The practice of traditional medicine of using herbs to heal was not born yesterday. Our ancestors practiced natural medicine and skincare from over thousands of years ago: from ancient Greece to Egypt, to Ayurvedic & Chinese Herbal Medicine. They introduced the idea that is making a solid come back to treating the body as a whole uniting physical, mental, spiritual health as equally important constituents of wellness. They acknowledged the effectiveness of natural remedies and armed themselves with nature’s healing tools to boost their immune systems and overcome illnesses. They also strongly encouraged the practice of several types of detoxification in order to eliminate accumulated toxins in the body. (Keep in mind that at the time they weren't exposed to half the amount of toxicity we come in contact with today!)
At Amour Propre Beauty we're firm believers that there really is no better beauty journey than taking the ancestral approach to optimal health and healthy glowing skin. Throughout our Holistic Beauty Guide, we'll guide you in making changes in doing so: by eating organic whole foods, regularly detoxifying the body with the help superfoods and herbs, eliminating/diminishing your potential exposure to harmful environmental pollutants, and consuming a plant-based diet as much as you can, you will feel more beautiful, radiant, confident, and connected to your true self than ever- and as a side-effect have even, youthful, plump looking skin!
In this guide, we will be breaking down what we believe are the building blocks, essential ingredients to reaching your optimal beauty, for strong, supple, radiant skin, hair, nails, and teeth. We will help you in learning how nature can help you achieve it, more so than any synthetic chemical fabrications that are damaging the exact things you want to keep healthy and glowing. Below is an index to what our Holistic Beauty Guide will provide you in the coming weeks. Get excited! It's a fresh start and the beginning of a holistic beauty journey that will forever change you for the better.
The Holistic Beauty Guide
1. Facial oils & why your skin's protective lipid barrier needs them regardless of your skin type
2. Cleansing & how it might be damaging your skin
3. Comedogenic Rating
4. Skin & cell functions: Your skin's permeability function & lipid ratio.The essential vitamins & minerals for inner & outer radiance
6.Detoxification: Why is it a practice you need to adopt as part of your skincare & wellness routine a.s.a.p
7.Inflammation in the body, how to take it under control & why it won't let your skin live a happy life
10.Self-care practices to overcome stress: how a healthy mind equates to healthier skin: stress combating rituals to slow down your skin's aging process
The quest for beauty is a magnificent and worthy one that every woman deserve to embark on. No matter your skin type, no matter your skin color, your skin issues, there is a natural way to achieving your most glowing skin and it all begins with learning how nature can serve you. Our hopes are that after reading each post you get closer and closer to becoming your own natural beauty expert, and learn to translate what your skin trying to say to you, and what it truly needs.
Facial oils for skin: why they're essential to your skincare routine regardless of your skin type
We've chosen to start the guide with oils. An ingredient present in more than half of your skincare products (even the non-natural ones!) and that is very misunderstood. There's a common misconception that oil-based skin care products are strictly suitable for dry skin types. This has women truly missing out on the most incredible oils that serve to nourish, protect and heal their skin, perhaps even better than your pricey moisturizers.
We often take it for granted and forget how intricate, hard-working and important of an organ our skin is. What some of you may not know, is that the skin greatly depends on naturally produced oils for it to be healthy, balanced, & for it to preserve its glow, bright complexion. These same oils also compose the lipid barrier (outer surface of your skin) and are essential to the skin for it to play its protective functions from our harsh environments.
That being said, similarly to the way collagen production slows down with aging, our natural oil production also diminishes as time goes by; (—even more so if you’ve been using oil stripping and/or toxic ingredient based products for years). If you are above the age of 25 and use anything but all-natural products formulated for sensitive skin, chances are your skin-barrier has been weakened and needs some support through the appropriate application of facial oils.
The takeaway? Your skin needs a helping hand to compensate for this depletion for it to remain well-balanced, youthful looking, as well as for it restore and repair itself correctly. It’s pretty simple: regardless of your skin type, using the correct facial oils is an essential step in your skincare routine. Applying the right, high-quality, cold-pressed, non-refined & organic facial oils can prevent you from further skin-damage, and have powerful repairing properties. This should ensure the strengthening of your skin-barrier thus avoiding that things you don’t want to be absorbed into your body (like free-radicals). This is a sure skin tip to preventing unnecessary damage and aging gracefully which in the end is truly the goal for all of us, isn't it?
