Beauty Chef and organic skincare expert Carla Oates talks up the benefits of organic skincare and how to make your own beauty mask

By Carla Oates

Think about how many different types of skincare products you’ve sampled, experimented with, and purchased over the years. Women are constantly looking for the perfect creams, cleansers, and solutions to keep their skin beautiful and healthy. We sort through products judging them by brand, scent, price and visual results; but what about ingredients?

Awareness of the chemical presence in skin products is one of the many reasons switching to organic and natural products benefit as an alternative. Research shows that organic ingredients are often far richer in complex plant compounds such as anti-oxidants that can have a profound effect on rejuvenating and protecting the complexion. Creating skincare solutions using natural resources can be as simple or as complex as you like and can all be done from the comfort of your own home.

There are several ingredients commonly found in most kitchens and gardens that can be used to make skincare products. Most fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, herbs and spices can be used to make your natural solutions. I make everything from simple masks to complex moisturisers, however, I do have my favourite ingredients such as papaya, yogurt, herbs and spices, and love making herbal balms and fresh food masks and scrubs. Like every other organ in the body, the skin requires a diet rich in nutrients such as anti-oxidants, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids and vitamins to thrive.

Making your own skin care as opposed to purchasing it from a store, is like eating fresh food at home as opposed to take out or packaged food. Fresh foods are richer in nutrients and the living energy of the plants that you eat; likewise, fresh ingredients work the same for your skin. Although there are now some very good organic skincare brands on the market that keep the integrity of the ingredient, there’s definitely something to be said for fresh ingredients for superior skin.

Creating your own skincare products is really about being organised. Once you have an understanding of making your own skincare and what foods suit your skin type, then you’re on your way. For example, if you have oily skin you’re best using yogurt or skim milk in your fresh food masks. Those with dry skin are best using full cream milk. It really is as easy as massaging some yogurt and fine oatmeal into your skin to cleanse in the morning, and a touch of light oil – such as jojoba oil or rice bran oil – mixed with a little water to moisturise.

Beautiful healing balms are also a fun product that can be made for the whole family by infusing herbs from your garden into oils. As we age natural levels of sebum diminish, causing skin to become drier. Macadamia nut oil is rich in Palma oleic acid found in human sebum making it a wonderful night oil to massage into your skin to replace natural oils. Once you become an advanced beauty chef you can make moisturisers that will last up to six months. 

Just like the rest of the body, the skin has a synergy with fresh foods. Your skin will become more radiant and healthy using fresh foods at home. However, also like fresh food, organic skincare products don’t have the shelf life of packaged products, and you must be careful of bacterial and mould growth. That’s where the freezer becomes your best friend. I am a big fan of making a big batch of face mask and freezing it in ice cube trays. This way, every time you want a fresh mask, simply pop out a cube and let it thaw.

To ensure the products you are using are effective and still fresh it is important to be aware of each mixtures shelf life. Fresh foods and water will grow mould and bacteria unless they have a preservative put in the mix such as alcohol or potassium sorbate (a food grade preservative), so freezing is an easy option or simply make it fresh. Simply add 1 tsp of milk to 1/2 tsp fine oatmeal in the morning for a wonderful nutritious cleanser. Always use clean hands and make sure that your utensils are clean.

You can make recipes that will last longer. For example I make a big batch of base scrub with rice flour, fine oatmeal, a pinch of turmeric and cinnamon and a little clay and keep it in the fridge. Because it has no wet ingredients, it will keep for a longer period of time. When I want to use it, I simply add a tsp of the mix with some yoghurt, milk or juice.  Veggie and nut oils last for a while so you can use them straight from your cupboard or fridge. I use natural preservatives when I make more complex formulations such as moisturisers because sometimes you need products that you can travel with. 

There are so many benefits to using organic skincare. Certified organic skincare is free of harmful chemicals commonly found in mass market cosmetics – chemicals that may compromise the health and immune system of the skin and body. Certified Organic skincare is also environmentally friendly. All ingredients contained in Certified Organic products come from sustainable sources rather than non renewable ones such as mineral oil commonly found in mass market lip products; derived from petrolatum. It’s fresh, safe, and effective. So go ahead… play with your food and get great skin!

Here are two of my favourite recipes to get you started:

Olive and Lime Shine Mask – for dry, mature skin. 

Rich in anti-oxidants and skin refining alpha hydroxy acids, this mask lifts impurities, detoxifies, nourishes and refines the complexion. This mask can be used for all parts of the body – also great for nourishing nails. 

2 tsps olive oil

1/2 tsp lime juice

Method: Whisk ingredients until they turn cloudy. Apply to the skin with fingers or a flat Japanese paint brush. Leave for twenty minutes and remove with a damp warm cloth.   

AHA Fruit Gel and Green Tea Mask – for all skin types, especially oily, combination and dehydrated. 

A wonderful refining mask to brighten, smooth and nourish the complexion. Rich in skin refining alpha hydroxy acids and skin rejuvenating anti-oxidants. 

2 tbsps apple juice

1 tbsps lemon juice

1 tbsp strong green tea (cooled)

2 tsps citrus pectin

Method: Mix the juices and tea well and slowly add the citrus pectin to create a gel consistency. Apply to a clean face. Leave until the mask dries on the skin. Remove with lots of tepid water and a flannel. 

Beauty Chef Carla Oates will be at the Demonstration Stage during the Organic Expo & Green Show on Saturday August 21 and Sunday August 22. Learn how to look after your skin using fresh organic ingredients from your garden and kitchen. Carla will also be available after her session for one-on-one advice at stand number 126.

The Organic Expo & Green Show will be at Hall 1, Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour. Visit

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