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COLUMN: A ‘healthy’ beauty regime

For the record, history literally edifies the plant kingdom. Our forefathers tested products for us on our behalf and proved their efficacy not over decades or years (like synthetics and chemicals) but rather centuries.

It was Aristotle who advised Alexander the Great (who collected plant specimens) to conquer countries rich in aloe vera because of its curative effect. Indians used bark (cascara sagrada) as a strong emetic and tonic for the intestines and passed its curative effects on to others such as the Countess of Chinchon, wife of the Viceroy of Peru and to the Swedish botanist, Karl von Linneè, to reduce fever and save lives.

The list goes on and on …

History has documented both the toxic and medicinal effects of plants – all grown and administered without chemical intervention. Today we can use technology and science to validate their findings. It is the rapid and excessive development of synthetic chemical counterfeits (of essential oils or plant derived constituents) that have not had the luxury of use over time that we must remain cautious about.

We are now testing these relatively new chemical compounds (including those used in beauty products); the results of which will reveal themselves to future generations.

It is our responsibility to ourselves and all living things to monitor the contribution we make to the chemical invasion via our choice of products that contain the following: synthetic perfumes, artificial flavours and colours, parabens, sulphates and petrochemicals.

It is time that we think of our health when we think of beauty because science now validates that both are intrinsically linked.

We need to dramatically reduce or, more preferably, avoid synthetic chemicals in our beauty products by recognising them, understanding the role they play, and the effects that they have on our beauty and health. Remember the preservatives used in cosmetics are not there to protect you, they are there to provide greater shelf life for the product.

Where do you start? Begin with a simple and effective skin care program that includes  certified organic beauty products.

1 Remove your make-up with a certified organic product. Choose one that takes off both your eye and face make-up. It should be fragrance-free (as in no essential oils added).

2 Cleanse your skin with either a foaming facial cleanser (ideal for use in the shower) or a crème cleanser (suited to more sensitive skin), to remove pollutants, airborne bacteria and chemicals and grime.

3 Exfoliate your skin every 3 or 4 days to remove the dead skin cells; this helps your skin to breathe and stimulates new skin cells.

4 Hydrate and tone with your daily vitamin or mineral facial mist (rose or citrus); those that contain ionic elements such as copper and zinc and silica help strengthen collagen and elastin fibres.

5 Feed your skin with a treatment serum. Alternate between a mineral and vitamin serum to provide your skin with its daily nutrients (you can do this during the day under your moisturiser if your skin feels a little dry or sun damaged or at night as a treatment).

6 Moisturise your skin with a vitamin-rich moisturiser (there is also a tinted version with SPF protection) to keep your skin hydrated and protected all day long.

FYI: PEG is the acronym for polyethylene glycol. PEGs are polymers of the same molecule. PEGs are almost always written with a number after their name such as PEG 2, PEG 40, PEG 100, PEG 150, PEG 3350, PEG 6000 (PEG 2 is a lot smaller molecule than PEG 6000). PEGs are commonly used as synthetic emulsifiers and combine the water and oil phase in skin care products. These chemicals are not allowed in certified organic skin care as they have been found to open the pores of the skin and facilitate environmental toxins to enter the body more easily.

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