A strange thing about being a material girl in a material world, is that you’re constantly being told you’re not enough.You don’t look fashionable enough, and you need new clothes. You’re house isn’t stylish enough, and you need new home wares. Your face isn’t smooth or clear or bright enough, and you need new foundation and cleanser and make-up.
And if you decide to be a not-so-material girl in a material world, you suddenly realise how utterly untrue all that is.
Would any woman have worried about their leg hair before manufacturers stated making razors? Would anyone have thought specifically about the shininess of their forehead before cosmetics companies starting advertising matte powder?
About a year ago, I decided to simplify my beauty routine. I had read an article about parabens in cosmetics, and started researching the other ingredients and preservatives in the substances we put on our faces everyday. It was a bit shocking to realise how many ingredients – that I couldn’t even pronounce, let alone explain what they were – were listed on those labels.
These ingredients may be included in cosmetics in negligible amounts. But is putting products on your face and body that contain carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, hormone disruptors, plasticizers, degreasers and surfactants strictly necessary?
One thing I figured out very quickly was that the best way to reduce the number of concerning ingredients in my cosmetics products, was just to reduce the number of products I used full stop. After all, it’s much easier to cut a step from your beauty routine than to try and find a primer made from organic plant-based ingredients only.
The less I used, the more I realised that I didn’t need to use anything.
I also realised that most of the cleansers, creams, powders, mascaras and lipsticks I had been using were not only bad for the environment, often bad for animals, and potentially bad for my health – they were also bad for the way I thought about myself.
If you look in the mirror everyday and are used to seeing someone with perfectly smooth, evenly toned skin, red lips and clearly-defined eyes – that becomes your status quo. Everything less than that looks wrong.
But if you look in the mirror everyday, and see someone with a few faults – then that becomes your new normal. You look at yourself and learn to like yourself, exactly as you are. Once I embraced those faults, I didn’t even notice them anymore. I didn’t notice the acne scarring on my cheeks and chin. I didn’t notice the way my skin shined at the end of the day. I didn’t obsess about the bags under my eyes.
My skin now looks the best it ever has. I honestly think that is because I’m not clogging it up with products everyday, and then stripping them off with yet more products at the end of the night. My beauty routine now is very simple: I wash my face with warm water. I moisturize with organic rosehip oil. I wear a physical sunblock (not chemical) every single day. And I wear a cruelty-free tinted lip balm and natural almond oil mascara.
You can wear as much – or as little – make-up as you like. As long as you’re doing it because you want to, and not because you feel like youhave to. Not because you’ve been made to feel like you need to keep buying, buying, buying to fit into an unrealistic beauty ideal.
Less is more – and I’m not just talking about natural beauty. Less is also more beneficial to the environment, the animals we share the planet with, and potentially your physical health.
That’s the beauty of less.
Melissa Wellham is trying to live life in a way that lessens her impact on the planet, people, and animals – and thinks that trying a little bit is better than not trying at all. She blogs sporadically at The Honeybee and tweets pretty much non-stop at @melissawellham.