Going all-natural with my skincare is something that's been on my list for a long time. It took me a while and a lot of baby steps to get there, but I'm really excited that I've finally found a regimen that works for me. You may be wondering why it's an important thing to do, and I was the same way. But think about it... we spend all of this time and energy buying healthy, organic groceries, reading ingredient labels, and putting the best foods in our body, but what about what we use on our bodies?
For a while I wondered, how much can it really matter? Yeah, I know our skin is our largest organ, but does what we put on our skin actually seep into our bloodstream? YES, actually. It does. And I learned that first hand when I had to take a medication in the form of a patch that I put directly on my skin, and I saw the results of using this medication patch through my blood test results. That's when the lightbulb went off for me. Wow what I put on my skin really does go straight into my body and completely affects my blood. Yikes. So what did I do (besides panic that I needed to throw out every product in my bathroom)? I did what every girl does in a crisis... text a friend who knows all the answers!
That person for me is Nadia of Body Unburdened, queen of natural skincare, non-toxic living expert, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, and author of Glow: The Nutritional Approach to Naturally Gorgeous Skin. She's definitely a good friend to have on speed dial (although speed dial is now just called iPhone Favorites, but you get my point). Anyway, I've learned SO much from Nadia, and I so badly wanted to share her incredible wealth of knowledge with you! So I interviewed her and asked her to share all of her natural skincare tips, recommendations, and even DIY products! Let's get into it!
Q: Ok Nadia, why is it so important to start paying attention to the products that we’re using on our bodies?
It’s really just as important to consider what we’re putting ON our bodies as it is to consider what we’re putting IN our bodies, because what goes on eventually does go in! Most of us forget that the skin is the body’s largest organ and absorbs the large majority of what’s applied to it - including our skincare and beauty products. Just think about transdermal medications like birth control and nicotine patches for a second: they wouldn’t work if this wasn’t true!
So our skincare and beauty products? The ingredients in these products are absorbed by the skin. And where do they go? Right on into the bloodstream.
Now that’s a little bit of a problem considering the large majority of skincare and beauty products on the market contain some pretty darn unhealthy ingredients — chemicals that have been linked to hormone disruption (A LOT of them act as synthetic estrogens), organ system toxicity, and even cancer.
It’s really nuts, and the US has super lax laws regarding what chemicals companies can use in products – there’s not much regulation at all. So to put it in perspective: the EU has banned over 1,300 chemicals for use in cosmetics and the US has banned just over 30. And even if you’re only applying a small amount of these products to your skin, what you have is a low-grade, chronic exposure to these chemicals.
So needless to say, detoxing your skincare and makeup products is incredibly important to your overall health and wellness!
Q: There are so many labels out there, most of which aren’t regulated, so it can be confusing to know what products we should actually trust. When it comes to skincare, what should we look for – organic, all-natural, non-toxic? Or is it more about understanding the ingredients?
YES! Great question because so many of us fall into the “green-washing” trap at some point, usually when we’re first making the transition to natural skincare and beauty products. This is a pretty smart but really frustrating marketing tactic that makes products seem safe and natural when they’re really not. Greenwashed products often proudly display vague “green” buzzwords like natural, herbal, eco, organics, pure, and botanical, or draw attention to certain ingredients that their product does not contain (like parabens).
So a company can claim their product is “Made with natural herbal extracts and pure botanical organics” and “free from X, Y, and Z” but really it’s still loaded with a whole lot of junk!
USDA certified organic products (with the seal) do have to adhere to some pretty strict standards, so you can feel safe purchasing those products. But that being said, the certification process is lengthy and costly, so a lot of great companies with great products (even products made with all certified organic ingredients) aren’t certified.
Just like with food, it really is about educating yourself and taking a close look at the ingredient label. Finding reputable brands you can trust with clean ingredients.
Q: If you’re brand new to natural-skincare, makeup, etc., where is the best place to start?
Definitely with those products that are being applied to the most skin – so your body care products. Plus, we’re usually less attached to these products and don’t have the same performance expectations as with, say, mascara or concealer or shampoo. Body lotion, deodorant, body wash, soap, and shaving cream – that’s always where I recommend starting. After that, move on to facial skincare and then makeup.
Q: What are the most important things we should be avoiding with our skincare / beauty purchases? Any tips that make things a little easier?
Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database and Think Dirty can be helpful, but they can be limited and sometimes you have to take their ratings with a grain of salt.
