You are what you rub on your skin
by Leticia Skae-Jackson
“You are what you eat.” We have all heard the saying before. But what about “You are what you rub on your skin?” Have we all heard that one? Okay, well, I just made that up and I will admit, it isn’t very catchy. Recently, our society has realized the importance of eating organic foods while cutting back on processed foods, sugars and unnatural sweeteners, unhealthy fatty oils—the list goes on and on. We have become more aware of the things we put in our bodies and that’s good. However, have we ever taken a moment to really think about what we put on our bodies? We often take our skin for granted, but remember that our skin is our body’s largest organ and it is vital that we maintain it properly. Whatever we put on our bodies ends up in our bodies. So, we can worry about keeping our other organs inside our bodies safe but if we don’t protect our skin then how will the other organs survive? I, too, had never thought of this until recently.
My natural topical journey began when I realized that my hair was beginning to thin. First, I blamed it on post-pregnancy effects but after my son was three years old, I realized that it might be more than that. Though a woman’s body never (and I do mean never) functions the same as it did pre-baby, I knew that my thinning hair had to be something else. Lucky for me, I’ve always had very thick hair and a little thinning wasn’t causing any noticeable issues. However, I started to panic, thinking to myself, I’m only in my mid-thirties, what will this look like when I’m 60?! My hair has always been such a strong part of my identity; I couldn’t stand the thought of losing the frizzy, curly, full, unyielding mass that had come to outwardly represent my personality. What was I going to do?
After doing some research I found that the culprit was most likely the relaxer that I was putting in my hair. A relaxer is a very strong mixture of chemicals that women use to make their hair more manageable and softer. The only problem is a relaxer is incredibly toxic; actually, the chemicals can burn your skin when they are left on for too long. Honestly, this should’ve been an indicator to me that I shouldn’t be using it at all. The chemicals in relaxers have been connected to cancer, hormone disruptions, etc. My scalp was dry, and my hair was falling out and it was all because of the relaxer I was putting on my hair. Even worse, everything that I was putting on my scalp was seeping into my body; this is the main reason pregnant women are not supposed to use hair dye and chemical treatments on their hair during pregnancy. I was so desperate to tame the frizz that I was willing to poison myself.
In June of 2018, I decided that I would stop allowing chemicals to soak into my pores; I would no longer allow societal beauty standards to dictate my health. Once I threw out the relaxer, I realized that I had to read every label of shampoo, conditioner and hair product. Then I realized that my topical skin lotions were loaded with damaging ingredients. Finally, I found the best two organic ingredients that became the best skin product substitutes: aloe vera gel and castor oil. Read up on the many ways I learned how to use these products.
- Hair care - mixing organic aloe vera gel (not the colorful stuff from the sunscreen aisle) and castor oil together and using it daily for my hair has made my hair softer. I started at the scalp and worked my way down. Castor oil has anti-inflammatory properties and can heal irritated skin. So, the Aloe vera keeps your skin soft and hair hydrated. It is the perfect combination. If you have thinning hair, try adding some castor oil on your scalp at night. Rinse it out in the morning and if you need to keep your hair hydrated, use aloe vera during the day.
- Moisturizer - Need a moisturizer that keeps your face hydrated but not oily? No problem. Use aloe vera. I apply it to my skin after I wash my face at night. It helps keep my skin soft without that greasy feeling and it helps fight against acne.
- Muscle rub/Wound healer - both aloe vera and castor oil have anti-inflammatory properties, as well as wound-healing properties. So, when I have sore muscles or when I need a scratch to heal quickly I rub both of these on my aching muscles and wounds.
- Anti-itch cream - Whenever my son’s eczema would flare up I used to use the Eucerin Eczema cream on him. It was amazing! After reading the ingredients I realized it was mostly made of castor oil. Now, I just wash his skin in a fragrance-free soap and rub him down with castor oil.
- Wallet saver - Now, I don’t mean you can rub these on your wallet to make your wallet grow money! However, if you order the organic castor oil and organic Aloe Vera gel instead of the overpriced marketed products, which use both of these as main ingredients already, you will be saving yourself plenty of money. My favorite organic Aloe Vera product is Lily of the desert and my favorite organic castor oil is Viva Naturals.