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Photo by Ngono Louise Messinga

Photo by Shauntavia

Beauty products are constantly changing and a lot may do more harm than good. According to studies an average women uses up to 8-12 beauty products a day that contains 168 different chemicals. If that's not a good reason to consider using natural products maybe this interview with natural beauty blogger Shauntavia Ward will help you reconsider.

Shauntavia is a Nurse Practitioner on a mission to change the way we identify with beauty. As a healthcare professional with experience in various medical aesthetic and cosmetic surgery facilities, she has seen the good, bad and ugly sides of the chase for beautiful features. She created eleMINTNutritional Beauty as a platform to engage readers in understanding that the most powerful "element" of beauty, is health. Healthy diets, healthy bodies, mental health... These are some of the foundations for any physically beautiful attribute. eleMINT encourages people to "get in their eleMINT" finding inner beauty, naturally, by incorporating nutrition and natural remedies to reveal radiance from the inside out!

What does natural beauty mean to you? 

I believe that natural beauty is freedom. Freedom from societal pressures. Freedom to be your most true self. Freedom to explore, live, love and learn what beauty means to each individual person. I believe natural beauty is optimal wellness. Balancing your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well being. I believe natural beauty is courage; Courage to be present in your choices, advocate for your body, redefine social norms, and reclaim your beauty! I believe natural beauty is being "in your eleMINT", a happy, natural, authentic, self loving space.

What are some of your favorite beauty products?

I love this question. I get excited about the latest cosmetic indie brand or trendy organic skincare just as much as the next girl, but my favorite "beauty products" are found in the produce section of a grocery store or farmers market. Bell peppers, spinach, sweet potato, pineapple, grapefruit and papaya papaya are some of my most powerful weapons to fight off aging skin, acne, free radicals, sun exposure or limp hair. Whether in a smoothie, on a fork or mixed into a topical treatment, I find my favorite products for beauty in the raw nutrients of what I eat and apply to my hair, skin and nails.   

Do you avoid certain ingredients in cosmetics such as parabens or sulfates?

Absolutely! I try to avoid as many preservatives and harmful, toxic ingredients as possible. Parabens, a preservative found in most personal care products, has been linked to cancer. Sulfates, think of them as powerful cleansing agents, powerful enough to seriously irritate the skin or hair. Alcohol, a major culprit to dry skin. The topic of toxic ingredients has gotten so much attention that a bill was recently proposed; the Personal Care Safety Act, which would give the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) more authority over applying safety rules to beauty products before they’re approved for the market.

Currently, personal care products are very loosely regulated (aside from color additives), leaving responsibility on the brand to inform consumers of safety. We are in a time where we have to ask ourselves 'Does this brand have my best interest at heart?'. Most don't, and are monetizing off of society's urge for "beauty".

Now make no mistake, it's harder than getting approved on IG (LOL) to abruptly eliminate every single bad ingredient, and not to mention very expensive. It has been a slow process, but I've cut back on toxic ingredients tremendously. I'm a supporter for the leaping bunny cruelty free and fair trade movements, because I actually give a damn about people, animals, our Earth and equality! 

I also avoid products with too many ingredients. I've always been a less is more kind of girl and I find that my hair, skin and nails flourish better with minimal, natural ingredients. Or as my husband would say, "you don't need all that" :) 

Photo by Shauntavia

Favorite DIY face mask?

Hands down, all time favorite, go-to, staple, one ingredient - ALOE! I usually can grab a fully grown aloe leaf from my local Whole Foods for less than $2 dollars. I refrigerate it so that its cold when I apply it. I slice a section, to expose the meat of the aloe. Its gel-liscious and oozing with skin health benefits. Aloe has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it's rich in antioxidants, moisturizing and softens skin. Aloe does not clog pores, it's packed with vitamins C and E and beta carotene, may lighten blemishes, and has antimicrobial agents to help fight acne. Nearly every other day, I massage chilled aloe pieces/gel all over my face and let it work its magic for about an hour or so before rinsing. I have noticed incredible changes in the quality of my skin and complexion since incorporating aloe into my routine. 

Facial moisturizer? 

Rosewater spray helps maintain the skins pH, controls excess oil, hydrates skin and smells ahhhmazing! I like to use this during and after a long flight! 

Hemp seed oil is also a great facial moisturizer. Hemp seed oil is very hydrating and non-comedogenic, meaning it does not clog pores and cause pimples or breakouts.  Keep in mind, all oils are not created equal and benefits will vary based on skin type. 

Hair Mask?

Avocado! Avocado! Avocado! ! Its a healthy fat that is actually good for your body and your hair! One of my staple hair mask recipes is avocado, coconut oil, honey and yogurt blended into a creamy goodness that gives my hair a real treat. Avocado, a rich source of proteins, amino acids and vitamins to rejuvenate hair and nourish the scalp. Coconut oil helps to cleanse build up and moisturizes your tresses. Honey attracts and retains moisture. Yogurt is full of protein and helps your hair follicles grow. I apply this mask to my curls and cover with a plastic shower cap for 30 min - 1 hour. I do these types of organic masks every 2 weeks to deeply condition, nourish, grow and strengthen my hair, naturally.

Dark circles? 

Before we make a mad dash for the concealer, we have to evaluate exactly why we have dark circles to begin with? The skin under the eye is very thin, fragile and receptive to the environment. Stress, dehydration, fatigue, sleep deprivation, hormonal imbalances and unhealthy diet can show up as puffiness, bags or dark circles under the eye. The most effective treatment for dark circles would be hydration, adequate sleep, nutritious diet, and medical management of any underlying illnesses. But an effective, sustainable remedy for bright eyes is upcyclyed tea bags. That's right, have your morning or evening tea, and chill the bags to place over your eyes. Tea extracts contain polyphenols which essentially help to shrink stressed blood vessels that pool under the eye, ultimately reducing the appearance of swelling, puffiness and dark circles. 

What can we expect from eleMINT in the near future? 

More and more consumers are growing interest in clean beauty products and treatments. Consumers are more savvy, conscious and WOKE about what they put into their bodies, and onto their skin. Beauty as an emotional sense of well-being is making a comeback, and we're here for it! eleMINT will continue to exist as platform to educate and inform our readers to make healthy, informed beauty choices. 


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