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The Beauty of Natural Styling

Gone are the days of big hair and tight perms, the beehive and other almost impossible to create do’s. Authentic style is in, and natural styling products will keep your crown shining bright.

Remember those hairsprays that leave you standing in a fog, coughing and spluttering in the name of the perfect style? Gels that are so sticky that you end up getting stuck to whatever you touch after applying it. I’m afraid to even ask how those punks in London’s Camden Town got their hair to stand up straight!

Naturally Renee works with brands that provide a range of styling aids and finishing products to help you create any look that you want, without the harmful petrochemicals and other nasties found in most mainstream products.

  • Instead of greasy silicones that weigh down your hair, natural styling products are made with ingredients like beeswax, aloe and chamomile.
  • Natural styling aids are water soluble, so they wash off with ease.
  • They are also highly concentrated, so you only need to use small amounts.
  • Best of all, they are not harmful to your hair, your skin or the environment.

Browse our range of natural styling products online at the Gentle Approach shop.

Photo by Seth Doyle on Unsplash

Baby Skin Care: Natural is Better

The care and health of the skin and the hair should begin from childhood, or even better, from birth. Baby’s skin is more delicate, fragile and sensitive as it slowly adapts to its new environment and the world as a whole.

When you start researching and reading articles about baby skin problems, the results can be quite scary, even just the sheer number of common skin complaints that babies are prone to can be overwhelming. Here are some of the most widespread skin problems among babies.

Common Baby Skin Care Issues

Baby Acne

An estimated 40% of babies develop infant acne, which commonly starts showing at two to three weeks and is usually gone before baby reaches six months. The cause is usually Mom’s hormones, which are still circulating in baby’s bloodstream. These pimples are harmless and are unlikely to leave permanent scars, as long as the skin is kept clean.

Cradle Cap

Cradle Cap is a very common skin ailment that doctors refer to as “infantile seborrheic dermatitis”. It can appear as flaky, dry skin similar to dandruff, or as thick, oily, yellowish/ brown scaling or crusty patches on baby’s scalp. It generally appears in the first few months and usually clears up on its own in about six to twelve months. Ensure baby’s skin stays clean and nourished.

Dry Skin

Your baby is actually more prone to this problem than most grown-ups, due to their extra-sensitive skin. It is important to keep baby hydrated, and to use hypoallergenic lotion on their skin to avoid any reactions. Avoid harsh soap and long soaks in the bath – these will dry out baby’s skin.

Eczema

Eczema appears as dry, thickened, scaly red skin, or as tiny red bumps that may ooze or crust. Most often found in the creases of the elbows or knees, as well as on the cheeks, chin, scalp, chest, and back.

Milia

About half of all newborns will develop small white spots, called milia, on their face. These are just blocked pores, and they usually clear within the first four weeks of life.

Nappy Rash

Most common in babies under a year old, nappy rash is distinguished by the red, inflamed skin in nappy area. The rash may be flat or raised, and can cause discomfort mostly during nappy changes. It is important to keep this area of the skin dry and clean.

Natural Baby Skin Care is the Solution

If dry patches or rashes start to spread, crack, bleed or seem painfully itchy, always talk to your paediatrician for advice. But for general everyday common ailments found on baby’s skin, the consensus is to keep the skin clean and well nourished. Ordinary skin care products crammed with petrochemicals, parbens and the like are most likely going to make the problem worse, by clogging the pores or irritating baby’s skin.

To prevent or address these skin issues, always choose the most gentle, natural baby skin care products with no unnecessary additives. That means no parabens or phthalates, no SLS, no smelly artificial perfumes or colours and preservatives. Less is more, and natural is better!

Photo by Alex Pasarelu on Unsplash

What are Parabens (and Why Should You Avoid Them)?

Parabens are a group of chemicals used in many cosmetics and medications as a preservative. These compounds and their salts are primarily used for their bactericidal and fungicidal properties.

Where are Parabens Found?

The six main parabens are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, Isobutylparaben, butylparaben and benzylparaben. They can be found in shampoo, moisturising cream, antiperspirant deodorant, shaving gel, make up, topical medications, sunscreens and toothpaste.

Sometimes they’re also used as additives in food. Their efficacy as preservatives combined with their low cost probably explains why they are so often used. However, the use of parabens has become controversial and some people advise against everyday use.

The Problem with Parabens

The parabens in cosmetic products penetrate bodily tissues without going through the digestive process; therefore these substances remain intact within the tissue.

