By Morgan Kline
Hi, it’s Morgan! I’m here to fill up your cup with my weekly recap of Coffee & Kettlebells. I had the amazing opportunity to sit down with Ashley George, the author and founder of the Wonder and Wear blog.
Ashley and I chatted all about the skin issues women often face at different stages in their lives, especially after pregnancy. When Ashley experienced frequent breakouts post-baby, it led her to discover the world of clean beauty, which is now one of her biggest passions!
Before even leaving home in the morning, the average woman is potentially exposed to over 100 (largely unregulated) chemicals found in hair products, soap, cosmetics and other personal care items. “Our skin is our biggest organ,” Ashley says. “There are so many toxins and chemical that we’re putting into our bodies through our skincare and beauty products that we need to become aware of. There are 1,400 ingredients banned in Europe and only 11 in the United States!”
Ashley taught me that the two biggest ingredients to look out for—and stay far away from—are parabens and fragrances. Parabens are a class of widely used preservatives found in shampoos and other hair products, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. They’ve been linked to some scary side effects, including hormone disruption, early puberty in children and potentially even forms of cancer.
Fragrances are another ingredient Ashley warns against. “Under that one word, they can hide over 100 different harmful ingredients!” she says. The lack of a specific description often prevents people from knowing what’s actually in the products they’re using. Fragrances are found in many household cleaners, laundry detergents, shampoos, perfumes, sunscreens and cosmetics, and they’ve been linked to allergies and side effects like hormone disruption.
My biggest takeaway from sitting down with Ashley is how important it is to read the labels on my beauty and skincare products! I’m already an avid reader of nutrition labels, and Ashley reminded me why it’s important to pay attention to product ingredient labels as well. “We care so much about the ingredients that go into our foods but don’t think about the ingredients that are put into our products,” she says. “Either way, they end up in our body!”
Ashley’s top skincare and beauty tips:
1. Avoid hidden toxins in your beauty and skincare products by finding companies you can fully trust. Ashley’s top pick—it’s the only brand she uses—is Beautycounter. “Once I had kids my skin went crazy, experiencing terrible hormonal acne,” she told me.
“I tried everything to calm it down, from testing hundreds of different products to seeing different dermatologists, and nothing worked until I switched to using Beautycounter products exclusively. I couldn’t tell you how passionate I am about this company. Their products are safe, trustworthy and have completely changed my skin for the better.”
2. Use facial oils. Most people think that using oil will worsen a condition like acne. But adding oils to your skincare routine may actually help banish blemishes, prevent wrinkles, calm rashes and redness as well as shrink enlarged pores. What are Ashley’s go-to facial oils? “Beautycounter’s No. 3 Balancing Facial Oil and No. 1 Brightening Facial Oil have dramatically improved the condition of my skin,” she says.
3. Download the EWG Healthy Living app. “When shopping, use the EWG app to easily scan all of your skincare and beauty products and receive a rating,” Ashley says. “It’s the perfect cheat sheet to knowing whether or not a product contains high-quality, clean ingredients.”
4. Incorporate clean skincare products into your life slowly. Dumping all of your products at once is not only wasteful—it will be very expensive to replace them at one time! “Wait until you run out of a product,” Ashley recommends. “Rather than buying it again, simply swap it for a healthy alternative. Continue to do this with every product you use and slowly you will build a healthy skincare collection.”
5. Establish a skincare routine and see a difference in the quality of your skin. Make it a priority to wipe off your makeup and cleanse your face every night before bed. Ashley’s skincare routine includes washing her face with Beautycounter’s Cleansing Balm and Charcoal Cleansing Bar. “I use the Cleansing Balm to remove my makeup or sometimes leave it on overnight to really break down oils, dirt and impurities,” she explains. “The Charcoal Bar is perfect for cleaning my skin without drying it out, giving me a clearer, smoother and brighter-looking complexion.”
6. Allow yourself permission to take 10 minutes of your morning for self-care and feel more confident throughout your entire day. Many of us feel better about ourselves when we feel put together. “If you feel like you are in a slump or don’t feel good about yourself, try putting a little mascara on, put your hair into a cute bun and try to feel like a real human being,” Ashley says. “When you don’t take time for yourself on the outside, sometimes it begins to wear yourself on the inside.” Remember, wear makeup and do your hair to make you feel good about yourself, not because of what others may think of you.
7. Don’t wash your hair every day and do make dry shampoo your best friend. Washing and drying your hair every single day is time- and energy-consuming, and if you are blow-drying afterward, you are creating a lot of heat damage. Ashley suggests washing your hair only once or twice a week. “You have to train your hair,” she says.
“If you wash your hair every day, your hair is then trained to produce natural oils every day. You’ll have to go through a phase where you train your hair to go longer without washing and will be extra oily. After about a month or two, your hair will adjust and not create as much oil. Begin with every other day and work your way toward one or two times a week.” Of course, when you do wash your hair, use a shampoo that’s free of parabens and fragrances.
Last but not least, Ashley says the one product every woman needs is a good eye cream! She suggests buying one that contains caffeine to help reduce puffiness and dark circles.
Hear more from Ashley George by checking out Episode 2 of Coffee & Kettlebells. Find out her favorite ways to incorporate health and fitness into her busy lifestyle, why she thinks inner beauty is most important and how to show yourself more self-love.
If you have any questions about the podcast, health, fitness or life in general, always feel free to email [email protected] for answers!