

Slowly releases small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer.


Allergies/immunotoxicity, Endocrine disruption, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Biochemical or cellular level changes.

MEA: Monoethanolamide

Cancer, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)

they can react with other chemicals in cosmetics to form carcinogenic nitrosamines.


Slowly releases small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer.


Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Neurotoxicity, Ecotoxicology


Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Biochemical or cellular level changes.



Enhanced skin absorption, Biochemical or cellular level changes, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Persistence and bioaccumulation, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)



Enhanced skin absorption, Biochemical or cellular level changes, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Use restrictions, Endocrine disruption, Persistence and bioaccumulation, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive).


Multiple, additive exposure sources, Biochemical or cellular level changes, Allergies/immunotoxicity.


Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Ecotoxicology


Allergies/immunotoxicity, Endocrine disruption, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Ecotoxicology


Slowly releases small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer.


Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Biochemical or cellular level changes, Cancer, Organ system toxicity.


Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Biochemical or cellular level changes, Cancer, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)


Allergies/immunotoxicity , neurotoxicity, organ system toxicity, endocrine disruption, Cancer.


Acute or chronic lung irritation, reproductive toxicity, cancer. Based on a federal court ruling in 2013, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $55 million dollars to a woman who got cancer from using their talc based products. A lawyer representing the company admitted executives were aware of the association between talcum powder and ovarian cancer for years but did not deem the risk significant enough to take action and include a warning on their product.

TEA: triethanolamine

Cancer, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive). Can react with other chemicals in cosmetics to form carcinogenic nitrosamines.

For information specifically about sunscreens, listen here (http://www.lifewithmoxie.com/#!blank-12/hycjg ) to Life with Moxie Radio where we did a deep dive on ingredients, what we need to look for and what to go out of your way to avoid. Scroll to the bottom of the linked page for shopping links to products that were recommended.

Cover image of girl in open water, ‘Pilgrimage South’ Oil painting by Arturo Samaniego (https://www.facebook.com/Samaniego-ART-254638447880330/?pnref=about.overview)

‘Cleopatra’s Milk Bath’, contemporary mosaic by Irel.

Have ideas you’d like to add to the list? Need more suggestions? Let me know!

Julie Koester is CEO of Life with Moxie, a Lifestyle Revolution Company www.lifewithmoxie.com and Host of Life with Moxie Radio, Saturday’s at 1pm on 98.9 WGUF in Southwest Florida. You can reach her at Julie@lifewithmoxie.com

Passionate Living by Design, That’s Life with Moxie

Author Dragon Horse

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