We all want clear, radiant skin and lustrous locks. In the meantime, we are exposing ourselves to a dizzying array of chemicals in the pursuit of beauty, while failing to get the results we want and creating future problems in the process. Beautiful hair, skin, nails and teeth come from the inside out, with attention to digestion, stress management and hormone balance. You’ll go a long way towards healthy skin by eating a real food diet, getting enough sleep, exercising smart, and meditating.
Personally, I struggled with acne for years and while my skin isn’t always perfect, it is clearer and more radiant than it has been in my entire adult life and I attribute it to the fact that I no longer use any of the harsh products I used to rely on. In addition to completely overhauling my diet, what has helped my skin the most is meditation (for more on this, see the Rethink Mental Health section). Stress has a huge impact on skin health.
Eating real, whole food will help you enjoy healthy skin by improving gut health and making sure you get the nutrients you need. Unhealthy ingredients in our diet, like processed polyunsaturated vegetable oils, sugars and grains, wreak havoc on our skin, whereas a balanced diet of real, whole foods protect our skin, not only by providing the vitamins and minerals we need, but by protecting and healing our gut health which is essential for looking and feeling our best.
“Beautiful hair, skin, nails and teeth come from the inside out, with attention to digestion, stress management and hormone balance.”
A few things to look out for: Make sure to get enough vitamin D (possibly supplementing with cod liver oil) and enough vitamin A by eating liver. Although our bodies can convert beta-carotene from plant foods into vitamin A, this process isn’t very efficient, so it’s a better idea to get your fat soluble vitamin A from animal foods like raw eggs, raw butter and grass-fed liver as these are easily assimilated and promote beautiful skin. While it could also be attributed to meditation and all-round healthy eating, my skin has been much clearer since I began eating nutrient dense liver a few times a week and getting more sun (personally, I don’t use sunscreen anymore unless I have to be outside for a really extended period of time).
While a lot of people avoid dairy because it has been shown to contribute to acne, these studies are based on pasteurized milk, which, as discussed in the Rethink Dairy section, is an entirely different, processed product. According to the Weston A. Price Foundation website, “Skim milk could cause acne for several reasons, notably because it depletes vitamin A and also because, if it is pasteurized, the body mounts an immune response to it. Raw whole milk often clears up acne.” I eat plenty of dairy, and, as I said, my skin has never been better. But for clear skin, I would absolutely avoid pasteurized dairy, except perhaps organic full-fat plain yogurt and grass-fed butter.
In the Life Stylist “Great Sunshine Swindle” podcast, Nadine Artemis talks about the practice of sun gazing to help balance hormones, how the sun kills bacteria and therefore helps acne, as well as our skin’s need for vitamin D from the sun. It does make me wonder if shying away from the sun all those years worsened my acne, not to mention the clogging effect of sunscreens and the toxic effects of the chemicals found in most sunscreens brands. Nadine says our skin is better off dealing with the effects of sunburn (although, of course, she cautions you to be responsible in the sun and avoid burning) than dealing with the carcinogenic chemicals in sunscreen products. Sadly, one needs to avoid the sun if using harsh acne products that make the skin photosensitive and unable to harness the healing power of the sun. This side-effect is yet another reason to reconsider these harsh products. Here is another interesting article about sun safety and how research has shown that sunscreen use doesn’t reduce the risk of melanoma and that the resulting vitamin D deficiency caused by lack of sun exposure may make people more likely to get other form of cancer.
While natural non-nano zinc-based sunscreens have their place in situations where we can’t avoid being in the sun for an extended period, consider using a hat, clothing, seeking shade or using a sun umbrella before you slather yourself with sunscreen. Sunscreen actually cuts off our skin’s ability to tell us we’ve had enough sun (by getting a little pink) and means we end up getting too much sun. A moderate amount of sun exposure is healthy for us! Absolutely avoid chemical sunscreens. For more on the topic I recommend this YouTube video, as well as the Rewild Yourself podcast, “Wise Interaction with the Sun.”
While you might not switch all of your products overnight, little by little you can replace existing products with better ones, and perhaps cut some things out completely. Keep in mind that just because something is sold in the health food store doesn’t mean it’s all-natural. Many of the products that are sold to us are filled with toxic chemicals, preservatives, and parabens. Listen to this skincare podcast with Nadine Ardemis, as well as read this acne article to understand how we are damaging our skin’s microbiome by over-scrubbing, over-sanitizing, and over-exfoliating. Our beauty routine can in fact be incredibly simple! Check out Nadine’s Best Skin Ever, a transformative product which doesn’t require the labor intensive steps of the Oil Cleansing Method (which definitely did not work for me). I love Nadine’s products but have recently fallen in love with Alitura. My husband and I both use the mask, cleanser, moisturizer, night cream and gold serum. Biohack your Beauty has a great podcast about Alitura.
Our beauty routine can in fact be incredibly simple!
The top products I recommend revamping first are deodorant and toothpaste, and then continue to move on down the list of products you use and see if you can make better choices. We do, of course, have to pick our battles! Please consider not wearing cologne or perfume anymore! You are walking around in a cloud of toxic chemicals all while exposing them to everyone you come in contact with. Try using therapeutic grade essential oils instead! Alitura has a great scent for men called Santal Black.
Considering the importance of our lymph system for detoxification, you want to avoid antiperspirants. We are meant to perspire! And you certainly don’t want to be rubbing aluminum (found in antiperspirant) right where you are meant to be detoxifying.
To help support your lymph system, dry brush with a stiff bristle brush, stroking towards the heart. You can add a couple drops of essential oils too. Just make sure to choose ones that are appropriate to use undiluted on the skin. Here is a good blend from Living Libations and they also have this very cool dry brush that includes copper bristles.
