Get gutsy with Carla | What does clean living mean to me?

The Beauty Chef - Get gutsy with Carla | What does clean living mean to me?

 

As we embark on a new year, I always embrace the opportunity to hit reset and look forward to setting new habits and goals – and for me, this often means taking a look at my health and wellbeing rituals so that I can start the year as I intend to go on.

The concept of ‘clean living’ really encapsulates this sentiment and not only encourages me to review how I’m eating, exercising and taking care of myself, but also to take a look at my home environment and the cleaning products I choose to use. While there are countless ways to embrace ‘clean living’ – I think it’s important to keep things simple and make basic, sustainable swaps, where you can.

 

Under my kitchen sink… you’ll find an array of natural cleaning products, mostly bicarb soda, vinegar and essential oils including tea tree, eucalyptus, lemon and orange.

 

In my bathroom cabinet… I have a collection of beauty products that are free from synthetic chemicals, fragrance-free and Certified Organic. I love coconut oil for cleansing the skin, hair treatments and as a body moisturiser; apple cider vinegar makes for a fantastic hair and scalp treatment and I always have a supply of The Beauty Chef topical skincare products on hand. We’re so lucky these days that there are so many wonderful brands creating beauty products that are not only healthy, but perform well too – some of my favourites include Ere Perez, Sodashi and Mukti.

 

My pantry and fridge is stocked with… apple cider vinegar, eggs, fresh and fermented vegetables, goats cheese, tempeh, bone broth, coconut milk, pesto, spices, fresh herbs, sprouted seed bread and The Beauty Chef inner beauty products, of course.

 

What does ‘clean living’ mean to you? We’d love to know!

6 healthy happiness hacks

The Beauty Chef - 6 healthy happiness hacks

 

Scientists have been studying what makes humans happy for decades. The science of happiness – now known as positive psychology – is the study of the things that make life more fulfilling.

And many of those things are neither elusive or expensive. Nor are they genetic. In fact, research on twins suggests our genes only account for about 50 per cent of the variance in happiness between two people. Life circumstances – such as whether you are married, wealthy or have children – account for about 10 per cent. Which means our daily life experiences – our social lives, our hobbies and our attitudes – can impact our happiness by about 40 per cent. In other words, there is quite a lot you can do to feel happier. And some of the happiest habits are so easy they can be adopted almost immediately. So what are you waiting for?

 

Smile more

While you may not always feel like smiling, turning your frown upside down can trick your brain into feeling happier. Smiling actually triggers the release of the feel-good hormones dopamine and serotonin in your brain. Even fake smiles have positive effects on our brain chemistry.

Along with boosting your mood, smiling has also been shown to boost immunity, lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce stress and may even lead to longevity.

 

Get connected

Humans need other humans to be happy. We are hardwired to help others. And the reward centre of your brain receives a hit of the pleasure hormone dopamine whenever you interact positively or cooperatively with others. Socialising also stimulates production of a neurotransmitter called oxytocin (known as the love hormone). This in turn triggers the release of the happy hormone serotonin which lowers stress and activates the reward circuitry in the brain.

 

Be generous

It’s cool to be kind. But it’s also healthy too. Researchers using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) found giving money to charity activates two pleasure centres located deep within the brain, the caudate nucleus and the nucleus accumbens. Surprisingly, reward-centre activity was also observed in the brains of volunteers after paying taxes, providing they believed the money was going to a good cause.

 

Be screen savvy

A 2018 study of more than one million US teenagers found those who spend more time on their phones are less happy and less satisfied about life than teenagers who invested more time in non-screen activities like sports, reading newspapers and magazines and face-to-face social interaction. The happiest teens used digital media a little less than an hour per day. Another study found a link between increased screen time and higher anxiety, lower self-esteem and worse sleep. While screens have certainly become an unavoidable part of our busy, modern lives – it’s important to make time for self-care and relaxation rituals that combat mindless scrolling.

