When talking about skin and skincare, I find the conversation to be a really tricky one. Something that I consider deeply personal and intimate, it's nice to sometimes stop and question - who am I to advise what one should use when there are no two people who are the same?
Everyone’s skin and cellular structures are extremely different and unique, along with other factors including where one lives, the climate, toxicity exposures and our genetic make up and diet. I have always believed that skin should be approached holistically, it is our biggest organ after all? When my skin decides to have a moment, I always like to pause, self reflect and ask myself, what's really been going on? What have I been eating? How much alcohol had I been consuming? Had I been feeling depressed? What are my stress levels? My sleep? How much time had I been giving my face to drink some sun? Among so many other considerations.
Surely, when you have clear skin, from that pedestal, it's easy for one to recommend people to adopt skincare regimes similar to themselves. Having just endured a bout of agonising adult acne, my compassion and empathy has sown deeper roots. Skin is deeply personal and just like food, what works for one, may not work for the other. It's from this place, I write to you this piece in natural skincare.
Why natural? When it comes to skin, for me, less definitely feels like more. Our skin is such a wonder in its natural state - it's constantly breathing, renewing, shedding and feeding. The body is incredible in its ability to heal and nurture itself. Look at an open wound on your finger, that in days, has somehow grown and sewn itself together. Sometimes I feel it's nice to give our body and skin some space to breathe, rest and renew. It's extremely difficult, I know, when problematic skin is of the issue, it's just nothing but heartbreaking and what to use, when to use it, how many products to layer - it can all become really overwhelming. Once again, I found myself returning, going back to reflecting not just on what my skin has had to endure, but looking at it holistically - as a whole, and as difficult as it may be, trying to hear my intuition guide me to exactly what it feels like it needs.
Nadine Artemis of Living Libations, who is an absolute powerhouse and pioneer in natural skincare and holistic dentistry once explained how our bodies have specific organs such as the liver, kidneys, the stomach and it’s acids to filter, metabolise and dispel toxins from the foods we consume. However, when it comes to talking about our skin and its surface area of millions and millions of open pores, most of what we apply and use gets ingested straight into the bloodstream as the skin has no filtering systems in place.
Most of what we use is topical, meaning it’s effective only on the site of application but it’s also extremely common for transdermal processes to occur eg. how nicotine or hormone patches work through the skin etc. When these chemicals enter our bloodstream and our bodies, it disrupts our natural biology and can mutate and kill off some very important bacteria, microbiome and species - working like a domino effect to host a lot of health issues most of us probably never knew could be linked to something as simple as our deodorant or moisturiser. For women, this can also mean extreme hormone disruptions and hormonal related issues. Not to mention - heavy metals and toxins traveling through the blood and setting up camp in different tissues and organs.
I’m sure you’ve seen or heard of RMS Beauty? Rose-Marie Swift of RMS was a successful make up artist in the 90s, who's story I landed on years ago and found it extremely compelling. Rose-Marie had been working in the industry for years and in her late 30’s moved to New York and got extremely ill. After doing a number of advanced blood, urine and hair analyses, her results came back with high toxicity levels in her body and a question from the lab asking if she somehow worked in the cosmetics industry. From years of testing and using cosmetics on herself in her line of work, all the chemicals had started to burden her systems until it nearly became too late. Since then, she has controversially called out a lot of the beauty industry shedding light on the harmful use of chemical ingredients in skincare and has spent years and years advocating the use of natural ingredients that work with the skin and not against our biology.
Before I proceed any further - I want to place a disclaimer that in no way am I trying to preach or impose any of these ideals on anyone else. There is undeniably, 100% a place for modern science, chemists and scientifically backed skincare ingredients. Everyone's skin is different and require different ingredients, routines, attention and attending and what works for me, may not work for you and of course, vice versa. My latest bout of adult acne can definitely contest to that. However, if you are still with me and in any way interested, here I share with you some of my favourites, tried and tested, natural skincare products that your skin may love and the planet may love even better.
Courtesy of Living Libations
I cannot vouch for Living Libations enough. Nadine Artemis, the founder of Living Libations is an absolute pioneer in the realms of natural beauty and health and has changed my life completely. I owe a lot of how I understand my body, my skin, the way it works, the way it functions and it's natural ability to heal itself to her and her book, Renegade Beauty.
