Why the hesitation to use natural/food grade ingredients in cosmetics?

I never really thought of this before. It’s kind of logical to me. In a battle of best cosmetic ingredients between natural and chemical, natural is just better. If I can eat something, like coconut oil, and then also use it on my hair to moisturize, that’s a win win situation…I have always thought that if it is safe to go into our bodies, it is safe to put on our bodies…but I recently found out not everyone thinks this way…There is a point of view that cosmetics should remain a chemical science, and that putting food on ourselves is just well, kinda dirty. Where did I get this idea from? A man working at a hair supply shop told me this, when I mentioned I used a bit of coconut oil for my dry ends. He said the problem with food grade is that it mixes with microbes and such on our bodies and can easily become rancid and/dirty.

Hmm…Dirty? I never realized this point of view before, and while I think the shop guy might be right to some degree, I still think it’s an exaggeration at best. The outsides of our bodies can take a bit of dirt and microbes. Our own bodily oils are teaming with loads of bacteria and such, it’s all over us…adding food grade ingredients does not necessarily add to the microbial community…maybe it would if we never showered…but the average person in North America probably showers at least once a day; not enough time for coconut oil or any food grade oil to become rancid, and thus dangerous to our health. Advocating for chemicals and chemical preservatives to remain the standard for quality hair care, is a bit unfounded. Many of the chemicals in cosmetics are known to be drying, irritating to the skin, cause allergic reactions, and even have traces amounts of carcinogens. Yikes.

The trend to go natural is so strong actually, that many big cosmo companies now say they have squeezed natural ingredients into their formula. I’ve seen so many times the advertising and labeling of big brand products claiming to use honey, botanicals, fruits, natural oils and butters. The ironic thing is the natural inclusions are often very denatured/altered and it’s a very minute amount that’s used. Why moisturize with a vat of silicones and trace amounts of cocoa butter, if cocoa butter is the actual desirable ingredient? I have to toot my own horn when I say I make a solid lotion at Dream E that is a third made of cocoa butter and all natural other ingredients, except for a small amount of fragrances. But 95% natural is better than 1% natural any day in my opinion.

At my local Shoppers Drugmart: look at all these chemical and chemically preserved products! Don’t get me wrong, I still use them sometimes…but if I had a natural alternative, probably not.

I think as a society, the culture is moving away from chemical dependencies as a whole in general. I do feel that people prefer food that hasn’t touched pesticides, and are organically grown without fertilizers…Society seems to want more natural things in bodies, so why not reflect this view when it comes to cosmetics, if possible? Don’t get me wrong I like my chemical stuffs too, I use at least a dozen different chemical make-ups everyday; I wrote an article singing the praises for a superstay lipcolour formula that has the lasting power of car paint enamel! But when I can, I readily choose natural: I remove make-up with coconut oil. I use olive oil to amp up my hair conditioner…Vitamin E capsules used externally for my face at night, sugar face scrub, glycerin setting spray…anything that is food for internal can be also be food for skin or hair…

So here is the food isle at my local drugmart: I have been known to use many food grade items for cosmetic purposes: sugar, honey, yogurt, olive oil, coconut oil, cornstartch…etc. just to name a few…

In the end, I don’t think food grade ingredients at their purest, simplest form can ever be harmful. Think about in the past, before industrialization…people had to resort to what was around them to take care of their skin. Shea butter from the shea nut…is still used for cooking and moisturizing skin in many places of the world, with amazing healthy results…nut shells for exfoliation…cocoa butter, aloe vera…all of these plants derived food ingredients are still widely used on the body externally…and there is no scientific study or test needed to formulate and manufacture then truth that they work well. It just makes sense they do because sometimes Nature knows more about beauty, than chemical Science does.

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Curling irons fail at giving effortlessly natural waves!

I read an article a while ago about how to achieve waves in your hair that didn’t look super perfect, and avoided the “glamour shots” look that is so not desirable.  For those of you that didn’t grow up in the subarbs around Toronto, Glamour Shots was this boutique/salon/photo shop that briefly set itself up in malls in Canada I believe during the 90’s, or sometime near there.  This was when looking like a model or actress was a female fantasy, and getting done up at the photo boutique was supposed to be as close as you can get to “looking” like a Hollywood siren. Only the makeovers were very laughable.  Just overdone make-up, and very tight spiral curls, and unflattering bedroom clothes that seemed to add ten pounds to your body and face.  Maybe because 10 pounds is close to the amount of make-up they smeared on a client.

Anyways, getting back onto topic, for many years after the fad, I’ve adored texture and wave, and have used curling irons to occasionally fulfill my need for wavy hair drama.  I resorted to using a thicker barrel curling iron, so that the waves would seem more natural.  But the results were still quite done up, and larger curls sometimes meant less defined pretty waves. What I craved was that look you get with hair that is naturally wavy, like you had just gotten out of bed, and it was effortlessly full of texture and drama.  Mermaid waves, as it is called.    This is impossible to get with a hot iron.   The only way I could get mermaid waves was to use sea salt spray (I make my own), then tie my hair into tiny little buns and wait for them to dry.  The problem with this was that it took a lot of time to dry without damaging heat from a dryer.  The solution was to get curls while sleeping, when no one would see me in this altered state of scrunchied strangeness.  By using soft small scrunchies to hold my hair in buns, I was able to sleep after sea salting my hair, and I would wake up with gorgeous flow-y curls that were messy and natural.

