This post is sponsored by Weleda. A big thank you to Weleda for creating beautiful, organic skin care products that our family love to use, and that don’t irritate our skin. Read to the end to find out how to enter our Weleda giveaway!
Growing up, I always struggled with skin issues. The acne started in my early teens, and by my late teens my skin was so bad (and I was so embarrassed about it), that I began seeing doctors and dermatologists for help. I was put on the pill to try and balance out my hormones so that my skin would calm down (NOT a good idea, girls – here’s why!); and I was given a cream to use on my face that took off the top layer of skin, leaving it red raw and sensitive until the skin regenerated. For a couple of glorious months, I had lovely, clear skin! But it didn’t last. The acne soon came back and the cream stopped working.
Our skin is our largest organ, and it is greatly affected by what we eat, what we put on it, the water that we drink, the amount of sleep we have, and the health of our gut. However, I was never given that information. Instead, I was just told, ‘Take this pill. Use this cream. Don’t worry, you’ll grow out of it.’ I was at university and like most students had little money, so I wore cheap makeup, sprayed myself with any affordable deodorant and perfume, and ate plenty of sugar and junk food. I also reacted badly to dairy, but I just took enzyme tablets to support my dairy habit. I stayed up way too late at night, and got up early to go to uni, and certainly didn’t drink enough pure water. My poor skin didn’t stand a chance!
My sister comforted me, saying, “Don’t worry, once you have a baby your skin will get better!” It didn’t. Even after four babies I still had skin issues. I was more frustrated about my skin than I had been as a teenager. I felt like it was something I should’ve grown out of – most of my friends did, why couldn’t I?? Meanwhile, I kept subsisting on sugary, starchy foods, trying to keep up my energy to cope with four kids under seven years old. As you would have guessed, I wasn’t getting enough sleep, my gut health was worse, and I was still using cheap body products.
Eventually, the food intolerances, exhaustion, headaches and histamine reactions that I was also struggling with drove me to change my diet. I focused on cooking with wholefoods, and learnt to swap out foods that caused reactions. Not only did my health start improving, but also my skin! Those of you who know my story of returning to health know that I saw the biggest benefits when I went on GAPS, an incredibly healing intervention diet for gut health. (You can read our family’s story of healing with GAPS here, and learn to cook for GAPS here.)
Photos taken one year apart – March 2015 & March 2016 (after almost 2 years on GAPS)
It is now being widely acknowledged that at the root of chronic illness is inflammation, and our microbiome (the host of microbes that live in our gut, mouth, nose and on our skin) is paramount for controlling inflammation in our body. The GAPS diet helped me restore my microbiome and heal my leaky gut, a condition that allows inflammatory molecules to enter the bloodstream and cause chronic inflammation.
The GAPS diet is being used to treat all sorts of conditions from psychological, neurological, behavioural to autoimmune. The reason why the GAPS diet works so well is because it is a nutritionally dense diet of whole foods that are high on the healing factor and low on toxicity. Your body gets a break from the problematic foods, and also gets all the nutrition it needs to rebuild itself. The health of your gut is reflected in the health of your skin, and mine took on a new glow after a year on GAPS!
Food isn’t the only thing we eat!
A nutritionally-dense wholefood diet is the bedrock of good health. Food, however, isn’t only what enters our mouths. I mentioned earlier that skin is our largest organ. Products we use on our skin don’t simply evaporate or sit there hovering until we wash them off. In fact, the skin is extremely efficient at absorbing chemicals and releasing them into the bloodstream. The body treats these topical applications just like food, and so using inappropriate body care products will cause health issues similar to eating a diet full of chemicals and additives. Here are two things you should know:
#1 The microbiome
The flora (microbes) on your skin and in your gut play a hugely important part in regulating your immune system. The system should be a healthy, well-balanced ecology. These hardworking fellas should be looked after with care. They synthesise nutrients for us, help us digest food and regulate our immune system. When we shower with chlorinated water, and then use products full of synthetic chemicals, the microbiome is disrupted, and this creates an imbalance in the flora. This imbalance is one of the root causes of inflammatory diseases. Left unchecked, certain species of microbes can turn virulent when their numbers dominate in the microbiome, and we start seeing symptoms of disease. It is extremely important to maintain balance in the microbiome.
