But as a wise woman and fellow former L’Oreal employee once said: pretty hurts.
Through making an effort to do right by my endocrine system and heal my thyroid, I’ve learned a lot about the chemicals in consumer products–information I wish I could take a little MOB red memory pen to. But unfortunately Tommy Lee Jones has turned down all my dinner invitations, so here we are.
For much of last year my face was a poppyfield of adult acne, perioral dermititis and rosacea. My friends don’t remember this–mainly because I wore a shit load of makeup. Despite my efforts to cover it all up, I worried at the time that my adolescent skin was starting to look a lot like what my pre-teen idol Cher Horowitz would call a “full on Monet.” Fine from far away, but up close, a big old mess. It was one of the biggest catalysts for me to start taking my wellness journey in this new direction. Vanity is a powerful motivator, my friends.
I learned that one of the best things you can do to clear your skin is start from the liver, which is why my wellness experiments began with detox.
Everyone always forgets that our skin is our largest organ, and its pores provide a natural way for the body to shed toxins. Because of this, skin breakouts and rashes are a clear sign that your body is fighting something. So why do we combat this by putting chemicals on our face that wouldn’t pass muster on the ingredient list of an organic counter spray?
I put a lot of emphasis on avoiding pesticides and processed foods in my diet. But the endocrine disruptors in everyday beauty products are equally harmful for your liver, and no less so because they’re applied topically versus ingested. Going off alcohol, caffeine and sugar for a month really helped me on my way to better skin. But to limit the livers woes on a daily basis, I knew I had to make moves to more natural beauty products.
First though, I had to face my relationship with liquid courage in concealer form.
Read on for more info on each of this month’s green beauty challenges. Have you begun greenifying your beauty routine? Let me know any tips in the comments section!
From one healthy hedonist to another,
I first heard of “Makeup Free Mondays” through my friend Alexis Wolfer, who launched the campaign as a way for women to embrace their natural beauty and be more comfortable in the skin they’re in. On her site, The Beauty Bean, she’s gotten celebrities like Brooklyn Decker to join the movement by sharing their barefaced selfies with the world.
This is going to sound like an easy task for some. But for those of you who are having a mild panic attack thinking about going without your double matte powder for the day, I assure you: I get it. This was beyond difficult for me–and I work from home!
But having made it past the minefields into a much clearer skin territory, I can say that going makeup free was an incredibly important step along the way, emotionally and physically.
Take a selfie of yourself and tag it #MakeupFreeMonday and #TheWellnessProjectBook. I’d love to see your beautiful clean faces!
I’m not a high maintenance girl, but perhaps that has made me even more rooted in my ways with the handful of items in my beauty routine.
The most daunting part of parting with these products was not knowing where to start. I talked to a lot of green beauty experts during this process, and they agreed that skincare was the easiest gateway into naturals. If you use this month to take baby steps, you can do so by simply trading in your body and face moisturizer.
The most important products to switch are the ones that stay on your skin the longest—think creams, foundations, and other lotions that are really going to soak in. Ideally, you want your cleanser to be all natural and safe as well because non-natural products tend to be harsher and strip your skin. But a face wash only stays on your skin for maybe 30 seconds.
The idea of these products seeping into my blood stream is something I didn’t necessarily consider before jumping down the health rabbit hole. But then I realized that they operate no differently from the nicotine patch in delivering chemicals into our bodies through our skin.
So how do you know if something is natural? One thing you can do is cross-reference your current bathroom products with the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetics database, Skin Deep. If something rates as a 3 out of 10 on their scale of toxicity, there’s probably no urgency there. But if you get a code red? Throw it in the trash.
The second thing you can do is simply pay attention to ingredients. Many of us look at food labels every day, but how often do we read the back of the package when shopping for shampoo? The general rule of thumb for clean beauty advocates is if you can’t pronounce it, chances are it’s not good for you.
* This HuffPo piece by natural beauty advocate Indie Lee is one of the best articles I’ve read that makes a clear and powerful argument for switching to green products.
* My friend make-up artist Kristen Arnett founded the site Green Beauty Team, which has a ton of resources. Pictured above is my “after” selfie once she had made me over with all natural makeup. FYI this was when my skin was at its worst, so that these brands work!
* If you haven’t watched it already, my first ever Wellness Wednesday was all about green beauty, featuring Kristen and Britta Plug, an extremely knowledgeable natural esthetician. It was an amazing conversation about the connection between inward and outward imbalances and how you can change your diet to help your skin.
* One of the biggest barriers to naturals is simply access. Not every product at Whole Foods is as natural as it could be. Kerrilynn Palmer and Cindy DiParma, two of the loveliness ladies around, recently launched CAP Beauty which is a 100 percent natural boutique for personal care products. It’s a very well curated group of products, and you can rest assured that they’re not only all safe, but they really work. CAP also adds design and luxury back to the experience. Because who wants to buy a $40 face cream at the same time as a head of broccoli?
* Finally, I put together a list of my favorite natural makeup brands here.
Those of you with autoimmune issues may want to take this month to try out dry brushing. I bought this a while back and have yet to use it. I’m going to try and integrate it into my daily pre-shower routine to see if it sticks.
Dry brushing is great for the lymphatic system, which aids in detox. It also makes your skin more luminous by unclogging pores. Supposedly, it also helps with cellulite. But I’ll believe it when I see it.
* Here’s a quick how-to on dry brushing from my friend (and detox queen), Amie Valpone of The Healthy Apple.
The Wellness Project is now a book! It’s part memoir, part health primer, with 20 inflammation fighting recipes for clearer skin, better digestion, and a thriving thyroid. (Because who doesn’t wake up in the morning wanting a thriving thyroid?!). You can read more and preorder here. To find out more about the inspiration behind the project and to get the monthly theme schedule, click here. To see past challenges and other posts from this series, click here.