Disclaimer: I’m not a skincare expert and do not pretend to be! But my personal experiences and studying nutrition and massage has taught me a lot about the importance of using natural, chemical-free products to reduce the toxic load on our bodies. This blog is based my personal experience and my personal preferences of products I’m currently using as part of my evening routine. I work as an ambassador for Tropic and if you choose to purchase any of the products and put my name ‘Bethany Cox’ as your ambassador I will earn a small commission. However, I recommend these products because I believe in the ethos of the brand and I know the products work.
Up until about two years ago, I didn’t have the best skincare routine. It basically consisted of:
1. remove make-up – often with a face wipe or cream cleanser
The worst part is that I thought I was doing a good job because I was making the effort to remove my make-up! I’ve since learned a healthy skincare routine takes a little more time and effort but is absolutely worth it.
I’ve also done more research into the ingredients in common skin care products and now choose natural, chemical-free products where I can. I’ve found for me personally my skin and overall health is better with natural products. To help you understand a little more, let’s start with a big of science…
Our skin is a living organ and it absorbs anything we put onto it. That means what we put on our skin will eventually end up in our bloodstream. Anything in the bloodstream which our body doesn’t recognise (e.g. chemicals) will cause our immune system to react and add stress to our body. The more toxins our body comes into contact with, the harder it has to work to eliminate them. Add to that the fact that our body is not just fighting the chemicals our body absorbs through the skin but also those in the food we eat and the air we breathe and we have the perfect storm to cause the body to become overwhelmed and start to shut down.
My view is that if I can lower the volume of toxins my body is exposed to where I’m in control – like using natural beauty products and cleaning products – it lowers the load and burden on my body giving it the energy and resources to process the chemicals I can’t control.
So, when I choose products to use on my skin I make sure they are free from:
Parabens – probably the most publicised of chemicals to avoid and found in a whole host of beauty products. Parabens are preservatives which mimic the hormone oestrogen in the body. They have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, and there are on-going concerns about the impact of exogenous oestrogens like parabens on numerous hormone influenced conditions. Increasingly you’ll find products labelled as ‘paraben-free’ which is great, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t turn the packet over to check what else is on the ingredient list.
Phthalates – chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and softer, often found in lotions and moisturisers as well as perfumes and nail polish. Like Parabens these chemicals are endocrine disrupters and although more research is required there have been links made between phthalates and increased risk of breast cancer and other hormone imbalances.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) – a foaming agent found in many face washes and body washes. It can disrupt the delicate balance of the skin causing dryness and even eczema but can also irritate eyes and lungs.
Mineral oil and Petrolatum – a by-product of the crude oil industry this is often found in creams and balms. It’s used in the skincare industry because it’s cheap and has a long shelf life. But it doesn’t actually have many benefits for the skin and the idea of using something which is firstly environmentally unsustainable and secondly sounds so harsh on my skin isn’t something I want to do. I mean, would you put car oil on your body?
Synthetic colours and perfumes – I wouldn’t eat food with artificial colours or flavours in it so I don’t want to put it on my skin. Artificial and synthetic ingredients have no nutritional or health benefits and are difficult for the body to process which as I said before adds stress to the body and depletes resources which is not what we want to do.
There are many more specific chemicals and ingredients to avoid but I don’t want to overwhelm you in this blog post. If you’re interested in learning more I highly recommend The Nature of Beauty by Imelda Burke.
Want to check out the levels of toxins in your skincare products? Take a look at the Think Dirty App which rates skincare products based on the levels of toxins they contain.
In addition to only choosing natural products, as part of my self-care routine, I am investing more time and energy in my skincare routine itself. That includes cleansing twice (if I’ve been wearing make-up or once if not), toning and moistening every evening, using a serum occasionally and trying to make time for a face mask once a week.
I struggled with my skin after I came off hormonal birth control and had really awful adult acne for a period. I’ve found that changing my products and my diet significantly helped improve my skin and am generally pleased most of the time about how my skin looks.
Here is my current routine and the products I’m using right now:
- Lavender water: I start by filling my sink with warm water a couple of drops of lavender oil. It adds a beautiful relaxing scent to the water and is calming for the skin. I soak a reusable bamboo face cloth in the water ready for step 2.
- Remove make-up: I start by wetting my skin with the water and then rubbing in a small amount of Tropic Smoothing Cleanser and massage it all over my face using my fingertips, then remove using my damp bamboo face cloth.
- Second cleanse: once I’ve removed my make-up I go in with a second cleanse to clean my skin. I wet my skin again with warm water and then use the Tropic smoothing Cleanser again, massaging it into my skin using my finger-tips and then rinse off with the cloth again. This cleanser is available both scented and unscented and is packed with natural skin-nourishing ingredients including jojoba, sweet almond oil and green tea. I then pat my face dry using a towel. Patting is far gentler on your delicate skin than rubbing. This cleanser took a bit of getting used to as it doesn’t ‘foam’ like some face washes I’ve used in the past but that’s because it doesn’t contain the chemical foaming agent SLS (see above for more information) so it’s not stripping my skin of valuable nutrients it’s just cleansing and cleaning it and leaving it feeling fresh and soft.
- Tone: next I spritz the Tropic Vitamin Toner all over my face and allow it to soak in. This toner is so cooling – especially if you’ve been out in the sun all day – it contains aloe, rose water and cucumber juice to hydrate the skin and reduce redness (I usually brush my teeth while waiting for it to soak in!)
- Moisturise: the final step is to moisturise my skin. For some time now I’ve been using a facial oil most evenings as I prefer the feeling of something less heavy on my skin at night. Over the past few months I’ve developed my own homemade evening facial oil which is not only cheaper but is very satisfying. To make it I combine:
180ml Avocado oil – a base oil which is rich in vitamin E, antioxidants, omega-6 fatty acids and oleic acid which all help to reduce inflammation and promote repair in the skin. It’s absorbed quickly and doesn’t leave an oiling residue so your skin feels nourished but there are no worries about grease marks on your pillow!
10ml Vitamin E oil – a natural antioxidant, vitamin E has been shown to help promote cell renewal in the skin and reduce the effects and signs of ageing. Even though the avocado oil contains vitamin E I like to add some extra to give my skin a boost.
A few drops of Lavender essential oil – the perfect calming scent for to end an evening skincare routine and aid a restful night’s sleep.
When applying the oil I like to take my time and give myself a little facial massage as I do it. This helps to stimulate blood flow to the face which promotes regeneration, plus a massage is very soothing for the nervous system and helps promote relaxation which is a perfect way to end the day before climbing into bed to sleep.
Taking 10-minutes every evening to follow this routine has given me valuable wind downtime before bed, it makes me feel a little more pampered and cared for has worked wonders on my skin.
Note: if you decide to purchase any Tropic products on the basis of this blog post please use my name (Bethany Cox) as your Tropic Ambassador. I will earn a small commission from this but recommend these products because I believe in them and the ethos of the brand. If you have questions or would like to know more please contact me.