“Choiceful Presents” is our newly created, monthly series. Every month, we will present you with articles, interviews, and tips on a chosen aspect of a sustainable lifestyle. Food waste, community gardens, natural cosmetics, vintage shops – the list is infinite, just like the changes you can make to lead a greener and a more fulfilled life!
Why you should sleep instead of buying cosmetics
Body and planet are not so much different from each other if you take out the scale. Both are ecosystems where parts are interconnected. And both prefer to be treated in a natural way (and with love). Natural skincare is synthetic-free so good for your health, and beneficial for the planet. Natural cosmetics usually come without plastic packaging and contain very few ingredients, which makes them as close to zero-waste as it can get.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to skincare. Different skin types require different treatments. We, the Choiceful authors, know it all too well – in our preparatory talk for this issue, we realized that we cannot reach any consensus on the perfect routine because each of us has a different skin type. We want to celebrate this diversity: we will share general tips in this article and describe our personal skin routines in a future one.
What we do agree upon is that natural skincare is more about connecting with your body than about using any products. Your body is the mirror of how you treat it.
The boring truth: your lifestyle matters
You can significantly reduce the amount (and the cost) of cosmetics you use if you commit to living healthier. No cosmetic will replace an appropriate diet, an adequate amount of sleep, and low levels of stress. Lifestyle solutions are also most beneficial for the environment, as they are by default “less-waste”.
Since the skin is one of the few visible organs, it reflects both on your mental and physical health. Mood influences body and vice versa. How relaxing is it to have a long bath after a hard day at work? Or a good massage with essential oils? Now take these experiences and see them in the long run: more relaxed life will lead to fewer health problems, and this rule does not spare the skin.
In the case of an unwanted sign – such as a pimple or a rash – it is important to treat the cause instead of the symptom. Easier said than done, as there may be thousands of possible reasons for irritated skin. Yet, it is worth keeping in mind that a body, just like, on a bigger scale, the planet, is one interconnected system where one problem stems from another.
A balanced diet is crucial for keeping your skin healthy. The effects of a diet on the skin are mostly visible in the long run but… remember what happens to your skin when you eat too much chocolate or crisps? Although dermatologists lack consent on the existence of a direct link between food and the skin, the former influences hormones that influence the latter. And so, for example, eating fat-based products may affect your skin by impacting the blood circulation. The relationship is, as with most skin issues, personal. Some skins are more sensitive to processed products than others yet the immediate effects of junk food are a sharp reminder of the relationship between our skin and our diet. Vitamin-rich products are your skin’s friends. Plant-based oils – such as virgin olive oil – are, too. As with cosmetic products: the less synthetic, the better.
Predictability and comfort replace many products
Physical factors are equally, or more, important to keep your skin healthy than applying external chemicals. Cold showers help to keep your skin tight while UV light will make it age faster. Do not forget about sunscreen when you sunbathe – a natural and extremely effective alternative to “regular” sunscreen is zinc paste. Always hydrate your skin after a sunbathing session and check your moles – the lighter your skin, the more susceptible to skin cancer it is.
Skin hydration is an inside rather than an outside matter. Our body is 60% water, with certain liquids like blood or saliva consisting almost entirely of water. Water allows for the proper functioning of body organs, keeping the brain hydrated, the kidneys protected, and the joints lubricated. You can avoid many skin diseases and wrinkles by keeping your skin hydrated from the inside. You will also notice that you spare a good amount of money and plastic packaging on lotions that become less necessary, although not entirely redundant – especially after sunbathing.
Your skin will not need much if you treat it right – not with expensive products but with your daily rhythm. Try to keep the same routine every day – you may want to start a day with a shower, or clean your face with the same product twice a day, or apply a face mask every Sunday. Apart from giving your skin the comfort of predictability, little daily rituals are a way of slowing down and showing love to your body and mind. You need to find out what works for you – we all have different rhythms and needs so there are no ready-made solutions.
Sleep does wonders to your body and soul so make sure to get enough of it. Exercising brings oxygen to every part of your body and releases endorphins. Tired of reading the same all over again? Not even the most expensive cream will work if you do not take care of your body.
The fight for natural
By now, you are hopefully committed to a healthy way of living. It is time to walk into your bathroom and turn it synthetic-free and zero-waste.
The quest for the perfect products is deeply intimate so we keep our recommendations general. We will share our skincare routines in a future article, only recommending brands that we use.
A good starting point is to try out soap and shampoo bars. You can keep the bars in a net by your shower or on dish soap. Bars always need to dry on air, otherwise, they will disappear quickly. Cosmetics in bars are plastic-free but you will not have to sacrifice any comfort for being planet-friendly. Most are high-quality products made of natural ingredients – although it is always worth reading the label before buying. They usually last for months, which makes the price tag drop long-term. Bars have become quite mainstream and some shops in Rotterdam offer a wide variety. You can check out Weerfzeep, Kusala Gifts, or the ones in Studio JUX. There are also some in LUSH – despite controversies around LUSH’s use of palm oil, we still recommend it as we appreciate the brand’s strive for getting better.
Replacing single-use products with reusable ones is the next step. Think razors, q-tips, make-up removers. Razor is an easy one – the old-school metal ones work better once you get used to them, plus they look undeniably cool. As for q-tips, using them is unhealthy as it pushes the earwax back in, so try switching to liquid cleaners. They come in plastic bottles but use less plastic since they last longer than a single q-tip. You can order washable (organic) cotton make-up removers online. Fluffy and pleasant to touch as they are, make sure not to lose them in the washing machine by putting them in one cotton bag for the wash. The most sustainable option is to make your make-up removers from an old piece of clothing. You can find more bathroom tips in our post.
Finding cosmetics with an ingredients list that you can actually understand is no easy task but it does not get immediately easier once you do. Our skin gets used to the products we use and cosmetic brands exploit this property. Many “regular” cosmetics contain ingredients that serve no purpose rather than smelling or looking nice. Switching to natural ingredients-based cosmetics may feel strange for the first couple of weeks. You may feel like they are not working well. It is normal – your skin needs to get used not to be treated with a synthetic cocktail.
Salad inside, salad outside
Often you do not need any cosmetics at all – using raw products is the best option since you know exactly what you put on your body. Raw products work great when it comes to moisturizing or revitalizing the skin. Dora recently shared her recipe on aloe vera treatment and we will be sharing more – you will soon find out that coffee scrubs, honey, yoghurt are great nourishers. Oils are the unfeigned winners among raw products: olive oil can replace body lotion, argan or coconut oil work well as a make-up remover. The internet is your friend – after some time of research, you will know what works for you. Try out Wellness Mama for recipes, or type in terms like “zero waste skincare”, “natural skincare”, “homemade/DIY skincare”, and pick the recipes that you like and think will fit your skin type.
Only put on your body what you would not hesitate eating: you can prepare the best face masks out of products you will easily find in your fridge. A zero-waste way of preparing face masks is to use leftovers from meals. A salad inside, a salad outside.
Remember: you do not need to change overnight. A plastic-free and natural bathroom takes a couple of months to achieve. The change of hygienic habits, just like any other ones, takes some time and requires mental effort to consciously decide what to put in your cart. Once you get a hold of it, it becomes automatic and therefore quicker and painless.
You also need to remember that you should not be a martyr for the environment and that none of the synthetic substances, in the end, will murder you in your sleep: do as much as you feel comfortable with, otherwise, it is highly probable you will retreat.
We will share our daily skincare routines in the next article. If you want to share your tips on natural skincare, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are curious to hear from you!