Now here's the trick to making them work for you according to your needs.
1. Make good use our beauty journal to get to know your skin, and gain insight on how it actually reacts to products, and what it actually needs.
2. Refer back to our vitamins & minerals guide as a reminder of what your skin & body needs most & why. As we grow the list over time, our hope is that this guide serves you in being your own beauty expert.
3. Adapt the ingredients and products you choose to your environment, climate when it changes. Pay close attention to your skin's current state. What do we mean by skin state? Though you are inclined to have a certain skin type (oily, dry, mixed), your skin may change for example it may get drier if you've traveled to a colder country, or oilier to a more humid country. Know how to listen to what your skin is trying to tell you, and adapt to its needs based on the properties of the corresponding ingredients.
Cleansing: what you might be doing wrong that could be damaging your skin
While cleansing is an important and indispensable component of your skincare routine, it could be doing you more harm than good if not done correctly or with the right products. Using the wrong ingredients could cause severe damage to your skin, at times irreversible, and accelerate aging. It could, more importantly, prevent it from doing its job right: protecting you from harmful environmental elements trying to get into your body through your skin.
We've compiled some of the most common mistakes our Amour Propre Beauty Babes reported they noticed by journaling and have made the list below for you to make sure you aren't doing the same. (if you haven't yet, sign up for our newsletter to get your free download!)
1.Oil-based cleansers & makeup removers
If you are using an oil-based cleanser (coconut oil or makeup removing balm) you need to make sure the main ingredients are strictly noncomedogenic oils. If you make the mistake of using coconut oil, for example, you are running the risk of yes, perhaps deeply moisturizing your skin, but also of clogging your pores.
Coconut oil is often suggested and used in cleansers and makeup removers but it is actually a 4 rate out of 5 in how likely it is to clog your pores, and cause blemishes. While some women swear by it, we suggest leaving the amazing coconut oil for your hair and body.
2.Using a clay-based cleanser
While cleansers formulated with clay can be truly detoxifying, helpful in removing dead skin cell build-up (we'll make a full blog post on what this is and why it is important to avoid in the upcoming posts) and help in cleansing/unclogging your pores it can also be extremely harsh on your skin.
How harsh your clay cleanser is, depends on several elements, but one of the main being the type of clay used. Certain clay types can dry your skin out more whereas other like Kaolin are better suited for cleansing and are quite gentle for the skin.
We suggest avoiding clay-based cleansers for your daily routine, and rather use clay-based face masks for the detoxifying benefits.
Another common mistake made with cleansing is overdoing it. Yes, your skin certainly does accumulate a certain amount of unwanted elements during the day, and failing to wash them off could accelerate your aging, cause you to break out, and harm your overall skin health. However, over-cleansing could actually be even worse than forgetting to cleanse at all. Your skin's barrier is a topic we really plan on getting into deeper in the upcoming weeks, but to give you a big picture for the sake of keeping this short and to the point: your skin needs certain oils it produces naturally to remain radiant, and well-balanced. If you use very harsh products and over-cleanse, you're probably already stripping it from these same oils. What does that mean? As a reaction your skin will either produce extra sebum than it needs, causing you to break-out. A damaged skin barrier needs to be repaired and needs a helping hand in compensating for the lost oils, and that is where the facial oils come in. A weakened skin-barrier will also be more likely to let unwanted elements into your skin and body.
All in all, to optimize your cleansing we suggest you double cleanse by using a non-comedogenic cleansing oil for gentle, effective makeup removal, a micellar water, and a toner to remove all accumulated unwanted elements.
