Hi there lovelies!
I'm very excited to bring to you the 7th guest post in the #MyNaturalBeautyJourney series. This lovely lady has her very own eco-luxe skincare brand so I'm really happy that she got in touch and wanted to be involved with the series. I loved reading her story and I hope you all do too. It's truly motivating and inspiring!
Hello everyone! My name is Tracy, and (together with my husband) I own two ethically minded businesses; an eco-luxe, artisan skin and self-care brand Mono Naturoils, and also a branding and design studio. We live in the Essex countryside with our free-spirited daughter Amelie, and beloved beagle Gus. I'm a big believer in the healing powers of Mother Nature, nurturing the body and spirit, and living life in the most holistic, ethical and natural way possible.
My interest in cruelty free skincare and beauty products began in the late 80's when I was around 13/14. A massive animal lover, I'd recently become a vegetarian and was seeking out cruelty free makeup when I stumbled across the mail order catalogue of Cosmetics to Go (the guys and gals who would go on to launch Lush a few years later, and also supplied products to The Body Shop). I immediately fell in love with everything about the brand - the products, packaging, ethos... It was rather revolutionary at the time; their creations unusual, innovative, fun and vibrant. To me everything seemed exotic, sexy, and utterly swoon-worthy! Sadly, the brand went into administration a few years after launching, but it had piqued my interest into further investigating the world of beauty and skincare, and I began to scour the shelves of my local libraries and bookshops for books about making skincare using natural ingredients. I remember the first skincare product I made myself was an orange blossom cleanser using a recipe I'd photocopied from a library book. It was amazing and I was hooked! I continued to make my own skincare as well as to seek out and support cruelty free, ethical brands.
Fast forward to 2006 when upon perusing the Lush forum one day in the hopes of locating a discontinued product, I came across a thread about veganism. Now, although I thought of myself as an animal lover, and had been using skin and beauty products labelled as cruelty free for more than 15 years, I'd never given veganism much thought. Until now. And overnight my life, and the life of my husband changed; for the better. The discussions I'd read on the forum led me to read other articles; about dairy farming, what happens to baby chicks, calves.... and overnight both my husband and I became vegan. And it was, and still is, surprisingly easy. In 2012 we welcomed our second daughter, Amelie, and she has been vegan since birth.
Tracy & her daughter Amelie
My journey into making natural, cruelty free and vegan skin care, I guess began way back when I made that first orange blossom cleanser, but I only dabbled over the years as 'real life' and working long hours had got in the way. The big move came after I developed rosacea not long after having Amelie. It seemingly appeared from nowhere (although looking back I realise I've had it in a very mild form for many years - the blushing I thought was part of having pale skin was actually the rosacea!). And nobody, including the doctors, had a clue what it actually was for a long time. To cut a long story short, through a lot of research I figured out what it was myself and then had it confirmed by a doctor who is a skin specialist. I have moderate to severe rosacea; a chronic skin condition that mainly affects the face, cannot be cured, and which nobody for sure knows the cause(s) of. I suffer from three of the four subtypes, and while treatment can help control the symptoms to varying degrees, no treatment works the same for any two rosacea sufferers.
If you looked at me right now, you'd probably wonder what all the fuss is about - my skin looks pretty good. And yes, it does, and has done for around 18 months or so now. But for a long time I didn't want to leave the house; it was so bad. And though it's currently under control, I know I could have a flare up at any time. I manage to keep it under control with a combination of the skincare I'm using, avoiding triggers, and from time to time taking natural supplements. I wish I had taken some photos of my face when it was at its worst so I could show you the difference, but at the time I was at such a low point I didn't want anyone looking at me, let alone have a camera pointing at me! It wasn't just how my face looked (which was pretty horrid); it was the pain, burning, swelling, and of
course how it made me feel, mentally. I was a mess.
During the time when nobody could figure out what was happening to my face various possibilities were suggested by the doctors. Perhaps I had an allergy? Was it a form of acne? Was it an intolerance to some food? And so I tried changing everything I was using, one product at a time - skin care, make up, household products. I kept a food diary. But no changes seemed to help. The money I spent on trying just about every different skin care product out there was crazy! But I just wanted my skin to improve. Then when I was finally diagnosed, the countless trips to the doctors began. I was put on various medications both topical and by mouth, but nothing helped. And that's when I finally decided I needed to take matters into my own hands. I made the decision to treat everything naturally. Now, this isn't going to be the answer for everyone with rosacea, or any other skin condition, and I'm not of course a medical professional. But for me, thankfully it worked. As well as figuring out my 'triggers' - heat (central heating is actually worse for me than say getting hot in summer!) and stress are my two biggest triggers - and researching the best natural supplements to take, I decided to take my interest in creating natural skincare further. I would make my own. Now, when I decide to do something, I do it to the very best of my ability, so I enrolled on every course I could both on and offline, studying skin care formulation, aromatherapy, holistic therapy, crystal healing, reiki and herbalism, in far greater depth than I had previously. I already had a fair amount of knowledge, but even still it was hard work. But also so enlightening; exhilarating - I'd found my passion - at long last!
