Skincare 101

I did not create Scratch Mommy (.com) to write only about making food in my scratch kitchen. Oh no, I am making loads of things from scratch these days, just like my all-purpose cleaner, deodorant (with NO baking soda), bug repellent, dusting spray, and more. I am also making healthy skincare products from scratch, including my homemade body lotions and butters, which are now for sale.

I want to share more with you than scratch recipes. Through my own (and my son’s) skin troubles, I have learned that truly becoming healthy not only involves what you put into your body and use around your home, but also what you put ON your body. Truly being healthy must incorporate the entire body.

So, today begins a week-long series about skincare! 🙂

In daily blog posts this week I will write about…

  • Ingredients that are NOT okay or healthy for your skin (and possibly shock you with just how many “Dermatologist Recommended” products include these ingredients)
  • Ingredients that ARE okay and healthy for your skin (including some simple home remedies you can easily make to create healthier skin)
  • Tips and habits that I’ve learned over the years of how to treat your skin nicely

Today, I’d first like to share a little bit about our skin…just a little education.

That’s One Big Organ You’ve Got There.

Most of us probably learned this at some point, somewhere or another, but you may have forgotten. Our skin makes up the largest organ of our body. Wow…that’s pretty incredible! Many of us spend a great deal of time worrying (and rightfully so, in many cases) about how our other organs are functioning, but we often forget about our skin.

I know that I took my skin for granted for many years. I have always had patches of eczema creep up and annoy me (apparently since birth, just like my son), but it wasn’t until the past five years or so that my eczema started to truly have a negative impact on my life. Really, just in the past three years or so have I taken initiative to actually research and learn about my skin for myself. I simply did what the dermatologists told me to do, but things weren’t getting better…they were getting worse. What kinds of research have you done regarding skin?

So, skin is the largest organ of our body. Why does this matter? Well, our skin serves as both a barrier and eliminator of bad things that can do harm. This means that our skin can work for us or against us, in terms of helping to keep us healthy. Do you know the three layers of our skin? This is important to have an understanding of how our skin works and why we should be extra nice to it.

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In the most simple explanation, you can see above that there are three main layers to our skin: epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis.

  • Epidermis– This is the skin that we see everyday. This layer of skin is actually very thin (like a piece of paper) and is where lotions are meant to work their magic. When you are young, your skin cells die off and replace themselves once every couple of weeks. As we age this process slows down greatly (which is why we end up with skin that looks…well, tired). This outside layer of skin contains dead cells, which flake off and often give us that dry look.
  • Dermis– This is the middle layer of the skin and where some blood vessels are located, which feed our Epidermis. This part of our skin houses the elasticity factor (as we age, we start to sag and get wrinkles…thanks to this part of the skin). Also (fun fact), when you get a tattoo the ink goes into this layer, which is why it stays on a person’s body forever; it does not flake away with dead skin cells at the Epidermis level. Hence, this layer is a permanent layer of skin, unlike the Epidermis.
  • Hypodermis– This is where most of the skin’s blood vessels live, along with sweat glands and hair follicles. This is the fatty layer of your skin, which really make those wrinkles start to show over the years.

Why Is My Skin Dry (or oily)?

This is a difficult question to answer with one simple answer. What I can tell you is how skin is supposed to generally work, and when it doesn’t work that way, why we end up oily or dry.

Dry Skin– Generally speaking (in otherwise healthy skin), dry skin occurs when your skin is not properly retaining moisture. Since our bodies are made up mostly of water, it is important that our skin help retain this water, but sometimes (for various reasons) it does not. This is when moisturizing is crucial. You have probably noticed that your skin is most dry in the winter. This is because humidity levels are typically quite low, so your epidermis does not have enough moisture. You may also notice dry skin after a hot shower or bath. Your skin contains natural oils and hot water can strip your skin of these necessary oils.

For those with chronic dry skin (among others, eczema and psoriasis), it is not just as simple as, “Well, put on some lotion to fix it!” There are often underlying reasons for the conditions (food &/or environmental allergies, heredity, etc.). People who suffer from these conditions can struggle for years (life!) trying to find what makes their skin…happy. They often end up with severe skin infections, due to cracking in the skin. The same remains true for these people as those with simply dry skin…moisturize, moisturize, moisturize (just might be a different moisturizer).

Oily Skin– Honestly, most people do not truly have oily skin; they likely have combination skin. Oily skin is very, very thick and very prone to acne, and not just in the “T” zone, but all over. Oily skin happens because your sebaceous glands (housed in the Dermis) are producing too much sebum (oil).

