With her flawless skin and shiny hair, S.W. Basics Founder Adina Grigore looks a lot like one of those women who was born without a skin worry in the world. (Some people just don't get the breakout gene). Not so. In fact, growing up and well into her 20s, Grigore was plagued by constant breakouts, itchy, dry skin, and mysterious rashes. She was using a profusion of products (including a ton of medicated lotions and creams from her dermatologist), but things were mostly getting worse.
With a background in holistic nutrition, she decided to put what she knew about food to the test on her skin. She threw out every single product she owned and started fresh, with only the ingredients in her kitchen. Olive oil became moisturizer, coconut oil turned into shaving cream, and apple cider vinegar doubled up as a toner and scalp rinse. It took less than 24 hours for her to notice a difference.
Armed with her new discoveries, Grigore began consulting with clients about their skincare woes, while making her own products on the side.“I learned pretty fast that it was hard enough to ask people to cook their own healthy food, never mind their own skincare!” she said. This quickly became a full-time gig, and her skincare line S.W. Basics was born.
Now, she’s put all her natural beauty secrets in her new book called Skin Cleanse: The Simple, All-Natural Program for Clear, Calm, Happy Skin, out this month. “I get so many people who come to me and say ‘I’m so frustrated. I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried every product under the sun, and my skin is still having reactions. I need help,'” Grigore said. If this sounds all too familiar, this book may be your new Bible.
After a whole bit about diet (yes—dairy, sugar, and alcohol are really that bad for your complexion) the book turns in to a workbook of sorts. You keep a product journal, learn how to analyze what could be causing your breakouts, and then get a regimen for full-fledged beauty rehab. There are three levels from beginner to hardcore, depending on how committed you are to changing your habits.
Then comes the fun part: the remaining pages are a recipe book of all-natural formulas you can cook up with just a few items (mostly) already in your pantry. From a “Pumpkin Pie Glow Mask' to “Tightening Bloody Mary Toner,” the recipes are delicious (though you should probably avoid actually eating them) and quite literally easy-as-pie.
Grigore gave us her top picks from the book (specially chosen to help beat winter skin troubles) and the recipes to go along with them. If you’re not feeling particularly DIY-inclined, there's a link to a similar product pre-made by S.W. Basics, too. Something for everyone.
'I believe that shea butter is the single greatest skincare ingredient. It changed my life, and it is essentially the reason I started S.W. Basics. Shea butter is incredibly healing, and it improves virtually every skin ailment. With this recipe, those improvements happened overnight. I love cocoa butter because it smells like chocolate. It is also very moisturizing and gentle. The addition of avocado oil in this recipe makes this cream just a touch less rich, so it’s easier to spread around and soak in. The result is a super-luxurious staple that is also a powerful moisturizer and skin treatment,”
-1/4 cup shea butter
-1/4 cup cocoa butter
-2 tablespoons avocado oil
1. Melt the shea butter and cocoa butter in a small pot on the stovetop (ideally in a double boiler) until completely liquefied, stirring well.
2. Remove from heat and stir in the avocado oil.
3. Allow the mixture to completely cool. Cover it, and place it in the fridge until it solidifies—about one to two hours.
4. After an hour, give it a stir—the texture should be like butter.
5. Transfer the moisturizer to a lidded jar, and use within six-to-eight months. (Your hands will introduce bacteria into the product that will make it spoil.)
Heads up: this recipe will make your pot very oily. You may need to soak it in some hot, soapy water to clean. Also, it will make enough uses to last you that entire six-to-eight months.
_[Or if you’d rather buy:* _S.W. Basics Cream
HAIR PROTEIN TREATMENT
'A hair protein treatment is very different from a conditioning treatment. A protein treatment helps build up brittle, damaged hair. It will make your hair thicker and healthier. Sometimes after you use a protein treatment your hair will feel drier, but this is totally normal and will just require some extra conditioning a few days later. Don’t use this treatment directly on your scalp unless you have extremely thick, dry hair. Shea butter protects your hair from heat, locks in moisture, and helps with split ends. Greek yogurt has twice the protein of other types of yogurt and will help make your hair shiny and strong. Blackstrap molasses is basically a nutrient-dense sugar, incredibly high in antioxidants, that will also strengthen your hair,”
-1 tablespoon shea butter
-1/2 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
-1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
1. Warm shea butter in a double boiler until melted.
2. Spoon yogurt into a medium bowl and stir into melted shea butter.
3. Add molasses and continue to stir. The mixture will become light brown and smell delicious.
4. Tie your hair into a high ponytail and apply the mixture from your tips to the hair tie. Make sure to soak your hair well, not leaving any strands dry.
5. Leave in for a few minutes or through an episode of The Good Wife. Use all the product in one application. You may need to shampoo two-to-three times to get it all out, but it’ll be worth it. This recipe makes one use for you and one for your boyfriend, or roommate, or friend’s hair. Feel free to apply it as a mask to your face too, but it should not be stored.
_[Or if you’d rather buy:* _S.W. Basics Cream with ½ cup of full-fat Greek yogurt added
SKIN FEAST MASK
'Brown rice flour is a great (and gluten-free) mask ingredient. It is full of nutrients, and it soaks up excess oil. Avocado helps balance your oil production by 'feeding' your skin healthy fats. Apple juice also combats oily skin. This mask is incredibly gentle and rich—there will be no sting, only soothing after effects,”
-1 tablespoon brown rice flour
-1/2 an avocado
-1 tablespoon apple juice (fresh pressed, if possible)
1. In a small bowl, mash the avocado with a fork and sprinkle in the rice flour, stirring until you’ve created a paste.
2. Add apple juice and stir well.
3. Apply mask and allow to dry for best results.
4. Rinse with warm water.
This recipe will make enough two or three applications but will spoil, so store it in the fridge and use it quickly.
_[Or if you’d rather buy:* _S.W. Basics Hibiscus Mask
Photographs courtesy of the author.