I qualified as an aromatherapist and holistic therapist, and using all the extra skills I had acquired, as well as the experience I had gained over the years making my own recipes, I began to formulate my own facial oils. Launching a skincare brand takes a lot of hard work - I won't go into the whole process in detail here as it's lengthy, but I'm currently writing an article about this very subject which should be posted on our blog by the end of August. In short, we're obsessive (in a good way!) over every little detail that goes into producing our products, and making them the very best they can be.
My own skin care routine varies depending on both the time of the month, as well as the time of year! It's always fairly simple though, and also consistent. For me consistency is key! Although I'm greatly interested in the layering routines many skin care lovers have adopted; personally my skin prefers simplicity and consistency (and to be honest, I also don't have the time!). I don't cleanse in the morning. I know many people will gasp at that fact, but having tried lots of different routines over the years, I've come to the conclusion my skin prefers not to be cleansed in the morning (honestly :D). A lot of people tend to over wash their skin, and all this does is strip the skin of its natural oils, which can actually result in the skin producing more oil to compensate! As my skin tends to be on the dry/sensitive side, I don't want to strip the natural defence barrier my skin has worked so hard at night to build. I also only ever sleep on each side of my pillowcase once and then wash it (so there's no nasties lurking on there threatening to clog up my pores), and thoroughly cleanse my skin every night, so it's still 'clean' when I wake up. The main reason to cleanse your skin are (a) to remove makeup, (b) to remove environmental pollutants, and (c) to remove dirt/sweat. And so, I'm of the opinion that, if your skin hasn't been exposed to any of these factors during the night, is there really the need to cleanse it a few hours later? Well opinions are divided, and I always advise customers to do what works best for them. For me, it's no cleanse upon waking, but I do however wipe across my skin with a mild toner, just to remove any dead skin cells and sweat, and to freshen my skin.
My night time routine is a much more relaxing, indulgent affair where possible. I like to think of it not so much as a routine, but a ritual. It's a time to connect with nature, relax and unwind, take my time and enjoy it. It's all about self care, as well as skin care - beauty rituals can help with your mental and emotional wellbeing, and also help bring balance into your life. To begin, I'll spend a few minutes massaging our cleansing oil into my skin, taking my time, relaxing my mind and enjoying the calming experience. Cleansing used to feel almost like a chore to me until I started oil cleansing; now it's my favourite step! Next, after liberally spritzing my face with my favourite frankincense hydrosol, I'll gently massage in a few drops of facial oil while my skin is still damp (damp skin is more receptive and helps the oil absorb better and quicker), while inhaling the heavenly aroma, soothing and calming my senses.
Rejuvenating Facial Oil | Mono Naturoils
So at the moment my routine consists of: (AM) spritz my face with hydrosol (normally Neroli), followed by a few drops of either our own 'Radiance' facial oil or upcoming Serum (whose star ingredients include Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C, Aloe and Blue Tansy), and (PM) cleanse using our upcoming 'Rose & Cucumber' cleansing oil, followed by spritzing with hydrosol (normally Frankincense) and a few drops of either our 'Sensitive' or 'Rejuvenating' facial oils. Once or twice a week I'll also use a face mask in between cleansing and spritzing. Depending on how my skin is feeling I'll either use our 'Detox' mask (if I'm feeling any signs of congestion), or our 'Rejuvenating' or 'Radiance' mask (if my skin is in need of extra nourishment).
Variations are: for the week leading up to my period (when there's a greater chance of a breakout), I'll use our 'Balancing' Facial Oil, and in the cooler months I might use our upcoming Facial Balm either instead of, or as well as a Facial Oil. I don't double cleanse as I don't wear a lot of makeup, and never foundation, so there's simply not the need.
Make up routine
I heard the saying a while back "skin care first, makeup second - skin care is essential, whereas makeup is a choice" and I wholeheartedly agree. When it comes to makeup, although I love it, I like to keep my face as free as possible most of the time (and I also have so little time in the morning!), so I'm probably make up free around 60% of the time. Another 30% of the time I'll just wear a flick of eyeliner and perhaps a little mascara. Then there's the odd occasion where I'll also wear eyeshadow. I hardly ever wear lipstick because the feeling of it on my lips gets on my nerves after about 5 minutes... If I could find a very lightweight lip stain that wasn't drying and was the perfect colour, that would be fantastic! Cosmetics to Go used to do one actually I seem to recall. I do love a bit of sparkle, and quite like to sometimes wear a flick of glittery eyeliner or shadow! Oh, and I'm currently working on a sparkly/shimmery version of our Radiance facial oil.
