As consumers become more concerned about minimising the use of chemicals in their lives, skincare and make-up ingredients are coming under the spotlight. Nowadays informed customers are not ready to take unnecessary health risks and are increasingly questioning if what they are putting on their skin poses any long-term risks. As a result, several niche cosmetic brands that have opted to go natural or organic are booming. Not only do they promise better overall health, but they also mean you are doing your bit for the environment because of their eco-friendly production practices. So if you’re thinking of going green here’s our definitive guide to becoming a natural beauty.
Why Go Green?
The growing consensus among experts is that what you put on your skin doesn’t merely go skin deep but enters your entire system too. Some ingredients soaked up by our skin from our cosmetics are carcinogenic. Although the body has a mechanism to flush out toxins from its system, traces of some tough-to-dislodge chemicals can accumulate over the years and gradually affect our overall health. Experts agree that top of the list to avoid are: parabens, mercury, lead, phthalates, petroleum-based products, xanthene and zinc chloride (a skin and eye irritant mainly found in shampoos, conditioners and cleansers). Natural skincare and make-up products are made with few, if any, synthetic chemicals and use a wide range of plant or fruit extracts, minerals and vitamins as their ingredients.
Organic cosmetics are more evolved and guarantee (through certification) that all the natural ingredients used haven’t been treated with chemicals. But if you’re looking for something 100 per cent organic, make sure that it says so specifically on the label. If the label says it is ‘100% Organic’ then you know these products are made entirely from certified organic ingredients. If it states that it’s ‘organic’ the products contain at least 95% organic ingredients, a figure that reduces to 75% if the label says ‘made with organic ingredients’.
It isn’t just what jars you open that determine your skin and hair health. What you throw in your shopping trolley at the supermarket every week can also dramatically affect how you look. Here are the top skin and hair foods that you should stock up on:
Beauty Benefit: Water is rightly referred to as a beauty tonic on tap. After all, one of the signs of a youthful complexion is supple, well-hydrated skin. Not having enough water in the day shows instantly in the form of dry and shrivelled skin.
Green Tip: Have a minimum of two to three litres of water a day and you’re guaranteed supple skin.
Beauty Benefit: For the same reason that you love water, you should love green tea too. It’s great for hydration when you’re looking for something other than water, plus it contains antioxidants that offer great anti-aging benefits.
Green Tip: Replace your cups of regular tea or coffee with green tea. This cuts down on caffeine and helps you stock up on antioxidants instead.
Beauty Benefit: Blueberries may be small in size but they are one of the richest natural sources of powerful antioxidants, and protect our skin from premature aging, especially if you have concerns about blotchy, dull or sun-damaged skin.
Green Tip: A good way to include it in your daily diet is to add half a cup of blueberries to your morning cereal or yogurt.
Beauty Benefit: Dark leafy vegetables like spinach are loaded with Vitamin A and minerals. The Vitamin A in spinach boosts new cell production and reduces skin dryness.
Green Tip: Trade your lettuce for raw spinach in salads or sauté it with nuts for a healthy veggie dish.
Beauty Benefit: A prime skincare ingredient in tons of anti-ageing creams, Vitamin C is a great antioxidant and helps flush out toxins from the skin. So go for that glass of fresh lemonade as often as you can. It’s a great way to raise your daily water intake.
Green Tip: Having lemonade with a teaspoon of honey early in the morning works as a great skin detox.
Nuts & Seeds
Beauty Benefit: When it comes to nuts and seeds, Brazil nuts, walnuts and flaxseeds pack a punch. The high selenium content of Brazil nuts is good for getting shiny hair and walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E, which are great for skin health. Among seeds, flaxseeds (also called linseeds) win hands down as their high fibre and healthy fat content is great for skin.
Green Tip: You can include nuts and seeds in your diet by tossing a few into your salad, pasta, or dessert.
Beauty Benefit: The lycopene in tomatoes is great to boost your skin’s defences against environmental damage, especially against the ageing effects of the sun’s rays.
Green Tip: It’s easier for the body to absorb lycopene when the tomatoes are cooked, so load up on the tomato sauce with your pasta.
Beauty Benefit: A fish with one of the richest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids, the healthy fats in salmon nourish the skin by reducing the body’s production of inflammatory substances, decreasing clogged pores, and preventing fine lines and wrinkles.
Green Tip: Have at least two servings of fish a week to reap its skincare benefits.