In Australia from 20-24th October we are celebrating Natural Beauty Week, a great initiative created by the College of Natural Beauty, the sister company to Endeavour College of Natural Health  It’s an opportunity to re-evaluate the products that we use, the chemicals we apply to our skin and be more discerning about how we treat our amazing bodies – and the environment. However we treat one, impacts the other.

I’ve always been interested in natural and organic products and from a young age, enjoyed sniffing various bottles and concoctions.  I started to intuitively create products for myself and as gifts for friends before I’d done any formal aromatherapy training.  We receive so many incredible gifts from nature, and she supplies the solution to every possible ailment. The plant kingdom is nothing short of magical.  lavenderselflove

In recent years, the cosmetics, perfume and body products industry has gone through an incredible expansion. We are literally bombarded day and night with advertising across multi-platforms, telling us that if we want to look, feel and smell better then we need to buy x product and all our problems will be solved. We will be suddenly beautiful, get the guy or girl, get the job, get the car, get the ‘look’ and be a part of the ‘in crowd’.

The word ‘natural’ is ridiculously overused and has almost lost its original meaning. The definition is ‘derived from nature’.  However, just because something may have been natural at one point in its long and synthetically preserved life cycle, does not mean it’s good for you in its current over-processed format.

The commercial perfume industry is a great example of how we are mislead by advertising.  I have not used a synthetic ‘perfume’ in more than 20 years and to me, a passionate aromatherapist, they all smell the same. Each one has a powdery alcohol fragrance, which makes me sneeze and gives me a headache. I just don’t find a bottle of alcohol containing hundreds of toxic ingredients,  covered with celebrity branding particularly enticing. The high price is an added bonus!  I’ve lost count of the times I’ve walked away from the overpowering smell of aftershave or perfume, as the hairs in my nasal passages have shrivelled up in protest.  There go a few thousand brain cells I’ll never get back!

I avoid cosmetic and make up counters in department stores like my life depends on it. And that’s probably because it does!  We can no longer ignore the increase of allergies, sensitivities and bizarre illnesses that we are experiencing as we continue to increasingly pollute ourselves and our beautiful planet.

So at least during the next week, consider how you can switch maybe even a couple of products that you use to a healthier alternative. As some inspiration, check out this video with Eco Model Amanda Rootsey receiving a make over here with only products found in the kitchen. Amanda is a Natural Beauty Ambassador and only works with businesses who are environmentally conscious. See video of the makeover here.

IMG_0741-1080x675There are so many foods and oils that we can use from our kitchen cupboards. I use organic virgin coconut oil on my face and body all the time. It’s amazing and can be used in so many different ways to support our skin, externally and internally. It’s also an effective conditioning treatment for your hair and a tablespoon ingested each day is purported to support the digestive system with its anti-microbial properties. It’s anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, full of anti-oxidants and of course smells divine. It’s a wonderful cleanser and moisturiser. I like to carefully massage into my face, leave on for a couple of minutes and then use a warm facecloth or muslin cloth to gently remove. You can use a tablespoon and add a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil. Lavender, Roman Chamomile or Rose would be soothing and relaxing to use in the evening. You could also add the same to a bath before bed or massage into your body after a shower as part of your evening ritual.

Some popular organic coconut oils are: Green Nutritionals, Indah Organics (also make lovely perfume balms), and Melrose

I then use Receive Alchemical oil which is created in a base of organic rosehip, avocado and jojoba oils with sandalwood, neroli, frankincense and spikenard.  For this next week only, I want to encourage you try something new and so I’m offering you a $10 saving on Receive Alchemical oil. Buy here.


So how can you tell if something is made with essential oils rather than fragrant oils?

Back to the topic of perfumes.  The use of the words fragrance and parfum indicate that it’s synthetic.  Fragrant oils and essential oils are NOT the same thing, not even close. Fragrant oils are an attempt to recreate the smells of nature extremely cheaply, mass produce them, slap on a whopping mark-up, distract you with branding and packaging and charge an inflated amount.

