Girl, stop washing your face!
Health and beauty practices we need to let go I love the history of health, science, beauty, and makeup. It is truly a rabbit hole of fascinating and shocking theories or what we believed was not only healthy, but beautiful. Women using lead based creams to achieve a deathly pallor or dilating their eyes with drops including belladonna for a more more exaggerated wide eyed look we considered beautiful and fashionable. These of course were also extremely toxic and caused visual impairment, skin ulcers, a host of health complications, and oh yeah death as well. These wonderful tales of weird are now of course relegated to the history books but what about the more modern solutions, are we still prey to harmful and ineffective solutions for vanity?
The answer is of course hindsight is 20/20, but there are some practices still in use and promoted today that have and will cause issues in the future for users. I have collected three favorite “why are we still doing this” health and beauty edition practices that need to be retired along with ammonia toners, tapeworms, and lysol as feminine hygiene. (Over) washing your face and hair: Women are constantly held to unattainable standards, one being effortly bouncy, full, shiny, and luxurious hair. Oily, heavy, greasy, or flat hair is apparently a sign of lack of caring or washing. My 90’s babes will hopefully remember with as much fondness as I have the revamping of the 70’s Herbal Essence line of shampoo and conditioners complete with some, uh...eh... very satisfied women in the shower. As young and inherently awkward teens we embraced the shampoo myth that to be clean and purged of any and all body secretions to be beautiful. If you couldn’t smell your lab partner’s heavily scented tresses you knew they didn’t wash their hair daily (or if you were really dedicated twice a day) and all this did was strip our scalps of the natural and necessary oils that keep out delicate scalp protected and smooth the cuticle of our hair. This interestingly created MORE oil to be produced because our body naturally attempted to keep a sense of balance. Our faces too were scrubbed, buffed, astringed, and left tight and
dry all because we believed that the sebum would manifest as blemishes. We purged our skin of its natural flora opening many of us up to dry skin, irritation, and more skin outbreaks. Okay,
so no one is going to die from too much astringent or over priced shampoo, but we can now agree that out body doesn’t require daily bubbles. Use shampoo and facial cleansers sparingly, once or twice a week and consider just a scalp massage in the shower on the other days and a quick swipe of alcohol free toner and good quality moisturizer on those gorgeous cheeks. Anti-bacterial everything
Oh goodness is this one juicy. I mean the origins of just how deep this myth goes is more complicated than a telenovela. The core of this myth,is that everything is dirty and we as good people need to battle the evil bacteria from rising up and taking over. Unfortunately this obsession with “clean” and “germ free” has led to an overuse of certain soaps and products that have potentially contributed to certain bacterium becoming stronger and more resistant to standard antibiotic treatments making researchers push for limitations on these products. This is the ultimate in whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Lucky for us Triclosan and a number of its friends were banned in 2016 in the US by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because of the concerns of long term effects and overuse in soaps and products found in typical home cleaning products. Hospitals, labs, and spaces where there is significant risk
associated with bacterial contamination still use these products legally, but even they will tell you they only use those products in very controlled situations. The truth of the matter is that the physical act of washing our hands and body is enough to loosen dirt and whatnot to keep our body from getting ill or infected. Now of course there are always exceptions to the rule and if you fall into one of those exceptions, then you do you and don’t listen to a blogger on the internet. We have to always smell “good” This one is the most irritating. Bodies in motion or even at rest might not always smell like Chanel No. 5 or baby powder. The fear and loathing of body odor something we’ve got to get over. Smelly armpits happen sometimes and that's okay. Making people feel bad or self conscious for a natural body function, not cool. Kids can begin the hormonal changes of puberty as young as eight and the pressure to fit is stressful. Antiperspirant seems like a sure fire way to help navigate the sea of changes, but is it? Sweat is our our body’s way of keeping our body healthy and it’s not that sweat itself smells (well not normally) it's the bacteria chowing down and releasing gas that causes the funk. Sending the message that sweat is bad or offensive can be confusing and using products that inhibit the natural mechanisms only lead to trouble. Some research suggests that the prolonged use of antiperspirants can increase chances of certain endocrine disorders or cancers. All of this for pits that smell like like an artificial aroma of flowers and “fresh breeze” doesn’t seem worth it. By all means if you like using underarm products continue to do so, but be an informed consumers. Personally, I find deodorants work well for me and I would consider myself to be a proficient sweater especially during daily workouts. The deodorant keeps some of the funk at bay, but at the end of the day I may still smell like sweaty lavender. I have actually started experimenting with going without anything, kinda like how folks have cut back on shampooing and have found that their scalps naturally regulated I have found that while I still sweat it doesn't smell maybe because I am not adding a bunch of stuff to my underarms that only create a buffet of goodness for the bacteria who call it home. There you have it, even today we are still falling prey to quick fixes and attempting to perfect our already perfect bodies. Can we can all agree that we need more self love and less artificial conformity? Be authentically you, and pay no attention you your middle school self about the occasional
pimple, greasy tresses, or forgotten deodorant. Embracing our own unique beauty and respecting our bodies for all that they do for us is truly beautiful.
Written By: Caitlin Ettenborough