Clean beauty guru, Sophie Uliano, shares how to achieve beauty from the inside out without toxic chemicals.
By Tammy Mastroberte
As women (and, yes, men too), we want to take care of our skin, hair and bodies so we can look and feel our best. We buy beauty creams to keep wrinkles at bay, body scrubs to stave off cellulite, and hair products to add volume and shine. But with many of today’s leading brands, we are also getting a serving of toxins to go along with the beauty benefits.
Is there a way to go natural without sacrificing on performance? Clean beauty guru Sophie Uliano says yes, and in her new book “Gorgeous for Good: A Simple 30-Day Program for Lasting Beauty — Inside and Out,” she shares how to revamp our routines, including nutrition, beauty and spiritual connection, complete with meal plans, food recipes, skincare recipes and more.
The New York Times bestselling author spoke with Elevated Existence to share some of her top tips on how to ditch the chemicals, and feel gorgeous naturally.
ELEVATED EXISTENCE (EE): When it comes to natural beauty products, it seems more and more companies are avoiding parabens, sulfates and phthalates, but what other ingredients should we avoid, and why?
SOPHIE ULIANO: First of all, none of these ingredients are going to immediately harm us. A paraben isn’t going to give you cancer, and there is a lot of scam mongering going on, so it’s important to stay level headed. We do live in a toxic environment and it comes from everywhere, and for the most it’s unavoidable. I try to make people understand that so they don’t start freaking out!
There are different reasons for avoiding different ingredients. Somebody might be more sensitive to chemicals, which happens as we get older, and why a lot of people get rosacea and inflammatory issues with their skin. I have a list of what is probably better to avoid. For instance, I believe parabens are better to avoid because they are endocrine disruptors.
If a product says it’s paraben free, mineral oil free and sulfate free, and they are using these terms on the packaging, then I know the company has gone to great lengths to avoid these particular ingredients, and it probably means a lot more care has gone into that formula.
Also, beware of ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ in an ingredient list because it’s an issue of tricky labeling. There is a labeling loophole that a company can put these terms on packaging without disclosing over 100 chemicals in the formulation, and those chemicals could include neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors.
EE: What about dyes and labels with colors like Red, Yellow, Blue?
ULIANO: If you don’t want to use anything that could be remotely risky, then I would say avoid anything that has dyes. However, not everyone feels that way. Makeup and cosmetics will sometimes have dye, but with formulations for personal care, such as toothpaste, shampoo, body lotion and skincare, I will avoid dye of any kind because there is no reason for it to be in there.
EE: In your book “Gorgeous for Good,” you talk about the importance of cleaning our makeup brushes. How often should this be done, and what are the best cleaning options?
ULIANO: I clean my brushes every time I use them. I add rubbing alcohol to a kitchen towel and have it standing by to disinfect my brushes. If someone doesn’t use them that often, I would say clean them at least once per week. Castile soap is a great option to clean the brushes, and for foundation brushes, I would add a little dishwashing liquid with foam to cut the grease and oil from the foundation. ECOS is a great dishwashing liquid brand.
EE: There are many kitchen cabinet items we can incorporate into our beauty regimen, and you highlight a few, including 100 percent organic, whole-leaf aloe vera juice and gel; raw virgin coconut oil and organic apple cider vinegar. What can they be used for?
ULIANO: The aloe vera juice can be used as a facial toner, and the gel I use when I make my own skincare products. If you cut the apple cider vinegar with equal parts water, it can be used as a toner and great for acne. The virgin coconut oil can be used as a makeup remover, in a hand wash and as a skin moisturizer, and it won’t clog pores.
EE: You say there have only been four antiaging ingredients proven to work. What are they and how should we be using them?
ULIANO: The first is vitamin C, and this should be used every single morning in a serum. You can buy it or make it yourself. (See Vitamin C Serum recipe below). The second is alpha hydroxyl acids (AHA), such as glycolic and lactic acids, and beta hydroxyl acid (BHA) like salicylic acid. AHA is for normal skin and BHA is for acne or oily skin. These offer a deep exfoliation, and should be used every day at night.
The third is retinol, and there are different types available. This should also be used every single night. Lastly, peptides have proven to be good for lifting and firming the skin. And always make sure you get clean, non-toxic formulations.
EE: Many people understand the importance of organic ingredients, especially those listed on EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” chart. But what if you can’t find the organic variety? Is it better to skip the nutritional benefits of the food?
ULIANO: If it’s on the “Dirty Dozen” and you can’t find organic, then I would say don’t buy it. But if it’s not on that list, then I wouldn’t sweat it!
EE: In the chapter “Getting to Know You” in your book, you offer mindfulness, meditation, yoga, breathing and other techniques. Why are these such an important part of the Gorgeous for Good program?
ULIANO: I think it’s the most important part. You can have everything else in order, your diet and beauty routine, but if you’re ignoring the connection you have with yourself and your stress levels are soaring, then you are missing the biggest part of the equation. I call this “Me Time” and it can become part of the morning routine.
