How to Relearn Your Beauty Habits
I started “greening my beauty routine” almost 10 years ago. At first it wasn’t because I was overly concerned with the safety of my products, it was more out of vanity. Around 25 I started getting pretty bad cystic acne. To this day, I still don’t know what caused it, I suspect it was hormonally related (but the loads of synthetic makeup I wore, probably didn’t help!).
Like so many, it took an experience like this to motivate me to start looking at the products I was using. Thankfully I did! Otherwise I wouldn’t have discovered a whole new way of thinking about grooming. I call this my “relearning” moment.
Relearning the right way to take care of my skin & hair
When I started researching the best natural cleansing products, I didn’t expect to change my entire perspective on soap. I also didn’t expect to start using the ‘one’ product I was taught to fear —oil. And I certainly didn’t expect to stop washing my hair (or at least as often!).
It wasn’t just relearning the dos and don’ts, but actually understanding the body’s natural processes. I also had to banish the social norms I had come to accept. I quickly realized that so many grooming habits arose from brand campaigns and marketing tactics. I think we all know those television commercials where the woman at the party raises her arms and is mortified that she has perspired through her dress, or that man in the shower who lathers himself into a frothy mess so that later in the day the love of his life can smell his soapy freshness.
Don’t believe the soap commercials
Edward Bernays, the father of marketing psychology can tell us more about this. He was influenced by his uncle’s writing on psychoanalysis (you know that guy we call Freud!) and wrote about the power of emotions to persuade the public. Some say the concept of modern consumerism can be attributed to Bernays who believed that if brands could tap into the public’s emotions, they could sell anything.
Looking to contemporary marketing, laundry detergent companies have certainly succeeded in encouraging the public that we must smell ‘clean’ to be clean. Particular brands have gone as far as selling scented beads to throw in the wash to extend the scent life. It’s no wonder we’ve never learned the way our body should work when we’re faced by consumer brands and societal habits promoting how we should use soaps and scents.
Washing less saved my skin
Ever since I was young I’ve suffered from dry, itchy skin. After “relearning” how my skin protects itself by naturally producing oil, I opted to see what it could do without soap. Dry skin happens when there’s not enough natural oil to protect it —usually made worse by an obsessive routine of soaping up. To help my skin out, I started using a dry skin brush to slough off dry skin and other impurities, and only washed my ‘pits and bits’ with natural soap. This was pure magic! For once in my life, my dry and itchy skin was finally at peace. Check out a few of our favourite dry brush options here!
My hair became less oily when I stopped washing it
I remember when I was in high school a friend of mine went on an exchange to France. When she came back it wasn’t the stories of fabulous food and travels that I remember but the shocking story of a French classmate who only washed her hair once a week!
I’ve since learned to understand the logic behind French hair hygiene. It wasn’t a national boycott on shampoo, despite my youthful belief, they just knew something I didn’t. Our body adjusts oil production based on availability. If you go one week without washing your hair, at first you might need to invest in a hat, but after the first week or so, you’ll realize that you can go longer and longer without oil buildup.
Trust that your body knows what it’s doing
It certainly was an adjustment to undo almost 30 years of taught behaviour and get over the shock that what I have accepted to be true is not always the best.
Since those early years of discovery, I’ve replaced everything in my cosmetic cabinet with a greener alternative. But it’s actually not a perfect formula; one conventional product doesn’t necessarily need to be replaced by one natural product. The relearning process has taught me that I need fewer products and in fact some products are actually obsolete in my new natural beauty care regime.
If you take some time to understand how the body works — breaking habits is hard— you might just be left with a more harmonious body that relies much less on lotions and potions to keep it beautiful!