The past few weeks, as I have begun following more women on Twitter who blog about self acceptance, I have found a small sense of self-respect unfurling like a flower within myself. It has sadly become the badge of modern womanhood (and incresingly manhood) to self-loathe and be eternally unsatisfied with some aspect of ourselves, fueled in part by the influences of media advertising, urging us to become more this, more that, less this, less that, implying that we are less than, and could find happiness if only we bought X product or Y service. As the mother of a small girl, and as someone who has been reading about the whiles of the advertising industry since I was 19, I find it disturbing that even though I am aware of it, this culture still sucks me in somewhat. Even some of the men I know are starting to worry about external appearance, with questions being raised about the “best” skin care products. That we would consider slathering ourselves with stuff that is unpronounceable at best, and utterly toxic at worst in the name of an appearance ideal is sad. I have always felt that putting stuff on your skin that you would not ingest is a bad idea, given that our skin is not a waterproof absolute barrier, and some things easily pass through, in the process bypassing the detoxifying phase of liver filtration that occurs when we do ingest something (it’s why some medications are delivered via skin patch rather than ingested via the digestive tract). It is an enormous statement of self love to say no to the multi billion dollar beauty industry in favour of more natural alternatives. So I began digging for an alternative answer to skin care of my late 30’s face. And I have to report, I felt a rebellious kind of absolute glee when I walked past the skin care aisle in our local BigBox yesterday and bought NOTHING.
I am 37. I grew up in Australia, where the UV radiation is ferocious. My skin is hormonally challenged lately as well, breaking out along my jawline, and occasionally feeling like it is on fire with irritation. I scrubbed, toned, dried out & moisturized to no avail. Is it any wonder that my skin rebelled, dug its heels in, and said no to the self-inflicted violence? I looked on the Skin Deep: Cosmetics Safety Database http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/ website in the hope that some miraculous, yet ‘safe’ product was out there, to no avail.
So this week, I went on a search for an alternative, and found some interesting information about the Oil Cleansing Method. http://www.theoilcleansingmethod.com/ The use of oil has had me intrigued for years, after one of my patients who was in her 90s, who had incredible skin, reported she had used nothing but almond oil all her life on her face. I was a tad skeptical, after downing all the ‘oily-skin-means-you-should-never-use-oil’ crap that is espoused by the manufacturers of skin care products. I am happy to report, after only a few days of using it, though, my skin feels much calmer, and actually less oily. Time will tell if it is sustainable for me, but so far so good. I like that the oil cleansing idea makes practical sense – like dissolves like. If you aren’t stripping your face of natural oils by all that cleansing and scrubbing, it’s not going to go nuts producing more oil, and the oil you put on helps dissolve the crud that naturally accumulates. The other benefits to oil cleansing include no chemicals, less packaging, and it’s far, far cheaper. A winner in my book.
The next issue I need to tackle is sunscreen. I am yet to find a natural sunscreen I like, so I welcome any input. Until I find one, I will be using a hat, sunglasses, and staying inside during the times of day when UV is strongest.
I am not advocating that the only way is to go au-natural and use nothing at all. I know I feel more confident and like I look better with makeup (that’s another blog post entirely), but we do need to think about the stuff we are using, do the research, and use products mindfully. Until I started looking into this, I naeively assumed that because stuff was on the shelf that it was safe. Unfortunately, that seems to be a vision of Utopia rather than a reflection of reality, with a basically unregulated industry using antiquated standards and regulations as its guidelines. It falls to us as consumers to do our homework and treat our bodies with reverence and respect and not cover them in toxic goop in the quest for some bizarre socially delineated ideal. Girls, (and guys)…love the skin you’re in. Really. Walk past that ‘beauty’ aisle without stopping, and revel in the delicious feeling of civil disobedience it engenders. It truly is a beautiful thing.