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Sustainable life: Natural beauty

Mia Swainson

Winter has finally landed in Canberra.

It’s cold and windy outside and your skin is starting to look dry and flakey. Eeeek…there’s a scratchy, dry skin feeling on elbows and knees. Time to add some moisturiser and give some love – the natural way.

Most commercial moisturisers contain more than 20 ingredients, many with names that are impossible to say out loud unless you have a chemistry degree.

Some of these chemicals are an extract of natural products, like Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate which is derived from coconut oil and fermented sugar. Unfortunately, others chemicals commonly found in moisturiser are harmful to the environment and possibly to you too. Take for example, parabens, used as a preservative in many moisturisers, known to be an endocrine disrupter. Some parabens that are still available in Australia were recently banned in European beauty products. Yikes.

It’s not all bad news though.

Choice’s research, published earlier this year, found that most big name, commercial cosmetic companies only include small amounts of nasty chemicals in their Australian products. Choice concludes that the nasty chemicals are such a small part of the moisturiser ingredients that they’re unlikely to do harm unless you’ve got a specific allergy.

Commercial moisturisers smell good and feel nice, but if you’re natural-beauty-minded you can do better. We don’t need a list of 20 ingredients, or large dollops of cream to make our skin soft and smooth. All we need are a few drops of oil.

Cold pressed oil is a natural product, literally squeezed out of its raw ingredient. Think macadamia oil – extracted by pressing macadamia nuts. There’s avocado oil – extracted made by squashing and separating the oil from avocados and coconut oil, originally made from the ‘flesh’ inside coconuts.

All of these oils are natural beauty products, edible, good for our skin and good for the planet.

Using oil as a moisturiser, rather than a chemist’s cocktail, has the advantage of low beauty miles. This is because oils are single ingredient products. Beauty miles, or the greenhouse footprint of a product, increase as the number of ingredients needed to manufacture the product goes up. Beauty miles also increase the further your moisturiser travels.

So which oil is right for you? There are a few oils that are good for all skin types. These include macadamia oil, almond oil and cocoa butter. If you’re young, try Apricot kernel oil, coconut oil, hemp seed oil, wheat germ oil or olive oil. For more mature skin you could try avocado oil or evening primrose oil.

To moisturise using pure oils, use a dropper to put a small amount of oil on your damp hands after bathing, and rub it into the target area of skin.

HERE ARE SOME TO TRY

JosieMaran

Josie Maran Pure Argan Oil  | $24-$72 | Mecca Cosmetica in the Canberra Centre | mecca.com.au

oils

Pure oils such as sandalwood, rose and jojoba | Starting from $3.50| www.thehierophant.com.au

Trilogy

Trilogy Organic Rosehip Oil | $19.99 | Priceline at Westfield Belconnen | www.priceline.com.au

PerfectPotion

Organic Evening Primrose Oil | $14.99 | Perfect Potion | www.perfectpotion.com.au

When shopping in person you might not find pure, moisturising oil in the moisturiser section of shops. They’re more likely to be in the food or massage sections.

If low beauty miles are your thing, head to the Capitol Region Farmer’s Market and pick up some macadamia oil or olive oil directly from the farmer.

It’s time to shed that flakey winter skin. Get amongst some natural oils and feel the silky smooth love of happy skin and a happy planet.

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Mia Swainson

Mia Swainson is passionate about creating a more sustainable world and believes that everyone can make a difference. Trained as an environmental engineer, Mia has worked in sustainable development with the Australian Government and community sector for more than 15 years. Mia’s work has taken her around the world to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and back to Canberra. She currently tends her kitchen garden, cares for three young boys and is growing her executive coaching consultancy (miaswainson.com.au/wp). More about the Author

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