The cosmetics industry maintains that parabens are absolutely safe and focus on the need for more in-depth research to prove the opposite. However, studies on the long-term effects of these substances have never been carried out, not to mention the effects of the other hundreds of chemicals in their products that come in contact with the body. Until there is 100% clarity about their effects on humans and the environment, it is advisable to stay well clear of them.

Did You Know? A study carried out by the University of Reading has discovered the presence of parabens in the breast tissue of 18 out of 20 patients who suffered from breast cancer. Since it has been shown that parabens can mimic the action of estrogens, their presence in breast cancer tissue cannot be underestimated.

Unfortunately, this one study is not enough to establish a definite correlation between parabens and breast cancer. But it does sufficiently prove that these substances accumulate in body tissue, which is bad news.

Another study was conducted to examine the connection between parabens and dermal damage. Japanese researchers studied the effects of methylparaben, commonly used as an antiseptic in many cosmetic preparations. This ingredient, which had already been linked to skin allergies and occasional dermatitis, is currently present in at least 3559 cosmetic products (as indicated by the Environmental Working Group).

The research team applied methylparaben to the test subjects’ skin in quantities similar to those contained in cosmetic products. Then the skin was exposed to 30 millijoules of ultraviolet light per square centimetre, a quantity equal to the average absorbed during the summer season exposure. 19% of the exposed skin cells died, while in places where methylparaben had not been applied to the skin cells’ mortality rate was about 6%.

Choose Paraben-Free Products

Parabens aren’t used in natural and organic body care products. Instead, the dyes extracted from high-quality organic plants and mixed with organic alcohol are preserved for a minimum of 2-3 years. For example, 100% vegetal body oil can last up to 18 months. There are loads of all-natural body care goodies out there that contain none of these nasty ingredients. Choose paraben-free, for your health and the planet.

Photo by Elevate on Unsplash

 

A Guide to Food Labels

Trying to make healthy eating choices can be a bit of a minefield. Being smart about food labels can help you to decipher what’s going into your food products, and your body.

Here are the biggest “baddies” to look out for in your supermarket food labels:

Additives

Depending on their function, the additives used are divided into categories, and each is assigned a code, generally composed of an E followed by 3 or 4 digits. Here’s a look at the main categories of additives (colourants, preservatives, sweeteners…), and what they are used for.

Dyes (E 100 E 180)

Dyes enhance the colour of the food. Often, these are artificial dyes, but some manufacturers use natural colouring. The term “natural dyes” doesn’t mean that the dyes were already present in the food, but simply that they are found in nature and added to the food.

Both natural and artificial dyes are abundantly found in foodstuffs, and often mislead consumers about the ingredients used (for instance, “yellow dye” might suggest the presence of eggs in a dish where none have been added.)

Certain dyes can also cause allergies in sensitive people. Recently, studies have even linked a number of dyes to attention deficit disorder in children. It’s best to avoid these artificial colours.

The main culprits include: tartrazine, quinoline yellow, sunset yellow FCF (orange yellow S), azorubine (carmoisine), ponceau 4R (cochineal red A), allura red AC.

Preservatives (especially those with codes E 200 & E 285)

Preservatives are substances that prevent the growth of bacteria and mould on food products. In some very specific cases, adding preservatives can be useful. For example, a small amount of sulphites (much lower than the levels permitted by applicable law) is acceptable in wine, because it makes the product more stable.

Unfortunately, some legislators err on the side of excess, authorising the use of preservatives in high doses that are not strictly necessary. Also, take note that some preservatives can cause allergic reactions.

While preservatives are sometimes necessary, there are many cases where they are not, or where natural preservative agents could be used instead.

Examples: sorbic acid, benzoic acid, nitrates and nitrites, sulphur dioxide, nisin.

Emulsifiers and Thickeners (especially those with codes E 400 & E 495)

This group also includes gelling agents and stabilisers. All these substances are used to give consistency to a product or to maintain it. They are often used in “light” or “diet” food products. Emulsifiers and thickeners can replace caloric ingredients such as carbohydrates and fats. More often, emulsifiers serve to mask the lack of basic ingredients in food products (like eggs in ice cream or mayonnaise).

Some thickeners are also known allergens.

Examples include: alginates, diphosphates, triphosphates and polyphosphates, pectin, guar gum, flour of locust bean gum, mono and diglycerides of fatty acids.

