It’s not surprising that I’m burnt out after the year I’ve had. I’ve launched a website, resigned from a job, moved house and (almost!) toilet trained a two-year-old. Strung out from months of patchy sleep and toxic from running on a diet of adrenalin and Lindt Balls I decided to check myself into a health retreat. When I signed up four a four-day overhaul at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat (more on that later), I also decided to detox my beauty routine.

You see, things are pretty dire on the dermal front, too. My skin has taken on a greige tinge, I’ve got flaky patches and a recurring chin breakout. There’s only one thing for it – a complete dermal detox. In line with the cleanse I’m doing at Gwinganna, I’ve decided subsist on a skin diet of only nourishing, chemical-free potions. Here’s how I did it…

1. Rid yourself of temptation

Just as you would blitz your fridge and pantry during a detox, start by putting your usual skincare on ice. Check the labels and put anything that contains complex sounding ingredients away for the duration of your cleanse. In particular steer clear of Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES), synthetic fragrances, propylene glycol, artificial colours, triethanolamine, mineral oils, EDTA, or parabens.

2. Go cold turkey on the treatment products

The necessary nixing of chemicals will probably mean that you can’t use your usual high powered anti-agers like retinol, AHAs and salicylic acid. It’s okay – a week won’t kill you. When I tipped out the usual contents of my wash bag it looked like the top shelf of a dermatologists’s office: Ultraceuticals, Rationale, Aspect, Cosmedix… all serious grade skincare. But this is about giving my skin a well-deserved rest. I kissed it goodbye for a week.

3. Find a lovely natural alternative.

I decided to choose one natural skincare range and stick with it, all week. I went with Sukin – a lovely earth-loving Australian range. I’ve always been a fan of their products as they contain all my favourite natural beauty wonders like rosehip oil, jojoba and rosewater, feel beautiful to use and are reasonably priced.

4. Cleanse everything off.

Begin by wiping the slate clean and washing your skin really well. Instead of taking a cleanser and scrub to Gwinganna I packed the Sukin Revitalising Facial Scrub as it’s gentle enough to use as a daily cleanser. It contains ground up bamboo and walnut shells to slough off dead cells in a beautiful creamy base that contains aloe vera, rose hip and jojoba oils.

5. Step up your hydration

Just as when you do a dietary detox, you need to up your liquid intake – both internally and externally. Abide by the ol’ 8 glasses of water a day rule, fill your fridge with fresh young coconuts and look for a facial mist that you can apply routinely through the day when your skin feels parched.  I went for the Sukin Hydrating Mist Toner,  because it doubles as a toner. Love products that do more than one thing.

6. Embrace oils

Oil is nature’s best skin nourishment. Your skin has a layer that protects it from the environment called the hydro-lipidic film and using oils can help prevent it from drying out. They’re also lovely to use – as you can really massage them in and reap the therapeutic benefits, too. I used Sukin Facial Treatment Oil and was sure to massage it in focusing on pressure points between my brows and in the tension around my jaw.

7. Look to nature to bolster your routine

At Gwinganna I was lucky enough to do a gardening tour with Shelley, who runs the organic gardens and is the most amazing herbal medicine-woman. Her best skin tip is to drink half a cup of fresh aloe vera juice daily- she cuts off a leaf, stands it up to drain the yellow sap out, then cuts the hard husk off (it’s a bit like filleting a fish.) She rubs the wet fleshy side of the skin over face and body and then places the filleted flesh (which looks like clear jelly) into a jar of purified water overnight and drinks it every day (you can reuse the jelly 8-10 times). She swears it protects and hydrates her skin like nothing else. I’m sold because she looks about 20. She also rinses her hair in rosemary tea for shine and makes a brightening body scrub by combining coconut oil, lavender and celtic sea salt.

8. Find a natural makeup range

Just because you’re paring back doesn’t mean you have to go completely nude-faced. Lash extensions (I go to Love Those Lashes) meant that I never had to think about applying eye makeup and when I felt like I needed a little bit of makeup I used Ere Perez Lip & Cheek Cream by the natural vegan range Ere Perez and occasionally a little RMS Living Luminizer dotted down the cheekbones.

The Verdict: After doing all that I felt pretty amazing. It felt so good to declutter my beauty routine and I felt wholesome, knowing that everything I was using was clean and pure. I don’t know if it was the all-natural products, the diet of organic food, the daily bushwalks and chi gong but my skin was glowier than it has been in months and it proved to me that I don’t necessarily need to slather on acids and synthetics to have a sparkling complexion. Sometimes a bit of bamboo husk and aloe vera gel will do just as well. From now on, I’m going to do a dermal detox every time I do a cleanse, I think it rounds the experience out nicely and gives your system a rest.


Story, still life photography and styling by Sigourney. Sponsored by Sukin.

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