#2 Your blood stream
Chemicals you put on your skin are readily absorbed into your bloodstream. Think of how people use nicotine patches. If you’re using makeup, lotions, creams, body washes, shampoos, antiperspirants or toothpastes that contain harmful chemicals, you can be sure these are making their way into your bloodstream. Do you really want formaldehyde (only 1 example of a known carcinogen commonly used in body care products) circulating in your system?
So – What do you do?
Following the same approach as we would in our diet, our body care products should meet the following criteria
They should be made from natural materials that have a long history of use
o Before we got carried away with the chemical revolution, people used products derived from plants and animals for skin care. Plants, animal fat, plant oils such as olive oil and coconut oil have been used safely for millennia for food as well as skin care. Since they come packaged as whole food, they do not cause harm or provoke the body’s immune response.
They should be free of pesticides and chemical residue
o Having natural skin care products is only half the battle. If the plants or animals used to produce the product are contaminated with toxic chemicals, which is the norm in feedlot animals and monocrop farming, then these chemicals are also in the product. For instance, pesticides, antifungals and desiccants used on plants harm our microbiome and also disrupt important metabolic pathways. Look for only natural, organic ingredients in your skin care.
They should not be toxic or contain any synthetic, man-made chemicals
o In the same way that a diet full of processed food is toxic to our body, a skin care product that is full of processed, refined ingredients is going to be toxic too. Our body shares genetics with animals and plants, which is why compounds they produce are biologically active in us. Man-made chemicals are foreign to our genetics and create chaos in our systems. (This is a great article that discusses which chemicals you should be avoiding.)
They should support your microbiome
o Harsh synthetic chemicals cause a disruption of the microbiome. For instance, the function of triclosan, a common ingredient in handwash, is to kill bacteria. It’s use was popularised due to germophobia, but our skin bugs need care and support, not wiping out. Plant-based products contain nourishing ingredients that allow the beneficial skin flora to thrive, which contributes to a stronger immune system and greater health. As an aside note, antibacterial ingredients are contributing to the ever looming epidemic of antibiotic resistance, as more resistant strains of bacteria are being selected for. The use of Triclosan in soap has been banned by the American FDA – Australia is still lagging behind!
They should promote healing
Up until relatively recently, almost all medicine was plant-based. Plants are powerful helpers as they produce biologically active compounds that promote and support healing. For instance, plants like chamomile, white mallow, almond oil, calendula, sea buckthorn, comfrey, lavender, pomegranate and rosemary are all wonderful healers that have been used for hundreds and thousands of years. Your body recognises them as whole foods even when you apply them to your skin, and their biological activity is harmonious and beneficial.
It’s important when choosing body products to look into the ingredients they use, and make sure it’s a brand with trustworthy certification.
We absolutely love Weleda for organic skin care. Established in 1921 by Rudolf Steiner the father of biodynamic farming, Weleda is a well-established ‘green brand’ whose products are 100% certified natural, organic, fairtrade and ethical. They use sustainable business practices with a focus on environmental sustainability and preservation of biodiversity.
When I realised how toxic my body care products really were, I researched many brands looking for alternatives. It was quite difficult to really understand and know which products are good and which ones are not. Luckily, we found Weleda to be a brand we can trust. Weleda products are absolutely wonderful to use, and we feel relieved and happy to know that not only are they not harming us or the planet, but that they’re contributing to better health.
My daughter Cassia and I wearing our favourite Weleda lip balms – Berry Red (me) and Rose (Cassia)
Here are some of the Weleda products that are used regularly in our home:
- The beautiful spray deodorants in glass bottles: myself and my daughters love the Wild Rose Deodorant and the boys love the Sage and Citrus deodorants.
