Jessica Cobb, Certified Aromatherapist & Content Manager
Obviously, not all of us at Plant Therapy are moms. But we all have moms! And we’ve all learned a lot from our mothers about taking care of ourselves, loving ourselves and how to take care of the body we were given.
But what are we teaching our daughters about natural beauty? (I know, the title says ‘daughters’ but boys need these lessons too!) Today, we’re talking about how our moms influenced our personal views of beauty, and what we’re passing down to our own daughters (or sons) about the importance of a natural beauty routine, and loving your own skin.
Before the Bath: Beauty starts with loving yourself.
Beauty isn’t about making yourself pretty, it’s about caring for your skin, hair, body, and soul.
Today women have more pressure to be beautiful and perfect than ever before. Social media, television, and advertising have built up an exhausting and unrealistic standard of beauty. We’re bombarded daily with images of “perfect” bodies and if our own doesn’t measure up, it’s hard not to feel like we’re failing. If you’re not careful, this constant can make your beauty routine a stressful time of focusing on the negative.
But don’t forget that beauty is self-care for the body you already have. Beauty isn’t about making yourself pretty, it’s about caring for your skin, hair, body, and soul. That message is at the heart of what we want our daughters to hear: She’s already beautiful! Your beauty routine is about you, not about anyone else. Take the time every day to appreciate your body, care for it, and take pride in what you can do.
Teaching our daughters about natural beauty.
Think about it this way: When you’re making your all-natural body scrub, you are spending time creating a future moment of pampering for your skin. Be mindful of the joy creating brings you and make that mindfulness something you also pass on to your daughter.
Teaching your daughter to have a healthy, joyful attitude about her own body helps avoid anxiety and encourages body positivity, both of which will help her mental health and give her confidence for the rest of her life (and yours, too!).
And remember when teaching our daughters about natural beauty, if it doesn’t bring you joy to spend time on your beauty routine, if swiping on the perfect shade of lipstick makes you cringe, don’t do it! Beauty is about feeling comfortable in your own skin, not stressing about perfection. You don’t have to spend hours a day pampering yourself by scrubbing, buffing, lotioning and making up to take excellent care of your body.
Beauty as bonding.
Beauty rituals can be quality time spent bonding over boy troubles, school struggles and giggling at makeup mistakes.
Think about the products you used as a teenager for a second.
Do scrunchies and the scent of Herbal Essences shampoo come to mind? Did you store your Lip Smacker collection in your Caboodle? If our own teenage selves are any indication, our pre-teens and teens are going to experiment with some wild trends (frosted tips and blue eyeshadow, I’m looking at you). Making green, natural beauty a priority gives our daughters a head start on healthy skin and hair that will last a lifetime, long after the brightly-colored makeup washes off.
But beauty is more than that. Just like anything else you share with your daughter, time spent together learning a good beauty routine is just as much about bonding as it is about teaching her how to care for her hair and skin. Beauty rituals can be quality time spent bonding over boy troubles, school struggles and giggling at makeup mistakes. My own daughter tells me more about her own developing ideas of beauty during our “makeovers” than she does any other time. These times are incredibly valuable moments to connect with her as she matures.
If your little girl is curious about your beauty routine, bring her into your routine with you! When you make beauty routines and products taboo, or “adults only,” you might miss out on these valuable moments to teach and bond with your daughter.
Start with the basics: Natural beauty 101.
My daughter has just started getting into makeup, and I realized when she started her collection that you can’t teach effective natural beauty routines without a good foundation. Teaching the building blocks of a healthy beauty routine is essential for future skin, hair and body health.
Wash your face. Every day.
Washing your face is the most basic and essential step of any beauty or skincare routine. All day long our face (and skin) comes into contact with environmental pollution, toxins, germs, and dirt. In order to keep your skin from getting angry and producing acne, wash your face twice a day with a gentle, natural cleanser: Once in the morning and once before you go to bed.
For the gentlest cleanser, you can buy that seriously works, try an oil cleanser. It might not feel like rubbing oil on your skin is cleaning it or picking up oil, but it is. Remember: Oil absorbs oil! So oily skin is sometimes best cleaned with oil. Plus it leaves your skin soft and hydrated.
Try natural, non-toxic toners.
When you think “toner” you’re probably thinking of the super singing or painful astringent toners of our own teen years. Toners were originally toners were alcohol-based and they were meant to dry up oily skin and help get rid of any leftover dirt after washing your face.
Today though, toners have seriously been upgraded. Think of them as beauty supplements — the right toner delivers an extra shot of nutrients to your skin, helps your skin absorb your beauty products, packs a punch of natural benefits and helps balance your facial skin. Choose an all-natural toner, like a gentle hydrosol spray, to get the benefits of toner but keep the ingredients natural and green.
