There are hundreds of health benefits to incorporating natural and organic products into your diet and beauty. The money-saving potential of cutting meat out of your diet plus the reported environmental benefits are great. (Animal agriculture contributes more greenhouse gas emissions than all of the trains, planes, cars, buses and boats put together.) And an added bonus of going more natural is improved mood, lower blood pressure, and weight loss.
Injecting greenery into your everyday lifestyle means you’re doing your bit for your community, your pocket, and the world. But if these reasons aren’t doing it for you, it is also a great way to improve niggling and uncomfortable beauty problems like dry skin, weak and flaky nails, or brittle hair. Here are five ways you can get started:
Home Made Face Masks
When you’re up against the elements, keeping your skin healthy can feel like a daily challenge. Cold weather, sun damage, and air pollution can all cause or exacerbate skin problems like blemishes, clogged pores, dryness or breakouts. Contrary to what you might think, a lot of beauty products can be detrimental to healthy skin, containing ingredients such as alcohol, parabens, and acrylics that clog and suffocate pores. But all is not lost, as fruits also work well as part of natural, homemade skin products.
If you have dry or blemished skin, papaya is great as an exfoliator, cleanser, and moisturizer. Exfoliate your skin with the inner seeds and pulp for around a minute. To make a face mask, blend the papaya with 2 tablespoons of honey or yogurt, apply to the face and leave for 20 minutes, then wash off with lukewarm water. If soaking up the sun has dulled or damaged your skin, a strawberry face mask is the way to go. Mix strawberry pulp with a little water, massage it into the skin and wash off after 20 minutes or so. This brightens and helps repair skin.
Eat for Beauty
Your diet may be a contributing factor which is causing your skin to act up and break out. Dairy products, sugar, and coffee can aggravate your complexion. So one of the most effective ways to give your skin a fighting chance on the outside is by maintaining a clean and nutritious diet that takes care of the inside.
For food that purifies the skin, you only need look to your fruit basket. The humble apple contains malic acid that promotes a firm and youthful complexion, while bananas contain potassium that is hydrating and has a high vitamin A, B, and E content which are all anti-aging.
By increasing the fruit and vegetables in your diet, the abundance of varying vitamins will no doubt rejuvenate and strengthen your skin, hair, and nails. It’s been scientifically proven that cutting out high levels of sugar in favor of natural foods does wonders for your locks. When you consume large quantities of sugar your body releases insulin to regulate the influx. This has a detrimental effect on your hair as insulin damages blood vessels, making it more difficult for oxygen to reach the scalp. As a consequence hair struggles and weakens.
Luckily, there are plenty of foods that are great for hair. If it’s long hair you’re after, complex carbohydrates, such as bulgur wheat, parsnips, legumes, fresh fruit, and whole grains will encourage growth.
For a refreshing meal that will optimize hair growth, Quinoa salad with feta, beetroot, and pumpkin is perfect. If you’re after something a little more wholesome, try this spinach and tofu cannelloni. Be sure to purchase organic or non-GMO tofu. A great idea for a lunch that will enrich your locks is bulgur wheat and spinach fritters, make your own chutney for an extra kick.
Try Organic Beauty Brands
One of the best ways to enhance the greenery in your day to day beauty regime is to opt for vegetarian products. The reason being is that there are some less-than-pleasant animal derivatives in non-vegetarian cosmetics. Some ingredients include emu oil, fish scales, gelatin, shark cartilage, ambergris, and many more. These far from appealing additions which are found in some mascaras from high-end brands often contain a whole host of damaging chemicals that can actually cause lashes to become dry, brittle and even fall out—then you end up adding more product to make your lashes look thicker, which then causes even more damage.
This can be the same story with foundation as the mainstream brand incorporates polymethyl methacrylate, which adds a soft, smooth feel but worryingly some studies have reportedly linked this ingredient to skin allergies and even the disruption of the immune system. These chemical ingredients are swiftly avoided with organic and natural products which even avoid testing on animals.
Plan Your Meals and Recipes
A great opportunity to improve your health and gain more beauty benefits is by introducing more greenery into your diet.
There are a number of animal-free, protein-rich foods available at your fingertips, including eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds. For a colorful meal that’s rich in protein why not try a twist on a Spanish classic with a red and white bean and basil frittata. If you fancy something sweet for breakfast, then cookie dough overnight oats are a great way to go. For those who can handle a little heat, try spicy bean burgers, stuffed full of vegetarian protein.
Check the Packaging
There are lots of effective products out there which are guilt-free and, free from animal testing. Ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate and phthalates, which are often used because they’re cheap can give you short-term benefits but, used long-term, they can damage your hair, leaving it dry, brittle, and prone to frizz.
Some of the most common chemicals used in shampoos have been linked to skin irritation, sore eyes, and even cancer. Many of these chemicals are harmful to the environment. Washed down the drain, they end up polluting rivers, seas, and soil.
Most natural brands have good ethical standards, so they’re better for you, the planet and the people who grow the ingredients. Some handy resources are Leaping Bunny, EWG, and Made Safe which test brands to meet their requirements.
Ultimately, enhancing your lifestyle in places where green doesn’t shine through will mean that you will notice the impacts quickly. It’s a means of reassessing your lifestyle, getting reacquainted with your body, and helping the planet in the process. So what is there to lose? Get on board and go green!
Holly Barry is a contributor at NaturallySavvy.com, which first published this article.