 

Gut feelings

Research shows that our gut microbiome plays a big role in how we feel. Our gut microbes break down food, make vitamins, eliminate toxins, support our immunity, regulate our appetite and help manufacture the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. We now know that up to 90 percent of our serotonin is produced in our gut so help to boost your moods by feeding your gut microbiota a diverse supply of fibre-rich prebiotic foods and probiotics every day. A simple way to boost your microbiome is to add GLOW Inner Beauty Powder to your daily routine. Packed with 24 Certified Organic skin-loving superfoods, prebiotics and probiotics, it’s a great way to nourish your beneficial gut microbes.

 

Get moving

Just 20 minutes of exercise can have a positive effect on your brain chemistry. Exercise triggers the release of feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins, lowers stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline and boosts immune function. Exercising outdoors also helps lower stress levels. An enjoyable workout can help you enter the pleasurable state of “flow”, a term coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi to describe deep immersion in an activity.

 

Do you have a happiness hack you swear by? We’d love to know!

Mini lime curd cleanse cups

The Beauty Chef - Mini lime curd cleanse cups

 

MAKES 12

These cute curd cups are full of skin-loving healthy fats as well as our super-greens blend, CLEANSE Inner Beauty Powder.

INGREDIENTS

 

For the base:

  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/4 cup macadamias, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon CLEANSE Inner Beauty Powder
  • 2 tablespoons coconut butter
  • 3 teaspoons extra virgin coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

For the curd:

  • 4 large organic egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup xylitol
  • 100mL freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
  • 60g unsalted cultured butter, cubed

METHOD

  1. Lightly grease a mini cupcake tin with coconut oil. Refrigerate.
  2. To prepare the base, place the almond meal, coconut, macadamias and CLEANSE powder in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Place the coconut butter and coconut oil in a small saucepan and gently heat over low, until melted.
  4. Add the melted coconut mixture, almond butter, maple syrup and vanilla extract and stir until mixture begins to bind together.
  5. Spoon mixture into the prepared cupcake holes and press to line the base and sides. Freeze for 45 minutes, or until firm.
  6. Meanwhile, to make the curd, place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and set over a low heat. Stirring continuously, cook for 10–15 minutes, until thickened. Transfer into a bowl. Cover the surface with a piece of baking paper and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, or until cooled.
  7. Spoon the curd into a piping bag with a large plain nozzle and pipe into prepared bases.
  8. Serve immediately. These will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.

Discover more delicious recipes on our blog, The Digest.

 

3 ways to detox your beauty cabinet

The Beauty Chef - 3 ways to detox your beauty cabinet

 

By Courtenay Turner

 

While it feels so good to nourish our complexion with beautiful skincare and make-up or spritz a delicious-smelling perfume, the truth is, many conventional skin and beauty products contain toxins and chemicals which, over time, may increase your toxic load, and compromise your wellbeing.

 

The good news is, we can both rejuvenate and nourish our skin – sans the nasties. If you’re ready to detox your beauty cabinet, all it takes is a little know-how and a few simple swaps to ensure you’ve got plenty of healthy, harmless and effective products on hand…

 

The problem with perfume

If you’re serious about detoxing your beauty cabinet, then avoiding perfumes which contain synthetic “fragrance” is a good place to start. In Australia, manufacturers are not required by law to disclose all the chemicals used in a fragrance, so it might come as a surprise to many perfume aficionados that their favourite fragrance is made up of anywhere between several dozen to several hundred different synthetic chemicals. For some people, exposure to these chemicals may lead to headaches or aggravate their asthma. There’s even research to show that some of the compounds found in fragrance have the ability to disrupt hormones and accumulate in adipose tissue (AKA body fat) and breast milk.

Make the switch:

The health implications of fragrance use – think candles and air fresheners, not just perfume – are not yet fully known, so we suggest switching synthetic fragrances for essential oil blends. Essential oils, diluted in a carrier oil, are a safe and natural option and also offer some therapeutic benefits. We love these.

