The following post is by the lovely Charlotte Jean Steenekamp of Better4Life. I met Charlotte at the first Jhb Natural Hair Meetup in March and I loved the talk she gave on learning to love ourselves and the importance of inner beauty. Charlotte was kind enough to share more of her knowledge with us and I hope you will find her post as informative as I did.
Women have an innate need to feel beautiful. In general, we spend more time on our appearance than mucking out barns or building fences. Yes, we can also do those other things. And we do: broken plumbing, household DIY, car repairs – all the standard non-beautifying tasks. However, there is not one honest woman I have met who does not care about her beauty. When I meet with women to address their health, it always boils down to what they look like: their weight, skin quality and ultimately the assessment of their appearance in their own eyes.
This brings us to the next question: “What is real beauty?”
Real Beauty vs. Veneer Beauty
Real beauty is what can be defined as nature without artificial layers. It is our natural exterior minus the additions – what we could call “Veneer” beauty. Real physiological beauty is a direct reflection of our internal environment – our cellular level, which is affected by our environment, physical, emotional and spiritual health. Real beauty is the sum total of our holistic health.
The Skin – Teller of True Stories
The skin, hair, eyes and mucous membranes are the most truthful storytellers of the body. Our skin, which includes our scalp, is the largest organ of the body. It acts as the last safety exit mechanism for toxin and impurity release. Therefore, what we see on our skin, when we are using products that allow our skin to release waste products, is a clear indication of what is taking place in our bodies.
Your skin story is about your overall health: is it optimal, just making the grade or sub-optimal? Whether you have a happy or unhappy ending to your skin story is affected by specific variables. Ultimately, it is these variables that affect the quality of your life.
Skin Food Variables: Input = Output
Food for the skin comes primarily from Collagen, Elastin, Antioxidant Micronutrients, Natural Oils and Botanicals. These compounds are found in the highest levels and most bioavailable form (the proportion of a substance entering the body that has an active effect) within Biogenic Food. Biogenic food is produced or brought about by living organisms and is food in its most natural, unprocessed state. Think of a tomato, red on the vine – the most biogenic state. Think of tomato sauce reheated and recooked – one of the least biogenic states. The more biogenic food you eat, the greater your input of collagen, elastin, antioxidants and micronutrients will be.
Antioxidant Micronutrients specifically beneficial for the skin include: Vitamin E (tocopherols), Vitamin A (beta-carotene – responsible for the pleasing colour of radiant skin), Coenzyme q10, Vitamin C, Di-methyl-amino-ethanol (DMAE). All are available in supplemental form, but these compounds are the most accessible and bioavailable in raw vegetables, lentils, pulses, sprouts, fruit and healthy animal products (e.g. white fish, eggs, free range red meat).
Natural Oils that have been used for centuries by the wise and wealthy to preserve skin and body health include, but are not limited to: Evening Primrose Oil, Wheatgerm Oil (Triticum aestivum), Aloe Vera, Chamomile, Sweet Almond Oil, Coconut Oil, Shea butter, Avocado Oil, Palm Kernel and Grapeseed oil.
Natural botanicals (herbs, flowers, fruits and seed oleates) provide the most healing and adaptogenic form of cleansing, rehabilitative and health maintenance tools for the body. Examples of botanical extracts include Bearberry, Grapefruit seed, Arnica, Acerola, Barley, Gingko biloba, Horse chestnut, Lumiskin, Apricot seed, Avocado and Marjoram.
Real Beauty is All-Encompassing
When a woman is healthy, she is truly beautiful. Her skin doesn’t need make-up, but she can choose whether to use it or not. When a woman is healthy, she moves regularly, raising her heart rate moderately most days of the week for an extended, but not an excessive time (e.g. 40 minutes versus 2 hours). Her sleep is deep, sufficient (7-8 hours) and regular. Food is medicine and she enjoys her odd slice of cake or chocolate with friends and with love and joy in her heart. She doesn’t eat in the dark unless it is a romantic moment! Stress is a part of her life, but she releases it frequently through the activities that help her to breathe, rest and reflect. Her relationships are healthy: they are good for her soul, and she feels a greater sense of purpose in her work than duty or paying the bills. This woman drinks more water than coffee and likes to taste her food – extra sugar and salt are not necessary. She is a normal lady, just like you and me. But she tells herself that she is beautiful, especially on the days that the mirror disagrees.
This woman is a sister, mother, friend or… you! And she invites us to join her.
About the author
Practising as a nutritional therapist, natural skincare and superfoods developer and health educator at Better4Life and Africa Grace, Charlotte Jean believes that all of us can be truly healthy. “There are real ways for us to care for our world and care for our beings. They are simple and available to everyone. This is a picture of Grace for us.“
Her Motto: True health is for us all.
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