If you hadn't already noticed, let me tell you that it is in fact Natural Beauty Week. Yep there is such a thing and I am so happy about it. Encouraging consumers to become more aware of the health and environmental impacts of chemicals used in everyday cosmetics is always a good thing, and to be more discerning about their day-to-day beauty practices, double the fun (there's also prizes to be won but get in quick - competition finishes tomorrow).
I have been using chemical-free facial products, hair care, and cleaning products for a number of years now and I would never go back to the regular stuff you can buy at the supermarkets and department stores (I'm not gonna name names but you know what I'm talking about). Why?
Well, besides the fact that of roughly 10,000 chemicals found in beauty products, 90% haven't been tested for safety (1), I'm poisoning my system.
Our skin is the largest organ of our body and every. little. sceric. of product (good or bad) that we lather on, is absorbed and then makes its way to our blood stream, disrupting normal hormonal functioning, and going on one hell of a journey from top to toe and everywhere in between running rampant in our cells. You wont feel this, and it's likely you wouldn't notice anything for some decades later, but that's because if you noticed or felt ill effects earlier on, these companies would be out of a job.
Many people take supplements and follow a strict diet choosing organic food and drinking clean water to stay healthy but still use toxic products on their skin without a second thought, and some experts believe that chemicals absorbed through the skin are alot more dangerous than the chemicals taken in by the mouth. Scary.
Now I'm well aware that if you have yet to make the switch from your L'Oreal to something like Evohe, I understand you're likely resistant, or believe that natural products don't work as well. I was there once too. I thought I had to rely on chemicals, acids, and peroxides to try and heal my acne.
The straight up answer was a hell no. And in not using those products anymore, my skin is more nourished, moisturised from the inside out, glowing, and healthy, even though I still have a little bit of acne here and there. The ironic thing is, the more crap I used on my face to try and clear my skin up, the more was heading straight to my liver where it had to be detoxified to try and get outta my system again... and with everything else going on, those same acne-healing products were no doubt wrecking my system internally, resulting in more imbalances ie. acne on the outside. Which means what? A life long customer trying to heal their acne... kinda like how the pharmaceutical companies work too right?
David Suzuki has written a full report of the 12 most toxic chemicals that are in many skin care products that need to be avoided, and all of them are estrogen mimickers (fascinating PDF for reading later on too). This means they mimic estrogen (hormone) inside the body - causing a whole array of problems such as reproductive and infertility issues, anxiety, depression, weight gain and more (see my recap from Nat Kringoudis' talk where she discusses estrogen dominance) (2)
So enough with the biochemistry, what can you do for natural beauty week?
1. Swap the old for the new
If you're already onto natural, organic, chemical free products, hats off to you. If not, it's not hard. Either go cold turkey, get rid of everything with toxic chemicals in it, and go out and buy a whole new set of goodies. Otherwise (and this is also more wallet-friendly), swap one product at a time. If your face wash is about to run out, buy a natural instead and try it. Then your shampoo is done, buy an inexpensive chemical free one here. One by one you can transform your bathroom cosmetic cupboard, your kitchen cleaning cupboard and your hair care products all in good time. Helping the planet, both improving your health and preventing ill health, as well as the health of those around you, you'll be looking and feeling better in no time. Alternatively, start making your own.
Some of my favourite skin care brands include Evohe, Mukti, Bush Flower Love System, Coconut Magic coconut oil, Akin rose hip oil, Organica and then easy products I've already got to make my own masks, toners, etc. This is by no means a definitive list, and there are hundreds more brands and ranges coming out everyday... particularly in Melbourne. I'm seeing bucketloads I'd love to get my hands on!
2. Go naked
I don't mean get on your birthday suit but I do mean make-up naked. Try not wearing makeup for a day. What about the whole week. I can hear some of you tsk-tsk-ing me shaking your heads. Give it a go on the weekend then if you can't with your work commitments. I only use my skin-coloured spot cover, and a little mineral powder on the days I work (which is once or twice a week right now). Whenever I'm at home, I've just got rosehip oil on. It's refreshing, lighter, clearer and my face feels so much better. Also try to wash off your makeup as soon as you get home. Spray a toner or (my fav) a chilled green tea with rose water mix over your face to lighten and brighten (the antioxidants also tighten your face whilst hydrating your skin), and have a glass of water.
3. Eat for Beauty
Beauty is not skin deep and in fact as our skin itself is made of up 3 layers, we want to start feeding the deepest layer so that as each layer sheds off (in a total of 28 days) we have nourished, well fed, hydrated skin surfacing. Eat for beauty everyday and guess what? You'll have beautiful skin everyday. Eating foods rich in vitamin C like berries, kiwifruits, capsicum, parsley and broccoli stimulate collage production (plumping out crevices and fine lines), antioxidants help against aging (think acai, cacao, berries, nuts, egg yolk), and essential fatty acids ensure your skin is moisturised, soft and elastic (flax oil, seeds, oily fish).
4. Believe you are beautiful
Yep you read that right. And this one may in fact be the hardest one to do - but it's also going to be the most rewarding. The thoughts we have in our head become our reality, and there's a tonne of scientific studies now to back this up. So... believe you are beautiful inside and out and see how your life begins to change.