Beauty is synonymous with good nutrition and beneficial living choices. Beauty and that attractive “glow” really do come from the inside – you are only as good as the healthy choices you make every day. The more stresses you inflict (smoking, alcohol, not enough sleep, poor nutrition, sun exposure) on your body, the more you need to “cover-up” the resulting damage. Beauty products enhance and assist in this process – and offer some help with those little bumps in the road that may appear, but true health comes from within.
The products are separated into two categories – conventional and natural/organic ingredient manufacturers.
Nutrition: The key to unlocking the best you and the number one beauty “product” out there rest with good nutrition. What you eat has an impact on the quality of your hair and skin as well as on your waistline. Essential nutrients rest in fruits and vegetables. As dermatologist, Dr. David E. Bank, of New York’s Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery states, “Omega-3 fatty acids help keep the top outer layer of the skin strong and intact so that external toxins and pollutants are kept out.”
Good nutrition helps the skin and hair follicles repair the damage set upon them from harsh weather, pollution in the environment and from sun damage. Isoflavones found in soy foods (try to find organic) help maintain skin elasticity and soft textural qualities. Lycopene, phytochemicals and antioxidant properties of fruits and vegetables are – no surprise – directly related to health and beauty. Try those rich in minerals like red and orange peppers, carrots, cantaloupe, papaya, tomatoes (cooking releases more lycopene), and deep greens like spinach or kale.
Cleansers: Soap and other harsh surfactants are not a good choice to use on your face. Choose products specifically geared to your complexion and needs. Oil of Olay and Neutrogena top the conventional lists (choose products geared to your skin type: oily, dry or combination), but try natural products from companies like Origins or Acure Organics.
Cosmetics: It seems as if the lines for cosmetics could reach to Mars and back. Digging through them is a feat for anyone. Many try to limit their choices by ensuring the ingredients used in the cosmetic’s manufacture are safe (be sure to read ingredient lists and steer away from suspect brands), and that the products were not tested on animals. It is recommended to avoid any that contain parabens, DEA (cocamide and lauramide), BHA and BHT and coal tar dyes. Lines without these ingredients are usually listed under the natural/organic section and will state this on their labels. Some commonly available products are through BareMinerals, Origins and Ecco Bella. Conventional brands, including the popular “MAC” label.
Sunscreen: Sun damage is more than just a cosmetic issue circling around age spots and wrinkles; with skin cancer rates nothing to ignore, finding a good sunscreen is crucial. If you are prone to troubled skin and break-outs (often triggered by sunscreen products) try the Proactiv SPF 30 sunscreen. Neutrogena’s oil-free line is usually at the top of the list for conventional topicals least likely to trigger reactions. Dermatologists specify that products need to be listed as UVB and UVA – they block those damaging sunrays. Tropical Sands distributes an eco-sunscreen that is biodegradable and both UVA and UVB rated.
Hair Care: Just as face creams and moisturizers cater to the variety of “types”, hair products offer a wide-range of specific lines intended to benefit those with dry hair, curly hair, thin and straight hair, coloured hair, damaged hair and every hair type in between! And, just as with the cosmetic lines many people choose to avoid certain chemicals and modes of manufacture. Some brands are only available through salons – such as Aveeda. Favorites in test panels include Living Proof, Bumble and Bumble and Fekkai. Purchase from organic and fair trade lines such as LUSH (try their shampoo bars – just like in the “old days”), Avalon Organics and OGX.
Moisturizer: Choose a brand that is designed to alleviate or prevent issues that are specific to your skin’s type, environmental exposure (wind, cold, dry air), age, sensitivity (look for noncomedogenic) or reactivity – and if a combination of assaults are the problem. Neutrogena’s Rapid Wrinkle Repair repeatedly comes out a winner for correcting and holding wrinkles at bay. It is a good moisturizer for average or combination skin types. Roc also makes a well-received moisturizer with sunscreen for daytime use. For organic products try the Bioelements line, and Dessert Essence is well handled by those with sensitive skin and irritated break-outs. Those with acne need to replenish the moisture los after treatments to remedy the condition. Dry and flaky patches are often the result. Burt’s Bees, “Acne Solutions” is highly rated for this skin type.
Navigating the beauty world doesn’t have to be a toss on the high seas of indecision. Choose products that target your specific budget, lifestyle and needs. Whether you mix conventional with organic, being an educated buyer is key.