THE EARTH DIARY: SUSTAINABLE SKINCARE & SELF CARE WITH ELLA
15 September 2020 - Posted by The Sisterhood of Sustainability
Today we're sharing the sustainable journey of Ella who lives on the other side of Australia. She creates her own natural and organic skincare and we are so inspired by the life she leads and the values she holds...
ABOUT ELLA SMITH
Ella grew up in Perth and despite having an absolute ache to spend her time peering out of plane windows and curled up in taxis, she always found herself getting pulled back to Perth to the warmer weather, friendly people and to all the nostalgia that she has buried in a childhood spent in wildflower seasons and coastal holidays. Growing up, the women in Ella’s life were always creating. She watched them bake and make costumes and clothes for her dolls and inherited their silver jewelry work. She spent a lot of time learning how to sew, crochet, macramé and even gave woodworking a go. It taught Ella just how grounding and joyous the act of creation could be – giving something your time and energy and being mindful during the whole process. Her passions and love for learning have taken her down many paths, from stitching dresses to crocheting a face cloth and even creating a few macramé plant hangers. Presently though, she is most drawn to making her own sustainable skincare and cleaning products in order to lessen the impact of chemicals in her home and wider environment.
A BEAUTIFUL LIFE
Ella says that “I live my life under the guiding philosophies. I just want to make beautiful things, even if no one cares and have nothing in my home that I do not believe to be beautiful or useful. Now, what that looks like is a life full of attempted slow living and a slow progression to a more minimalist lifestyle which incorporates a mindful creation of both useful and lovely things made for the sake of having simply lovely things.” Ella is also a yoga teacher and says that she will forever be a lifelong student too. She’s passionate about the wellness journey that yoga has led her on and the philosophical teachings of yoga have drawn her down a path of mindful living where she is always learning to work with her body and being. At the core of yogic teachings sits the “do not harm principle” and Ella incorporates that into her lifestyle as best she can.
- - - A NOTE FROM ELLA - - -
“Hey you! I wish many things for you: that you have people in your life who are soft warm lights, that you find something that you get so lost in doing you lose track of time, that you are comfortable being alone, that you have moments that feel like a cup of tea, that you find things in this world that make you quietly reverent and that you live your life with presence enough to appreciate them all. And if you do not have these things, I hope you know you deserve all these things. I hope that you are brave enough to go find them.”
SUSTAINABLE LIVING WITH ELLA
When asked why sustainability and ethicality is so important to her, Ella replied with “I’ve been so privileged to see some of the beauty this world has to offer on my travels and on home soil and its only made me more aware that I want no part in corporations or businesses that endanger our earth and all its living inhabitants. Seeing so many brands and companies transition to more ethical and sustainable models, watching how trends like upcycling and thrift shopping have been on the rise, and seeing advocates on social platforms gaining popularity - has warmed my heart! But I’ve found that when it comes to skin care and cosmetics there’s a little less conversation, so I started playing with recipes and making my own. It’s been a learning curve; There’s a lot of misconceptions and even unsafe information out there so there’s been a lot of trial and error and research. Now, I love sharing my own findings after having tried and tested them. It’s important to create a sustainable lifestyle, and it’s important that we what we put on our skin and in our homes is doing us good and not harm. Marrying these two concepts in a way that is accessible to people, their budgets and time is what I strive for and how I believe that in the long run these small changes can have an impact globally and on individuals.”
Sustainability is implemented into her lifestyle by making little changes in every area of her home which have been vital in shaping a lifestyle that suits both her own and the environments needs. A bokashi bin for compostable scraps is set up in her apartment, sustainable toilet paper brands are used in the toilet, bamboo sheets lay on the bed and of course DIY skincare fills the vanity cupboards. Ella has come to realise that these little steps lay down the foundation for bigger change, especially if you’re living within a family or amongst room mates who you might be convincing to join you. Sometimes the mental shift in thinking is harder than the actual change!
INSPIRATION & EMPOWERMENT
A typical day for Ella starts with a ten minute morning meditation, a conscious thought journalingsession, some yoga and a matcha tea. After that, it alternates between studying performing arts, teaching yoga or spending time in the rehearsal room. On her days off, Ella spends her time at the farmers markets, near the beach, at a local park and getting creative in the kitchen with cooking or creating some combination of natural oils and waxes for skincare. Her biggest dream is to live a life that’s full of small joys. She says that “I’m existing in a lot of liminal space right now, I’m being pulled in a few directions and chasing so many dreams, but right now I’m relishing each. Ultimately, working for myself and producing something that’s sustainable and within the realms of self-care is really calling to me. Right now, in all the uncertainty of my many dreams, living in alignment with my values, maintaining a spiritual practice and nourishing my mind and body - are part of my simple goals to orient myself towards small joys and contentment.”
