True beauty emerges from within, from the deeper self, from the heart and soul. Beauty has nothing to do with our facial features or the products we use. It is our life force and our spirit that shines through our eyes and creates a beautiful, radiant smile. Expensive creams and cosmetics cannot make us beautiful if we are not beautiful on the inside. Skin is built from the foods we eat, not by beauty products. We must feed and nourish skin internally, because what we do on the inside reflects on the outside. Great skin is the result of healthy nutritional choices, and by keeping our skin clean, bare and hydrated. Taking The 30 Day Fresh Face Challenge, and eating mainly fruit, vegetables and essential fats, drinking filtered water, using minimal beauty products and avoiding wearing make-up, will create noticeable results in just one month, and instil healthy life-long habits.
I’ve been feeling lately that I can’t really be bothered with all of the work involved in, and the expectation to, live up to society’s standards of what ‘beautiful’ is and what it means. Along with my growing concern about the environment and the impact of my lifestyle on the health of the Earth and the ocean, it’s become important for me to change my habits and simplify my life.
The myth of beauty and perfection
Many years ago, I read The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf, and I’ve decided to read it again, as it has relevance to this post:
“It’s the beauty myth, an obsession with physical perfection that traps the modern woman in an endless spiral of hope, self-consciousness, and self-hatred as she tries to fulfil society’s impossible definition of ‘the flawless beauty’.”
There’s no such thing as “the flawless beauty”. We all have flaws and imperfections. None of us are perfect, in any way. Perfection is impossible to live up to, and what is perfection anyway? Whose idea is it? Usually, our internalised concepts of perfection come from the expectations of others, society and culture.
We, especially women, are bombarded with messages in advertising and the media that tell us we aren’t beautiful the way we are, that we need help, all to sell us beauty products we don’t need.
When we focus on the internal essence of a person, the external fades into the background. When we truly engage with, and connect to, someone on a soul level, we don’t notice what they look like on the outside, because it’s not important.
Certain aspects of my lifestyle are considered unconventional, in that I don’t engage in many habits and activities considered normal and socially acceptable by the majority of the population. I don’t drink alcohol, smoke or eat red meat. I care about the Earth, and I consider the impact my lifestyle has on the environment, other species and the ocean. I don’t mind giving up or limiting unsustainable and damaging practices.
I’ve been called ‘strange’ and ‘boring’ and told my standards are ‘too high’, but I don’t care. Living simply and caring about the Earth is important to me. It’s part of who I am. Having an environmental conscience is a form of inner beauty that is vastly under-rated.
In the spirit of celebrating individual, natural beauty, creating my own rules about what is normal and acceptable, setting a personal benchmark for the standards I want to live up to, regardless of what society says I should be doing (or what is trendy), and aligning my daily habits with my principles, I’ve created The 30 Day Fresh Face Challenge.
The 30 Day Fresh Face Challenge
This challenge involves a three-tiered approach:
- Building great skin through nutrition and hydration
- Letting skin breathe by going clean and bare-faced
- Creating a basic, minimal, plant-based skin care kit
Adapt this approach any way you want, to suit your needs, preferences and lifestyle. The Environmental Warrior ethos is not about perfection, excess or sacrifice. It’s about navigating a way through life, thinking critically about the vast and often contradictory information available and making informed choices. It’s about thinking of others, taking responsibility for our choices and living a life of simplicity.
#1 – Building great skin through nutrition and hydration
Disclaimer: The following information is not intended, and should not be taken as, medical advice.
Fruit and vegetables, essential fats and pure water are vital for great skin. ‘You are what you eat’ is a truism, and a fact. The food we eat builds our skin, our bodies and our minds, for better or worse. A healthy and vibrant body is built from living food, not dead, denatured, processed junk.
Don’t be afraid of fat. Our brains are composed of mainly fat and cholesterol, and require saturated fat for optimal function. Fat doesn’t make us fat, sugar does.
But don’t be afraid of sugar, either. Our bodies and brains require glucose in the form of complex carbohydrates, including fruit, vegetables and wholegrains. Avoid simple carbohydrates, refined sugar and processed food. Check out I Quit Sugar and That Sugar Film for more information.
It’s easy to get enough fruit and vegetables into our daily diet if we follow my 3-6-9 Guideline. I created this guideline to manage my own daily fruit and vegetable intake. Every day, I aim to have a minimum of 3 servings of fresh fruit, 6 servings of cooked vegetables and 9 servings of raw salad vegetables, preferably fresh, organic, seasonal, locally grown and unpackaged. I then build on that baseline with high-quality protein, essential fats and wholegrain complex carbohydrates.
Here are my ten best plant-based foods for great skin:
Avocado is a fruit with luscious and creamy yellow-green flesh, high in monounsaturated fats, vitamins B, C, E and K, fibre and potassium. Eating avocadoes daily will nourish, moisturize, soothe and soften skin and keep it supple. Eat avocado with salad, sea salt, poached eggs, goat cheese or raw cacao.
Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, acai) are low in sugar, high in antioxidants, and the deep red, purple and blue pigments are a rich source of anthocyanins that protect cells, prevent free radical damage and reduce inflammation. Their high vitamin C content aids collagen production and builds strong, resilient skin.
Cucumber is a high-water content fruit rich in enzymes to build radiant skin. Their cool, light green flesh soothes and softens skin, and contains silica and Vitamin C to promote collagen production and fight inflammation. Buy organic and eat the nutritious peel. Lebanese or continental cucumbers are more easily digested.