Love your lips

Does your lipstick contain lead? You might be surprised to learn that lead is present in many of your favourite blends. Lead, a potent neurotoxin, is not deliberately added to lipstick, but it’s often present in the mineral dyes used to give lipsticks their rich colour. This often means that the darker the lipstick, the more lead it’s likely to contain. Watch out for cadmium too, another heavy metal that’s considered carcinogenic. According to the California Safe Cosmetic Program, “Even at low levels, heavy metals can be a concern.” Applying a layer of lippy once in a while is unlikely to cause you any harm, but if you’re reapplying multiple times, week on week, you may be ingesting as much as 87 milligrams of lead every day.

Make the switch:
Thankfully, you don’t need to forego your signature bold red lip in order to detox your beauty bag. Simply reach out to the manufacturers of your favourite lippy and confirm that it’s both lead and cadmium free. If not, try a toxin-free brand like Inika or Ere Perez. And for plump and healthy lips, try The Beauty Chef’s BEAUTY FIX BALM.

 

Face the facts

Moisturiser and foundation are two of the most common products found in a woman’s beauty cabinet. For this reason, it’s important to ensure that the ingredients we’re slathering on our skin aren’t harming our health and beauty in the long term. Here are a few nasties to avoid where possible:

  • Siloxanes. These organic silicones are used to smooth and moisten skincare products, but they’re also suspected to disrupt the endocrine system. Siloxanes may also pose a threat to our natural environment, bioaccumulating in fish and other wildlife.
  • Butoxyethanol. This is an ether alcohol that might appear in your moisturiser. Ironically, it’s a known skin irritant, so it’s worth avoiding – especially if you have sensitive skin.
  • Parabens. These synthetic compounds are used as preservatives in many skincare and beauty products – but they’re also known to disrupt the hormonal system. While small amounts are considered safe, repeated exposure is not ideal so try to opt for “paraben-free” products and avoid anything that contains methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben.

 

Have you made the switch to toxin-free beauty products? Let us know your favourite brands and blends!

How to live a lox tox life with Alexx Stuart

The Beauty Chef - How to live a low tox life with Alexx Stuart

 

This January at The Beauty Chef, we’re focusing on Clean Living and doing our best to embrace a low tox life. So, what better way to be inspired than to speak with the pioneer of the low tox movement, Alexx Stuart

 

What was your inspiration for launching Low Tox Life? How did your personal curiosity develop into a business?

I came up with the term “low tox” back in 2009 after my personal research into the things that were up with me and my own health. I’ve always been a teacher and a helper so once I’d learned everything I’d learned in the land of toxin exposure to sort myself out, I wanted to help people who were keen to make the switch and make better health and environmental choices daily – from food to personal care and cleaning, to the things we surround ourselves with at home. But most importantly, I wanted to do it in a non-judgy, empowering way.

I knew that from my own experience, notions of “quitting” or words such as “NO this/FREE FROM that” simply didn’t work for me. It was too black and white and so many people feel shame and overwhelm from not doing it right or not doing enough and that can often stop us from making progress!

If I was going to share information I wanted it to be factual, doable for the average person and hopeful that we can all have a go and make a difference. So after a few hours brainstorming, the term “low tox” popped into my mind. I Googled the entire internet to ensure it hadn’t been used anywhere else and then off I went, creating this idea of a low tox life – making better choices for ourselves as well as our planet. At first, it became a blog and Facebook community, then developed very organically into eBooks, online courses, a podcast and a community of nearly 100K people. And now, of course, we have my book “Low Tox Life”, which I’m so grateful to be able to call a bestseller. It’s been amazing to watch is grow and see people gather to create change on a scale that’s now truly one to be reckoned with.

 

In the early days, what were some of the first discoveries you made that shocked or surprised you?