Your skin's lipid barrier
In yesterday's chapter, you learned that there is a multitude of ways to damage your skin's outer layer (which we'll refer to as the skin's lipid barrier). You now know that over cleansing and using harsh products can do exactly just that. For your skin to remain supple, and well-balanced it needs a specific ratio of natural oils your body produces naturally (and less of them as you grow older) & without them, it cannot fulfill its main job of protecting you from your environment nor look anything close to it's best. Because these natural lipids are so crucial to the skin’s barrier function, the skin barrier is often referred to as the lipid barrier. If this lipid barrier is damaged by either your environment, or the products you use as well as the way you use them, and if your body creates less of the oils that it's made up of, dermatologists have found that using the right oils to compensate for them, and using the right vitamins to protect the skin should avoid any further damage and potentially promote its cell repair. The first takeaway?Any kind of damage to lipids has a significant impact on skin because they are so integral to skin health and it's appearance, so making sure you use products that support it should be one essential step in your routine.
Why be concerned about a weak barrier? To break it down more simply, stripping the skin from these lipids weakens your skin’s barrier function which protects you from your environment and prevents toxic chemicals we're exposed to from entering into deeper levels of your skin right into your bloodstream. A compromised barrier makes skin more easily irritated and prone to infection, irritation, dry skin, and acne breakouts. Water loss is another issue that increases when the lipid barrier is damaged. That water loss leads to dehydrated, flaky, itchy, hot, or burning skin.
Lipids also make up about 50% of cell membranes. That's a pretty large amount, so it’s important to protect them through proper skincare and using the right ingredients to compensate for them as they diminish with age and free-radical exposure. If you really want to play it safe (which we all should!) wearing sunscreen, ingredients containing vitamin C and antioxidants are a great means of ensuring skin protection.
The cell membrane lipids are damaged by free radicals. When they are attacked by free radicals, they lose their permeability. As a result, nutrients and wastes are transported less efficiently across cell membranes, and the cells become less healthy, turnover less quickly, accelerate the aging process, and prevent you from having that radiant skin you deserve and work so hard to have.
Rules to keeping your skin barrier intact?
1.Minimize your use of inflammation-inducing ingredients
2. Aim for ingredients that contain a similar balance in essential fatty acids your skin naturally produces and needs.
3. Make sure to protect your skin with SPF, a hat, and ingredients that contain vitamin C & EGCG & potent antioxidants to ensure minimal UV sensitivity, damage and free-radical oxidative damage.
With these three golden rules, you'll be powerfully armed and ready to age graciously, protect, repair and prevent your skin from aging quicker than it should.
*Keep in mind that organic, cold-pressed ingredients are the best investment you'll make. They may be a little pricier but you'll be 100% sure they don't contain any pesticides, or other toxicity that could damage & accumulate in your cells, and your skin for good.
(Just a P.S: A little teaser but we've got one amazing oil that got you fully covered in protecting, repairing the damage you may have caused to your skin's protective barrier over the years)
A comedogenic rate is assigned to ingredients to describe how likely it is to clog an individual's pores regardless of skin type. The scale goes from 0 to 5, where 0 is least likely and 5 most likely. We've defined each rate below.
0: Highly improbable that the ingredient will clog an individual's pores.
1: Slight chance that the ingredient will clog pores
2: Will not clog pores for the majority of people, but for some it some could.
3: Many individuals will break out using this ingredient while just as many could not depending on their skin type & skin state (oily/not).
4: Suggests that the majority of individuals break out using this ingredient unless they have a particularly great tolerance to it. This depends on several factors influencing your skin.
5: Ingredient is nearly guaranteed to clog pores if used alone and not diluted with other ingredients. Using this ingredient means a nearly guaranteed breakout.