So just as with packaged food products, you want to take a close look at the ingredient label. When you do, you probably won’t recognize most of the ingredients! Even in natural and organic products. And while there’s a whole laundry list of unhealthy ingredients used in beauty products that we want to avoid, there are a few that you’ll see most often that it’s good to be familiar with so you can avoid them.
By steering clear of these 7 ingredients alone, you can rule out the large majority of unhealthy and green-washed products.
Q: What are your top 5 favorite products that you can’t live without?
Oooh! Well oils obviously. And if I had to pick just 1 it would be jojoba oil, which yes yes is technically a wax (some know-it-all always like to correct me on this!). Contrary to what we've been led to believe, oil actually helps to keep the skin clear by breaking up the gunk in pores and regulating the skin’s own oil production. Plus, most oils are packed with antioxidants, which both slow aging and prevent blemishes (the oxidation of the skin’s sebum play a big role in acne). AND they moisturize like no other, and moisturized skin heals more quickly and looks plumper and more youthful.
Then would have to be a vitamin C serum. I have an issue with hyperpigmentation and vitamin C helps to even out skin color. And again, antioxidants! My favorite is MyChelle’s Perfect C Serum, which has a 17% l-ascorbic acid concentration (right where you want it between 15 and 20%).
A great exfoliant is also a must. Exfoliation keeps skin clear and stimulates collagen production – win win! For manual/physical exfoliation like with a scrub, I like Beautycounter’s Nourishing Cream Exfoliator. They also make a great chemical exfoliator (which means it uses gentle, natural acids) – their Overnight Resurfacing Peel. Just remember not to over-exfoliate, which can inflame and irritate your skin. We don’t want that!
Beautycounter’s Countersun sunscreens are amazing, and sun protection is an absolute must to protect skin from those aging UV rays. But most sunscreens made with the natural gold standard – non-nano zinc oxide – leave you looking really white and feel like you’re rubbing putty into your skin. Not fun. This one melts right into your skin without a trace, and leaves skin super dewy. I’m obsessed, especially now during the summer.
And then… it’s a 2-way tie between 100% Pure’s mascara and Jane Iredale’s Just Kissed Lip Stain! As far as makeup goes, I couldn’t live without either.
Q: 3 brands that you trust no matter what?
Q: Absolute favorite at-home DIY mask and why?
Just one!? OK. Well I’m going to go simple with ingredients that everyone probably already has in their pantry but DO NOT let that fool you! Rubbing food all over your face can be incredibly effective :)
2 tsp full-fat, plain greek yogurt + 2 tsp raw honey + ¼ tsp matcha powder
Yogurt: The lactic acid in yogurt gently exfoliates the skin, leaving your skin super smoothy and glowy.
Raw honey: Bonus points for using manuka honey, which is especially great for those with blemish-prone skin.
Matcha: I know you’re all about matcha, Lindsay! So your readers probably know how incredibly rich in antioxidants it is. Welllll, when applied topically, antioxidants of course protect our skin from free radicals, which don’t just age the skin but also cause sebum oxidation, which clogs pores and is believed to play a big role in acne. So whether your primary skincare focus is anti-aging or anti-acne, topical antioxidants are a must.
Q: We all want that fresh, vibrant, glowing skin, and your skin is just flawless. So, what’s the secret?
Hehe you know what I’m going to say: proper nutrition and a healthy body in balance!
Of course, a great natural, topical skincare routine that’s targeted to your skin needs is must. Don’t get me wrong.
But the bottom line is that the skin really does act like a mirror reflecting everything going on inside the body. Hormones, gut health, blood sugar control, and inflammation – they've all been shown to play a tremendous role in the health of the skin. And so a healthy diet that’s helping to maintain balance in these areas is the key to super dreamy skin!
Ok, now do you understand my obsession with Nadia and all of her tips!? She makes the why behind natural skincare so easy to understand, and she makes starting a healthy skincare regimen seem manageable and less intimidating. Thanks, Nadia, for your skincare and beauty advice!
PS - don't forget to grab her book for so many more tips and DIY skincare recipes and check out her blog... you could literally spend hours on there!
July 28th, 2016
June 23, 2017
Lindsay is a Holistic Nutritionist who lives for a great meal, a beautiful farmers market, daily matcha lattes, and homemade chocolate chip cookies. Weeknight Bite is Lindsay's happy place where her nutrition practice, simple recipes, and wellness tips come together to inspire you to live a healthy, balanced life.