Natural skin care can easily be overlooked in an eco-friendly lifestyle but when you consider how many chemicals and preservatives are used in commercial skin care products then perhaps you should take a closer look at the alternatives. With no regulations on how the words ‘natural’ and ‘pure’ are used in the cosmetic industry within Australia it’s also worth learning a little about what’s really in those ‘Natural Skin Care Products’. Reading the ingredient lists on the product containers is the only way you can be sure of what’s in them. Cosmetic labels are required by law to list ingredients in descending order from the ingredient making up the largest percentage to that which contributes the least. Below is a general guide to deciphering product labels.
The first third of ingredients make up 90 to 95% of the product.
The second third make up 5 to 8% of the products
The last third of ingredients make up 1 to 3% of the product
To help you work through the maze of what’s good and what’s not for you I’ve divided your body into sections for easy reference. There are some eco-friendly alternatives that will make you feel fresh, alive and they’re fun to make too. Start creating them immediately from your kitchen cupboard and you’ll be helping not only the environment but also your body. The first two sections I’ll deal with are the Hair and Body.
The majority of commercial shampoos contain harsh cleaning agents such as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, Sodium Laureth Sulphate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate and Ammonium Laureth Sulphate. These sulphates can cause skin irritations in those with sensitive skins and should be avoided.
Shampoos and conditioners made from nourishing plant oils, herbal extracts, botanicals and essential oils will cleanse and protect your hair without stripping it of its natural oils and will strengthen and nourish the hair shafts encouraging strong, healthy growth. If you suffer from dandruff look for natural shampoos containing lavender essential oil and tea tree oil.
Rinses can be extremely beneficial for the hair. Making them yourself is easy and you can tailor a rinse for your specific hair type or problem. For adding strength and shine to dark hair mix 2 cups lavender water with ½ cup of rosemary tea. Pour ½ cup of this through the hair after shampooing, do not rinse out just dry the hair as normal. For blonde hair mix 2 cups rose water with ½ cup of lemon juice and use this as a rinse weekly to add shine and keep the hair and scalp clean and free of build up. For those with dandruff use a rinse of 2 cups lavender water with ½ cup apple cider vinegar and five drops of tea tree oil. Use this twice weekly to cleanse and heal the scalp.
Soaking in the tub is a pleasure many of us don’t give ourselves enough and when you consider how beneficial a bath can be for your skin you really should make the effort to relax and soak it up. The skin can absorb many nutrients while soaking in a bath, the addition of bath salts can help cleanse, detoxify and soothe irritations while adding plant oils will help moisturise, smooth and nurture the skin. Commercial bath products can contain the sulphates mentioned above so choose natural, sulphate free products.
The soap you use on your body is very important for your skins health as it endures it day in and day out. Soaps made from chemical compounds can actually strip the skin of natural oils and cause dryness and irritation while soaps made from plant oils will add oil to the skin while cleansing off grime and sweat and also nurture the skin with added ingredients like clays, botanicals and essential oils.
Your skin has its own cycle of shedding dead skin cells. To help accelerate this process it is recommended to exfoliate the skin with a body scrub at least once a week. Using gentle body scrubs will rid the skin of dead skin cells gently, yet effectively, leaving the skin fresh, moisturised and clean. Try making a simple body scrub by mixing a cup of sugar or salt with ½ cup of plant oil and gently massaging this over your body when you next have a shower. The new cells that are revealed can absorb nutrients from natural skin care products more easily thus maintaining the moisture balance needed for great looking, healthy skin.