Demystifying skincare is often overwhelming, frustrating and expensive—with new miracle formulas and elixirs constantly being added to the inifinite list of “must-haves.” And considering that most of these proclaimed panaceas don’t even contain the ingredients they advertise, the skincare industry might as well be selling snake oil. DIY apothecarian Adina Grigore wants you to know that the solution to all skin conditions can be cooked up at home, and she’s sharing her best regimens and recipes in her new book, “Skin Cleanse.”
Since we last spoke to Grigore in 2013, her all-natural skincare line S.W. Basics of Brooklyn has snowballed, reflecting a growing demand to find an alternative to synthetic (and often toxic) beauty products. “The entire beauty and personal care industry is based on the marketing premise that women are flawed,” Grigore tells CH. Initially launched in 2009, S.W. Basics manifested from Grigore’s personal remedies for her own skin sensitivities, finding an eager market for her homemade brews when she started sharing them at a series of DIY classes. “People would come up to me at the end of DIY classes and thank me for teaching them how to make products, then immediately ask me where to go buy the products they had just learned how to make,” she says.
But “Skin Cleanse” puts everything that Grigore cultivated through S.W. Basics in the hands of the reader, packing an enormous amount of information—from biological and environmental factors that affect the skin, to how to go on a product detox and start afresh with a food-based skin routine—in just over 200 pages. “I started with a good base because I studied holistic nutrition and became certified as a health coach,” Grigore explains. In places where she had less expertise, Grigore looked toward professionals for input. “I spent a lot of time making sure to find studies for everything I was saying,” she says. “I had a dermatologist read through the chapter on the biology of skin, and the Environmental Working Group advised me on the chapter about chemicals in skincare.”
“Skin Cleanse” walks the reader through creating diet and product journals, which help identify lifestyle triggers for skin problems. But overall, Grigore iterates that age-old adage: you are what you eat. Grigore explains which foods best provide the ultimate skin-nourishing nutrients and how to work them into a simple diet free of processed foods that are filled with synthetic ingredients. “Remember that synthetic foods are not recognized by your body as actual food. When your body struggles to process them, you become inflamed,” she writes. “Inflammation in the body leads to inflammation of the skin, which, as you know, is a beauty killer.” Opting for an all-natural diet is easier—and more delicious—than imagined, especially with Grigore’s supplemental recipes.
But the most delightful thing about “Skin Cleanse” is playing with Grigore’s food-based skin and haircare recipes. The cocoa and sea salt Dessert Mask is actually so hard not to eat that it’s a true test of willpower that we kept it on long enough to be effective. The skin-tightening (and aptly named) Bloody Mary Toner is a simple, three-ingredient brew of tomato juice, apple cider vinegar and vodka—and despite cautioning against drinking alcohol because of its dehydrating effects, Grigore confirms, “Yes, you can sip this, too.” It’s a testament that taking care of yourself should be as fun as it is rewarding.
Grigore confirms that the journey to happy skin can be intimidating, saying, “People are super scared that vicious, ugly skin is always hiding and waiting to come back, and that products are the only thing protecting them from this terrifying possibility.” The best way to get started, she says, is to just kick one product—which Grigore recognizes as both the easiest and the trickiest thing to do. But for those who find that one-product kick easy, “I advise actually skipping everything. Wash with water, just one day. You’ll survive and your skin will get better and you will have a magical and empowering awakening.”
Despite spilling all her secrets in “Skin Cleanse,” Grigore has no concerns that it will affect S.W. Basics’ growing popularity. “Why not be able to get a product that’s good enough to be homemade also on the shelf at the store? Just because you don’t bake your own bread doesn’t mean the one at the store shouldn’t be as good as the one you would make yourself,” she notes. Still, Grigore believes so much in doing it yourself that she’s willing to sacrifice it all. “My investors hate when I say things like this, but I hope people run off with the book and stop using our products,” she quips. “What a beautiful reason to go out of business!”
Images by Gabriella Garcia