Integrative herbalist. Natural products consultant. CEO, her vital way
You know that surge of excitement you feel when you come across a natural remedy for a frustrating ailment (zits, split ends) that you already have on hand? (Your pantry!) You feel like you’re cheating the system: No dermatologist/salon/doctor’s appointment needed! Nope! Not me. I’m just going to mix this three-week-old lemon with some baking soda and soy yogurt… and look forward to effortless beauty. Sigh. It doesn’t always work that way, does it? For one, you can hurt yourself with stuff from the kitchen if you’re not careful. But, two, sometimes natural remedies just don’t work, do they? We all have different, individual chemistry, but as an integrative herbalist, I’ve observed that the natural approach is a marathon, not a sprint. Clear skin, full hair, lots of energy—these come from holistic lifestyle changes, which involve detoxing what your body doesn’t need (chronic stress, toxins from our environment, endocrine disruptors in food), and giving it what it does (trace minerals, nutrient-rich whole foods, supplement boosts, rest, positive relationships). In that sense, they do work. But it requires a little bit of experimentation and patience to evaluate the results. That being said, here are effective beauty hacks I’ve observed with my clients. Every woman wants full, healthy hair, great skin and energy all day long to power her life. Here are some ways to get them.
The 5 most effective beauty hacks:
1. TO STOP HAIR LOSS:
Thinning hair, excessive hair breakage and pattern baldness can all occur from fluctuating hormones, chronic stress, poor nutrition and an insufficient intake of omega 3, 6 and 9, and fiberrich foods. While there are numerous products touting hair growth, the best way to have truly healthy hair is to protect the complex processes at play in hair growth every day. Use raw, non-GMO plant oils like avocado, sesame, coconut and sunflower in salad dressings and lightly drizzled over most meals, along with two essential supplements: a bioactive food-sourced algae calcium, K2 (in the form of MK-7) and a D3 complex, along with an activated B formula (with folate) to address the most common deficiencies and root causes of hair loss.
2. TO GET SHINY HAIR:
Folate and vitamin B5 support the adrenal glands, helping to encourage hair growth and gives hair flexibility, strength and shine. Take these along with B1, B2 and biotin to encourage cell division, growth and enzymatic reactions. An activated B formula also has the lovely side benefit of nourishing the nervous system and helping with stress.
3. TO HEAL ACNE CYSTS:
Ayurveda offers self-care routines that encourage a more gentle, mindful, “whole person” approach to the skin. Utilizing the most natural of ingredients, it has a do-ityourself focus that energizes circulation and optimizes elimination to address the root causes of so many skin woes. “Kapha” energy is tied to the earth, and kapha-dominant folks have skin that is typically thick, well-moisturized, soft and cool to the touch. It ages slowly, but is typically prone to clogging and the accumulation of toxins, resulting in cystic acne. Cleansing ingredients (think lemon) that address bacteria are key; avoid greasy, heavy creams that will further clog the skin. To moisturize, stick to light, naturally antibacterial oils, such as sesame, and antibacterial essential oils, such as clary, sage, lavender and rosemary.
4. TO REDUCE SKIN INFLAMMATION:
Speaking of Ayurveda, “pitta” energy is associated with fire, which can be great, like having a digestive fire that efficiently processes our nutrients. But it can also tip over into inflammation. Unfortunately, conventional skin cleansing often exacerbates the problem by stripping our skin of natural oils—and when skin is inflamed, it needs some oil to heal. So here’s my favorite cleansing ritual: mix together 1 tsp lentil flour, ½ tsp neem powder or triphala powder, and 1 tsp water. Apply this paste to your face and wash off with cool water before it dries. Moisturize with anti-inflammatory oils that are calming to the skin: jojoba oil is my favorite, since it’s the closest oil to our body’s own oil, sebum. Follow with a facial massage using upward strokes that start from the nose and move out to the hairline.
5. TO REVIVE ENERGY (BY GIVING YOUR LIVER SOME TLC):
It’s remarkable how when you start with the liver, everything else seems to improve. That’s because the liver is responsible for detoxification plus filtration, as well as the breakdown and assimilation of fats and proteins in your body. When compromised, it can’t perform its functions optimally, which means toxins are not ushered out of the blood efficiently and nutrients are not utilized properly. Stress—emotional, environmental and lifestyle related—bogs down the liver and can create stagnation. Our health depends on movement—constant energetic and physical flow. So, stagnation is not what we ever want to see in the body. To restore a suffering liver—and get your energy back—drink lemon water in the morning, walk regularly in nature and consume cucumbers throughout the day. Increase fiber intake in your diet, and take milk thistle on the side. You will be amazed at how effective these seemingly gentle tweaks can be when it comes to powering your body.