Natural Beauty Products: Better for You, Better for the Planet
Beauty without compromise
As we shed our winter layers and start to turn our thoughts towards the warmer half of the year, spring is the perfect time for a spa break. Don’t confine your ‘spring clean’ to a tedious clear out of your cupboards and wardrobe - use it as an excuse to refresh your mind, body, and soul with a relaxing visit to Woolacombe Bay Hotel where we unveiled our new Alchemist Spa last year.
At the spa, we take pride in using only natural products free from the nasties found in so many popular beauty treatments which are bad for you and bad for the environment.
We work with Natural Spa Factory whose products are all home-made in Somerset using botanically sourced ingredients from herbs, plants, and flowers. The family-run business avoids using any of the damaging chemicals so commonly used in everything from moisturisers to exfoliators. These include preservatives such as parabens, methylchlorothiazolinone (MCI) and Methylisothiazolinone (MI) and the emulsifier Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS), to name just a few.
Here are a few key reasons why we focus on solely natural products at Alchemist Spa.
The synthetic chemicals listed above all have potentially damaging impacts for our health while their manufacture and disposal also have harmful environmental effects. If you are not yet convinced, here is a quick explanation for why you should always looks for products free from these additives:
These preservatives found in many liquid cosmetics can disrupt healthy hormonal functions — also known as endocrine disruption — by mimicking the appearance of oestrogen to bind with the vital hormone’s receptors. This in turn can increase the risk of certain types of cancer including breast cancer and cause reproductive complications. Studies have detected parabens in nearly all urine samples taken from US adults. This means they are released into the water system and tests have shown even low levels of butylparaben can kill coral. Parabens have been detected in surface waters, fish, and sediments.
These anti-bacterial preservatives are found in many liquid personal care products and have been linked to widespread allergic reactions leading to calls for them to be banned from certain products. Animal studies have also linked high concentrations to lung toxicity and even possible neurotoxicity. All this means MCI and MI are potentially harmful to other living organisms if released into the wider environment, particularly water systems where they are toxic to freshwater and marine organisms.
This emulsifier which is used to give many products their foamy effect can have a very drying effect on skin and hair by stripping away the natural oils produced by your body. This makes it particularly bad news for people who suffer from skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis or those with naturally dry, processed or afro hair. Another extremely good reason to cut SLS out of your beauty products is because palm oil is often used in its production. Palm oil production is one of the major causes of rainforest destruction as the land is cleared to make way for more plantations so should either be avoided entirely or only used if it is from a known sustainable source.
Furthermore, there is simply no need to resort to such unpleasant substances when nature provides health-boosting ingredients in abundance.
Take exfoliation as an example. Until very recently, plastic microbes often made of polyethylene were used in virtually all exfoliators as well as other beauty products produced by big commercial brands. These have now been banned in the UK in recognition of the appalling impact microplastics are having on the natural environment, with thousands of tonnes being washed into the sea and entering the food chain.
Here are a few of Mother Nature’s fantastic exfoliators some of which you’ll find at the Alchemist Spa:
The outer layer that coats the rice kernel can be ground into a fine powder making it an ideal treatment for sensitive skin which may not react as well to rougher exfoliates. Its nourishing properties also help calm inflammation, leaving skin smoother and brighter.
Alongside its natural exfoliating qualities, sugar is a natural humectant, meaning it draws moisture into the skin leaving it not only smooth but hydrated. Sugar is also a natural source of glycol acid, an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that penetrates the skin and breaks down the “glue” that bonds skin cells, encouraging cell turnover and generating younger-looking skin.
Coffee’s granular texture makes it a very good exfoliator as well as being a great source of nutrients and antioxidants that boost skin health. Caffeine can increase blood flow and reduce the appearance of cellulite. Caffeic acid may boost collagen levels and reduce the premature aging of cells. It also has antimicobrial properties.
Pearl is known to increase skin metabolism, tone and reduce the visibility of pores. It contains amino acids and minerals all of which boost skin health and it acts as an anti-inflammatory. Pearl nacre, the material made of pearl, can enhance regeneration of fibroblasts and helps collagen regenerate itself. It therefore improves skin tone and promotes youthful looking skin.
Natural and unrefined salts are packed with dozens of minerals including potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which help to reduce inflammation, brighten, and even strengthen the skin. It boasts antimicrobial properties and helps skin flush out toxins from the pores. Sulphur is believed to help cleanse and treat skin conditions such as dermatitis and acne scarring.
Fruit seeds: Ground fruit seeds loosen and remove dead skin cells when massaged onto the skin without being too harsh so make great exfoliators for more sensitive skin. They also contain a whole host of nutrients which feed healthy skin.
Image credit: The Natural Spa Factory
As well as ensuring no synthetic pollutants appear in our beauty products, we also use only refillable containers.
Every now and then the world gives us a stark reminder of its fragility and the need for us all to be more aware of our impact on the environment. A recent walk along our beautiful beach at Woolacombe Bay did just that. Following the storms that had battered our North Devon coastline for a couple of days, the beach was strewn with thousands of tiny pieces of plastic. If we want to protect our beautiful planet we all need to drastically reduce our use and disposal of plastic and many other harmful products in cosmetics and more.
That is why we are working so hard to minimise our environmental impact at Woolacombe Bay Hotel while still ensuring a magical experience for all our guests.