Five beauty detox tips
After the festive splurge, it's time to turn our attention to clean living - in terms of what we put onto our body as well as into it, writes Claire O'Mahony.
It's the time of year when we go scrabbling to rid our store cupboards of too much temptation and try to get our finances back on track. But it should also be a time to think about what we're putting onto our bodies as well as into it. Here's how to make your skin regimen a more clean-living one.
1 Make-up not forever
Perhaps you are scrupulous about regularly doing a spring clean of your cosmetics. But most of us are guilty of holding onto almost-finished bottles of foundation ("Just in case my good one runs out…") and some sparkly eye shadows, circa 2009. Make-up doesn't have a best-by date but it does have a shelf life, after which it could become a harbourer of bacteria. Foundation is good for up to a year, but use a sponge or a brush instead of your fingers when applying. Lip gloss can be kept for six months and lipsticks for up to a year with powders having the greatest longevity, lasting up to two years. Mascaras and liquid eye liners have the shortest life span; these should be replaced after six months. Don't forget about your make-up tools, unless you want to reapply old make-up and possibly bacteria on to your skin - sponges and brushes should be washed in warm soapy water every two weeks.
2 Ingredients to avoid
If you take a look at the label on any product, from shower gel to shampoo, aqua (ie. water) usually comes first followed by a disconcerting list of chemicals. Parabens, phthalates and sodium lauryl sulphate are common inclusions but it's not entirely clear as to what effects long-term exposure to them from common cosmetics will have. Critics believe that they interfere with the body's hormones and lead to a higher risk of some cancers and several studies have shown that the more toiletries a person uses, the more parabens and phthalates that end up in their bodies. Because they can have various names, it's not always apparent if something possesses parabens and phthalates. To avoid them, opt for products clearly named paraben or phthalates-free, and choose non-fragranced over perfumed, as fragrance adds a lot more chemicals to the equation.
3 Downsize your routine
There's a good chance that you can get away with a fraction less of products you're applying to your face and your body. Think natural instead. Coconut oil is a wonderful skin soother that can also be used to remove make-up and to deep condition your hair. Argan oil, which comes from Morocco, works similarly and is also great for reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. For skin prone to outbreaks, try pure jojoba oil, which is used in many acne treatments. You can also find myriad recipes for scrubs, cleansers and deep conditioners online, most of the ingredients for which, from egg yolks to avocados, can be found in your kitchen.
4 Full steam ahead
An at-home facial is a gentle and effective way of soothing skin and making your skin feel deeply cleansed. It's a myth that you can 'open' pores (they have no muscles so they can't move) but a steam clean causes increased perspiration, which can help shift any debris on your face, such as blackheads and dead cells. Start with a gentle scrub to clean the face. You don't need a professional facial cleaner or even to put your head over a bowl of boiling water - a wash cloth, run under hot water and then draped across the face for a few minutes will suffice. Then use a cleanser to clean your face - don't be tempted to go digging at blemishes, as that's best left to the professionals - and finish with a nourishing moisturiser.
5 Have better baths
A great soak can be an indulgent, relaxing thing, but you can also make it work for you in detoxifying ways. Adding Epsom salts, widely available in pharmacies, to your bath is one of the cheapest and most effective ways of doing so. Many of us are deficient in magnesium, which is important for many bodily functions, and one of the best ways to absorb it is via the skin. An Epsom salt bath, which is rich in magnesium and sulphates can help with inflammation and pain, flush toxins, absorb nutrients, relieve stress and help with skin conditions. Another ingredient to look to at bath time is seaweed, which has numerous benefits associated with it. A powerful source of minerals and antioxidants and has purported strong detoxifying properties. Fill a muslin bag with seaweed - dried kelp and dried dulse - and steep it in a pot of boiling water for an hour. Then add to a hot bath and enjoy its restorative effects.
Health & Living