Q&A with the Beauty Chef

carla pic option 3The Beauty Chef, aka Carla Oates, joined Australian Organic’s Facebook community for a one hour question and answer session about skincare.

Carla is an author, editor and formulator who has spent the last 15 years creating beauty products from foods in her kitchen and garden. She also works with a team of chemists, naturopaths and nutritionists. Her best known product is Glow Inner Beauty Powder. You might have seen her feature in Cosmopolitan, Bazaar, Women’s Fitness, Vogue and Mindfood. She is also the author of Feeding Your Skin and an ambassador for Australian Organic.

Enjoy these highlights.

Q: Where do most people go wrong when it comes to skincare?

The Beauty Chef:  Using too much skincare and overloading the skin! using too many toxic chemicals and also not focusing on their inner health. Beauty begins from within. Our skin, hair and nails are the last places to receive nutrients which go to more vital organs first. If your body is not getting enough nutrients then your skin literally starves. Oh, also not drinking enough good quality water and getting quality sleep – they are both really important. And stress – stress robs the skin of lipids that keep it lovely and hydrated and soft.

Q: What is the ideal daily skincare routine?

The Beauty Chef: It really depends on the individual and skin type and also the season. Cleanse, moisturise/hydrate and rejuvenate/protect are all important steps. but it doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be as simple as cleansing with coconut oil and moisturising with a little jojoba oil and a few drops of essential oil – then finish with a good natural sunscreen. If you can add a fresh food mask in there twice a week to nourish the skin. This really helps the skin glow!

Australian Organic: See here for more information about sunscreens.

Q: Do you have a favourite product you can make at home out of your pantry/kitchen?

The Beauty Chef: I have lots – I am particularly fond of yoghurt and papaya. They both refine and rejuvenate the skin beautifully.

Australian Organic: Check out Carla’s homemade outer recipes.

Q: What’s the biggest difference between certified organic and natural/eco skincare?

The Beauty Chef: Natural skincare contain ingredients that are grown conventionally. While they still have nutritional value, they have been sprayed with pesticides and herbicides and come from compromised soils. They may also be genetically modified.

The term organic refers to an ecological and sustainable farm management system that prohibits the use of genetic engineering, synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, antibiotics and artificial growth hormones. So you can feel confident that the ingredients in your skincare are free of nasties. Eco skincare is skincare that uses ingredients that are grown with minimal impact to the environment as well as packaging.

Then there are biodynamic ingredients in skincare: biodynamics are based on the philosophy of rudolph steiner who launched the biodynamic farming movement in the twenties. It is similar to organic however it focuses on the health of the soil by observing lunar cycles and cycles of the earth that affect seeding, propagating, growing and harvesting. Biodynamic soils absorb more carbon than any other farming method. Very environmentally friendly!

Australian Organic: See here for more information about natural vs organic.

Q: I have extremely sensitive skin and suffer with a few spots of psoriasis on my face. I would like to find a cleanser and moisturiser that is gentle.

The Beauty Chef: Coconut oil is the best! Try using it as a cleanser and moisturiser. I have had good feedback about coconut oil and psoriasis, although psoriasis needs to be addressed from the inside too. Also make sure you buy raw coconut oil.

Australian Organic: MelroseBanaban Virgin Coconut Oil, Absolute Organic and Perfect Potion all have fabulous certified organic coconut oils. They are available in health food shops, online or in selected supermarkets.

Q: Is it really necessary to put anything on your skin?

The Beauty Chef:  Yes, it is. Not so much when we are babies and have normal skin. But, as we age levels of lipids naturally decline in the skin as do anti-oxidants and other natural moisturising factors. It is important that we replenish these levels with plant based skincare. I say plants – because plants share many of the same compounds in their make-up. For example as we age, natural levels of palmatoleic acid found in human sebum decline and these levels can be replenished with the palmatoleic acid in macadamia nuts for example.

We also need to use skincare to create a protective barrier, protective the acid mantle from environmental assault. So you can use macadamia nut oil – a beautiful skincare ingredient. Oh, also not drinking enough good quality water and getting quality sleep – they are both really important. And stress – stress robs the skin of lipids that keep it lovely and hydrated and soft.