Commonly found oils & their comedogenic rate
Argan oil 0
Black cumin seed oil or black seed oil: 2
Black currant seed oil: 0-1
Borage Oil: 2
Carrot Seed Oi:l 3-4
Castor oil: 1
Grapeseed Oil: 1
Chia Seed Oil: 3
Cocoa Butter: 4
Coconut Butter: 4
Coconut Oil: 4
Emu oil: 1
Evening Primrose: 2-3
Hemp seed: 0
Mango Butter: 2
Marula Oil: 3-4
Moringa Oil: 3-4
Neem Oil: 1-2
Olive Oil: 2
Pomegranate Seed Oil: 1
Prickly Pear Seed Oil:1-2
Pumpkin Seed Oil: 2
Rosehip Oil: 1
Sacha inchi Oil(green tea): 0-1
Safflower Oil: 0
Apricot Seed Oil: 2-3
Sea Buckthorn Oil: 1
Sesame Oil: 3
Shea Butter 0-2
Squalane: 0-1 (hydrogenated)
Sunflower Oil: 0-2
Sweet Almond Oil: 2
Tamanu Oil: 2
Wheat Germ Oil: 5
Above are some of the most commonly used oils present in natural & non-natural skin care products today. We suggest you keep any ingredient with a comedogenic rate above a 2 such as wheat germ oil (5), moringa oil, marula oil, or sesame oil for your body and keep them away from the face. This will allow your transition from non-green beauty products to all clean beauty products smooth and breakout, freakout-free.
Skin & Cellular Functions
Our skin is your body’s largest organ, yet we often still take it for granted! With all the information out there, and new trends on supplementation for beauty it can get pretty confusing when it comes to figuring out which nutrients truly are essential. In this chapter, we will provide you with a solid foundation and better understanding of these essential vitamins & minerals your skin & body really need to stay healthy and glowing. We’ll also briefly dive into how your nutrition can better or worsen the processes of your skin on a daily basis.
As a kind reminder of why your skin is so awesome below are a few of its most important functions:
-It preserves your body temperature
-It preserves your electrolyte balance
-It's responsible for forming and processing vitamins & hormones
-It physically protects your muscles, bone, and vital organs
-It protects you from your environment, any threats like from allergens, irritants, or pathogens
Your skin as an organ:
"Flora" of the skin
We are all born with sterile, bacteria-free skin as a baby. At birth, we are also born with a skin that is capable of immune protection & regulation from threats like an acidic ph of the skin (your skin should not be acidic!), and the bad type of bacteria that can cause infections. As you grow older, over the first few years of your life, healthy bacteria of your skin and hair follicle come to settle above it to create a powerful protective shield against any threats to your health that could be absorbed into your bloodstream.
While our skin and its amazing functions are a little miracle of nature itself, the number of elements it needs to stay healthy and stable is so great that it is actually extremely common for it to be out of balanced, which in return often causes skin disease, breakouts, dry-skin or other undesirable skin states!
So key takeaway here, is to try to maximize its chances of remaining healthy by making sure it gets its essential needs met. Now, let’s begin with how you can make sure it remains as close as it can to well-balanced & glowing.
Beauty truly does begin with your cell's health. Your body’s made up from over 30 trillion cells which constantly exchange with one another to help the body exchange, protect itself from, and respond to its environment based on what you drink, consumer, smell, touch and even think! They protect your DNA and manage the important job of turning nutrients you take in from food into energy which then sustains the cellular processes that contribute to your physical appearance and energy.
Your cells need to be nourished and hydrated properly in order to function optimally. When we lack the proper balance of sleep, exercise, minerals, and vitamins our cells cannot function and it immediately reflects in our physical appearance. When our cells are missing something, it can show through brittle nails, dull skin, dull eyes, acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and many more physical ailments! These are all signs that our cells are nutrition, hydration or aren't protected from damaging elements enough.
To truly radiate beauty from the inside out we need to make sure out cells are happy, and that cellular functions are as flawless as can be. There are three components to this: your cells being properly nourished, well protected, and well hydrated.
1.Nourish your cells
Your cells can be fed when you consume nutrient-dense foods (ideally organic & plant-based) but research has solidly proven that they can also be fed these same nutrients when they are applied topically on your skin.
It’s been proven over and over again that while taking in vitamins & minerals orally should be your priority, applying them topically is a safe way to ensure your skin cells receive their necessary share of them to look beautiful and remain well-balanced. Your skin is at the end of your digestive system and therefore receives its food last on the list of organs, and so applying them through natural ingredients that contain them and are deliverable/bio-available to the skin is a sure way to do so.
