Sunday, January 2, 2011

My Skin's Chemical Romance

        My skin loves chemicals. Yep, that's right and anyone who knows me will see the absolute irony in that statement.              
        For those of you who don't, let me explain-I hate chemicals. It started many years ago when after cleaning my bathtub with some chemical cleanser, I didn't want to take a bath because I was completely grossed out by the thought of soaking in a bathtub that would most likely have chemicals floating around in it. I hate everything about cleansers, the way they smell especially-clean does not smell like a fake chemical pine forest! I started making my own cleanser by combining baking soda, cream of tar tar and white vinegar. I felt much better about my bathtub after I started cleaning it with my homemade scrub. I despise air "fresheners"-there is nothing fresh about them. When someone sprays air freshener I don't think "aah-how fresh", I think "I'm going to get cancer".
        It started with cleanser and then moved to the foods I eat. I had already stopped eating most meats-especially processed meats. I have not had a hot dog, hamburger, or a cold cut (minus cheese) since 1987. So now I decided to take it one step further. I believe people should eat whole foods-that means foods that have had nothing added to them and nothing taken away. In other words, no processed foods. I do not eat anything fat or sugar free. If you take the fat or sugar out of food, you have to add something back in to make it taste good and that means chemicals!
        So this past year, I had decided to apply my no chemical stance to my skin care routine. I decided to change all the products I used and not only was I going to shun parabans and petroleum, I wanted all of the ingredients to be from the earth. I wanted the moisturizing agents to be oils pressed from the finest fruits, the anti-inflammatory ingredients to come from the leaves of an exotic plant and the anti aging magic to come from the petals of a fragrant flower. I wanted to be able to eat my skincare if I needed to.
        So I started out by purchasing a sample package from an all organic "natural" line. The ingredients featured Aloe Vera Gel, Soapwort Extract, Jojoba Oil, Golden Seal, Grapeseed Extract, Chamomile, Sugar Cane and Green Tea. Perfect! I was so happy! All I envisioned was my already beautiful skin being transformed into the most wonderful, luminous skin ever created! What I got was the biggest breakout of my life! OK-I was not going to give up, I was convinced it was the Aloe Vera, so I would just avoid that. So my first all natural product and not only was I avoiding chemical ingredients, I was now avoiding natural ingredients. Great. I ordered a face cleanser from an online "natural" website that didn't work and ended up being used as a hand soap. I purchased a cleansing cream from the health food store because it was all "natural" and contained Sea Buckthorn and Cucumber. Next I tried another line by a well known Doctor who follows an '"all natural" lifestyle and shuns chemicals. My skin only got worse.
        One day honeybuns looked at me and said "you look like a 15 year old girl" due to my adolescent worthy breakout I had been having for the past 5 months. That same week while handing my landlady my rent check, she looked at me and said "what happened to your face?" I knew something had to be done. I was going to have to sleep with the enemy. I purchased some samples from and almost overnight, my skin cleared up.
        The moral of this story is: not all things that are natural and from the earth are good for your skin, and not all things synthetic and man made are bad for your skin. You just have to figure out your comfort level. 
        Just as I try to eat healthfully and mindfully as much as I can, don't be surprised if you see me devouring the occasional bag of Doritos. I still try to avoid the parabans, sulfates, and fragrance and be mindful of what I put on my skin, but I am a little more open to all ingredients including the synthetic ones.
Hope you all had a safe, happy, healthy New Year!