Ella is inspired by other women and is routinely amazed by the amount of support women lend each other and how they can foster creativity and strength in the people around them. She is also inspired by seeing other women succeed in the fields of focus that Ella is interested in such as small businesses, holistic work and eco-friendly bloggers. Ella shared with us that she believes that social media can be a destructive force but the counter to that is it’s also such a resource when used with mindful intent.
“I find so much creative energy sparked from seeing others share their findings, projects and tips and tricks, the sense of community and the real movement of makers DIY, upcycling and repurposing really inspires me to make more beautiful things - even if no one cares, but more than likely, someone, or many someone’s will in this global platform that social media can allow us.”
We asked Ella why sustainable skincare is so important to her and she shared the following: “ Learning about how many toxic chemicals can be found in those oh so readily available products and what the little words like “organic,natural or eco” actually mean was a big wakeup call. We can forget the skin is an organ, and an absorbent one! There’s so much being done regarding eco-friendly swaps for everyday living but I found as I worked to incorporate them into my own lifestyle that my makeup and skincare products were a lot harder to transition into sustainable sources.
It was a bit baffling seeing how many chemicals I was washing down into waterways and how many containers I was going through, that I hadn’t seen many widely available alternatives to my cleanser or toning water for instance. I loved how taking care of my skin felt though and the little ritual moments of quiet reverence during those few minutes I'd take to do something simple for myself. Sustainable skincare is important to me because I hope anyone who also loves that little self-care routine can maintain it while making an eco-friendly swap.” Her go-to favourite sustainable skincare alternatives areclays, butters and oils because they’re so easily sourced and simple to use. She uses creamy clay cleansing grains instead of a store bought pump bottle mostly full of water, makes a coffee infused under eye serum for a fraction of the price of most commercial ones and a customisable shea butter body balm made with local ingredients. Here are a few quick facts that Ella has spoken about on her page:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t demand any safety testing of ingredients in personal care products. In the US, the personal care products industry is allowed to police itself. To put the lack of regulation in perspective, the European Union has banned more than 1,000 ingredients from use in cosmetics, while the FDA has prohibited only 9.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t need to approve what ingredients are added to personal care products. If a company says an ingredient is safe, that’s basically deemed good enough
Companies are beginning to move towards less waste L’Oreal is aiming to make 100 percent of their packaging reusable, refillable, or compostable by 2025, and to source 50 percent of that packaging from recycled material, but most of the technology and initiative is lacking, making such products unavailable in the present/near future.
The chemicals and toxins found in many of our bath/shower and products that get washed down the sink as the case may be with a face mask or wash, end up in our oceans and water sources
Every day the average woman applies up to 200 chemicals on her skin through cosmetics, perfume, skin care products and hair care products.
We asked Ella which valuable tips she’d like to share with you when transitioning to sustainable skincare and her response was “Start small! Don’t buy a bulk loadof ingredients and throw out all your packaged products on a whim, you’ll get overwhelmed and disillusioned. I recommend when you’re near finishing aproduct, start looking at recipes for how you can DIY it when it runs out. Say your cleanser is on its last legs, can you give cleansing grains a go? What do you have access to already? If you need to buy something, research around and see where you might be able to find it in bulk. You could give cleansing grains a go with rolled oats and clay or try oil cleansing if that’s easier to begin!As you transition you’ll slowly build up a stockpile of DIY ingredients and find out what does and doesn’t work for your skin.”
“My second tip would be to slow down! Make it mindful, enjoy the process. Burn some incense, play some music, become a kitchen witch as you mix your herbs and clays and oils. When you apply your products, make even that mundane act reverent, honour your body and take the time to show it some TLC. It might sound wishy-washy but it’s such a beautiful way to check in with yourself and to do some real self-care. The process of creation can be an incredibly rewarding one, especially when done mindfully and slowly. The act of mixing a face mask suddenly becomes a moment to connect to quietness and treat yourself to something nourishing for your mind and body. Working with locally sourced and plant based materials and ingredients only heightens this sense of care, working with the earth to support your own wellbeing.”
The Earth Diary blog series was created to highlight the importance of reducing your environmental impact, adopting a slow and sustainable lifestyle and appreciating the small moments in every day.
We’ve chosen beautiful women from within the creative and earth friendly community whom we believe have something inspiring and empowering to share with you and have dedicated each of these blog posts to these amazing women, their stories and their beautiful photos.