Vitamins to apply topically & make sure you get in through nutrition:
Vitamin A, Vitamin B(9,12), Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K
Minerals for beauty:
Iron, Magnesium Selenium, Sulfur, Zinc,
2.Protect your cells
In the world we live in today, our cells are exposed to damaging threats more than ever before. Damage caused to our cells can cause accelerated and visible aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, and sunspots. The goal is to maintain our cells to prevent aging, preserve its health for as long as possible. As our body ages, it is less capable of protecting itself on its own from threats like free-radicals (which we’ll get into in future chapters) or inflammation. For this reason, it’s crucial for you to support your body’s functions and cellular health through your nutrition and topical application of natural, nutrient dense skincare products for it to stay youthful looking, firm, and vibrant.
Antioxidants for protection from free radicals & oxidative stress
Free radicals from our environments such as pollution or cigarette smoke stick to our cells, harm and damage them. They cause the skin to turn pigmented, dark, or become wrinkly & saggy. Our body naturally produces antioxidants which serve as free radical "scavengers". They fight oxidative stress by fighting these same free radicals before they can actually do your body harm. Antioxidants really protect your body from cell damage, accelerated aging, skin disease and inflammation. Applying natural ingredients high in antioxidants will ensure your skin can have extra protection from these threats and prevent all their undesirable effects.
Essential Fatty Acids
Cell membranes are composed of fats. To give you a visual idea, they act like a drop of oil in water from your environment. They're truly essential to inner and outer beauty, maintaining healthy and well-balanced skin. Eat your avocados, nuts, and use non-comedogenic oils to further protect your skin cells.
3. Hydrate your cells
Your body is 74% water. Your brain is made up of 75% water, and your blood which is responsible of delivering nutrients where they are needed is made up of 80% water. Your liver which is your most important organ to detoxification is made up of 96% water. Need we say more? Water is responsible for delivering oxygen to cells, removing waste, absorbing and assimilating nutrients, burning fat and keeping your skin & muscles plump & firm. Proper hydration allows better circulation and better flushing of toxins in the body. It prevents accelerated aging and keeps your skin looking younger, for longer. So, make sure to get in your minimum of 8 cups of water a day before anything else.
Detoxification has been recognized as a key component of wellness for millions of years. Practiced through different rituals across cultures our ancestors used this practice to reset and revive the body and mind for optimal health and longevity.
Back in the day, we lived in a less toxic environment where there was less pollution, less processed foods, fewer threats to our health, and ironically so, detoxification was instilled and emphasized much more than it is today. Health practitioners from Ayurvedic medicine to Chinese traditional medicine, each had their own rituals & unique practices of detoxifying the body. It is, and always has been, as essential to the body as proper nutrition, quality of sleep, and regular exercise. Our ancestors really understood the importance of it, of healing the body with natural remedies, & of helping the body in restoring itself from its hard work.
So what is detoxification? It means giving your body a boost and well-deserved rest for it to thrive and look it's absolute best. With the use of nature's awesome tools like potent medicinal herbs, and by diminishing processed foods or exposure to toxicity regularly your vital organs should be able to detoxify & remove accumulated toxic stored over weeks, days, months, at times even years. Your body accumulates toxic elements, and in today's modern medicine, only once it is no longer able to process them is your body considered and recognized as toxic. Until then, your body whether it's your skin or vital organs, which are struggling to process free-radicals or other threatening elements, it's simply doing an okay job at it and waiting to be overloaded or overworked.
For a terrible metaphor but a good one for you to sink this information in: just like a car which you have to get maintained every so often, even the most expensive car with the highest quality of oil will start to die out and accumulate gunk. This is how we should all think of our bodies: as expensive cars, we fuel with high-quality nutrition, but regardless, need to maintain through detoxification for longevity and optimal health. We need to change our approach to a long-term one, not a quick fix and need to actually give it a break from its processes regularly.
When we start to breakout out of nowhere, have dark circles under our eyes, recover less rapidly from workouts, have drier hair, brittle nails: these are all signs that your body probably needs some assistance or a good old break. With natural healing remedies and reduced exposure to processed/toxic foods/environments/people, it can recover. When nature gives us such amazing and effective botanicals that can powerfully heal and improve our health (& beauty) why use any man-made, chemical, toxic concoction?
