Skin should be kept mildly acidic to stay healthy and strong – 4.2-5.6 on the pH scale – and rich in naturally moisturising bacteria which nourish the body from the inside (gut) out (to the skin’s surface), keeping the complexion radiant and glowing.
Diets heavy in refined carbs, sugar and junk food deplete the gut – and therefore the skin – of vitality-enhancing live bacteria and digestive enzymes. But nothing sullens and ages the skin as rapidly as smoking, or strips the skin of natural oils so ruthlessly and efficiently as alcohol. Consequently, half the population has malnourished/”sick” alkaline/dry skin.
The benefits of ingesting live, fermented foods is well documented, and the same principle applies to what we put on our skin. Conversely, most soaps, cleansers and cosmetics are synthetic and abrasively strip healthy surface bacteria away leaving the skin, particularly the face and hands, drier, more brittle and susceptible to sun damage and wrinkles.
On average, women apply more than 200 chemicals – including formaldehyde, phthalates, lead, mercury parabens and ethanolamines – to their skin and hair daily. Over the past decade men too have been following increasingly intensive, chemical-laden grooming trends, spawning a multi-billion worldwide men’s grooming industry.
chemical-laden skincare products
Among the worst of these chemicals is found in everyday soaps, shower gels, shampoos, even dental products. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and its close relatives sodium laureth sulfate and ammonium laurel sulfate are cheaply derived chemicals found in many personal care products, including those described on the label as “natural” or “organic”.
Known as surfacants, these detergents break down the skin’s surface tension to separate dirt and grease molecules, in the process creating a lather that washes the accumulated dirt away. Essentially, if it foams it’s likely to contain a sulfate. So effective is their application that sulfates are used in industrial cleaning products, including engine de-greasers!
Hence how and why surfacants also strip the skin of bacterial oils, leaving it dry and alkaline. New research into how our skin’s ‘microbiome’ works supports findings that even <0.5% of cleansers containing surfacants may result in skin irritation and corrosion, that residual levels collect in the brain, lungs, liver and heart, and may also cause hormonal imbalance and lower male fertility.
The International Journal of Toxicology recommends levels of sulfates no more than 1% in products with prolonged use (some cleaning products have levels as high as 30%), but the message is clear: as a vital organ skin needs to be routinely nourished and replenished, so take care with what you apply to it and radiant, clear, healthy skin will inevitably result.
look no further than your kitchen
Oil-based, detergent-free cream cleansers are best, yet among the most effective ingredients can be found in your kitchen. The internet contains numerous tips and recipes for cleansing the skin naturally using everything from bananas and olive oil to lemon juice and raw eggs – and Kombucha! This simple recipe makes a natural, cost-effective face mask:
• Half a ripened avocado (rich in vitamin E);
• 3 or more tbsp of GO! Kombucha (high in lactic acid bacteria plus polyphenols in the tea, we suggest using Green Sencha, our most neutral flavour. Ideally mature the tea by pouring into a bowl and covering with a cloth for a week or two until it becomes more vinegary and stringent;
Mash ingredients to form a smooth paste. Apply a hot water-soaked flannel to face and leave for a few seconds to open pores. Remove and immediately apply paste evenly from forehead to neck avoiding eye area. Relax for 10-15 minutes then rinse away. For a moistuirising boost stir in a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil that has been warmed to liquid and apply before the oil solidifies.
See our blog entry Kombucha tea – beauty on the inside and out! for beauty products that use Kombucha.