Expecting our Little Brother in November!

pregnancy calendar

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Curing Oily Skin with Chemical Free Products (Guest Post)

Thanks to my sister Lauren for being our guest blogger today! She was talking to me recently about this and I asked her if she'd like to write about it! Thanks so much, Lauren!

My family and I come from a long line of Anglo/Euro descent. My dermatologist told me that I just got stuck with the short end of the stick in the skin department, with large pores, very oily skin and dry skin in different areas, a red face, and the proneness to burning, skin cancer, etc. Not too promising. As a result, I always used astringent soaps and cleansers on my face, chest, and back, and moisturized my dry hands and legs. I used a shampoo and conditioner that claimed to strip hair down to help avoid that greasy look. I got lots of acne as a teen and in college my eczema flared out whenever I was under stress. I avoided make-up for fear it would clog my pores, and I used harsh scrubbers and exfoliation on my chest, back, and face to avoid acne. I had bangs and always remember being nervous that they were "clumping" or looking greasy in high school.

Fast forward to less than a year ago, when my sister Marilyn became interested in all-natural beauty and skin products. After I learned that there was no regulation about what gets put in our beauty products, I became very wary of any product I put on my skin, nails, hair, or even on my teeth. Most people know that there is a FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to regulate what is in our foods, a DEP (Dept of Environmental Protection) to protect the earth and water we live off of, even the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to protect our TVs and radios from being profane, etc etc. In the United States, we are meant to feel that the government is looking out for our well-being. This is obviously an idealistic view. Many of these agencies do not work the way they should. But at least these agencies EXIST. There is no committee, commission, administration, or departments of government that dictate what is safe to put into our cosmetics. This is extremely disturbing to me!

Many people probably do not realize that what you put on your skin is not just sitting on the surface of your body. It is being put on the largest organ, the skin, and is being absorbed into the blood, being run through the brain, heart, liver, kidneys, nervous system, and everywhere in our bodies. That means that what you put ON your body is just as important as what you put IN it.

This was a complete revelation for me. As a health-conscience person, I pay attention to what I eat. I always read labels and try to avoid things I don't recognize or can't pronounce! I began reading the labels of the cosmetics I was using. Even as a person with sensitive skin who uses gentle products, I was astounded to see how many chemicals and unknowns were in basic things like soap, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, and lotion. Additionally, companies do not even have to list ingredients on cosmetic packaging. Many ingredients may not be listed even if there is a list.

Back up to about two winters ago. I developed a rash on my hand that my dermatologist determined was an outbreak of eczema. This can be brought on by stress or by using products that you may be sensitive or allergic to. I had been using Cetaphil lotion which is non-comedogenic (does not clog pores), non-allergenic, and very gentle. He told me that even a product as great as Cetaphil contained chemicals that would keep the water and the oils of the lotion from separating like salad dressing. This was a huge eye-opener to me, and I ceased using lotions. I now only use coconut oil or olive oil as a moisturizer. Fast forward again to this past December.

Marilyn decided to share her new found love--chemical free beauty products--with my family for Christmas presents. She gave me a rosemary mint shampoo bar (Burts Bee's) and a bar of soap (Dr. Bronners). These were the two products she used and recommended. I began using these with gusto! The bar of soap was easy to figure out--it is just like other soap you would use except it has no chemicals and is a castile soap, meaning no animal oils are used (see http://www.drbronner.com/faqs_main.html).

The shampoo bar is another thing. We are used to shampoo that is liquid, shimmery, and smells like a salon. There are different kinds for curly hair, straight hair, frizzy hair, and even ones that can change your hair (flat to volume, frizz to sleek, etc). There are shampoos for colored hair, permed hair, blonde and red hair. It is funny to walk down the aisle of shampoo for me now, because I know that all hair types really only need one kind of shampoo. The shampoo bar I use is not pretty. It is actually kind of ugly. It does not shimmer or smell like a salon. It is actually a greenish brownish dark color, sort of like earwax. Plus, how do you get the shampoo into your hair when it is a bar? Easier than you think, just wet your hair and rub the bar around on your scalp, and maybe rub it between your hands a little to get some foam to then put in your hair. This shampoo has best effect on short or medium length hair, but you can certainly use it with long hair, it might just take more time.

AFTERMATH: After I began using the shampoo bar I found my hair to feel very gummy and dirty. This was not because my shampoo was not working, it was the opposite reason. The bar was helping to get rid of all the chemical build up from the products I used before--Pantene Pro-V Volumizing Shampoo. I found that after a month of using the shampoo bar 2-3 times per week, my hair bounced back to "normal" and appeared healthier and shinier than before. This is because it was not laden with chemicals or oils from the old shampoo that are meant to coat the hairs. I also found that I did not even need to brush my hair. With non-chemical soaps and shampoos, your body naturally "oils" itself. I would try to avoid eating too much oily food because of the nature of my skin. Now, however, I eat tons of olive oil in my cooking and I find my skin and hair to be less oily than before. Because your hair will naturally moisturize, you do not need to use conditioner. I now use the shampoo bar about three times per month. My hair is just not as oily, and the less I wash it the better.

Also, changing your products may cause your skin and hair to act weird. It might look bad for a month. It might feel gummy or dirty. You might even break out or have very dry skin for a few weeks as your skin gets used to the way it is supposed to produce oils. This is all normal and to be expected. If you are dedicated to using exclusively chemical free products, your skin, hair and nails will adjust in time. Some people may need to moisturize externally if they have extremely dry skin and hair. I would recommend eating more olive oil, taking flax seed oil in pill form, shampooing less often, or using a natural moisturizer like coconut oil or aloe vera instead of conditioner.

My sisters and I have also explored the area of waxing. When I shaved, I would get bumps, redness, and using foaming shaving cream dried my skin out. Under my arms was the worst area and I would always feel prickly and uncomfortable there. Waxing can be more expensive and is not for everyone, but I recommend it for anyone that feels discomfort shaving. Waxing is not as painful as it may sound. Additionally, when you wax you are pulling the roots of the hair out and this causes hair to start to re-grow from the beginning. Therefore, when hair grows back it is soft baby-hair, as opposed to when you shave and the hair grows back thicker, sharper, and often darker than before.

I think it is also really great when parents talk to their teenage girls about shaving and what it means and why people do it. Shaving is not something a young girl has to do, and if she waits her hair will probably stay soft and blonde longer. I wish I never started shaving!

To learn about what is really in the cosmetics you may be using, go to the Cosmetics Database here: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/. Look up any product that is sold in stores, and you can see a list of ingredients as well as a hazard rating.

To learn more about where I learned about these topics, see http://storyofstuff.org/cosmetics/.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...