As we learn more about the chemicals in our skincare and cleaning products and what they do to our systems we begin to wonder where to draw the line. How natural should we go? It’s certainly something I struggle with daily, when I’m thinking about my beautiful little family and what ingredients I’m exposing them to.
A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself how often you’re using the product, and how much it’s coming in contact with the skin – since this is your largest organ. If you’re putting something on a large surface area of skin daily (like body cream) and letting it absorb, then you should look for a very clean formulation. If you’re washing it off your skin (like shampoo or cleanser) or you’re only using it once every week or two (like fake tan or hair masks) then you can get away with a less organic formulation. Here are a few ways I work out the cosmetic conundrum and the products we love to use when going au naturel…
GO NATURAL ALL THE WAY:
Body Moisturisers For Me...
When it comes to hydrating the skin on your body nothing beats body oil – I think of it as skin food because you’re giving your body all these wonderful vitamins and minerals in a beautiful emollient form that absorbs satisfyingly on the skin. I’m totally addicted to the Ayurvedic Subtle Energies Body Blends (Pitta Calming and Bliss Blends in particular). I was also recently sent the Sans Ceuticals Activator 7 Body + Hair + Face Oil, which feels amazing and rich and the Salt By Hendrix Luxe Oil with Jasmine and Marula which is heaven.
Sometimes, in the morning, you can’t risk an oil stain on a silk blouse, so that’s when it’s all about a lotion or a cream. I adore Aveda Stress Fix Body Lotion (they also have a delicious oil) which is Ecocert Certified Organic and Sodashi Jasmine & Rose Body Lotion which is utter luxury. While not claiming to be organic, I also love Aesop Rejuvenate Intensive Body Balm because it’s still quite a natural formulation, it smells amazing and the pump pack speaks to time-poor minimalist in me (I love not fussing with lids!).
For Cleaning Products...
It’s actually terrifying how many questionable ingredients are in household cleaners – from phthalates (which are particularly dangerous to pregnant women and young children) to noxious odours and hormone disruptors. Where possible, I’ve switched to natural cleaning ranges like Murchison Hume (I love their Dish Soap) and Bondi Wash Bench Wash. Where possible, I just wipe my benches with a mixture of water and a little bit of white vinegar. For tough stains on benches and pans I’ll sprinkle it first with baking soda. I’ve even been known to make surface sprays out of Dr Bronner's Castile Soap (see the recipe here) which is a miracle cleanser for everything – body, hair, delicates and even the dog.
Babes In Arms...
When I massage Lulu’s adorable chubby little legs or tend to Max’s playground injuries I’m always shocked at how flawless, how porcelain and delicate their skin is – compared to my leathery old hide! When Lulu was a wee baby I was a big fan of Jurlique Baby Bubble Bath. I was also sent new Australian baby brand Lullaby recently and the Sunscreen for Delicate Skin is a lovely formulation.
For both kids, we’re completely in love with all-purpose balm Pommade Divine – (see our recent story on it here) it’s great for bruises, scratches, insect bites, burns and weird rashy things and I love the clove scent.
Max gets eczema so I’ve been using Moo Goo Eczema & Psoriasis Cream on his itchy spots (their shampoo is fantastic on my dry and sensitive scalp, too). At night, I give Lulu’s room a spray with Milk Baby Nighty Night Spray and spritz her sleeping bag (I just got a Liberty Print one from Louelle, how gorgeous is it?) with Hanako Therapies Happy Baby.
When she’s sick I also burn the Oil Garden Bamboo Ultrasonic Vaporisor with Breathe Easier oil or Sound Sleep Oil. These are amazing – I have one in our room, too.
When Detoxing Your Beauty Routine
When I’ve been pregnant, breastfeeding, detoxing or just feeling like a break from the enormous roster of products that I test for my job (nope, not complaining!) I’ll reach for organic skincare from Vanessa Megan, Ayu Natural perfume in Souq and Nude By Nature Mineral Makeup (I actually use the new Luminous Sheer foundation even when I’m not detoxing, it’s that good).
WHEN SEMI NATURAL IS OKAY
Anti-Ageing Skincare and Makeup
When it comes to serious anti-ageing ingredients, it’s hard to find the concentration I need in organics, so I’ll reach for a range that has the science behind it minus the nasties. Sometimes it’s not about what’s in a product so much as what they leave out, and there are some great brands these days who are more conscious of not using parabens, SLS and mineral oils in their products. Alpha H have incredible vitamin serums (see my review of A, and E here), Synergie Minerals Makeup (I particularly love the Uberzinc Moisturiser and Mineral Whip Foundation with SPF) and Ultraceuticals also have excellent formulations.
Getting Handy With It
When it comes to germ removal – especially during flu season – I won’t cut corners on handwash and sanitizer, but where possible I steer clear of highly chemical-laden formulas. An interesting thing to note is that the United States Food and Drug Administration banned antibacterial handwashes in domestic situations because the claims that they’re better at removing germs than plain old soap and water are unfounded. So, with that in mind, I steer clear of the often drying antibacterial handwashes and go for something nourishing and gently fragranced like Grown Sandalwood and Ylang Ylang Handwash (it helps that it also looks great on my kitchen sink). One of my favourite handbag sanitisers is Jurlique as it doesn’t dry my hands out. For Max’s lunchbox though we use the hardcore Dettol stuff, can’t afford to muck around there!
When Organic Just Won't Cut It
When it comes to certain types of skincare, makeup (and toothpaste!), it can be hard to find a certified organic product that you love as much as your favourite brand, so in those cases it’s best to just to use it and enjoy it! If you decrease your chemical load in the other areas then, I think, a little bit of chemical indulgence won’t hurt here and there. Everything in moderation, right? Beauty products included!
Story by Sigourney Cantelo; Photography by Alice Mahran