Nature’s goodness: changing to all-natural and organic cosmetics

Why I decided to replace all my cosmetic products with only all natural organic alternative products – a little blogpost about reducing my ecological footprint, cutting down on things that have an impact on the environment and giving my skin the chemical and toxin-free care it deserves.

With the start of the New Year I made myself a few promises and as many of us did, I also wrote an endless list of New Year’s resolutions. My main focus for this year is to live closer and in more harmony with nature. Campaigning for the marine environment and marine animals led me to the decision of completely stopping to eat fish and seafood two years ago to minimize my personal impact on the ocean ecosystems. This year I made another step: I became fully vegetarian with the further aim to reduce my personal ecological footprint. Additionally, I am currently in the process of swapping over to all natural and organic cosmetics.

I had contemplated this decision for a long time, knowing about the dangers of certain chemicals used in modern-day cosmetics and the animal abuse that testing of new products brings with it. In the past I had done extensive research on brands which use animals in laboratories for product testing and had made an active effort to only buy products which were animal friendly and which I knew did not contain any ingredients of animal origin. If you would like to check whether the products you use are animal testing-free, look out for cosmetic seals as ECO-CERT, NA TRUE or the BDIH. Also, PETA has a cruelty free index for brands and products, which serves as a great guideline!

My boyfriend, an avid believer in all natural products and an organic lifestyle himself, inspired me to make this change: I am already making an active effort to reduce my ecological footprint by unplugging, recycling, composting and and avoiding plastic among many other things, so why not treat my skin the same way I care for the environment and avoid gettung it in touch with chemical substances?  Several chemicals which are used in common, popular cosmetics are known irritants and carcinogens, and a main concern of mine stems from the knowledge that most of these ingredients are derived synthetically or from petroleum.

The human skin wraps and protects our bodies. It constitutes a living, dynamic tissue system andt has the remarkable ability to absorb applied products, partially or completely, into the bloodstream. In fact, up to 60% of the products we use on our skin are absorbed and deposited into the circulatory system (Fairley, 2001) and lipstick wearers, for example, consume 1.5 to 4 tubes in a lifetime (Aveda).A scary fact, when considering the amount of irritating and harmful substances we expose our skin to. If one considers the ingredients being internalized by the body, absorbing plant oils and waxes, mineral pigments or essential oils is a healthier alternative than absorbing petroleum by-products and synthetic chemicals.

Natural cosmetic products and make-up are safer, healthier alternatives especially when these products are composed of all natural ingredients. A natural product is described as one that contains mostly or completely naturally derived ingredients (Antczak, 2001). It also indicates that the product is free from, or contains minute amounts of artificial chemical additives. I hence made the logical step of replacing all my cosmetic products – shampoo, conditioner, make-up, etc. – with an all-natural and organic alternative product once they were used up. And it feels great!

Cosmetics from natural ingredients are less allergenic and irritating to the skin and do not contain harmful substances, such as: parabens ( often the root cause of allergies) and no silicones or paraffins (petroleum) , which place is like a film on the skin, preventing skin respiration and the natural regulation mechanisms. Synthetic fragrances, colors or preservatives are also not included. So what are these replaced with in natural cosmetics?The answer is quite simple: shea butter, olive oil, as well as beeswax or coconut oil, all of which are very beautiful fabrics, which are also well received by the skin. Likewise, various medicinal plants are used. The advantage of natural cosmetics as compared to conventional cosmetics is that they aim to stimulate more activity to better the skins self-regulation.

When I first converted to natural cosmetics my body needed a few days to adapt. Because natural cosmetics activate the natural forces of the skin, there may be an initial aggravation, especially for blemished skin. This means impurities occur initially on increasing until the self-regulation has set and the skin returns to its natural state. For me this process took about two weeks, but every person is different, so your biological adaption time might be longer or shorter. For the hair, the effects are quite similar. Although paraffins, for example, make the surface of the hair smooth, they also overly “care” for the outer layer of the hair, which manifests itself in the hair appearing dull. Ultimately, everything that is good for your skin naturally applies also to the scalp. And a healthy scalp produces healthy, beautiful hair.

Finding all natural and organic products is not as difficult as one might think. Simply look for have a dm, Planet Organic or Holland & Barrett near you. Alternatively, you can also order anything online! The main brands I use are: Alverde, Weleda, Lavera and Dr. Hauschka. All of them provide a comprehensive series, which not only cares for the skin but aims at holistically involving the individual as a whole – something I always place a lot of emphasis on. Other brands I have heard good things about are: Ecco Bella,  Bare Minerals, Origins, Ilia and Physicians Formula. I will see if I can try them out soon and give feedback, so stay tuned!

 

References:

Antczak, Dr. Stephen and Gina, (2001). Cosmetics Unmasked, Harper Collins, London.
Fairley, Josephine, (2001). Organic Beauty, DK Publishing, London.