Our final task in the ‘Build a Strong Foundation’ challenge is to take an inventory of the conventional beauty products we use every day and to design a simple, ethical approach to beauty, one based on natural, plant-based ingredients, with minimal impact on the environment. We all want to look and feel beautiful, and it’s important to have a regular ritual of pampering. But the true essence of beauty is not what we have been led to believe it is. Beauty does not come from outside of us, but from within us. It is not about surface, it’s about substance.
There are two important things to remember about true beauty:
Beauty has nothing to do with our facial features or the products we use.
It is spirit and life energy that animates our eyes and lights up our smile, and is reflected in the way we treat others, and how we conduct ourselves. No amount of expensive creams or cosmetics can make us beautiful if we are not beautiful on the inside.
Our skin and body are built from the foods we eat, not by beauty products.
We need to nourish our body from the inside – healthy, clean food provides the building blocks for beauty. What we do on the inside reflects on the outside. Expensive creams have little (if any) ability to improve skin, and they can’t build great skin.
WE DON’T NEED AS MANY BEAUTY PRODUCTS AS THE ADVERTISING MEDIA TELL US WE DO.
Animals and the Earth shouldn’t suffer for our beauty, so ensure beauty products are ethically produced and environmentally friendly.
Choose ethical, environmentally friendly beauty
I try to ensure as many of these criteria are satisfied when choosing beauty products:
- The product contains organic, locally sourced, plant-based ingredients
- The product has minimal, recyclable packaging
- The product doesn’t contain palm oil, or ingredients derived from animals or tested on animals
- The product is Australian made and the company that makes the product is Australian owned
- The product doesn’t contain synthetic, toxic chemicals, nanoparticles or microbeads
The environmental impact of beauty on the marine environment
Creating beauty products involves an enormous amount of resources and energy to extract, manufacture, package, transport and dispose of that product, but one issue is a serious problem for the ocean.
Microbeads are tiny plastic particles added to beauty and personal care products. These particles flow down the drain and cannot be filtered out through wastewater treatment plants. They enter the ocean, where they are absorbed or ingested by marine creatures and transported through the marine food chain. If we eat seafood, we may ingest these plastic particles. Particles remaining in the ocean do not biodegrade.
Instead, use exfoliating products containing biodegradable, natural fine abrasives like walnut shell or apricot kernel, and avoid foaming facial cleansers and body washes containing microbeads.
Treat the cause, not the symptom
Instead of treating symptoms, I prefer to take a preventative approach by correcting the underlying cause of the problem. Try to fix any beauty issues at the source, before opting for a cure by camouflaging the problem with expensive creams or concealers from plastic bottles.
For example, if we have bags under our eyes, instead of using a product to conceal dark circles, we can correct the underlying problem by getting more sleep, placing cucumber slices or cold teabags on our eyes, or eating more anti-oxidant rich vegetables.
It’s important to take time out to pamper ourselves. Self-care reduces stress, helps us feel good about ourselves and teaches us to value our bodies. Spending time in solitude enables us to self-reflect, meditate and focus on ourselves.
Set aside a few minutes every morning and evening for your basic skin care routine. Keep it simple and natural. Choose products wisely. It’s important to look after ourselves but we must also consider the health of the environment.
Create a weekly ritual and extend self-care over an entire day, using hair, body and facial treatments made with ingredients from the refrigerator and pantry.
For example, coconut oil can be gently heated and combined with essential oils for a nourishing hair masque or mixed with sea salt and essential oils as a body scrub.
The beauty of simplicity
Here are my tips to reduce or eliminate beauty product waste:
Coconut oil can be used as a moisturizer, to reduce skin pigmentation, and as eye cream.
An epilator can replace disposable razors, shaving cream, hair removal cream, wax, and cloth strips. It takes an hour or two every six weeks. Mine has lasted me many years.
Eyebrow threading is a great alternative to waxing – the only waste is a cotton thread.
Home-made toothpaste is a good alternative to conventional toothpaste and can be made with coconut oil, bicarbonate of soda and essential oils. Miessence toothpaste is made with bicarbonate of soda and plant-based ingredients. The product has plastic packaging, but the tube and lid can be recycled.
Plastic toothbrushes are non-recyclable and end up in landfill. The Environmental Toothbrush is made from sustainable, biodegradable bamboo and packaged in recyclable cardboard.
I love the look and feel of mascara but not the waste. Get eyelashes and eyebrows tinted once a month to avoid applying mascara daily.
An exfoliating cloth made from agave is mould resistant and can be soaked monthly in hot water and a few drops of tea tree essential oil to kill bacteria.
Keep fingernails and toenails short, buffed and moisturized daily. Do your own manicures and pedicures using an emery board and orange stick. Nail polish is an environmental nightmare. I don’t wear it.
Substitute petroleum-based bio-oils for those made with plant-sourced ingredients. I like Perfect Potion’s Organic Skin Elixir Body Oil.
Create great skin with nutrition (eating fruits and vegetables) and keeping skin clean (with minimal products) and hydrated (drinking filtered water). But remember true beauty comes from within. Our spirit lights up our face, and our inner light shines through our eyes.
© 2015 Environmental Warrior
Photograph by sergee bee on Unsplash