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True Beauty

True Beauty


  • By: Sharon McRae

Since this issue is all about renewal, I decided to tackle the frustrating problem of dry, flaky skin, all too common during the colder months that many of us are currently experiencing. The best way to restore a radiant complexion and smooth skin is by exfoliating regularly. Here are some of my favorite new vegan and safe exfoliating product finds:

Lips tend to get very dry and frequently peel during the cooler months, leaving a very uneven surface for color application. I was thrilled to find French Girl Rose Lip Polish, which is every bit as luxurious as it sounds. Some of the key ingredients in this vegan, nut-, gluten-, soy, and GMO-free product include organic shea butter and coconut oil to moisturize and soothe, mint and rose geranium organic essential oils to create a mild plumping effect, and organic sugar, which exfoliates without irritation. The scent is a delicious blend of rose, mint and chocolate that smells good enough to eat! The directions say to rub a pea-sized amount into damp lips and massage, then rinse. My lips feel amazing after this treatment! I like to use this before bed and follow up with lip balm, and my lips are perfectly smooth and well-hydrated in the morning. I love using this as a daily treatment, but it works whenever lips need a little TLC.

After I had my very first facial a few years ago at the beautiful Stanford Inn Spa in Mendocino, CA, I learned all about the power of glycolic acid, which is the most effective of the alpha hydroxy acid family that’s derived from sugar cane, and how it can slough off dead skin cells that lead to the appearance of a dull skin tone over time. I’ll never forget the glow my face had the day after that facial, and since then, I’ve sought to incorporate glycolic-containing products into my skin care routine. Recently, I heard from a friend who was raving about the results she was getting with the Mad Hippie skin care line. Mad Hippie, based in Portland, OR, is a company that was built on the notion that natural skin care, without added parabens, synthetic fragrances, and other harmful chemicals, could be just as effective as traditional skin care. The company takes a strong stance against animal cruelty and is dedicated to preserving the environment in any way possible. Of course, the first product I had to try was the Mad Hippie Exfoliating Serum, which has glycolic acid as one of its active ingredients. Other active ingredients include lactic acid, apple stem cells, and gigawhite, a blend of six organically grown alpine plants. Together, these ingredients exfoliate, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, discoloration, and age spots, hydrate, smooth, and brighten skin…what more could you ask for in a serum? It’s a slightly thicker serum than most, and I find that about 4-5 drops are more than enough to massage into my face. The instructions are to leave it on for 10 minutes, then follow with moisturizing cream. It has a pleasant, mild fruity scent that quickly dissipates, and I don’t feel any burning or stinging sensation after applying. I have not been disappointed by my next-day skin…that glow I remember from Mendocino is back! I don’t even need to add highlighter when I do my makeup. This product can be used every night or every other night to brighten a winter complexion. I plan to use it all year long! (Note: Glycolic acid may cause increased sun sensitivity, so be sure to use sunscreen if you’re fortunate enough to be in a warm, sunny locale.) 

Next, since the skin on elbows, knees, and feet tend to get particularly dry over the winter months, I decided to treat myself to a body scrub. I decided to try Hugo Naturals Grapefruit Himalayan Pink Salt Scrub, because I trust this brand; Hugo Naturals is all vegan, never tested on animals, free of petrochemicals and phthalates, and gluten- and soy-free.

I loved the idea of the Grapefruit and Himalayan Pink Salt, and figured it would help to wake me up in the morning. And I haven’t been disappointed! I found I did have to mix the product up a bit when I first opened it, as the salt had settled away from the liquid, which includes jojoba and sweet almond oils. A little bit of product goes a long way, and the gentle scrubbing action of the salt feels great on those dry patches. My skin is noticeably smoother and softer the next day, too! The grapefruit scent, although subtle, is very refreshing, and it’s derived from grapefruit peel oil, not an artificial or “natural” scent. The only thing you have to be careful of is that the shower can get a little slippery from the oils after you use this scrub, so take care to make sure most of it goes down the drain before stepping out. If you’re tired of dealing with dry patches like I am, then this one is a keeper!

About the Author: Sharon McRae is a wife and mother of three teens, as well as a certified health coach and PCRM Food for Life instructor residing in Columbia, MD. She has been adopting and applying principles of health and nutrition in her own life for more than three decades. She became a health coach to fulfill her passion of helping others take control of their health by making better lifestyle choices and adapting a whole food, plant-based vegan diet.

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