Estela Cockrell applies the Niu Body Pink Clay Mask to fight blemishes and clogged pores.

Image: Thomas Shea

Whether you want to clear up the dreaded “mask-ne” or just treat yourself, two of Houston’s most dependable skincare experts, Laura Lemon of Lemon Laine (lemonlaine.com), and Estela Cockrell of Switch2Pure (switch2pure.com), have easy—and affordable—ways to pamper your skin all winter long. 

Mask up (not that mask). 

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. Those cute sheet masks you keep impulse-buying—pandas, cats, even Santa Claus faces—may contain harsh ingredients that wreak havoc on the skin. “You just have to be really careful about what you use,” Cockrell warns. Even masks with beneficial ingredients, like pore-clearing clay or acne- and wrinkle-fighting acids, can irritate skin if used too often, she notes.

So, remember, all things in moderation and don’t overthink your weekly mask routine. “You want to be feeding, hydrating, nourishing, and moisturizing your skin,” Cockrell says. “Exfoliate twice a week and do a deep mask once a week. There’s no need to do any more than that.” Add in safe bets like the Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask, ($65, tataharperskincare.com) with AHAs (acids) for glow and radiance, or the Niu Body Pink Clay Mask, ($15, switch2pure.com) to fight blemishes and clogged pores. The main thing is to pay attention to your skin, and to keep it balanced, moisturized, and healthy. 

Soak in the best bath (for your skin).

It’s not the bubbly extravaganza you think it is. This is a hard truth, but the picture-perfect bath—that swirl of fragrance and foamy bubbles piled high—may actually be harming us. Our skin absorbs approximately 60 percent of what we put on it, so if we’re marinading in hidden chemicals (like those found packed into manmade fragrances) or excess sulfates (like those often found in bubble-bath products), we aren’t actually doing ourselves a solid.

Laura Lemon has great advice for bath lovers: skip the bubbles.

In fact, Lemon warns, “Don’t get in a bath that bubbles.” Like, ever. Instead, find a soak like Goop’s the Martini Emotional Detox, ($35, goop.com), which has Himalayan salt, magnesium, and Chia seed oil along with rosemary and other botanical extracts, soothing sore muscles and cramps while helping you wind down. Or you can make your own soak at home using ¼ cup of Himalayan salt and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil (just be cautious with the oil when stepping out of the tub) Pro-tip: Throw in a dash of rose oil and you’ll rise from that bath literally smelling like a rose.

Goop's Martini Emotional Detox is the perfect addition to your “me time."

Grow a skincare garden.

Yes, plants can liven up your windowsill and studies have shown just having them around is good for your mental health, but the benefits don’t stop there. Some plants also leave you with glowing skin. Grow these and it won’t be just the leaves that are dewy.

Chamomile. “It’s been used for everything from calming your mood to calming your skin,” says Lemon. Steep the flowers in a tea to drink for aiding immunity, sleep, and digestion, or let the chamomile soak in olive or hoba oil for a day to create a serum that does wonders for sensitive skin.

Rosemary. Good news: All you need is a bit of effort and a saucepan to help with dry skin or scalp, acne, or eczema. Put two cups of olive oil on the stove over low heat, mix in a cup of fresh rosemary leaves, stir for five to ten minutes, drain afterward, and ta-da! You have homemade rosemary oil at your fingertips. Known for its soothing, anti-inflammatory properties, this natural oil can help hydrate your hair and skin in no time.

Manuka Honey. So you’re a plant killer but still interested in natural ingredients? Good news, says Cockrell: “Manuka honey has really great healing properties.” It’s antibacterial and is known to heal wounds and sores, treat acne, and improve digestive and oral health.

Aloe Vera. The aloe vera plant is perfect to grow in the Texas heat, and its juice is one of the most beneficial natural ingredients known to man (and, ahem, woman). It helps heal burns, reduces acne scarring and inflammation, and moisturizes the skin when applied topically—to access the magic ingredient just snap off the end of a leaf. Drink the gel to improve digestion and oral health.

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