Why Switch to Natural Beauty Products?
Have you ever stopped to think about what is in your everyday toiletry and beauty products and how they achieve all those wondrous things that we strive for? I have certainly tried more than my fair share of hair products to change my natural ‘dragged backwards through a hedge’ look.
I can honestly say that I hadn’t given it much thought until my husband was diagnosed with cancer. Unless it had a toxic symbol on the label I was happy to buy it.
The initial research I did was quite alarming; synthetic chemicals are now commonly used in our every day cosmetics and toiletries and some of these are reportedly linked to adverse health effects, including cancer. I am not going to pretend that I was completely rational during the time I was researching this and I made a fairly quick decision to switch to natural or organic alternatives; I just wasn’t prepared to gamble with our health.
The first step was deciphering the ingredients labels on our toiletries and cosmetics to see which ones I needed to get rid of. This was challenging to say the least! I was therefore relieved to come across Breast Cancer UK’s Ditch the Junk guide to safer cosmetics. I used this to start scanning the ingredients to see if they contained any of the listed harmful chemicals including parabens, triclosan, phthalates, synthetic musks and formaldehyde, to name but a few.
I have to admit that as the number of toiletries in the ‘to go’ pile grew I got pretty bored with trying to decipher complex ingredients lists and decided to gradually switch all of our products to organic or natural unless it was obvious that there were no harmful ingredients included.
My first and easiest successes were with coconut oil which is why I have decided to share this as my first natural beauty post. However, it is only fair that I pre-warn you that I have gone a bit ‘Gwyneth Paltrow’ in my love for all things coconut.
Using Coconut Oil as a Cleanser, Conditioner and Moisturiser
Coconut Oil as a Natural Cleanser
This is by far the easiest win when you start using coconut oil as a natural beauty product.
When I first read that it worked well as a cleanser and to remove make-up I simply put a bit of coconut oil onto some cotton wool and wiped it on my face. This did work and it left my skin feeling really soft but it also felt quite heavy on my skin.
After doing a bit more research I realised that there is a much better technique to using it as a deep cleanser and it is certainly the most effective one that I have come across.
So, here’s how.
- Simply rub a small amount of coconut oil (1 tsp. as a guide) between your hands until it is melted and apply it to your face.
- Wet a muslin face cloth or flannel in warm water, wring it out and place it over your face to open up the pores.
- Now enter into a blissful mini spa moment, leaving the cloth covering your face for between 30-60 seconds.
- Gently wipe off the coconut oil.
Hey presto, you feel relaxed and have a beautifully clean and soft face.
You only really need to do a deep cleanse once a day and the advice is to do it at night. I don’t wear much make-up and I have really dry skin so I tend to do it in the morning as this is when it works best for me.
Tip: You might find this treatment moisturising enough without needing any further products. This isn’t the case for me and I still use a natural toner, facial serum and moisturiser as part of my daily natural skincare regime.
Coconut Oil as a Natural Moisturiser
I really like using coconut oil as a body moisturiser. I have dry skin and occasionally suffer from psoriasis flare ups and I find it works a treat for me. I literally just melt the oil by rubbing it between my hands and then apply it as a body oil.
The only caveat I have is to apply it sparingly when you first start using it. I once put it on too liberally just before I went to bed and I had an awful nightmare that I was being cooked alive…..
Coconut Oil as a Natural Conditioner
When I get it right, coconut oil is by far my favourite conditioner. I used to use lashings of commercial conditioner and then still need anti-frizz products to try and keep my hair under some sort of control. However, with coconut oil it seems to do the same as three products combined meaning that I can simplify my routine and spend a lot less money. However, there is a caveat with this – if you put too much oil in you will end up with greasy looking hair even after you have shampooed it out.
I try to do this deep conditioning routine at least once a week and ideally I would do it twice, time allowing.
- Shampoo your hair as to your usual routine and towel dry it.
- Put some oil in your hands and smooth it into your hair, avoiding the roots. I use approximately 1 dessertspoon of coconut oil for my hair which is dry, thick and shoulder length. You will need to experiment with how much to use based on the length, thickness and type of your hair.
- Brush your hair to make sure the oil is evenly applied and leave it for at least 30 minutes.
- Wash the coconut oil out with shampoo.
- Dry and style as you would normally.
Tip: for colder days when your coconut oil is set solid, put it in the shower with you allowing it to melt a bit. This makes it much easier to use.
What hasn’t worked for me!
Coconut Oil as a Natural Deodorant
Whilst struggling with switching to a natural deodorant (see previous post) I did try coconut oil as an alternative to conventional antiperspirants and deodorants. Unfortunately it didn’t work for me but it obviously does for some people.
Coconut Oil as a Natural Eczema Treatment
After coming across the use of coconut oil as a natural treatment for eczema on the internet I tried using it on my daughter. Unfortunately after a day of putting it on it seemed to flare up her eczema even more. Maybe if I had persevered it might have started to help but I wasn’t entirely comfortable with using my daughter as a human guinea pig.
Is coconut oil sustainable?
When I was researching the weird and wonderful uses of coconut products I was a bit concerned that its meteoric increase in popularity was going to become akin to palm oil and be associated with large scale environmental destruction.
I have been reassured by what I have read that the two are not comparable in terms of their environmental impact. However, demand for coconuts can lead to monoculture cropping, with increased use of chemical fertilisers and a reduction in biodiversity.
There are simple ways that you can reduce the impact that your obsession with all things coconut may be having. These are to buy organic and buy fair trade. If you want to take it a step further you can also research the brand that you are buying to check their ethical and environmental credentials.
A Warning to all Coconut Over-Users
There have been unverified reports of a secret race of people who have evolved thick outer husks as a result of the over-use of coconut products. If you come across one of these ‘coco-nuts’ exercise caution and do not approach.