When pure essential oils have been used the manufacturer will list the botanical name, so that it’s easily identifiable. As an example, there are around 39 different species of Lavender.  The botanical name will vary. The most commonly cultivated is Lavandula Angustifolia

Labelling is extremely misleading. For example, there may be a percentage of essential oil within a product. It could be the smallest ingredient and yet it’s the focus of the product name. So ignore what it says on the pretty label on the front and go straight to the ingredients. Notice the order. They are listed in descending order of volume. It can be interesting to note that the lavender essential oil that is highlighted in the marketing of a product is often the last ingredient – meaning it’s the smallest in volume. Start to read the labels and educate yourself so that you can make choices that support you. Don’t be taken in by advertising.

If the word fragrance or parfum is included, you know these are synthetic ingredients.

The real reason for using the word fragrance or parfum

Manufacturers get away with not listing their ingredients by using the words fragrance or parfum. There is a loophole which means they can claim their formula is a ‘trade secret’.  What that really means is that what has been included is a chemical cocktail of hundreds of toxic chemicals.  Fragrance or parfum can comprise of hundreds, if not thousands, of additives, allergens, carcinogens and skin irritants.  These can also be incredibly disruptive to the hormonal system and have been linked to asthma, amongst other things.

Clinical studies have proven that these affect the nervous system and side effects can include headaches, coughing, sneezing, dizziness, skin irritability and hypersensitivity.

Oils to avoid

Avoid petroleum based products containing mineral oil.  This is commonly used in baby oil of all things. Thanks so much Johnson and Johnson! I’ve often wondered if the senior executives there use the products on their own children?

There are so many healthy base oil alternatives that are actually good for your skin. There is also much debate and protest about the use of palm oil in products, for good reason. The rapidly expanding industry of palm oil production is the contributing factor of deforestation. It is widely used in the cosmetics, personal care and food industries.  A tiny percentage of palm oil used is of a sustainable variety, so make sure you ask if you see it.

Instead try organic virgin coconut oil, camellia oil, sweet almond, rosehip, avocado and argan, to name but a few.  There are also so many beautiful organic infused and herbal oils that you can play with. Our skin naturally moisturises itself by producing sebum, which has a similar consistency to jojoba oil (officially a wax).  Good quality base oils (examples mentioned above), are often called vegetable or carrier oils, have important, nurturing properties which is a whole separate post in itself!

Oil based natural perfumes    selflovemichellemariemcgrath

I’m biased towards active, nourishing organic oil-based products. My reasoning is that I enjoy products that that are supportive on every level. It’s great to include high quality essential oils in a product, but also good to remember that the base ingredient is actually the largest component.  Therefore just as much attention needs to be given to its quality. In my newest creation I ❤ MY LIFE Organic Roll-on Perfumes  I use certified organic camellia oil for the base. It’s light, non-sticky, odour free, a wonderful source of vitamins A, C and E and has been used for hundreds of years by the Japanese as a moisturiser for skin, hair, scalp, nails and in massage and facial treatments. It’s also used as a light salad dressing so a wonderful member of the oil family. These new products are also available to buy in store in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney at Endeavour Bookstore.

Alcohol based perfumes

There are many so called ‘natural’ perfumes on the market that are alcohol based, which is drying and astringent. Alcohol strips the skin of its natural oil and weakens it. Some companies use ethanol (a type of alcohol) or organic ethanol which can be created from various sources such as cane sugar, wheat or corn. There are arguments that because it’s organic it’s fine and there are botanical ingredients included.

You may like to consider that we can also make vodka from potatoes and wine from berries. Would you include these as part of your daily recommended intake of fruit and veggies? It’s your personal preference.  It’s also worth noting that is that it’s illegal (within Australia) to send by mail service, an alcohol based perfume of any kind. It’s highly flammable and classed as dangerous goods. I asked about this in the post office and it was explained to me.

So what small change can you make this week?

Where can you embrace more self-love in your daily practices to enhance your own natural beauty? If you are looking to try something new but not sure where to start check out the Vegan Beauty Box.

I’d also love to hear which oils you enjoy using.  Tell me in the comments box below.


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