Bonus tip: How to use Toner: Toners should happen after cleaning but before moisturizers, morning and night. Traditionally, you soak a cotton ball in toner and gently rub it into your face, but you end up wasting so much product that way!
Instead, apply toner with your hands, or better yet use an all-natural hydrosol as a toner and spritz it on clean skin. Lavender and Melissa hydrosols both smell amazing, are 100% natural and bring gentle properties of each essential oil to the skin as well.
Wear sunscreen, and don’t forget to reapply.
Sunscreen is, hands down, the most crucial skin-care product.
Sunscreen is, hands down, the most crucial skin-care product.
Using sunscreen every single day (yes even in winter) helps prevent the development of fine lines, wrinkles, dry skin, and changes in the appearance of pores over time. But even more important, using sunscreen every day can help prevent the formation of skin cancers.
The easiest way to remember your sunscreen is hands-down to use a daily moisturizer with sunscreen built-in. Choose one with at least a broad spectrum SPF of at least 30.
Though there are a ton different trendy sunscreen ingredients, you basically have two options for ingredients in sunscreen formulas:
- Pros: Chemical ingredients are lightweight, easily applied and transparent on the skin.
- Cons: Chemicals can be irritating or even cause bad reactions in people with sensitive skin. Plus, some chemical ingredients (like oxybenzone) have associated health concerns and carry a “high hazard” rating on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.
Physical ingredients: Natural ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These sit on top of your skin and help deflect from entering your body.
- Pros: Physical ingredients have very little risk of irritation or health concerns.
- Cons: These products, though natural, can leave a white or gray tint on the skin. This can be more noticeable on dark skin.
Choose the best of both worlds: If possible, opt for a sunscreen that uses a combination. That way you get the best of both worlds.
- Put on your sunscreen 30 minutes before going out in the sun.
- Reapply your sunscreen at least every two hours.
- Chemical sunscreens should be applied directly to clean skin
- Physical blocking sunscreen needs to be applied last in your skin-care routine (but before makeup).
- Use about two Tbsp of sunscreen on your face and exposed areas of your body
Read product labels and look for natural ingredients:
Just like food labels, beauty product labels can be a mess of unpronounceable and unrecognizable words and ingredients. When teaching our daughters about natural beauty, be sure to take a few extra minutes to puzzle out what is actually in your products, to make the most educated choices.
Concentration is listed from highest to lowest. So, the higher up on the ingredient list, the higher the concentration. That means that the first ingredient listed will be the main ingredient.
We talk a lot about preservatives when we do DIYs with essential oils (Polysorbate 20 is the most common one). And they’re necessary even in products you buy over-the-counter. Why? Because any product that contains water needs a preservative to prevent molding. No one wants moldy beauty products.
Another potential ingredient to avoid is Parabens. Parabens can sometimes irritate the skin or cause allergic reactions, and some have also been linked to hormone disruption because they mimic the hormone estrogen. Since many products are now going paraben-free, you’ll be seeing phenoxyethanol and ethylhexylglycerin more commonly in your beauty products.
Don’t let Latin on a label scare you, it’s actually a good thing! Latin names refer to botanical ingredients, which you absolutely want when choosing natural beauty products. For example, Lavendula gastufolia is the Latin (scientific) name for Lavender, or Lavender essential oil, a powerhouse in natural beauty products.
Even here at Plant Therapy, we use Latin names for all our essential oils and natural products. And because we want it to be easy to tell what you’re getting, we also often list the common name as well.
You can frequently find these ingredients as multi-syllable, ultra-long and unpronounceable words on the back of your bottle of product. At first, you might be tempted to just put it down. After all, chemicals are bad, right?
But hold up a second. Yes, a highly chemical-laden product can be a bad sign, and certainly, you want to opt for natural ingredients whenever you can. But seeing complicated ingredients isn’t a reason to give up on a product. Remember, just because something sounds complex doesn’t mean it’s synthetic.
Choose companies and brands that reflect your values
Take your time to research the company you’re buying from. Choose a company or brand that values the same things you do. Pick a brand that has a history of transparency, who tests all of their products ethically, has clear and understandable labels, and chooses ethically sourced ingredients.
Bonus tip: I’m not saying Plant Therapy meets all these requirements for an ethical, natural brand…oh wait that’s exactly what I’m saying! But seriously, there are so many companies out there that truly care about their customers, their ingredients, the environment, and their ethics. Do just a little research and you’ll find a company whose products you feel great about buying.
Encourage beautiful individuality.
Remember when you’re teaching the next generation about beauty: The best lesson you can teach is that individuality is the most beautiful thing about any person. Every person will have different values, different features, and different strengths. While you’re passing on your beauty wisdom, don’t forget to take a moment and appreciate the beauty that comes from within, as well as without.