- Skin Food: a nourishing multi-purpose body cream that has been their biggest seller since 1926, and the recipe is still unchanged!
- Tinted Lip Balms: lovely, glossy and natural looking, and long-lasting.
- Almond Soothing Facial Care: my daughters have very sensitive skin, and this works beautifully for them.
- Salt Toothpaste: kids always will swallow toothpaste – make sure you’re using a natural toothpaste!
- Wild Rose Pampering Body Wash & Lotion: a gorgeous duo that makes your skin feel so soft, and smells amazing.
- White Mallow Face Cream: my youngest daughter has a tendency towards dry skin and patches of eczema so this cream is perfect for her.
My fellow Quirky Fouad’s family also love Weleda. Fouad’s approach is to use a variety of products interchangeably, just like you would with your diet. It makes sense as each product contains different nutrients and plants that the body would benefit from differently. Using a variety of moisturisers would give you a greater nutritive variety! Here are some of Fouad’s suggestions:
- Sea Buckthorn Replenishing Lotion – this is one of my favourite lotions. My skin feels incredible after I use it and it gets absorbed without leaving an oily film.
- Pomegranate Regenerating Body Oil and Pomegranate Body Wash: a Middle-Eastern chef cannot say no to pomegranates, and I love the smell too. I use the body oil before going to bed as I like to give my skin some extra nutrition to help it heal.
- Calendula Body Lotion and Calendula Baby Oil: calendula is one of the most healing herbs in the herbalist’s arsenal. I use the calendula products on my children’s skin as it’s gentle and helps heal any little cuts or scrapes. I also use the baby oil before I have a long shower (which I use to wind down), so my skin remains protected during long exposure to hot water.
- White Mallow Body Lotion – I still have remnants of the systemic eczema that once plagued me, and while on the GAPS diet I’ve been using Weleda’s eczema cream to help heal, with great results.
- Millet Nourishing Shampoo – It’s true. I don’t have hair. But I still use shampoo on my bald round head. I don’t why. Maybe because I don’t feel right using body wash on my head, or maybe I’m holding on to the past… Regardless, I love this shampoo. My scalp and face (yes, I use it to wash my face too) feel clean but I am not left with that dry feeling where your skin is so tight you can’t smile. It’s perfect!
To help you get a head start on changing your body products over to natural, organic options, we have a special Weleda Intro Offer for you, and some gorgeous prize packs to give away. AND if you’d like to win a copy of our new cookbook, Life-Changing Food, pop over and like the Weleda Facebook page, and enter their cookbook giveaway too!
*** Giveaway is now ended. Congratulations to the winners! ***
Winners: Hayley Terry (Eczema care pack); Fiona Gass (Hormonal skin pack); Natasha Paul (Family favourites pack); Bonnie D (Baby care pack).
Thanks to all who entered!
For your chance to WIN a Weleda prize pack, simply COMMENT ON THE FACEBOOK OR INSTAGRAM POST telling us what you most love about Weleda skin care products, and which prize pack you’d like to win (choosing from those listed below). Competition closes midnight AEST, 19th May, 2017. Open to Australian residents only. Winning comments will be announced here on this blog post and on the Quirky Cooking Facebook page and Instagram on the 20th May, 2017.
–Hormonal skin: Aknedoron Cleansing Lotion, Aknedoron Purifying Lotion, Almond Soothing Cleansing Lotion, Almond Soothing Facial Lotion
–Family favourites: Skin Food, Salt Toothpaste, Children’s Tooth Gel, Citrus Deodorant, Everon Lip Balm, Birch Body Scrub, Burns & Bites Cooling Gel
–Eczema care: White Mallow Body Lotion, White Mallow Face Cream, Almond Sensitive Skin Body Wash, Almond Sensitive Skin Cleansing Lotion, Skin Food
–Baby care: Calendula Nappy Change Cream, Calendula Cream Bath, Calendula Face Cream, Nursing Tea, Calendula Baby Oil, Baby Teething Powder