Our skin is the largest organ we have, and it absorbs a lot of what it encounters. This includes the ingredients present in the skincare products we use every day. If they say, “You are what you eat”, this should definitely hold true for “You are what you put on your skin” as well.
EU and countries like Canada strictly regulate the ingredients that go into beauty products, banning several ingredients. However, skin and hair care products have surprisingly low levels of regulation in India and manufacturers of most items are not required to disclose what actually goes into our soaps, shampoos, creams, etc.
There exists a treasure trove of natural alternatives to these commercial beauty products, and we only need to look at the beauty regimens of our mothers and grandmas. Here are five simple ways to cut out the chemicals and introduce natural goodness back into our beauty regimens.
- Ingredients, ingredients, ingredients!
Although manufacturers are often legally not required to mention all the ingredients they use, most companies do list out (at least some of the) ingredients used in their products. As consumers, we can use this information to avoid products with toxic ingredients like parabens, synthetic fragrances and plasticising chemicals.
|Look out for…||meant for…||Reasons to avoid|
|Parabens||preserving shelf life of products||Linked to breast, skin cancer, fertility issues, nervous system disruption|
|Phthalates (listed as DBP, DEHP, parfum, frangrance)||– making more products pliable
– ensuring fragrances stick to the skin
|Linked to endocrine disruption, respiratory toxicity, infertility and birth defects|
|Sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate
|creating lather in soaps, shampoos, toothpastes||Causes irritation to skin and eyes, nausea and vomiting, potentially carcinogenic|
- Steer clear of the microbead
Microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic found in face scrubs and exfoliators. They are washed away into rivers and oceans, increasing micro-plastic pollution. These tiny bits of plastic are ingested by aquatic life leading to the demise of several species. It also finds its way into our bodies through drinking water, agricultural produce and seafood. Besan (gram flour) can be used instead as a natural exfoliator that is gentle on our skin, and our oceans.
- Care for your hair the natural way
Commercial shampoo makers today market their products as having the goodness of ‘amla, reetha, (soapnuts), shikkakai and coconut oil’ but they also come with a host of unwanted synthetics. Our ancestors have been cleansing and conditioning their long thick locks with these very ingredients for centuries- minus the toxic chemicals.
This article shows a simple way to DIY your own shampoo using Reetha and Shikkakai. The cool thing about homemade shampoo is that you can customize it to suit your hair by adding in ingredients like amla, citrus peels and essential oils to get the fragrance as well as beneficial properties of these ingredients.
- Mask away the chemicals
The myriad of sheet masks, tube-based masks available in stores today is mind-boggling. However, they are filled with toxins and chemicals, apart from the waste every sheet mask generates. Multani mitti or Fuller’s Earth is a time-tested clay face mask which effectively deep cleans the skin as well as reduces acne and discolouration.
- Choose handmade soaps
Commercial soaps we use on our skin today are more like detergent bars than gentle cleansers. They strip the skin of its natural oils leaving it desperate for moisture. This is apart from chemical additives and artificial fragrances. One of our previous articles explores this issue in greater detail. Handmade soaps, especially cold-pressed ones, are made from high quality organic carrier oils, butters, essential oils and clays. Your bar of soap is probably the most used skin-care product, so switching to a more natural alternative will greatly benefit your skin and health.
GoNative offers a wide range of natural beauty products. Our brand partner, Native Circle, has developed a range of natural beauty and skincare products with ingredients sourced directly from farmers within 500kms. They include hair oils, shampoos, tooth powders, soaps, body wash powders, face masks and lip butters. These products can help you get started on a beauty regimen that is better for your skin, your health and the planet.