Meet Crystal – “Natural products irritated my skin, but chemical-laden pharmacy products were ok – NOT OK!”

March is the Birthday month for Ecology Skincare… and it always prompts me to reflect on why I started Ecology Skincare in the first place and how far we’ve come since we began!

So surprise! …today you’re getting to know a little bit more about me.

Hi, I’m Crystal, founder of Ecology Skincare…

I don’t know about you, but I really struggled with making the switch to natural skincare… 

I have super sensitive skin (as well as a history of eczema and adult acne).
My skin was always so up and down… clear or breaking out, calm or flaring up.
…and it was always something I felt really self-conscious about.

I remember, staring in the bathroom mirror one night before a sales meeting, thinking…

“How can I calm down all this redness and magically clear those spots before morning?”

I sifted through the basket of skincare products I kept in the bathroom cupboard under the sink, but there was nothing (my skin had reacted to all of these products in some way, shape or form over the previous months)

In a room full of sales people dressed for success, I worried that the ‘face’ I would be presenting in the morning, would tell a story I didn’t want it to…

(because I’ve learned over the years, that people always doubt you can do the job if you don’t look the part)

Sure, I could pile on the makeup and ‘fake it’ for a day
(but I knew there’d a cost to that – makeup always makes my skin worse for the next 3-4 days)…

I was feeling like I’d tried EVERYTHING …and running out of all the ‘normal’ options! 😩

A lot of natural products cause my skin to flare up and become really red and irritated …even the simple stuff!

Coconut oil makes my skin all red and rashy…
Sweet almond oil brings my skin out in bumps…
and rosehip oil makes my eyes swell…

…the ‘Big Brand’ pharmacy-type products for sensitive skin don’t cause these kinds of skin reactions, but I didn’t want to be rubbing those chemicals into my skin anymore.

I wondered if I was ever going to find skincare products that actually helped my skin and didn’t cause it to freak out!

So I started googling…

And what I discovered was really interesting, because it goes against the common thinking about natural skincare…

It’s a myth that natural products are better for sensitive skin.

The truth is, it completely depends on the ingredients in the product and how many ingredients are in a formulation.

Irritating ingredients derived from a natural source, are still irritating ingredients. 

For example ‘sodium laureth sulphate (derived from coconut)’ will still strip natural oils and lipids from our skin causing dry skin and irritation.

The more ingredients there are in a product, the more likely it is to contain an ingredient our skin will react to.

Yes, that even includes natural ingredients!

The truth is plant-based ingredients are quite complex.

High quality cold-pressed oils (especially essential oils) can contain many natural components that can cause redness or irritation.

Take lavender for example. Do a google search on lavender oil and you’ll find conflicting info…

On the one hand, lavender seems to have soothing properties and is great for calming inflamed skin, including eczema, rosacea and even sunburn.

On the other, it contains components like linalool, camphor and linalyl acetate, that at higher concentrations have been found to irritate and damage skin.

Interesting, hey?

So I dug a little deeper… I went right back to traditional principles and

These were my 2 major findings:

  1. Ingredients that mimic our skin’s own natural fats and oils are less likely to cause skin irritation.
    These ingredients include jojoba, emu oil and grass-fed tallow. As an added bonus, these ingredients can also have an anti-ageing effect, because as we age our skin slows down on the production of the fats and oils that keep it youthful looking. So these ingredients can ‘replace’ what time takes away
  2. Throughout history, soap and medicinal salves, ointments and poultices have been based on traditional fats like lard, tallow and emu oil.
    From the ancient Babylonians and Australian Aboriginals to our great grandmothers, these traditional animal fats were used for everything from burns and chafing to blisters and wound healing.

Even cosmetics! The ancient Egyptians used animal fat ointments to help their mineral kohl makeup stick.

Mind blown, right?

So I started experimenting with grass-fed tallow as an ingredient …and the result was AMAZING!
A deeply nourishing moisturiser that my sensitive skin loved!!

I’ll tell you a little more about grass-fed tallow in a moment and why it’s so helpful for skin, but first a little more behind the scenes and under the hood…

As turns out, there’s a lot going on for me.

I had started eating to a Paleo-type diet a year before and my skin had cleared up amazingly.
I had more energy, lost some weight, was looking good and feeling great…

But slowly, slowly my skin issues started returning…
Acne breakouts and flare-ups as well as bloating, constipation, anxiety and food intolerances.

A nutrient dense paleo diet is also high-ish in salicylates and histamines (naturally occurring food chemicals) …that for me contributed to a lot of my sensitivities and skin breakouts.

My journey is an on-going one (aren’t they all?!? 😉 )
And along the way I’ve discovered:

  • an autoimmune condition – Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – which contributes to some super dry ‘lizard’ looking skin for me
  • food sensitivities to FODMAP, salicylate, histamine and glutamate containing foods
  • hormonal disregulation that looks like estrogen dominance

So I had to reduce how often I was eating the foods I was sensitive to.
(If you’re interested, I found “The Eczema Diet” by Karen Fischer super helpful in navigating this) 

The Eczema Diet (2nd Edition)

$29

Eczema-safe food to stop the itch and prevent eczema for life
By Karen Fischer BHSc, Dip. Nut.

