We’re all familiar with the phrase, “You are what you eat”. It expresses the notion that what one consumes has a bearing on one’s health and fitness. We’ve changed our diets and taken supplements to lose weight, to gain muscle and to detox, but it was only recently that the idea of changing our diet for the purpose of looking more beautiful became mainstream. The number of beauty care brands that aim to take better care of you through your gut is increasing. Here, #legend looks at what they offer and has the brand owners explain the connection between the gut and beauty.
The Beauty Chef
Carla Oates began researching gut health, lacto-fermented food and probiotics because her daughter suffered from eczema and allergies – just as Oates did when she was a child. Oates knew from an early age that a change of diet, shunning certain elements, helped the skin. When she applied her knowledge, giving her daughter lacto-fermented food, her daughter’s skin improved. Oates sensed the demand and started The Beauty Chef.
Oates has written hundreds of articles on natural beauty and plant-based diets, and has written a book, Feeding Your Skin, published by Penguin. A “wellness revolution” is what she calls edible beauty. “There is an increase in degenerative disease and folk are realising that modern life isn’t so conducive to good health: too much stress, packaged food and pollution,” she says. “We are going back to basics: organic food, chemical-free skincare and embracing healthy ways to prepare foods, such as the art of fermentation.”
The Beauty Chef, sold at Lane Crawford in Hong Kong, makes organic blends using a unique, natural fermentation process it calls Flora Culture, that brings out the best in all the ingredients and keeps the system that supports the skin strong and healthy. Fermentation increases the uptake of the nutrients and allows the skin to absorb them better.
“The skin, hair and nails are the last places to receive nutrients, as they go to more important organs first, so nutrition and healthy digestion is key,” Oates says. “If we’re not getting enough nutrients or digesting our food properly due to poor gut health, our skin literally starves.” She adds, "People forget that one of the most powerful health-promoters is taking out processed foods from the diet. To maintain good gut health, we need to eliminate allergens and food that are tough on our digestive system."
Nutrition coaches Claudia Seehusen and Suse Leifer were working 60 hours a week in marketing before they found their lives turned upside down. Leifer was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and Seehusen was surprised by the early onset of the menopause. They both got into serious health kicks but the supplements they were prescribed by their naturopaths bothered them.
“The market consists of 90 per cent synthetic vitamins, which are not identical with natural products,” Seehusen says. The micronutrients lack important substances to help the body metabolise the vitamins efficiently and the body ends up taking molecules from storage areas in the soft tissue and bones, she says. Natural alternatives are not an option because most contain harmful additives such as magnesium stearate, or unnecessary fillers that reduce the dose, she says. “We wanted a 100 per cent natural, certified organic and non-toxic, beautifully and sustainably designed and produced product,” she says. “Ogaenics was born.”
Leifer and Seehusen are both Germans. Their country is the biggest market in Europe for natural and organic beauty products. Germany has a long tradition of making organic products. “The pioneer and world-leading manufacturer of holistic natural skincare is a German brand called Weleda, founded in 1921,” Seehusen says. “And the market has boomed even more in the last 10 years, taking into account the rising consciousness and desire to use products that come from unspoiled natural resources.”
Ogaenics is popular outside Europe, too. The brand is now available at No 8 by Beyørg an organic beauty specialist in Hong Kong. The founder of the business, Brenda Lee, says she regularly takes Ogaenics B-Happy Vitamin B-Komplex, to regulate hormone activity, and Mrs One-A-Day Multivitamin-Komplex. “Mrs One-A-Day contains 12 of the most important vitamins and trace elements, such as folate, which promotes normal blood formation, Vitamins C, B2, B3, B5 and B6, biotin and natural iron,” Lee says. "Beauty from within is definitely the future,” says Seehusen. “It is not only a trend. It will become a movement.”
The motto of the Vanessa Megan beauty brand is “You should never put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat”. The brand owner, Vanessa Megan, says: “Not only has this phrase become a core concept of my brand, but it also has a sentimental meaning to me.” Megan says the motto was coined by her best friend, an environment lawyer and advocate of health-conscious living before she lost her battle with cancer. “This was the beginning of my journey into the natural skincare world,” Megan says.
Megan investigated the contents of her bathroom cabinet and found that many of her skincare products contained harmful and synthetic ingredients. When nothing in the market suited her needs, Megan went to work in her kitchen on formulae for facial care products that use safe, natural ingredients. The brand is now available at Lane Crawford in Hong Kong.
“Our skin is like our outer digestive system,” Megan says. “Everything we put on our skin is absorbed and digested by our body and goes into and through our vital organs. Science backs this theory,” she says. “You would only want to put chemical-free choices on this largest organ of our body. This is why I believe it is incredibly important to use a certified organic skincare range,” she says, “and to take a holistic approach to wellbeing. Make the right decisions on what you eat and put on your skin.”
This article first appeared in the June 2017 issue of #legend magazine