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Clean beauty simplified; lessons learned from the inside
The last 15 years have been an interesting time to be a beauty editor. To put it into perspective, Facebook was just a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye when I started writing about what eyeshadow looks best on blue eyes (gold) and how to use a GHD. I’ve witnessed “bold lips” for consecutive, never-ending seasons; new definitions of “the perfect red” each year, and lived through so many smokey eyes I’m happy to never wear (or write) about one ever again.
But, one of the most interesting things to watch has been the evolution of the natural movement. Sure, it had been bubbling away for years with brands like Jurlique and Weleda, but now it’s not only accepted, but expected. (Even Sephora has a dedicated green beauty floor). And, while I’m definitely no expert; I do know with more choice comes more confusion. So, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.
You practically need a PhD to understand what natural or organic means when it comes to beauty. It almost broke my brain (and heart) when I learnt the term “organic” is not regulated in Australia and that it’s legal for a brand name to have “organic” in it, but not actually be organic. This is why we need to look for organic ingredients certified by external organisations like the ACO who implement their own set of standards. The term “natural” in Oz is even more of a grey area, because even though it generally means some (or all) of the ingredients in the product are derived from natural sources, technically you can make that claim even if only one measly ingredient is natural. My general rule of thumb is; if in doubt, read the ingredients list.
Beauty editors trial a lot of product. Our homes could be mistaken for Sephora at any given time. And, while this access means there’s potential for amazing skin all the time, the reality is all that product mixing makes your skin freak the hell out. During these “hell phases” I stop using all other skincare and revert back to the only thing that consistently calms my skin: rosehip oil. When I first started using rosehip oil (way before oils became Insta-cool) I did it because it was soothing, nourishing and natural, which seemed preferable to the angry welts an overactive serum had caused. Since researching and writing about rosehip I have discovered it is brightening, antioxidant-rich, non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores), and packed with fatty acids that help with anti-ageing. What I love most is it contains a high concentration of a natural form of retinoic acid, (a natural derivative of vitamin A) so you can get some of the Vitamin A goodness, without the irritation of retinols.
Another thing I learned the hard way (through limp, lacklustre hair) is you need to wash your hair differently with sulphate-free shampoo. Sulphates are responsible for the soapy-foamy goodness in regular shampoos, which means washing your hair will feel different. The trick is to add more water, not more product, and to massage in extra well. It’s a bit more work for a lot of payoff.
I’ve tried so many different products over the years, from creams that made the skin on my feet peel off to kale nail polish, but the single thing that made the biggest difference was creating a healthy gut. It’s not the sexiest topic, it doesn’t need to be, because it just works. I’m a long-serving member of the Carla Oates fan club for that reason. What she started with the Beauty Chef was, in my opinion, revolutionary. No miracle product will save your skin or give you anything more than surface results if your insides aren’t happy. So get amongst the gut health!
Sarah Tarca is the contributing beauty editor of Atelier Dore, is a former Girlfriend magazine editor, and is currently patiently awaiting the birth of her first baby.
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