Q: What are you thoughts on deodorants? What are your concerns around conventional deodorants?

The Beauty Chef: My concerns around conventional deodorants and anti-perspirants are that they often contain often contain aluminium (a neurotoxin) alongside other toxic chemicals. Although many claim that this is not a problem, I am not convinced. One study showed that after a single underarm application of antiperspirant, about .012 percent of the aluminium may be absorbed. While many believe this isn’t much if you multiply this by one or more times a day over years, this is a lot! Perspiration is important for cooling the body, and also promotes excretion of waste, and these ingredients keep toxins in when they need to get out, so I am not a fan of anti-perspirants.

Deodorants work by inhibiting bacteria under the armpits and/or masking odour and are a healthier alternative if they have healthy ingredients in them! I find Bicarbonate soda and cornstarch with oils makes an effective deodorant in preparations and also essential oils can also be very effective. Oils such as cypress can quash wetness; others such as bergamot and patchouli sport lovely deodorising scents and then there are those like tea tree that have potent anti-bacterial properties. Washing your armpits in the shower with coconut oil is helpful as it is naturally anti-bacterial.

Consuming a chlorophyll supplement can help cleanse the body on the inside and may reduce the severity of body odour.

Australian Organic: If you’re looking for deodorant products Divine by Therese Kerr, Australian Biologika, Miessence and Vanessa Megan have body care products certified by Australian Certified Organic or are made with certified organic ingredients.

Q: Why is it important to use certified organic products on your skin?

The Beauty Chef: It’s important to me because I feel confident that I’m not putting toxic chemicals on my skin and that what my skin absorbs into the bloodstream is going to healthful and nourishing. Also research shows that foods/ingredients are richer in skin loving phytonutrients such as anti-oxidants.

Australian Organic: See here for the seven reasons to choose Australian Certified Organic.

Q: How do I know when skin care is certified organic?

Australian Organic: If a product wears a certification logo like Australian Certified Organic you can be sure it’s really organic – this means that it is audited annually and adheres to the Australian Certified Organic Standard.
 The certification logo can appear on the front or back of labels. In addition to Carla’s fabulous responses about why you should chose organic, certified organic skincare and beauty products are not tested on animals.

Australian Organic: See here for more information about the Australian Certified Organic logo.

Q: I have a product with ?? Salistic acid. Have been getting a lot of pimples

The Beauty Chef: Salycilic acid is a popularly used product in products made for acne or oily skin. For memory it is from willow bark. I always find AHA’s or BHA’s quite harsh in products as they often in a very concentrated form or made synthetically. You could try natural AHA masks – alpha hydroxy acids are found naturally in lemons, tomatoes etc. If I get a spot green clay, a touch of turmeric and tomato juice works well.

Q: What’s the benefit of coffee scrubs and why are they becoming so popular? You have a recipe for a chocolate and coffee sugar scrub… it sounds delicious!

The Beauty Chef: Coffee is meant to help stimulate the skin, so it is a good ingredient for body scrubs. I like it because it smells so yum!! and particularly good with cocoa and coconut oil too!

Q: How often should you scrub/exfoliate?

The Beauty Chef: it depends on your skin type and the ingredient. I am not a big fan of harsh mechanical scrubs (unless a body scrub) for the face as they can scratch the skin and cause inflammation. They also can strip the skin of natural oils and if you have oily skin this can actually stimulate over production of sebum making the problem worse.

Gentle mechanical scrubs such as almond meal or fine oatmeal with yoghurt (yoghurt contains skin refining lactic acid) are beautiful – they can be used weekly, or twice a week – even daily – when you feel your skin needs it. They are very gentle. I actually love papaya as an exfoliant. Papaya contains an enzyme called papain that dissolves dead skin cells – it is super effective and gentle.

Q: I have a Melbourne beauty salon and have been wanting to introduce certified organic skin care in. Where can I have a look at your range? Thank you.

The Beauty Chef: You can have a peek at my products on my website www.thebeautychef.com