In our pursuit of beauty we may be exposing ourselves to harmful toxicants. Fatimah Jackson-Best offers you better alternatives.
It shocked me to learn that some women put up to 515 chemicals on their bodies every day, and even more shocking is that over 100 of those go onto our faces and hair.[i] Most of us do not look at the list of ingredients on the things we consume, and in our pursuit of beauty we may be exposing ourselves to harmful toxicants.
Our skin is an organ that breathes in and absorbs whatever is in our environment. This includes healthy things like water and sunlight, but also harmful toxicants. The same rule applies to hair – what we feed it is what nourishes it. We can’t control what is in the air around us, but the best thing we can do for our skin and hair is to feed these healthy and natural things as much as possible. This isn’t easy, but most of what you need to achieve beautiful skin and hair is probably already in your cupboard.
Developing a skincare regimen involves trial and error, as what works for one person may not work for another. As a teenager I had acne and tried any product that was marketed to combat blemishes or rid my skin of bumps. Nothing seemed to work – in fact, my skin worsened. This was most likely a result of the multiple chemicals and concoctions I was subjecting it to. As an adult I have finally defeated acne, but it wasn’t any product that helped me achieve this. I’ve learned that the less I do, the better my skin looks.
If I have been wearing makeup all day I wash my skin with a product that contains tea tree oil since this has natural anti-fungal components. I follow up with all-natural cocoa butter or coconut oil to moisturise. But most of the times I wash my skin with oil. Yes, you read that right.
Oil cleansing is an old technique that keeps the skin moisturised and soft. A lot of the cleansers we use actually strip the skin of its natural oils, leaving it dry and prone to breakouts. Even if you have naturally oily skin (like me), oil cleansing will work for you. Use one drop of almond or virgin coconut oil and massage it into your damp face for one to two minutes. Then rinse your skin: first with very warm water and then a few splashes of cold water. Pat your face with a clean towel and notice how soft and smooth your skin feels.
I am also a big believer in natural hair care – starting with your shampoo. Many of us have become accustomed to traditional shampoos that lather up, which we believe indicates that the product is getting rid of all the dirt and oil in the hair. However, many shampoos contain sulfates to create that lathering effect, which actually dry out the hair and cause frizz. The good news is that there are many shampoo brands that offer sulfate-free options which are much better.[ii] These usually have a less intense lathering effect that can take some time to get used to, but you will notice the change in your hair almost immediately.
For those of us who want to take natural hair care a bit further, I suggest you ditch the shampoo altogether. For the last year and a half I have been using baking soda to wash my hair and it’s never been shinier, healthier or longer. I add about three tablespoons of baking soda to 3/4 cup of water in a squirt bottle and massage the mixture into the scalp since this is where most of the buildup and dirt is. After rinsing with water, follow up with a good quality conditioner that contains lots of natural ingredients to rehydrate your hair.[iii] To finish, I apply a combination of natural and essential oils to keep it shiny and smelling great.
Beauty from inside out
In addition to these tricks, what we eat and drink are also key to skin and hair health. Make water your first choice and drink at least eight cups every day. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and other nutritious items will help you look and feel great.
It doesn’t hurt to have a couple of no-makeup days a week to allow your skin to breathe, and never go to sleep without removing the day’s makeup. Most of all, smile and keep a positive frame of mind since this is the truest and most long lasting expression of beauty.
Recipe for Natural Hair Moisturiser
- 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon organic castor oil
- 1 tablespoon argan oil
- 1 tablespoon of avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon of vitamin E oil
- 1-2 drops of peppermint or lavender oil
Put all the ingredients in a bottle and shake well. Apply to damp hair right after washing and conditioning. Pay special attention to the ends of the hair since this is where the most breakage and tangling take place. Dry and style your hair as usual.