Despite the frequent mocking of Hallmark holidays, I believe they still hold value. They give us a chance to step back from our busy lives and recognize the important people around us. Of course, we should love and be kind every day, but sometimes we need a nudge to show our feelings or a special reason to go above and beyond.
It’s Valentine’s Day that reminds us to be thankful for each other. Traditionally, it’s also the ultimate date night. Prepping to look our best can include an array of treatments and products. Conventional pre-date pampering—from hair coloring, manicures, and soaking in toxic suds to slathering on cologne, makeup, and face creams—often means we’re being anything but loving to ourselves!
Such indulgences can lift our spirits, but unless we keep in mind our entire well-being, they can actually be detrimental. Valentine’s Day can be an opportunity to practice some self-love, which includes respecting your body and mind and what you put in or on them.
So this February 14, think twice before slathering yourself in synthetically scented lotion and spraying on fake fragrances. The chemicals in such products can have powerful and harmful effects, from clogged pores and collagen destruction to skin sensitivity, rashes, redness, itching, and swelling. Yuck. Not sexy at all!
Some common Valentine’s Day “pampering” ingredients/products to watch out for:
- “Cones” are the chemical family that end in -cone, such as dimethicone and silicone. These act like a plastic film on skin, preventing anything (even good stuff!) from penetrating, while blocking the expulsion of waste. All the natural oils and dirt from the air, dust and other sources get stuck, creating a plug and filling your pores. The trapped oils go rancid, which breaks down collagen and accelerates the signs of aging. Since consumers are beginning to get wise about “cones,” chemical companies are disguising them under new names that don’t necessarily end in “cone.” Some examples are hydrolyzed wheat protein, trimethylsiloxysilicates, and dimethicol.
- Sodium lauryl sulfate, along with other surfactants, can throw off skin’s pH balance. They’re known to irritate skin by stripping it of its natural oils and protective barrier.
- Bubble baths
- Makeup primers
THINGS YOU CAN DOMake the Switch
After you finish your current skin-care products, try swapping them out for more natural alternatives. If you have to pick and choose, it’s a good idea to consider your exposure to each product. For example, products that you cover your entire body with or soak in, like lotion or bubble bath, put you at higher risk if they contain nasty chemical ingredients. Products such as cleansers or body wash that get rinsed off may not pose as big of a threat so could be next in line to be swapped out.
Control Your Exposure
Reducing your chemical load is as easy as limiting what you use. Simplifying your skin-care and/or beauty routine can help reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals. Reevaluate your regimen. Most people have too many products and overuse them.
Many products can serve more than one purpose. Your shampoo can double as a body wash. Shea butter–based lip balms are good for both lips and cuticles. And pure oils, such as jojoba, avocado, and pistachio, are excellent face and body moisturizers and can serve as bath and massage oils.
Dare to Go Bare
Give your skin the week off. Wash with a homemade skin cleanser, and use pure olive oil to remove makeup and to moisturize. Go makeup free whenever you can and let your skin breathe.
Learn What “Natural” Really Means
In an industry that sells to us but does not tell us the truth, and where “greenwashing” runs rampant, it’s important to become a label detective. Educate yourself to know exactly what’s in that bottle.
Switch to a natural mineral makeup. This is an important one since makeup is on your skin most of the day. And again, know the ingredients. Most of the “natural” mineral makeups are anything but.
Find Your Voice
What’s important to you? For me, it’s not necessarily about a product being unnatural vs. natural, but evaluating whether it’s toxic or safe for my health and skin, and for the planet. Many natural ingredients are both toxic and contraindicated for skin, while there are some synthetics that are safe.
Proper hydration helps eliminate chemicals and waste, so drink up! When looking at improving your water intake, don’t count the morning coffee, soda, or other liquids. If pure water is not flavorful enough for you, try making infused waters: In a glass gallon jar, place 1 ½ cups of sliced fruit and/or herbs. Let the mixture sit in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, remove the fruits and herbs and drink the yummy water. Not only will it help you increase your intake, but the enhanced water also contains lots of vitamins and antioxidants! Excellent ingredient choices might include unpeeled citrus, pineapple, apple, watermelon, cucumber, cherries, mint, and basil. For best results, mix two different fruits and herbs. Try lemon-cucumber, cucumber-mint, or pineapple-, lemon-, or watermelon-basil. The combinations are endless. Herbal teas such as mint and chamomile are also great hydration supplements.
Tips and Tricks
- Add your powdered mineral foundation to your face cream for a liquid foundation.
- Use olive, safflower, or pistachio oil to remove makeup.
- Indulgent mask/face cleaner to keep your skin glowing:
- 1 tsp. puréed avocado
- ¼ tsp. honey (vegan sub: maple syrup or brown rice syrup)
- ½ tsp. puréed strawberries
- ¼ tsp. champagne (or beer, wine, apple cider vinegar, or water)
- Optional: ¼ tsp. cocoa powderNote: To use mask as a face cleanser, add ¼ teaspoon almond, sunflower, or hemp flour.
- Pair with dark chocolate-covered strawberries and the rest of the champagne for a truly decadent Valentine’s Day treat!