The early days for me involved exploring food products because I’d been recommended to ditch gluten to see if it helped with my recurrent tonsillitis. Discovering how much OTHER stuff was in these food products, I realised I had absolutely no idea where it came from, how it was made and by whom. I felt so silly and so duped! Then, I began moving onto personal care when my little guy’s baby shower came around and I received a bunch of well-meaning gifts from friends. It was during the process of checking those labels that I saw most of what was going our kids’ skin was petroleum-derived.

I knew I could do better – and that we, as a world, could do better. I started to realise it wasn’t just OUR health impacted by some of these food additives or synthetic toxins but also our wonderful planet – Teflon, for example, never breaks down in the environment. Packaging and microbeads end up in our ocean… and on and on. I was down a never-ending rabbit hole and felt a huge calling to draw attention to these findings, figuring other smart people would want to know what companies were getting away with putting in our stuff.

 

This month at The Beauty Chef, we’re focusing on the concept of ‘Clean Living’ across the categories of home, beauty, body and mind/self-care. For someone just starting out on their low tox journey, what are some simple swaps or changes that we can implement straight away?

 

HOME
My number one tip has got to be, ditching synthetic home fragrances – air fresheners, scented candles, scented reeds and fabric softener. Secondly, would be to switch out your pillow for a natural wool, cotton or pure latex pillow. Our hot faces are squished against those things all night and breathing in microplastic dust from synthetic fibres… not ideal. Thirdly, I would look to tackle any mould issues you might be having with the utmost seriousness. It’s thought around 24 percent of people cannot clear mycotoxins that mould spores produce so it’s not just annoying and stinky, it can be dangerous. I’ve shared my own mould story on my blog, but I will continue to campaign on this issue because it’s not yet recognised as an illness by medical associations yet and many people wander around for decades not getting the support they need to heal from many seriously awful symptoms.

 

BEAUTY & BODY

Switch out your body products first – everyone goes for face products first but the body has a heck of a lot more skin than your face so start with body creams or lotions, followed by bath gel and scrub. I’ve listed a whole list of ‘top nasties’ to avoid in my book, but choosing fragrance-free, and natural fragrances with essential oils is a great start. Then, avoid parabens, synthetic fragrance/parfum and sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate. On the body front, I’d also insist you examine your personal hygiene products, switching to organic cotton or menstrual cups made from silicon. Then, switch your deodorant, ensuring it’s aluminum-free and synthetic fragrance-free at a minimum. We are meant to sweat and blocking our sweat blocks a detox pathway that’s not ideal. Lastly, on the beauty and body front, I’m a big fan of switching out your mascara (as it’s often made with Teflon and coal tar) for one that is natural.

 

MIND & SELF-CARE

Every week, ensure you do something that brings you massive joy on a personal and social level. For me, I combine those two things with tennis – I love tennis, catching up with my tennis friends and it’s food for the body and soul all at once.

I’d also advise that if you’re unhappy, don’t wait for something to happen TO you, do something. I love The Good Life Project and I’ve interviewed Jonathan Fields on my Low Tox Life podcast. His simple concept of buckets to fill and keep check of is wonderful and I’d strongly recommend it in your self-care routine. And finally, on the mind front, remember you don’t need to be listening to a podcast/audiobook or be on the phone every time you go for a walk or fold the laundry. Silence is golden and it brings stillness, as well as letting you fill your mind with what YOU want to fill it with and where your curiosity naturally takes you. I think too much external inspo can mean we neglect to manufacture our own homemade inspiration and that’s a potent thing to produce!

 

Do you have a quick foolproof DIY recipe for all-purpose cleaning that you could share?

Absolutely, so simple! Fill an amber glass spray bottle with half white distilled vinegar and half water, 1 teaspoon Castille soap and 20 drops of your favourite essential oil. Done.

 

Do you have any tips for how to inspire the rest of your household to jump on the Low Tox train?