For people who ask where to start with making changes, I tell them start here. Women often feel they don’t have time, and it can be daunting to meditate or do yoga, so daily “Me Time” is a period of time just for you. You can do breathing, meditation, yoga, and it can be done in 10 or 15 minutes.
EE: What about the diet portion of your 30-Day program?
ULIANO: The nutrition part of the program is really important. I don’t think we all have to be completely organic or drink green juice every day. It’s about having a level-headed approach, and I’m very passionate about getting women to eat a whole food, plant-based diet. When we eliminate animal products, dairy, sugar, alcohol and gluten, this will clean up a multitude of problems for them.
The diet I offer is based on whole foods and is anti-inflammatory and alkaline. It’s fashioned around science, and I offer a very good reason behind everything I suggest. In the 30-day plan I offer, every single food is anti-inflammatory, alkaline promoting and delicious.
Sophie’s Picks: Skincare
MyChelle Dermaceuticals — All their products are vegan or vegetarian, cruelty-free, and free of phthalates, parabens, sulfates, ureas, artificial fragrances and colors, petroleum, GMOs and gluten. Pictured here is the company’s Beauty Key 3 Kit, which includes the Perfect C Serum, REmakable Retinal Serum and Sun Shield SPF 28, along with a cosmetics bag. $79.50, www.mychelle.com.
Andalou Naturals — The company creates products free from GMOs, petrochemicals, phthalates, sulfates, synthetic colors, dyes, fragrances, PEG, MEA, TEA, DEA and parabens, and also uses non-GMO, vegan and vegetarian ingredients. Pictured here is the Get Started Age Defying Kit (also available in Clarifying and Brightening), containing Apricot Probiotic Cleansing Milk; BioActive 8 Berry Fruit Enzyme Mask; Blossom + Leaf Toning Refresher; Super Goji Peptide Perfecting Cream and Resveratrol Q10 Night Repair Cream. $19.99; www.andalou.com.
Juice Beauty — This organic skincare line (that includes makeup and haircare too) is formulated without parabens, petroleum, propylene or butylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfates, pesticides, phthalates, artificial dyes or synthetic fragrances. Pictured here is the Blemish Clearing Solutions Kit. It includes Blemish Clearing Cleanser; Green Apple Blemish Clearing Peel; Blemish Clearing Serum and Oil Free Moisturizer. $39;www.juicebeauty.com.
Odacite — Odacite is an organic, luxury skincare brand formulated and produced fresh with each order, and includes a freshness date on all products. Created without any preservatives, the company’s products use chemical-free botanicals that are either organic or wildcrafted in remote natural areas, and all oils are cold pressed. Pictured here is the Sun Damage Recovery Package, featuring Jojoba Beads Exfoliant; A Summer in Hossegor (to treat brown spots); and Night Time Antioxidants Repair Serum. $275; www.odacite.com.
Evolue — Another luxury brand, Evolue uses natural ingredients sourced from around the world “that mimic what our body naturally produces and loses as we age.” Pictured here is the Evolue Reverse Time Serum, which contains only six ingredients. $148; www.evoluebeauty.com.
Pacifica — When it comes to bath and body products and perfume, Pacifica offers natural, vegan and gluten-free, cruelty-free products — and they also offer a natural makeup line. Their skincare products are free of FD&C color, phthalates, parabens, sulfates, propylene glycol, benzene, mineral oil, petroleum, peanut oil and triclosan, and their perfumes use essential and natural oils from all over the world. Pictured here is the Hawaiian Ruby Guava Value Collection, which includes Body Butter, Spray Perfume and Body Wash. $30; www.pacificabeauty.com.
Sophie’s Picks: Makeup
Pacifica — In addition to their line of natural bath and body products and perfume, Pacifica also offers a line of makeup, including eye shadow, foundation, lip gloss and more — free of FD&C color, phthalates, parabens, sulfates, propylene glycol, benzene, mineral oil, petroleum, peanut oil and triclosan. Pictured here is the Enlighten Eye Brightening Shadow Palette. $14; www.pacificabeauty.com.
Jane Iredale — Hypoallergenic, and safety, allergy, clinically and dermatologist tested, Jane Iredale mineral makeup is free of nanoparticles, parabens and phenoxyethanol, and cruelty free. Pictured here is the Color Sample Kit, available in Light, Medium and Medium Dark, featuring foundation, concealer, blush, eye shadow and lip color. $32; www.janeiredale.com.
Tarte — Uliano refers to Tarte as “a good training wheel brand,” because it’s readily available in mainstream stores, and formulated without parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate and gluten. It’s also cruelty free. Pictured here is the Poppy Picnic Limited Edition Amazonian Clay Eye & Cheek Palette, which is part of the brand’s Summer 2015 line. It features six eye shadows and a blush. $38; www.tartecosmetics.com.