I’ve always understood that skin care is a truly personal experience.

First and foremost for me – I need to love what I use! Secondly – is it natural?

My journey to natural products was one that evolved through circumstances and through learning.

Whilst I had played with natural products as a teenager – think back to the days of Blackmores witch hazel toner in the 80s! – my obsessive quest to only use “natural” products didn’t actually begin with me. It started when my baby boy (now 21) developed eczema.

I started trialling different things ... from hanging raw oats in a muslin bag from the bath tap while the water ran, to applying different ‘natural’ creams. But by the time he was 2 years old, 90% of his wee body was covered in raw weeping eczema.

I will never forget the day a pregnant woman sitting beside us on the bus moved to a different seat because she thought he had a disease.

I just wanted to do anything I could to help his skin. I removed all chemical products from the house, gave away all tins and processed foods on the shelves. I know some of you might ask why didn’t I just use steroid creams? But it truly didn’t occur to me to apply hydrocortisone to my baby’s skin.

Most of the products I tried gave temporary relief of some kind, but the real breakthrough actually came when I took him to a homeopath while we were living in London. He prescribed homeopathic remedies and a homeopathic calendula cream as a topical salve, which together brought the eczema back to a manageable 2 or 3 small spots within a month. It was incredible.

Now my always-happy little guy finally had the beautiful soft skin he had been born with.

But this had started me on a journey. Not only were we a chemical free household, I was now starting to look at the products I used on my own skin.

I picked up items that labelled themselves natural, and then read the ingredients. I was constantly baffled by the long lists and unintelligible (to me) scientific words. Over time and with a fair bit of research I was able to decipher and understand them, and to know what I didn’t want as far as chemicals was concerned (more about those in another episode).

I also understood that not everything that said it was natural, was actually natural. Depending on the product and country, there appear to be limited regulations around products claiming they are natural, and no universal legal definition of a natural product.

For me, I decided it was about products that are formulated using ingredients found in nature, from plants and minerals, to secondary products like beeswax. It’s second nature to me now to pick up any product and read the label.

So how do I choose a product?

The first question is still … “is it natural?”

Of course this can be interpreted in a number of ways … all natural? naturally derived? one or two ingredients are natural?

I always aim for all natural.

And I definitely look for the chemical free.

For example, free from:

  • Artificial colours or fragrances
  • Parabens
  • Petrochemicals
  • Paraffin
  • Phthalates
  • Propylene glycol
  • Formaldehydes
  • Mineral oil
  • Sulphates: SLS, SLES
  • Silicones
  • DEA
  • PEG
  • BHA, BHT

(I’m not as obsessive as I once was. A few years back if I stayed at friends for a weekend and forgot my shampoos, I would almost have a panic attack! These days I will just use their products and relax knowing it’s a one off occasion as far as my body is concerned.)

My final question is … do I love it?

  • Does it feel amazing on my skin?
  • Does the perfume transport me?
  • Do the images or fonts or packaging tell me a story?  

In recent times I have been extending the list above to include …

  • How sustainable is a product?
  • Is the packaging recyclable?
  • Is it a clean product?

 (I will look at all these in other episodes.)

These questions are why I love OMni’s strapline of “harnessing nature to love, nourish & nurture”.

Love, nourish and nurture.

I need to love it, I want it to nourish my skin, and I want it to nurture me along with our precious world.

What’s your personal journey with skin care?

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