I think it’s super important here to BE THE CHANGE rather than trying to change others. It never feels great to be told by a partner, friend or colleague that you’re doing something wrong and it can so easily come across as judgy or harsh. I’m a big fan of ensuring that all communications come from a place of “us” or “we”. Instead of saying, “Your deodorant is toxic”, change this to, “Can you believe they allow this ingredient in deodorants and all this time we just assumed it must be safe?”

I’m also a big fan of documentaries. Enjoying a good wine with cheese and chocolate – or crudites and dips, whatever you fancy –  and an enlightening doco, means you go on the learning journey together instead of you having to preach and nag that you want to change stuff and being met with constant resistance.

 

Any other final words of wisdom?

I’d love to finish by saying – we do what we do most of the time to be able to go with the flow some of the time. It’s so important not to be too rigid in one’s thinking. I’ve never seen a happy, rigid thinker. It’s too stressful to try and uphold rigidity and perfectionism 100 percent of the time.

If 20 out of the 21 meals you eat on average per week are amazing and you’re with a bunch of your friends this summer and everyone’s eating gelatos – maybe don’t ask too many questions and just go with the flow and live in the moment.

 

Alexx’s new book, Low Tox Life, is available now, published by Murdoch Books. You can also connect with Alexx on Facebook or via her Instagram page @lowtoxlife

The household items you might not be cleaning enough

The Beauty Chef - The household items you might not be cleaning enough

 

By Ashley Cameron

While the new year is often when we choose to give our bodies a gentle cleanse or detox, we usually don’t give the same attention to our home environment.

Even if you’re an avid declutterer and someone who embraces the opportunity to give your home a ‘spring clean’ at the beginning of each season, there are still a few common household items that you may be neglecting.

Why not use the new year to cleanse your space and give your home a little extra TLC?

 

Your mattress

You probably change your bed linen on a weekly basis – and maybe you even wash your pillow every once in a while. But what about cleaning your mattress? According to research, we spend roughly a third of our lives in bed so not surprisingly, it contains a whole ecosystem of fungi, bacteria and potential allergens. While it’s unnecessary to give your mattress a deep clean every time you swap your sheets, once a month, flip it over and allow it to air, giving it a good vacuum to pick up excess debris, dust and skin cells. And, if you’ve been sleeping on the same mattress for decades, consider buying a new one. Experts agree that depending on the level of comfort and support you need, replacing your mattress every 7–10 years is a good idea. Research shows that popping your mattress and pillows in the sun can also be beneficial – helping to reduce levels of dust-dwelling bacteria.


The dishwasher

If you’ve noticed that your dishes aren’t coming out of your dishwasher as clean and shiny as they once did, it might be time to give your dishwasher a little love. Given that the standard dishwasher goes from hot to cold and wet to dry on a daily basis, it’s the perfect environment to foster the growth of microbes. While there are countless ‘dishwasher cleaners’ on the market today, for a simple, natural solution – simply pop around half a cup of white vinegar into your dishwasher (standing upright), and turn on for a quick wash.

 

Light switches

Next time you’re doing the dusting, turn your attention to your light switches. No doubt you touch the light switches in your home on a daily basis, but can you remember the last time you gave them a proper wipe down? At The Beauty Chef HQ, we love essential oils, so try making your own DIY cleaner by mixing together 3 parts filtered water, 1 part white vinegar, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and a few drops of tea tree essential oil in a spray bottle.

 

Your couch

Just like your mattress, you no doubt spend a lot of time sitting on your couch – although we probably don’t give too much thought to the dirt, dust and allergens that it comes into contact with on a daily basis. Every few weeks, give your couch a little extra TLC by flipping over the cushions and seats (effectively disassembling your couch) to allow them to air, vacuum under the seats to get rid of any old crumbs and wipe down any surface stains if the fabric of your couch allows it.

 

Do you have any top spring cleaning tips we need to try? Let us know!