Why I Choose Natural Beauty, and You Should Too
Personal wellness is more than just a fad, it is a lifestyle. Particularly concerning anything “natural”, from foods to skincare cosmetics, we are becoming more aware of how everyday consumptions affect our overall wellness. We’ve seen a splurge of green juice bars that complement boutique gyms. Food delivery services make it easier for us to have chia seeds and avocado-anything with almost every meal. Natural beauty, from skincare to makeup have taken a stronghold in the wellness life as well. It is estimated that by 2019, the natural skincare and cosmetics industry is expected to be worth $50 billion!
How does the natural beauty fit into the wellness trend? Personally, I’d say that if we can take time and resources to become healthy inside out, we can also do the same outside in, i.e., becoming more attentive of what we apply on our faces and skin. As a millennial that wears make-up more than 10 hours a day and engages in at-home facial if possible, I couldn’t help but wonder how these products affected my physical health as they seeped into my body through the pores.
When my once flawless skin turned into unmanageable acne overnight in summer of 2016 (special thanks to the $28 primer that almost every beauty magazine listed in their top 10 must-haves), I began to think about the ingredients in that primer that could have caused my skin to reject it. I saw it as if we eat something bad for us, we regurgitate, my skin was doing the same thing. That primer lacked sulfates, parabens, and phthalates so there MUST have been something else!
Lying on the bed while my $230+/month facialist was working his magic on my stubborn zits, cysts, and blemishes, my mind drifted off into memories of my childhood. When I BEGGED my mom for allowance so I can buy from ProActive, Body Shop and Bath & Body Works, my mom firmly shook her head and instead prepared for me: fresh rice water to use as toner, green tea bags to use as dark circle de-puffer, black sugar to use as an exfoliating scrub (which I ingested more of than applied on my face-‘twas much yummier than St. Ives), aloe slices to treat my eczema, and fresh cucumber slices to use as a brightener.
The angsty teenage-me thought this was a faux skincare to get me to not buy teenage junk—I now see that this was my first introduction to natural beauty. Perhaps these remedies contributed to my avoiding the awkward teen-zit face that my other friends were not so fortunate with. Then it hit me: my impulsive switch to organic shampoo and conditioner resolved my itchy, pimply scalp problem that’s been ongoing for years! Of course, my mom had nagged that I rinse my hair with vinegar (surprising, a fairly common home-remedy to treat scalp problems). These were all Korean natural beauty routines that became my first exposure and experience with natural beauty.
As a woman, I couldn’t help but to explore news that discussed increasing studies/suits linking common beauty products negatively affecting women’s health. The Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder lawsuits linked the talc powder to ovarian cancer. There are ambiguous stories (America Cancer Society and National Center for Biotechnology Information) that suggest that ingredients used in antiperspirants may disrupt hormones, possibly causing breast cancer. Even if the studies are not strongly evident, it is enough for me to turn the other way. However, the products labeled “organic”, “vegan”, “synthetic-chemical free”, and “all natural” sounded expensive and out of my reach for my broke-a$$ college graduate’s bank account.
Later that year, I attended the Indie Beauty Expo in NYC. Interacting with the founders and listening to their stories behind their brand, I realized that there were entrepreneurs who were taking initiative into their own hands to guide consumers to natural beauty. Exploring each booth, I couldn’t help but to be disappointed with the fact that the natural beauty products were not 100% compatible with my East-Asian fair but yellow-undertoned skin. When the December 2016 article from Time came out that suggested that products marketed toward women of color were made with more hazardous ingredients in an already poorly regulated beauty industry, I realized that it is up to us to make a change to see the change in the natural beauty industry.
I confess to still using Chanel foundation, Buxom blush, and YSL lipsticks, but as now an aware consumer, I am buying less of such products and exploring different natural beauty products to replenish my vanity.
Saint cosmetic’s Devil’s Punch Bowl lipstick is a great, natural replacement. The Hoppin’ Fresh deodorant from Ursa Major is aluminum-free, and it’s a tingly-minty fresh alternative to your drug-store products (plus it’s stain-resistant). The Cucumber Water Stick toner from Ilia is the newest addition to my vanity.
Natural beauty is still not perfect. It is difficult for consumers to distinguish from the many types of natural beauty: 100% organic, certified organic, vegan, synthetics-free, and cruelty-free are all overlapping, but different types. Especially of women of color on a more pigmented foundation end, finding the right shades and colors will also be difficult as some colors are hard to achieve “naturally”.
We may not be able to immediately find change in the natural beauty industry, especially as it lacks in diversity. However, with an unstable healthcare system, often marginalizing people of color, I think it is imperative for us to expand our wellness focus by incorporating natural beauty into our self-care lifestyle. Don’t be discouraged with the current lack of diverse brands and products. Instead, be empowered by your ability to influence the industry.