After an experience with skin issues she felt were connected to her gastrointestinal health, Dr. Olivia Rose turned to naturopathy. Dismissed by her doctor, she made the decision to tap into her Caribbean background and look toward natural alternatives. So started her journey of becoming a naturopathic doctor, as she began to make the connection between what goes into our bodies, our gastrointestinal health, and our skin.
“Your skin is a barometer to your overall health,” says Dr. Rose, “and external factors such as our skincare products, the weather and recently, masks, affect the skin as much as internal factors. Seeing as our skin is the largest organ in the body, the things we use topically can in turn have an effect on our internal organs.” Dr Rose suggests shifting away from non-natural skincare products, which often contain synthetic fragrances and other harmful chemicals. These chemicals can irritate the skin and have hormone-disrupting qualities—also called xenoestrogen. They alter the normal function of our hormones, causing blocks and preventing the body from detoxing as it typically would.
As much as what we apply and use externally affect the skin, so do the things we ingest internally as well. Dairy, alcohol, and soy are a few foods that can aggravate certain skin issues. Dr. Rose suggests consuming foods high in Vitamin C and E, healthy fats, proteins, and bitter greens. These foods aid in stimulating the gastrointestinal system, forming collagen and elastane while maintaining moisture, plumpness, and reducing free radicals in our skin cells.
When it comes to the link between skincare and our overall health, Dr. Rose reminds us that as womxn of colour, it is important to choose our skincare products wisely. She points to issues like fibroids, which are benign tumours that, when affected by our hormones, can increase in size, often causing discomfort or pain. Fibroids disproportionately affect womxn of colour and she advises that we avoid xenoestrogens and other harmful chemicals by choosing more natural skincare products, makeup, soaps, and even laundry detergents.
Another thing Dr. Rose stressed? Don’t take our melanin for granted. It’s imperative we use sunscreens and eat foods that aid in protecting our skin from UVA and UVB damage.
If you’re looking to move your skincare routine toward a more naturopathic approach, here are 5 steps that can assist you on your journey.
Replace synthetic fragrances with natural fragrances.
Synthetic fragrances are derived from chemicals containing known toxins that cause cancer. They also contain phthalates and hormone-disrupting qualities that cause reproductive malformation and other growths.
Create a skin journal.
When you experience a skin flare-up, write it down. Skin journaling can assist with pinpointing skin reactions linked to particular sensitivities. By keeping track of foods or products you use, and when, you can gauge if any of those items caused a skin reaction.
Vitamins are important.
Vitamins, whether taken internally or applied topically, help with skin structure. Vitamins such as E, C, and D are essential for healthy skin. They contain various properties aimed to target anti-aging, hydration, neutralization of free radicals that cause skin damage, and so much more.
Enhance your skin with protein.
Protein helps to form the collagen and elastin that gives our skin structure, moisture, and plumpness to counteract the loss of elasticity that occurs as we age.
When possible, unnatural products should be avoided.
Conventional products are easy to find in stores, but they contain many harmful toxins that wreak havoc on our bodies. The Dirty Dozen list is a great starting point to learn which skincare ingredients to avoid.
As parting wisdom, Dr. Rose left us with an important sentiment full of perspective: she believes it's never too early to start taking good care of your skin. She refers to this as graceful aging over anti-aging.
Here are a few more resources on naturopathy and skincare:
Try Dr. Rose’s Thyme Blemish Control Mask—she’s currently obsessed with thyme’s anti-inflammatory qualities.
Read this article for more information on the connection between your gut health and hormones.
See this list of harmful chemicals to avoid in your skincare and cosmetic products.
Watch our Villij Talk with Dr. Rose on our YouTube Channel.
Faith Okeke is a Writer and certified Vinyasa and Yin Yoga teacher based in Toronto. She is passionate about creating room in our busy lives for rest, quiet reflection, and reconnection with our bodies. Faith finds joy in taking care of her many plants, spending time in nature and meaningful conversations.