So, it would make sense that if your skin is producing too much oil then you would want to steer clear of lotions, right? NO…So Wrong! You have to help your body get back to homeostasis and find a good PH balance. For those who have hereditary oily skin, this can be a lifelong challenge.

So, Everyone Needs Lotion…

Yes, it’s true! Everyone needs lotion. Our skin cells are constantly dying and flaking off, which (in the right conditions or with the “right” genetics) can lead to dry skin, which needs lotions. Also, if you are producing too much oil, you still need lotions to help your skin reach its optimal PH balance.

Lotions are meant to help provide moisture to our outermost layer of skin (epidermis). This moisture is crucial in helping our skin do its two main jobs (remember what they are?)…
*Be a barrier to bad things that can get inside of us
*Serve as an eliminator to things inside of us that need to get out (especially those that have no other pathway…think liver)

So, you’ve now been schooled on skin (by means of the Cliffs Notes version). 😉 The rest of this week will carry on with my skincare series, but now that we know how the skin works, we can talk specifics of skincare. This week I will tackle the following specific topics (hopefully with some input from you, lovely readers)…

  • All lotions are NOT created equally (not even close)!
    I’ll share what I’ve learned that is NOT good for ANYONE’S skincare (ingredients, habits, etc)- You may be surprised to see what ingredients are in some of your skincare products and why they are bad, badbad.
  • What IS great for EVERYONE’S skincare (including highlights for three of the best ingredients you can possibly use on your skin)
  • Essential oils (including a few highlights that everyone should include in their skincare routine)

I am really looking forward to this week’s discussions about skincare…and I would LOVE to hear from you!

Do you have any questions, comments, concerns about your skincare routine, products, myths, etc? Please leave any comments below, and you can also contact me on Facebook or by email, too. Your input is crucial in helping me know how to best reach you with what you want to know.

Until tomorrow…
Jess, aka Scratch Mommy

Comments 7

  1. I have Celiac underactive thyroid disease fibro and mal absorption issues all of which have caused me to deal weith chronic dry skin , I look much older than my age, I deal with many of the issues you mentioned infection/ bleeding due to skin cracking. I find raw cold pressed coconut oil and tamanu oil helpful sometimes I add a few drops of tea tree oil? I am looking forward to reading the information you are willing to share here about skin care. thank you. please note* you may receive duplicate simuliar comment from me I had trouble posting that caused an error please forgive my mistake.

    1. Hi Kathy,

      Thank you for sharing! I am sorry to hear about your Celiac disease and resulting malabsorption issues. Thanks for bringing this to light for the readers!

      You are definitely practicing some excellent skincare methods. In fact, you mention two of my favorites: coconut oil and tea tree oil! I am not familiar with tamanu. Would you be willing to share some more for us?

      1. Thank you for your kind words, tamanu oil is also antimicrobial and antinflamatory like coconut oil. I believe coconut oil to be more hydrating, I find Tamanu Oil to be more healing as it promotes tissuse growth and it excellerates healing. It comes from Tamanu Trees that are usually found in Brazil or Tahiti, it has a very some what sweet pleasant lite scent maybe like very very lite almond oil ? But it is almost fragrance free which is a must for me.It is absorbed quickly. It never burns not even when applied to an open wound. You can find a clip with Dr.Oz speaking of the bennefits of tamanu oil on or learn more at I hope this will help you or others. I have only used tamanu oil topically. Thank you Jess.

        1. You’ve had me researching tamanu oil for the past hour! Wow…I can’t believe I have never heard of it!!

          I’m reading nothing but great things, just as you and Dr. Oz both state. I typically order my essential oils through Mountain Rose. Do you have a recommendation for ordering this specific oil? I’m ready to try some of this apparently amazing tamanu oil! 🙂

          1. I am so happy if this was helpful to you:) I purchase many things from Mountain Rose they sell wonderful VERY high quality products I think you would be very happy with purchasing your Tamanu Oil from Mountain Rose. Also may want to check out Rapha Remedy they make a real good cream with a good amount of shea butter in it, it’s from long life unlimited, many very good products available there too, I am so happy to think you I helped you find out about the Tamanu Tree. I really do think it is miraculous, really I do. I sure hope may be this information will be helpful to people that are suffering hope it helps with their pain too.Bye!

  2. I need help with my daughters hormonal skin!! She has a hard time with blackheads! We oil cleanse, do baking soda treatments and raw honey/ organic cinnamon paste masks…..and moisturizer with coconut oil. We can’t seem to get ahead if it! Any help would be wonderful!!! We eat a clean, whole food, no processed food, no grains , no beans, no soy diet.

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