The skin is the largest organ in the human body. We think of it as solid—after all it holds in our blood and guts—but it breaths and is permeable. Everything that we put on our skin gets absorbed into our bodies through the lymph system, which is one reason why I’ve long been a proponent of natural beauty products. Eating a healthy diet and taking care of your skin will keep it lustrous, clear and toned.

The face requires special attention. Over time the effects of the sun’s rays and makeup or toxic facial care products can stress this sensitive part of the body. I liken face care to hair care. Hair that’s washed regularly with good shampoo and conditioner, and cut regularly, stays strong and healthy. Following a daily face care regimen and getting monthly facials will allow the skin to breathe and thrive.

A good daily face care routine is three-tiered. A natural, gentle, exfoliating cleanser is the first step. You can give yourself a mini-massage by using two fingers to rub the cleanser in circular motions around the face. This increases blood flow and opens up the pores.

Next, an alcohol-free toner should be applied liberally to the face and neck. I believe hydrosols—also called floral waters—make the very best toners. Hydrosols are created during the essential oil distillation process, and are a fusion of water and the flower’s volatile oils. Rose hydrosol is good for dry, sensitive or mature skin; rosemary for oily or congested skin; chamomile for sensitive and combination skin; and lavender works with all skin types.

The final step is the application of moisturizer. I prefer a light facial serum. Oils such as apricot kernel, almond and jojoba are actually nourishing for the skin. Cream-based moisturizers work well also if they have healthy ingredients. Moisturizer should be applied to the face and neck in circular motions while the skin is still moist with toner.

Items to avoid in your skincare products include parabens, phenoxyethanol, sodium laurel sulfates, ethylhexylglycerin, BHTs and BHAs. A good rule of thumb is: if you can’t pronounce it, don’t use it.

Facials add to the quality of healthy skin by removing toxins and dead skin cells, improving circulation and increasing blood flow, and toning and tightening the skin. They also help release tension in the face, head and neck, providing a relaxing, pampering experience. Gentlemen, never underestimate the rejuvenative power of pampering for your ladies. When we women pamper ourselves, we have more energy to contribute to helping others. This is my not-so-subtle hint for Mother’s day. Treat your special lady (mom, sister, girlfriend, wife) to a facial and you’ll receive benefits too. And ladies, if the men in your life are curious, encourage them to try one also. Benicia has several good skin spas with professionals ready to give you the royal treatment and radiant glow. They may also have tips about daily skincare and which ingredients to avoid and embrace.