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.

COLUMN: Make everyday tasks count

When we look into a mirror, we can see at a glance how we are going. A close examination of the skin will provide information about the quality of nourishment, sleep or attention you’re getting.

Dry, flaky or dehydrated skin tells us to address our fluid intake (reduce the dehydrating beverages such as coffee and tea and increase water with a squeeze of lemon to maximise hydration) and a dull and lifeless complexion indicates a need to refocus on oneself.

Irritated, red and inflamed skin may signal a call for help; to address ones emotional health, to re-examine diet and to acquire skill to improve self-esteem and confidence.

The skin’s signalling system will help prompt the owner to reflect on the reasons why it is like it is and the bodies’ inbuilt answering system will point us in the right direction to seek help or answers.

We can do more with less when we make informed choices about the products we use. It then comes down to taking action.

Today’s top tip: “Make what you do count”.

If you are having a bath, energise this everyday activity with the power of nature through aromatherapy. Adding 3-5 drops of certified organic lavender, bergamot and cedarwood to your bath will enable you to calm and uplift your mood, reduce stress and anxiety and cleanse and disinfect your skin just whilst you bathe.

Imagine soaking your feet in a lemon, basil and rosemary footbath whilst you work at your desk, helping you to focus, retain information and increase productivity. The multi-functional effects of essential oils enable you include them into many different activities, they help you to help yourself.

Make a pact with yourself to use certified organic skin care products that are vitamin enhanced, antioxidant rich and will guarantee the results you are looking for; the best organic products are designed to support your skin as an organ rather than a skin type. The chemical composition of state-of-the-art certified organic products harmonise with your body’s chemistry.

Be skeptical of an industry or marketing campaign that promises that chemicals are good for you and trust in Mother Natures ability to create superior beneficial substances.

FYI: Parabens are synthetic preservatives. They are not allowed in certified organic skin care products. They are usually combinations of methyl-, propyl-, and butyl parabens. They are widely documented as skin irritants especially when the skin is sensitive. They have been linked to a possible cause of breast cancer.