We are culturally confused about our skin! Whilst it's true that our skin acts as a barrier and is indeed waterproof and the boundary between ourselves and the outside enviroment, this does not mean we can lather it with chemicals or indeed anything that we wouldn't put in our own mouths. Our skin is porous and absorbant and when nourished in the natural way can contribute to our health and wellbeing, as much as perfectly express how we are on the inside.
Many of us are beginning to understand the correlation between a clean wholefood diet, natural skin care ingredients and healthy vibrant skin, and we are keen to use products that reflect this awareness. Making your own skincare products at home out of natural ingredients can be a wonderful way to ensure your skin thrives. The College of Naturopathic Medicine (CNM) are running a series of short courses this August, in which you can learn more about natural skincare nutrition and how to make plantbased skincare products easily at home. CNM are also offering a 10% discount to all Indigo Herbs Blog readers. (see bottom of page)
CNM trained naturopathic nutritionist Vivien Allred shares her wisdom on how to take care of your skin the natural way. The short course running at CNM teaches you about the different skin types and how to balance them through diet, lifestyle and by using special herbs. At the end of the course you will know how to use and create natural skincare products for your individual skin type. We asked Vivien a bit more about the why's and how's of natural skincare.
Why is natural skincare so Important?
"The skin on our face is usually the first thing people notice. If we are dealing with adult acne, rashes, dryness, premature wrinkles or dullness, this can therefore affect our self confidence. The majority of women these days spend hundreds of pounds each year buying products which claim to reverse the appearance of fine lines, boost skin elasticity, clear our complexions and make us ‘glow’. The sad truth is that a lot of the products available on the high street are made using toxic ingredients, which can affect our hormones and immunity, in the long term.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that the average women uses 12 personal care products each morning, before even leaving the house, exposing herself to around 168 toxins! We often forget that the skin is our largest organ and its job is to protect us against pathogens, eliminate toxins via sweat and absorb vitamin D from sunlight and the products we put on it. This is how nicotine patches and some hormone medications are effectively delivered. Next time you apply your make up or body lotion, think, would this be safe for me to eat? If not, you should probably consider switching to safe, non-toxic brands or even have a go at making your own natural, organic products".
Which natural ingredients do you recommend?
"Using oils such as rosehip, jojoba, argan and sweet almond oil, as a face and body moisturiser is one way to lower your toxic burden, whilst providing your skin with beneficial nutrients, hydration and antioxidant protection.
Harsh cleansers, scrubs and peels can strip the skin of its healthy oils, disrupting the delicate lipid layer, which can result in sensitive, irritated, inflamed and prematurely aging skin. Other ingredients to avoid when buying skincare products are sodium laurel sulphate (SLS), which is a skin irritant, and phthalates which are compounds known as ‘endocrine disruptors’, meaning that they interfere with our own hormone production, mainly through producing an oestrogenic effect".
What is your top tip for vibrant skin when it comes to diet?
"Skin health is a reflection of internal health, therefore optimising our nutrition and lifestyles can lead to beautiful looking skin. Improving skin from the inside out is what will provide long term results. Consume a wide range of fresh, colourful vegetables to increase your antioxidant intake, which protects your skin from cellular damage. Including 2-3 servings of oily fish per week provides you with omega 3 fatty acids, which are important for reducing inflammation and improving the quality of skin cells. Other healthy fats to consume regularly are avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, egg yolks, coconut oil, organic butter/ghee and cacao, all of which can improve the appearance and hydration of our skin, naturally giving us that glow".
Are there other factors that effect our skin?
"High cortisol and stress can cause breakouts, redness and premature aging, for that reason stress management should be part of your daily routine, alongside exercise, which improves circulation and slows down the ageing process. Using natural, organic skincare, eating an anti-inflammatory, nutrient dense diet and living a calmer, more active lifestyle, can all help to create beautiful skin from within".