When a build-up of my cosmetics began to overtake the bathroom, I decided to throw away and freecycle all of the beauty products that weren't made from organic ingredients. I'd been reading about some of the nasty chemicals they put in beauty products like shampoos and moisturisers and decided that it was time to start living by the motto, 'Put nothing on your skin that you wouldn't put in your mouth'.
So there were the big 'all natural' brands to try but even these have ingredients that you wouldn't necessarily recognise (or put in your mouth). I knew that if I was going to go 100% natural, I would pretty much have to grow, maintain and abuse a field of aloe plants to use their nutritious goodness, direct from the leaf. But then I came across a company called Raw Gaia...
Raw Gaia is the world's first range of living organic skincare products that are made using only cold pressed and chemical-free ingredients. The products follow the same principles as a raw food diet. Eating food raw and in its natural state is supposed to leave the food with more life energy, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, EFAs, etc. All of these are great for your skin and stimulate collagen (that magic ingredient that L'Oreal's advertising department can't get enough of) so why wouldn't a raw food diet be great for your skin if it was spread directly onto it?
Better still, many of their products are made using raw chocolate and cacao butter so chocoholics everywhere should bare this in mind. I'm going to review 3 of my favourites:
Raw Gaia's Raw Chocolate Face Pack review
If the magnificent chocolatey aroma from this doesn't get you buzzing, perhaps some facts from the lab will... Raw chocolate powder contains 367% more antioxidants than its cooked version, in fact, it has the highest known source of antioxidants known to man. There are over 25,200 antioxidants in a single spoonful, which is brilliant because as I write, that spoonfull is smothered all over my face.
The face pack comes in powdered form so there is no need to use artificial preservatives and it keeps for a really long time. It has only four ingredients: raw chocolate, turmeric, amla fruit powder and red clay, all you need to do is mix a spoonful with water in a bowl and let the plastering commence. You can feel it working its magic as it dries with a slight tingle. The only difficulty I have is with controlling my tongue; as this sits above my top lip, the rich scent drifts up to my sensory receptors and drives me a little loco. I've just got to remember it's not my tummy's turn today.
Turmeric is traditionally used in India, not only as a spice but also for skin conditions such as eczema and pigmentation spots. I must admit, I was a bit worried about the turmeric staining my skin yellow but all it seems to have done is make it silky smooth. I have quite dark skin though so I'm not sure how it will effect someone with lighter tones. The one thing this little mixture will stain is your clothes, so make sure you're careful and you're not wearing your gladrags. Try removing the crumbly paste with a cotton pad instead of a towel. I like to coat my skin in the face pack after a hard day, it always lifts my spirits as well as making my skin feel cleansed and so soft, I just can't stop touching it.
Raw Gaia's MSM Beauty Cream review
Having used moisturisers that were white and creamy all of my life, when I first opened a pot of this up, I was a little bit sceptic. To mix water and oils you have to add an emulsifying wax (an ingredient which blocks pores) so there is no water in this and it is more like a butter than a cream. Because there is no water used in the cream, there is also no need for artificial preservatives so the only ingredients you'll find in this are cold pressed cacao butter and natural oils. So I put this on before bed, and in the morning all that sceptisism had vanished. I have really bad dark bags under my eyes, the kind that are sometimes blue and give a look of permanent tiredness but when I woke up they were dramatically reduced. Now, every night before bed, I spread this religiously over my skin. I was anxious about it running out and having to buy up the world's suppy but after a couple of months of using it, it doesn't seem to have diminished in the slightest... They should call this miracle cream, really.
Peppery oils of frankincense and myrrh have been added to vitamin rich cacao butter to give it an exotic flavour as well as nourish the skin. The magic ingredient has got to be MSM, a nutritional form of sulphur gives flexibility, tone and strength to muscles, bones, joints, and especially the skin, hair and nails. But applied directly onto the skin it just has the best results. After only a few weeks, mine felt softer, more elastic, I had less blemishes and those pesky frown lines: GONE.
Raw Gaia's Detox Living Massage Bar review
The moment this touches your skin, it begins to melt, releasing all of the added essential oils. To me, this smells of warm night air in a tropical country, wild fennel whispering in the breeze, just enough black pepper and of course, chocolate. It is this cacao butter that makes it so deliciously melt at body temperature and gives it a rich, chocolatey aroma. As I smooth it onto my skin after a bath, I am truly in a happy stupor, I don't think I've ever had a beauty product smell this intoxicatingly beautiful. I go to bed feeling relaxed and soft all over.
More about Raw Gaia
Raw Gaia was set up by Lisa Lennon, who suffered from very dry skin. Her dedication shows as these products have done wonders for many peoples skin conditions. It has helped to heal my eczema, as well as prevent it in some areas... Read more about natural treatments for eczema.
You can buy these products in selected health food shops and spas in the UK and on the Raw Gaia website. I was particularly impressed at how quickly I recieved all of my products (within 24 hours of ordering).
Raw Chocolate Workshop
Useful resource: Jessica's Raw Chocolate Recipes - an informative, inspirational, and beautifully photographed cookbook that explains and outlines the exciting phenomenon that is raw chocolate.