It's really wonderful to find someone you trust who has honest intentions in helping people rather than pushing product after product. She sources the best and highest grade essential oils, wild crafted plant ingredients from farms that respect the plant and the soil from which it grows which I really love. Organic and not tested on animals, Nadine is adamant on purity and doing things the right way. I love that all her ingredient labels are filled with plant materials that are 100% natural and recognisable and am more than happy to know that there are no ingredients present that may detriment my health in any way.
I use Living Libations Frankincense Best Skin Ever at night as frankincense helps with cell renewal and I use the Grapefruit Stellar Renewal Serum in the morning as it sits quite light on the skin. Her website also lists every ingredient what they each do so you can browse and see what speaks to you.
Courtesy of LESSE
As I mentioned, with my skin philosophy, less is always more and with that, skincare brand LESSE is my gospel. Religious about their Refining Cleanser and Regeneration Mist, I use these two products as part of my everyday routine. As I have always been one to be mindful of over cleansing my face - I use the gentle Refining Cleanser at night to help me exfoliate and decongest my skin from the day of pollution, oils and any other impurities. Being quite skeptical of using anything on my skin as it is currently loving its break out mode, this cleanser has felt really nice and comforting as it doesn't strip away any moisture and feels really supportive. Using a natural exfoliant of apricot grain, this leaves my skin feeling hydrated, soft and very clean.
I am one to never go by a nice face mist and have always gone through life wondering how people get through a day without a little mid-day face shower love. The Regeneration Mist by LESSE is the perfect companion. A mist that's perfect for any frequent traveller, office goer or those that may suffer from dehydrated skin throughout the day, words cannot describe how much I love this product. It has saved me on countless occasions where I have felt too tired before a meeting or exhausted for an event, it's also packed with Gotu Kola extract, Lavender and Rosemary which is an absolute bonus.
Courtesy of Sans [ceuticals]
In nourishing my body, I have unashamedly fallen and turned myself onto the hype that is Sans [ceuticals] Activator 7 Body + Hair + Face Oil. Deeply hydrating and with no artificial fragrances, sulfates, silicones, petrochemicals and parabens, it lathers on thick and dries matte, leaving your skin supple and plump with hydration. A beautifully sweet and fruitful scent lingers behind, never leaving you feeling oily or burdened, it's a perfect balance leaving you moisturised with a soft supportive touch.
Courtesy of Olio E Osso
I have sworn by Olio E Osso Lip and Cheek Balms for years now and as I feel really self conscious when wearing make up on my face - I love that this balm has landed in my life as it sits between wearing a lipstick and wearing nothing at all.
Olio E Osso use all natural ingredients and have shea nut and olive oil as their base. The lip and cheek balm leaves you extremely hydrated and the colours they have available are amazing. For those of you who have always wanted to wear lipstick everyday but have hated the feeling or like myself, become extremely conscious of wearing anything at all, Olio E Osso is the perfect substitute.
I left my most favourite til last, and words really do not describe how much I worship this plant.
The ancient Egyptians really did treat this plant as sacred medicine and dubbed it the “plant of immortality” as it was used to treat so many medical conditions for its highly medicinal properties. Its powerhouse effect in reducing inflammation and its anti-microbial effects with its potent density in nutrients, enzymes and skin repairing properties really makes it my most favourite skincare product ever.
Once applying it onto the face, you will usually feel a little astringent “tightening” or “pulling” feeling in the skin and its good to note, this is the plant removing excess oil and dirt. All aloe leaves are different and some are quite pungent in scent and for those who are new to aloe vera, you may hate the feeling and smell but give it a little time as once it dries, the odour will disappear and your skin will dry matte. I usually apply aloe vera at night before bed and it has drastically helped with my scarring, blemishes and in clearing up my skin entirely.
In my support of using aloe vera, I would highly recommend using the actual plant over buying aloe vera gel from the pharmacy. The gels are effective in soothing burns and sun kissed skin, however if you review the ingredients, you’ll find most often a lot of them are packed with preservatives and gelling agents and with actually include very little of the plant extract. Aloe vera has been so incredible and medicinal for skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and burns and is my go-to for anything and everything that requires attention and healing.
Skin is unique, personal and precious. Never take anyone's word, always do what feels right and best for you. I hope I've been able to offer some insight into some of the things that I hold dear to me and things that have helped me in times of panic and dire need. Whether you are for or against using natural skincare or using active scientific ingredients, it's always kind to remember that when it comes to skin, it's all well and truly up to you.