SKU: W ECZDIET Category:
Read more

In the way of practitioners, I’ve found my integrative medial doctor to be amazing. I’ve also really benefited from:

  • PAT (Positive Association Technique) with my naturopath – to reduce my reactivity to certain foods
  • Kinesiology – to reframe my thoughts, retrain my brain and reduce my fight / flight response
  • Hypnotherapy – also to retrain my brain and reactivity

I also had to learn to manage my stress better…
(there’s a really tight connection between our skin and our minds)

If our thoughts and feelings are pushing us into a fight / flight stressed, overwhelmed and anxious state for most of the day – all that excess cortisol activates inflammatory cells in the skin, leading to inflamed skin and skin conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis.

So I now:

  • float weekly,
  • meditate most morning’s,
  • walk along the esplanade or creek a few times a week and
  • I always feel my best when I take time out for yoga classes on the weekends.

I’m always so much happier when I take the time to do the things I love, spend time with family and friends, eat well and laugh often (and my skin’s much happier too) 🙂

So it’s always important to remember… it’s not all about what we put on our skin!

Ok, ok so what do I put on my skin? …and what’s grass-fed tallow?

Well, grass fed tallow is a gently rendered fat (like emu oil), but it comes from healthy, grass fed cows

(so this isn’t for our vegan friends!)

…and there are 3 main reasons why grass-fed tallow is helpful for sensitive skin:

  1. It contains the same fats and oils found naturally in healthy, youthful skin.
  2. It contains fat soluble vitamins A, D, E & K …all of which are crucial for healthy skin (some of which are also antioxidants)
  3. It’s balanced in omega 3’s and 6’s …both are important for healthy skin and for balancing immune function

One of the issues with sensitive skin is ‘gaps’ in our skin’s barrier that let allergens and irritants in…

…causing redness and irritation to the skin, letting moisture out and leading to dry, itchy skin.
…but because grass-fed tallow contains the same kinds of fats and oils found naturally in healthy skin, it can help replace missing components in skin’s outer layer

(it’s those natural fats – including cholesterol – that’s missing from other ‘big brand’ skincare products)

And as we learnt before, plant-based ingredients can be quite complex… which means their effects on our skin can also be complex (and unexpected)

High quality cold-pressed oils (especially essential oils) can contain many natural components that can cause redness or irritation.

(remember I said that salicylates were a problem for me in foods?
Well a lot of beautiful cold pressed oils and essential oils are really high in salicylates, which also led to rashes and skin reactivity for me) 

…and unlike a lot of natural or ‘big brand’ products, grass-fed tallow leaves sensitive skin looking calm, plump and well hydrated.

…which as you can imagine, put a bounce in my step and had people asking me what I was doing differently.

People who then asked if I could make something special for them…
And I realised I really wanted to help people like me…
People with sensitive skin, dry skin and fine lines…
People who just want to have nice, “normal” looking skin for the school drop off, or important meetings or dinner and drinks…and not feel judged.

So I spent a year in R&D to create a range of moisturisers …and launched them into the world.

Now I’m getting beautiful messages, like this one from Angela…

“I LOVE your products! I’ve always struggled with my skin reacting to everything from food to skin products
…I’ve suffered for 20yrs with dry skin, rosacea, blotchy skin & have spent hundreds on products to only throw them away, so I had given up. Since using your moisturiser my skin has never felt or looked better. ” ~ Angela

I know what it’s like to feel self-conscious about your skin and the ‘face’ you present to the world… and to feel judged for it.

So I want to help as many people as possible, shorten the journey to finally find what works for them …without having to DIY it like I did!

…and because I know how important it can be to try a ‘trial size’ of something before getting a larger size, we’ve put together Trial Packs of our Ecology Creams.

You can now try a 2-pack or 3-pack of our 10mL mini moisturisers from only $18 (so only $9 per moisturiser) …and get free shipping when you use the code: TRIAL at checkout

and see for yourself the difference an Ecology Moisturiser can make for sensitive and problem skin

(this is a great size! It’ll last a couple of weeks, long enough to calm any redness and irritation)

So click on the button below that best describes your skin to see which trial pack might suit you…

PS. Now, I’ve mentioned salicylates a lot in this post. If you think that salicylates might be a problem for you, please click on the messenger button at the bottom right hand corner of this page to send us a message. We make custom salicylate-friendly, fragrance-free moisturiser for myself and on custom order for those like me who have a sensitivity to salicylates.

It contains just grass-fed tallow, emu oil and MCT oil.
It does have a distinctive aroma due to the tallow (though it’s not unpleasant) …and of course it feels just as lovely on the skin as our other creams.

So let us know if you’re interested in trying the custom batch and we’ll schedule one in 🙂

Crystal Fieldhouse
Ecology Skincare

4 thoughts on “Meet Crystal – “Natural products irritated my skin, but chemical-laden pharmacy products were ok – NOT OK!”

    • Crystal Fieldhouse says:

      Hi Jenny, thanks for your interest in the salicylate friendly moisturiser 🙂 …yes we’re at Somerville on Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s.
      We don’t have the custom batch there (as we just make it as needed), but if you send me a message in the chat box or email hello[at]ecologyskincare.com that will land you in our support inbox 🙂

      We’ll most likely be making a custom batch on the weekend. Hope this helps! Crystal

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