Whether it is for our skincare or our any other component of wellness, taking the long-term approach to supporting our bodies means protecting it's amazing capability to heal itself, regulate itself and thrive by helping it in its natural detoxification processes (from the lymphatic system to your pores, all the way down to the colon)
For the purpose of setting your foot in the door, we've divided the detoxification practices into three parts: three important systems that help your body to eliminate toxicity. We've also listed a few practices you can include weekly. Keep in mind there is an infinity of books & research journals written on the subject for hundreds of years. There is much more information to be discussed and that we want to share with you, but for the purpose of being efficient and keeping things simple, we're starting with three main components.
1.Your digestive system
Did you know that 70 percent of the body's immune system is in your digestive system?
When your digestion is rough, your skin suffers. You might get dry skin, bursts of eczema, wrinkles, acne, rosacea, rashes and a flaky, dull complexion. How many times have you had any of these symptoms and made the link to your digestion? Well, improving your digestive system is one of the most impactful yet simple ways to improve your overall appearance, wellness & health.
Tips for improving digestion & giving your body a hand during this process:
-Chew your food before swallowing: That wasn't just a thing your mum said when you were young to get you to be quiet while eating! Chewing allows your body to secrete saliva and sends a signal to other members of the digestive system to get ready because they'll be getting to work soon. Chewing cues the stomach to prepare acid, and the pancreas to secrete its elements that break down the food you eat. If you don't chew, your body will struggle, and the body will suffer.
-Eat mindfully/Avoid eating on the go when you can!
Eating on the go, a common thing nowadays floods our bodies with cortisol: the stress hormone that not only makes you bloat and stress but also increases inflammation in your body (which by the way is the cause of a multitude of health issues like cystic acne and leaky gut). Our bodies haven't adjusted to this new way of eating, it isn't made to trigger it's digestive processes so quickly. Put away your computer, your phone and have a calm sit-down meal. Before you start eating remember to chew your food twenty to thirty times before swallowing it. Take your time, and enjoy each bite, without rushing or shoving food down your mouth simply to eat.
2. Your colon
We will elaborate on this in the upcoming weeks because your colon deserves a whole page to itself. Yep! Ya heard! If the colon is sluggish, then nutrient absorption will also be slow, which will make it hard for the body to nourish your skin and entire body. Drink your water intake daily, and do not minimize the importance of taking high quality, fridge-stored probiotics.
Your skin is colonized with an infinity of bacteria that serve to interact with outside elements, and between themselves, for your body to go on with its natural functions. Our skin protects us from UV radiation, pathogens, parasites, dehydration, and infection. Everything we put on our skin has a direct impact on this healthy bacteria layer that really determines your skin's health, and appearance (dull, glowing, dry, irritated). Masking our skin with problems, and cosmetics that also hurt this essential layer of good bacteria (which is often referred to as skin flora) means self-harm. End of story! Additionally, dry brushing is an excellent way of removing the layer of dead skin cells that cover above your pores just like a stack of hay which if not exfoliated could prevent great ingredients to getting into the deeper layers of your skin for optimal benefits!
When it comes to detoxification, your skin needs open and clear pores. It is very common for beauty products to be comedogenic (for natural and non-natural products) that block your pores and cause you to keep in toxicity that could be let out from your sweat for example. To ensure your skin is in top shape to detoxify your body, the golden rule number one is to stop using toxins on it. It's extremely important to think about what you put on your skin and choose to let into your bloodstream.
As we said, it's important to eventually dive deeper into each and every one of these elements of detoxification. Our goal is to collect the knowledge and break it down for you into the main takeaways so that you can act as you which but have all the information to do so best. For now, we're leaving you on this: drink your water, take probiotics, try to dry-brush 1-2 a week, try to eat as plant-based as you can, and cut out all toxic product lathering onto your beautiful skin for good.
See you soon for chapter 7 babes!
Alex + your girls at Amour Propre Propre Beauty Team