“Perfect skin, a healthy glow, that dewy complexion… these are my skin goals.”
For as long as I can remember, I have aspired to the ideal of beauty that is presented to us time and again through glamorous editorials and red carpet looks. Images of models and celebrities who seemed to look effortlessly beautiful only added to my personal disdain – why oh why was I the only one whose skin didn’t look like that?! Of course, deep down I knew that all those images we saw were edited and retouched. Celebrities have the luxury of professional make-up artists – something us mere mortals don’t! That said, all these things have meant that I’ve always taken great care over my skincare regime… or so I thought.
A few years ago, I had been struggling with bouts of extreme fatigue which were increasing in frequency and duration. I was underweight, had a low appetite and felt emotional and lost. Above all, I was sad and couldn’t figure out what was making me feel this way. The fatigue was wiping me out for days on end. All I wanted to do was sleep. While everyone around me seemed to be thriving, I could offer no explanation for my condition and felt embarrassed and ashamed.
Searching for a cure, I eventually started taking professional advice from a nutritionist. This led me to start focusing on a cleaner diet and eating well for my health. These changes made such a positive impact on both me and my family that I embraced the more natural approach whole heartedly. Not only did I notice a considerable improvement in my overall wellbeing and temperament but I also realised that sometimes the most natural remedies were the most effective.
Increasingly becoming interested in what I put into my body, my home, and my environment raised my awareness to what else in my lifestyle might need more attention. Then about a year ago, it dawned on me that I was placing so much focus on what went into my body, but had forgotten about what goes ON it? Realising the amount of effort (and products!) I used in my skincare regime led me to consider what impact they might actually have on my skin and in turn my wellbeing. So I made a conscious decision to change the skincare I was using or at least do my research about it. I started to look into natural products to swap in over time as my existing one’s ran out. Once I started looking, I realised that, for me, as far as beauty and skincare was concerned, I’d prefer to migrate to clean and natural products and solutions.
The break down
Let’s be honest. On average we each probably use at least 10 products a day – once you take into account what is used in the shower, deodorants, hair products, creams, toothpastes, and all that is before we get to make up! Many of these products likely contain ingredients we don’t recognise or understand, yet because they come from known brands, we are ok with that and keep buying and using them. When I started looking at ingredient names, I did some searching, and realised that I was putting a lot of chemicals onto my body everyday. Whilst my research showed that these chemicals are deemed safe by both the cosmetics companies and the FDA, I still felt uneasy about the impact they might have, if not now, then in the future. Something I learnt from my change in nutrition and that I believe in, is the power of nature. In the same way that I don’t want to eat genetically modified food, or farmed fish, or have a drink filled with preservatives, I don’t want to put chemicals into my body if I can help it. My decision to make a change remained.
The good news
The beauty and skincare industry is way ahead of me. Clean, natural beauty is out there and it is good! When I started my research, I realised that there are many wonderful companies striving to bring us natural products. Initially I was skeptical – after all, who wants to invest in products that don’t come in beautiful packaging, have a silky smooth texture and with a “just got out of the spa” smell? What I discovered was that there were a myriad of companies out there making luxurious, effective, clean and affordable products from quality, natural and organic ingredients (not from synthetic chemicals) – hurray! These products exist – from celebrity skincare lines like goop whose brand ambassador is the beautiful Gwyneth Paltrow, numerous boutique batch production labels, along with websites galore that focus solely on clean beauty. The products are available, accessible and to me, this was a no brainer.
1) Everyone has their own beauty regime, from the simplest with the fewest products, to those of us who can’t cope without an arsenal (guilty!) of bottles. Whatever your approach, my advice would be to start by reading the labels on your products. If you don’t understand what’s in it, are you comfortable to continue using it? If not, would you consider replacing it with a cleaner alternative when it runs out? Starting small means it’s less overwhelming to consider changing that favourite moisturizer. By giving yourself time to research alternatives, you will inevitably learn more about what else is available to you and why you might want to switch.
2) Do your own research. Does “natural” really mean natural? What does FDA approval mean? The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organisation whose mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment – their Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is a wonderful resource where they offer quick tips on choosing safer personal care products.
3) Think about company values. I’m a bit of a cynic, it has to be said. However, look at the company you’re buying from – what are their values and ethics? Do they test on animals? Do they claim to use natural ingredients? Are they committed to reducing their environmental impact? What does this mean for the skincare products that you use from them?
Having felt the impact of my diet on my well being, I am pro-nature. And it turns out, I’m not alone. Skincare also plays a part in what goes into my body. In my view, nature is talking and it’s reminding us that it is there and has a purpose. I’m definitely going to start the conversation about natural beauty and I hope you join me on this journey.
In future explorations with Ordinary People, I hope to bring you a showcase of natural beauty personalities and products, food ideas for skin health, brand spotlights on the ones doing it right. I’d also like to talk about what would be great for kids. This is because I am looking to the future and thinking about my children too. What I teach them now will stay with them throughout their lives – simple ideals I’m trying to impart on them – that natural solutions can be effective and personal care products shouldn’t contain chemicals.
Images by stocksnap.io unless otherwise indicated.