Flavour Enhancers (E 620 to E 640)

These additives, the best known of which are glutamates, serve to intensify or alter the taste of food. Flavour enhancers are unnecessary and misleading. Glutamate can be found in a vast quantity of food products, and a high daily intake can cause intolerances even in those not commonly sensitive to this additive.

Examples: glutamate, inosinate, guanylate.

Artificial Sweeteners (E 950 to E 967, E 420, E 421)

These sweeteners replace sugars in “diet” products such as soft drinks, chewing gum, sweets, beer, yoghurt and more. Their use can be acceptable in some circumstances (for example, for people who can’t consume sugar), but the risk, especially for children, is that they can reach the daily recommended dose very quickly.

Examples: cyclamates, sorbitol, xylitol, aspartame, saccharin, malitol.

There are many natural sweeteners available on the market today, including date syrup, coconut nectar, agave and stevia.

With Additives, Less is More

Watch out for these ingredients, and if they’re listed on your food labels, opt for an alternative with fewer artificial additives (or a more natural substitute). Avoiding highly processed and pre-packaged foods can help to reduce the number of preservatives and additives that end up on your plate.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Learn the Truth about Green-Washing

Have you ever fallen for “green-washing” or other false promises made by marketers? Green-washing is the use of marketing to portray a product as being eco-friendly or “green” when it actually isn’t. As more consumers look for eco-friendly, ethical and healthy options, marketers are attempting to add a green spin to their products, in order to boost sales. They may exaggerate the products’ benefits for the planet, or its people. Continue reading Learn the Truth about Green-Washing

Jojoba Oil: The “Liquid Gold” Beauty Remedy

Jojoba oil is the liquid that comes from the seeds of the jojoba bushes that grow in desert environments in Arizona, Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Brazil and Chile. Jojoba (pronounced ho-ho-ba) has long been considered a precious natural beauty remedy for the skin and hair.

Botanical name: Simmondsia Chinensis

Properties: Jojoba oil has a unique composition that makes it suitable as a base oil in cosmetics. Although it’s called an “oil”, it’s technically a liquid wax. The composition is very close to the skin’s own sebum (oil) composition, which is why it works so effectively. Jojoba can hydrate deeply, without causing greasiness or blocking the pores.

Natural jojoba oil is highly protective and makes a great moisturiser. It absorbs well and leaves skin silky and smooth.

Jojoba Oil Nourishes All Skin Types

Jojoba oil has a high vitamin E content, and is rich in skin-loving minerals. It helps to minimise wrinkles, control blemishes and breakouts, and treat skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Jojoba oil also contains a natural SPF of 4 and makes a good complement to your natural sun care products.

Jojoba oil is a great day and night moisturiser for all skin types (sensitive, dry, oily, normal or combination skin). It’s high in an anti-inflammatory substance known as myristic acid, which calms a variety of skin complaints and revitalises your complexion.

How Jojoba Oil Helps Brittle Hair

A jojoba hair mask is ideal for restoring and repairing damaged hair. It rebuilds and adds a deep gloss that goes right into the roots. It’s a sheen worthy of this golden liquid.

Using only plant-based products on your hair is a great way of going natural, but this alone cannot reconstruct or feed the hair. When you add jojoba oil to these vegetal products, a beautiful synergy takes place. Now you can clean, condition and deeply moisturise the hair shaft. Unlike petrochemical components that strip the hair shaft, jojoba oil allows the hair shaft to retain its moisture, providing elasticity, strength and a beautiful shine.

For best results, add 3-5 drops of jojoba oil to your favourite natural conditioner, or apply 1-2 drops to damp hair after showering. This is the perfect way to give your locks some extra love!

Ren xx

The Beautiful Benefits of Chamomile Essential Oil

Attention, nature-loving babes! Here’s everything you need to know about the healing beauty of chamomile essential oil.

  • BOTANICAL NAME: Chamomile recutita, Matricaria chamomile, Matricaria recutita
  • FAMILY: Compositae
  • EXTRACTION: from the flowers and the plant
  • PROCESS: distillation
  • ORIGIN: Europe

Fab Fact: Chamomile’s curative effects have been widely known since the dawn of time. In Mesopotamia, it was called “the gift of the meadows.” In ancient Egypt, chamomile was revered for its virtues – so much so that it was consecrated to the Sun god, Horus. Continue reading The Beautiful Benefits of Chamomile Essential Oil