Flaxseeds are high in fibre and stabilize blood sugar. They are a plant-based source of alpha-linolenic acid, which the body can utilize to make Omega-3 fats. These essential fatty acids keep skin hydrated, soft and smooth, prevent inflammation and fight free radical damage. Add flaxseeds to salads and green smoothies.
Lemons are high in Vitamin C required for collagen synthesis, and aid digestion and healthy liver function. Drink lemon juice with warm water, or combine with olive oil on raw vegetables. Buy organic and eat the whole lemon – add the juice, flesh, pith, rind and pips to a green smoothie.
Olive oil (extra virgin) is high in monounsaturated fat, rich in antioxidants and oleic acid to lubricate skin, keep it soft and maintain its natural oils. Olive oil also contains squalene, which helps repair and rejuvenate skin texture. Use two tablespoons a day over raw salad vegetables and cooked vegetables.
Peaches are a wonderful source of phytonutrients, including carotenoids (Vitamin A) and polyphenols. These antioxidants fight free radical damage, along with Vitamin C, which boosts collagen production and improves skin elasticity. Peaches are high in selenium. I gorge on organic peaches in summer, when they are in season in Australia.
Pineapple is high in the enzyme bromelain, which aids digestion. Pineapple contains Vitamin A which reduces inflammation, and is high in Vitamin C for collagen production and tissue repair, which helps skin stay firm. I love the sweetness of pineapple which satisfies me without the negative effects of refined sugar.
Sweet potatoes are highly concentrated sources of beta-carotene, an antioxidant converted to Vitamin A in the body. They are high in plant protein, and promote hyaluronic acid synthesis, which keeps skin smooth. Sweet potatoes are easily digested and their starchy content maintains blood sugar. Opt for deep orange sweet potatoes.
Walnuts are rich in plant-based protein, fibre, Vitamin E and Omega-3 essential fats. They contain healthy, natural oils to nourish, protect and plump skin and help skin cells retain moisture. Walnuts keep our brains healthy, and are high in melatonin to promote sound sleep, and adequate sleep builds great skin.
If you need convincing that a diet rich in plant-based proteins, essential fats and carbohydrates builds great skin, not expensive beauty products, I recommend reading The Beauty Detox Foods by Kimberly Snyder, the second book in The Beauty Detox series.
#2 – Letting skin breathe by going clean and bare-faced
I used to wear a lot of make-up, but for a while now I haven’t liked the feeling of it on my skin. I’m concerned about the amount of packaging used in cosmetics, and the subsequent waste.
I go bare-faced most days, and on the rare occasions I wear make-up, it’s only a light dusting of mineral foundation powder and mascara. I don’t wear lipstick anymore, but I’m often asked what colour I use on my lips. It’s my natural colour, which I enhance with a rich emollient like shea butter.
My one weakness is mascara – it’s the one product I can’t do without. I prefer to let my skin breathe, and I have good skin because I eat fruit, vegetables and essential fats and drink two litres of filtered water every day.
I don’t like throwing out mascara tubes and wands, so I’m currently investigating alternatives. I can buy mascara made from organic, plant-based ingredients from Inika or Nude by Nature, but the packaging would have to be disposed of in landfill (the TerraCycle Beauty Products Zero Waste Box Recycling program is another option).
There’s no evidence eyelash tinting is safe for eyes (irritation is a common side effect I experience), and the use of vegetable dye is apparently a marketing myth.
Cake mascara comes in a container, and the brushes could be sterilized in boiling water and tea tree essential oil to remove bacterial build-up and re-used.
Home-made mascara is another option, but bear in mind individual ingredients in packaging would still need to be purchased, and packaging would then need to be recycled, or disposed of in landfill.
#3 – Creating a basic, minimal, plant-based skin care kit
We don’t need as many beauty products as the advertising media tell us we do. If we eat enough fruit, vegetables and essential fats, and we drink enough water, we will have great skin.
This means we won’t need as many beauty products. The few products we do choose will be used to enhance our natural beauty, and will not be used in an attempt to cover up bad skin or create artificial beauty. Our natural soul beauty will shine through.
Write down a list of ten consumable beauty products that form a basic skin care kit. These are products you must replace, so choose minimal or recyclable packaging.
I prefer the Natural Instinct range for my skin care (and Nude by Nature makeup) because their products are free of sulphates, petrochemicals, parabens and potentially toxic chemicals, contain organic essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances, do not contain animal-based ingredients, and are not tested on animals.
I prefer to use a foaming facial cleanser which can be washed off with warm water (no disposable cotton pads required).
I use an agave fibre exfoliating cloth in the shower which is naturally mould-resistant and soak it once a month in boiling water and tea tree essential oil to remove bacterial build-up.
I don’t use nail polish (it’s an environmental nightmare), hairspray or hair gel (I prefer hair that moves) or hair removal products (I use an epilator, so no creams, razors or anything disposable required).
Other beauty products can be made at home using plant-based ingredients from the refrigerator and pantry.
A hair masque can be made with coconut oil, lemon juice and chamomile tea. A facial masque can be made with coconut oil, avocado and kaolin clay, and a body scrub can be made with coconut oil, fine sea salt and essential oils.
Coconut oil, preferably from a sustainable source that helps indigenous communities, is a versatile beauty ingredient for skin, hair and body.
Set aside the next thirty days and take The 30 Day Fresh Face Challenge and see for yourself the results you can achieve in a short period of time. Make the commitment to build great skin by eating predominantly fresh fruit, vegetables and essential fats and drinking pure, filtered water and by letting your skin breathe by going bare-faced for a month. Create a basic skin care kit of pure plant botanicals. Take thirty days to instil some healthy, long-term lifestyle habits, with the added benefit of reducing packaging use, which is better for the Earth, and the ocean.