When you shower, use an olive oil based soap or castile soap only on “pits and bits,” and consider installing a shower filter to protect your skin from the chemicals found in our water systems, like chlorine.
Fluoride is another thing we want to avoid and you can read more from Dr. Sears about why here. Unfortunately fluoride is found in conventional toothpastes which also contain suspicious ingredients like triclosan and surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate. It’s hard to even find a natural brand that doesn’t contain problem ingredients like glycerin (this can coat teeth and can interfere with saliva doing its job). Currently I’m in love with the dental care line by Living Libations. Daniel Vitalis does an inspiring podcast with Nadine Artemis from Living Libations on Successful Self Dentistry. Click here to learn about my routine. And here is some information on how to brush better.
Regardless of how far you are willing to go in order to detox your beauty routine, see if there are a few changes you can make starting today.
Try washing your hair less often, ideally using a natural shampoo. Washing your hair too often disrupts the oil balance of your scalp. Try to simplify your routine! Go through your bathroom cabinets and start ditching the chemical laden products you are hanging onto. And while there may be things that you are unwilling to give up for now (dying your hair for example), try to cut back on the time you spend using toxic products and in toxic environments, like the nail salon. But regardless of how far you are willing to go in order to detox your beauty routine, see if there are a few changes you can make starting today. For months now I’ve been using diluted homemade kombucha as a hair rinse instead of conditioner. Cheap and effective!
Instead of wasting your money on toxic cellulite creams that don’t even work, tone up your thighs by eating a clean, real food diet that includes grass-fed beef gelatin powder and bone broth. I see a pleasing correlation between the amount of gelatin I eat and how little cellulite I have. Raw eggs may also help due to their detoxifying effects. Regardless, raw eggs are a beauty food, as they are rich in collagen and sulfur, both of which are very anti-aging. People also swear by dry brushing for improving cellulite as this aids a sluggish lymphatic system. I like mixing a couple tablespoons jojoba oil with 8 drops each rosemary and grapefruit essential oils and use that to moisturize at night.
In Raw Paleo, Melissa Henig says, “Cholesterol gives you smooth and glowing skin because it allows your skin to hold onto the right amount of water. Remember, it’s not only how much water you drink but also how much moisture is held in your skin. Cholesterol also helps the skin by repairing damaged skin cells” (pg. 26). Melissa also swears by raw butter and raw meat for healthy skin.
- Switch out your deodorant, toothpaste and other products for natural versions
- Get a healthy amount of sun
- Meditate and reduce stress
- Oil pull in the morning when possible
- Eat eggs, liver and gelatin
- Eat raw meat and raw butter
Tips from my kitchen (and the kitchens of those I admire):
- Learn more about the skincare ingredients to avoid at www.ewg.org and see the rating of different cosmetic products here.
- Here are a couple options for natural perfumes from Living Libations and Doterra.
- My favorite natural make-up is Everyday Minerals, which gives a fantastic natural looking finish while providing great coverage and the only ingredient is mica. I think it isn’t overstating it to say it has changed my life. The redness of a blemish or two used to derail me emotionally but now I find that even when my skin isn’t perfect, I just brush on some of the Rosy Ivory 1C base and I feel so much better about my appearance.
- Consider using activated charcoal in face masks and to whiten teeth. Learn more here.
- Years ago when I stopped using conventional deodorant, I fell in love with the Soapwalla brand. But to save money I started making my own and the results are just as good. Find my favorite recipe in the DIY section.
- Switch out your body moisturizer for coconut oil or jojoba. Coconut oil or beef tallow creamalso makes a great eye make-up remover.
- I love Dr. Bronner’s castile soaps and use these as hand and body soaps. You can also use it as a shave “gel” in the bath.
- If you must wear nail polish, check out 100% Pure. Lately, to save money and time, I’ve been leaving my toe nails bare.
- The Living Libations products receive glowing reviews and I absolutely love the Rewild podcasts that creator, Nadine Artemis contributes to.
- Switch to organic cotton tampons that haven’t been bleached. Natracare is a good brand. On this topic, Nadine Artemis does a great podcast with Daniel Vitalis on women’s self care that I really recommend Remember, less is more! We don’t need a lot of the products that are being sold to us.
- Stress exacerbates skin problems and magnesium is said to help us handle stress so I use a magnesium oil spray on my body. If you think stress is contributing to acne, let this help inspire you to meditate daily!
- Raw, whole milk contains phosphorus which is important for healthy teeth. And of course reducing the sugar and processed food you eat and drinking plenty of water will help against cavities too.
- Try oil pulling. An Ayurvedic technique where, first thing in the morning, you put a spoonful of oil (I use coconut oil) in your mouth and swish it around for up to twenty minutes. I don’t pay attention to the time and just do it for as long as it takes me to get ready, even if that’s just five minutes. I then spit it in the trash. This removes bad bacteria from your mouth and is said to help immunity as well as whiten teeth.
- For those times you do need a natural sunscreen, try Badger brand sunscreen or the Living Libations’ Everybody Loves the Sunshine product.
- Get more gelatin in your diet by regularly consuming bone broth or using good quality grass-fed beef gelatin. Great Lakes gelatin has a red and a green bottle. The red bottle is gelatin that will make things gel and can be used to make yummy gummies (my son loves these and you can check out my simple recipe in the DIY section) or even add to smoothies, as long as you are consuming soon after mixing. The green bottle dissolves in liquids and doesn’t gel. Check out this Dr. Axe article for more info on gelatin and how to use it.