How to use scrunchies for natural heatless waves:

1.  Use them to hold your buns!  After spraying sea salt spray evenly in you hair (check out my homemade sea salt spray recipe), twist your hair into a couple of tiny LOOSE buns.  I usually do four buns for more defined curls, but you could also do one big bun…tie down your buns with your scrunchies!

Not a pretty hairstyle at all!  But do at at night when no one is looking!  I made my own scrunchies!
Not a pretty hairstyle at all! But do at at night when no one is looking! I made my own scrunchies!

2.  Go to sleep and let the night do its wonders. Because of a looser bun and soft scrunchies, this curling way is actually comfortable enough to sleep in.

3.  In the morning remove the scrunchies to reveal a natural curly wave, not overly done up and hot-iron looking at all!  I feel this curl looks best after 2 days, when it has had time to relax.  Enjoy the texture and wave, and don’t let anyone know your curls aren’t natural!

After a few days, the curls relax and look uneven and undone.  Like you fell out of bed with wavy hair!
After a few days, the curls relax and look uneven and undone. Like you fell out of bed with wavy hair!

The “no make-up” make-up look for realsies…

Nobody wants to look like a hoochie mama, with thick make-up and colours layered all over the face.  When I was younger, I would wear a lot of make-up, and for some reason, it didn’t age me.  Now that I’m getting more experienced with make-up and looking at it on faces, I don’t think more is necessarily better.  What has been on all the runways, and make-up magazine these days is this minimal, natural, “no makeup look”.  Kind of athletic, and Plain Jane looking, but polished and slightly seductive (think bronzer, defined brows and a nude lip).  The ironic thing though, is that in reality, this “look” relies on tons of concealer, shadows, primers and heavy lipsticks…

runway fashion model close-up
runway fashion model close-up
j-lo also rocking the no make-up look.  but we know she is probably wearing tons!
j-lo also rocking the no make-up look. but we know she is probably wearing tons!

As you can see in the photos above, this look does work.  The problem with the “no make-up” tutorials I’ve seen are that it kind of defeats the purpose of wearing less/no make-up, which is: 1) Speed (getting ready in record time is awesome for gals that like to sleep in).  2) Lightness (wearing heavy make-up, even for the illusion of “no make up” is still gunky feeling if slathered on). And 3) Doesn’t really look like “no make-up”, because it isn’t, far from.

I think the only way to truly have a no make-up look is with minimal and light make-up application.  During the day, I sometimes want a light make-up look, that looks better and more put together than no make-up, and also feels fun and low maintenance.  You know, in case I run into an ex-boyfriend during grocery shopping or something! 🙂 But yeah, to achieve this look, I think you really have to wear less make up, instead of adding more to give an illusion of less.  It helps if you take care of your skin and have naturally nice skin too, that is half the work.

3 kinds of make up needed daily:

1.  Mascara:  Omigosh, this is so important. Without it, eyes can look sleepy, even after 3 cups of coffee, and you are bouncing off the walls.

2.  Blush: I used to always skip blush when I was in college in my early twenties.  I used to think it looked weird on me to constantly be in a state of “flushed”.  But now I can see if done with the right blush colour, and using not too much, it actually looks quite natural and good!

3.  Defined brows!  Brows are most often over-looked by people who don’t wear a lot of make-up.  For some reason, having lightly defined brows, (filling them in with a powder colour) can make a huge difference over the whole look of your face.  It’s like a frame for your eyes, and gets people to look at them!

What can be skipped:

1. Lipstick.  I actually find lipstick to be kind of gross.  Not only is it filled with heavy metals and chemicals, it’s thick and messy to use.  It also dries out lips severely.  Since I stopped using lipstick, my lips never dry out and are in a happy state of pink!  I prefer a tinted lip balm if I want extra colour!

2. Foundation.  I like foundation/bb cream when it’s needed.  For more formal looks or for going out, and for work, it’s a necessity.  Set it with powder.  But for an errand day, I don’t think it’s necessary at all.  It dries out the face, and when used too thickly, looks cakey and can amplify fine lines.  On errand days, I cut it with face cream to moisturize and cover ever so slightly.  I set it with powder if needed.

3. Eyeliner/eye shadow.  The reason I skip this on light days is that overly defined eyes always look heavy and noticeably made up.  Eyes naturally have a way of defining themselves, with lashes, and also with the shape and natural shadow they produce.  Adding liner is not a must, and while it looks great for going out and photos, in daily life, it sometimes feels a bit much.

This is only blush, eyebrows and mascara with a touch of shadow.  I did sneak in tinted moisturizer...
This is only blush, eyebrows and mascara with a touch of shadow. I did sneak in tinted moisturizer and tinted lip balm, but it’s still a really light application!  But it is enough!

Conclusion: While I love make-ups and different make-up looks, sometimes I actually feel wearing too much ages me a bit.  My skin has gotten more delicate and sensitive with age, and doesn’t seem to want to be a blank canvas for me to cover with loads of make-up as I did in my youth.  They were fun times but how about showcasing good skin to begin with?  How about less focus on covering up, and more focus face care options for clean and healthy skin?

Are there any make-up trends that you agree/disagree with?  What have you changed about your make-up routine as you grew up and changed yourself?