Naturally Beautiful: Harnessing natural ingredients for a glowing complexion

By Melanie Hennessey

We’ve all heard the old adage “you are what you eat.” But there’s a movement afoot that would also argue “you are what you apply to your skin.”

With increasing awareness about potentially harmful ingredients in skincare products, which are in turn absorbed through the skin and into your body, consumers are becoming savvier about what they’re applying and looking for natural alternatives.

“I would call it a revolution,” said Natalie Cascella, president of NuWorld Botanicals, an Oakville-based aromatherapy and raw skincare bar. “People want to know what’s in their products, and they want to better understand the ingredients, which is so important because you want to avoid the toxic ones.”

From parabens to sodium lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol to fragrance, there’s a whole host of common skincare product elements that have been widely identified for the impacts they may have on a person’s health and well-being.

“I encourage people to read the ingredients label and take it upon yourself to research them,” said Cascella. “Understand what you’re putting on your body because it absorbs into the bloodstream. Don’t be afraid to turn the label around and really read it because you need to protect your own health and wellness.”

Fortunately, natural skincare alternatives abound in today’s market, as was evident at the recent MNDFL Green Beauty Pop Up hosted by Graydon Skincare, a GTA-based company that has created a line of plant-powered, superfood skin products.

The event at the quaint Jam Factory in Toronto was a veritable meeting of the natural beauty minds, bringing together dozens of local businesses devoted to creating pure products, from water-based nail polish to mineral sunscreen and every type of skincare treatment in its most natural form.

“The green beauty community is a very special one, where my fellow brand founders actually enjoy each other’s company and have a lot of mutual respect,” explained Graydon Moffat, founder of Graydon Skincare.

Moffat said she was inspired to create MNDFL Beauty after attending some shows in the United States, where she witnessed first-hand how engaged and supported US green beauty brands are.

“It became quickly apparent that the same type of connection was shockingly lacking in Canada,” she said. “On that note, there’s a tremendous amount of talent in Canada, and relative to our neighbours south of the border, people just don’t know about us. Given that, we need to join together and create our own collective consciousness, and thus MNDFL was born.”

Those looking into the natural skincare lines produced and made available locally will quickly discover that choices abound, with dozens of ingredients and products being touted as the next best thing.

So what’s currently trending?

“Oil cleansers are big. We’re all about the oils,” said Cascella. “Carrier oils (i.e. jojoba, grapeseed) are excellent to cleanse your skin with. Not only are you cleaning and wiping away make up, removing dirt and grime and sucking up all the toxins from your skin, but you’re also replenishing your skin with all the omegas and essential fatty acids it needs. One ingredient can really do wonders for your skin.”

Cascella recommends a hot cloth cleansing ritual, which begins with applying a cleansing oil over the face and eyes, then wetting a soft muslin cloth with hot water and pressing it lightly against the skin, creating a steam facial. Finish by using the cloth to wipe away impurities that the oil brought to the surface, then follow up with a natural toner and oil-based moisturizer.

Jade facial rollers have also become a hot commodity.

“People are using facial massage tools now on their skin,” she said. “They’re taking advantage of this natural remedy to decrease puffiness, fine lines and wrinkles and get healthy, glowing skin.”

The rollers can also increase circulation, promote lymphatic drainage, stimulate collagen production and improve elasticity, she noted.

While Cascella’s store is teeming with ingredients that are known for their health benefits, which customers can whip up into a variety of products at the raw skincare bar, one product stands out as a skin superfood.

“It’s definitely sea buckthorn,” she said. “We put it in almost all of our products. It’s one of the richest sources of vitamin C, it’s known as a skin repair oil, and it helps protect from free radical damage and environmental pollution. It also adds a beautiful, sun-kissed glow to your skin over time.”

In Moffat’s opinion, probiotics are also an ultimate superfood as they not only help populate good bacteria within the body, but can also be used topically to balance and maintain the good bacteria on the skin’s microbiome, making it no surprise that a vegan probiotic is a key ingredient in Graydon’s face and eye cream.

It’s safe to say that people are becoming more mindful about what they apply to their skin, which Moffat said is a direct result of people making overall better wellness choices, such as eating clean, exercising more and sleeping well.

“As such, the next ‘aha’ moment that many people have is asking, why am I doing all this other good stuff while putting crappy stuff on my face and body? How can I expect to look and feel better if I’m not treating my body to good food both inside and out?” she said.

“The journey towards wellness is becoming increasing popular, and rightfully so, and it is starting to catch on that wellness is incredibly multi-faceted. Making small changes can be as easy as choosing products that are good for your mind, body, and soul.”