My advice to anyone looking to switch to natural and cruelty free skin care / beauty is to do your research and ask lots of questions. Instagram is a great place to start - use commonly used hashtags such as #naturalskincare, #crueltyfreebeauty, #veganbeauty, #greenbeauty and #cleanbeauty to find brands and products, as well as bloggers. You'll find plenty of discussion and reviews on there. If you visit sites such as Naturisimo, Love Lula and Content Beauty, you can filter products to find those that are natural, organic, vegan etc... Looking for certification on a product can also be helpful, but be aware that lots of brands choose not to get certification for various reasons, especially smaller brands where costs are a factor!
There are lots of natural / cruelty-free brands that I adore, and with new brands emerging every day, it's so easy to find them nowadays (trust me; compared to 25/30 years ago it's a breeze), and there's something out there for every budget too! Apart from our own brand haha; I especially love Lush for lip scrubs and fragrance, Inika for makeup, Hurraw Balm for lip balm, Little Ondine for nails, The Natural Deodorant Co for deodorant, and Bare Republic for suncream.
When I first decided to make the switch to exclusively natural, as well as cruelty free products, I did struggle with finding a natural deodorant that actually worked! I'm not a particularly sweaty person at all, but the choice around 15 years ago wasn't great. It's only in the last few years that a few brands have emerged who make effective deodorant that works, but without preventing perspiration! My favourite brand at the moment is The Natural Deodorant Co who do a great range with gorgeous scents.
If I had to choose a favourite product it would have to be our 'Sensitive' facial oil. It took me about a year to get this just right! It's lightweight but luxe feeling, and so nourishing and protecting. It contains so many amazing organic and unrefined oils - Prickly Pear, Buriti, Blackcurrant, Sea Buckthorn and Rosehip being just some of them. It's a wonderful amber colour due to the unrefined Buriti and Sea Buckthorn oils, and although it doesn't contain any essential oils, it has the most amazing scent! I've heard all kinds of descriptions for it - I find it a mix of herbal and incense, but it's
also been described as 'nutty', and also 'healthy skin'!
With so many fabulous products, brands and resources out there nowadays, and something for every age, skin type and budget, I can't think of any good reasons not to switch to natural and cruelty free beauty and skincare. But in case you’re in need of some encouragement, here are just a few reasons why I would encourage everyone to make the switch: Firstly, what goes on your skin absorbs into your bloodstream and is carried throughout your body. There’s much debate about the actual amount that gets absorbed, but research has shown it’s up to 60%! Just as nutrients are absorbed through food, they also absorbed through the skin. Therefore, wouldn’t you want to ‘feed’ your skin with beneficial nutrients, rather than potentially harmful ingredients?
Of course, natural and organic ingredients, grown without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, are also better for the environment, whereas potentially harmful / synthetic cosmetic ingredients end up in the water and soil, having a negative impact on our environment. We all need to ensure we are doing everything possible to protect our beautiful planet; there is no planet B after all! Mother Nature provides us with everything we need, and for generations people all over the globe have been using natural ingredients for their skin and hair care, green beauty practices and rituals. We can learn so much from these practices, and different cultures - many of the ingredients used can in fact be found in our kitchen cupboards - olive oil, saffron, turmeric, sea salt, green tea, coconut oil... I could go on and on! Natural skin care doesn't have to be expensive, in fact there are plenty of DIY recipes that can be found online, and I'm planning on posting lots of recipes on our blog over the coming months!
When it comes to the cruelty free aspect; I strongly believe all life is precious. Cosmetic testing is a cruel, unnecessary and inaccurate method of evaluating a products' safety for human use. No living being should have to suffer in any way just so we can have beauty products, and there is no justifiable reason for this abhorrent and outdated method to continue.
Thank you so much for reading! And if anyone has any questions about skin care, switching to natural / cruelty free, or veganism, do drop me a line or DM me via Instagram - I'd be more than happy to help! Looking forward to connecting; Tracy xx
Thank you so much Tracy, it really was a pleasure to read. As Tracy said above, get in touch with any questions and give her a follow on Instagram - its a lovely feed, inspired by nature with some gorgeous photos and some great information on natural ingredients and skincare. I don't know about you but the Radiance face mask looks amazing and I can't wait for this to be released!
If you would like to write a guest post for #MyNaturalBeautyJourney get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great week!