At Mokosh, we take a holistic view of achieving healthy skin. While most of us care a lot about how our skin looks, we don’t always consider our skin to be as important as our liver, gut or brain when it comes to our overall health. We forget that we rely on healthy skin to stay hydrated, and to keep away harmful microorganisms, toxins, allergens and carcinogens. The truth is that we’re still finding out more about the importance of our skin for our overall health. For example, a recent study showed that chronically inflamed skin could be a trigger for some of the severe chronic inflammatory conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease (read more here).
Our skin’s health, like the health of all our organs, is governed by its internal environment, which is created by our diet, lifestyle and state of mind. But our skin’s external environment can be almost as influential. So how can we do what's best for our skin?
A health reset - wisdom from the ancients
In many ancient cultures, occasional periods of fasting or dietary restrictions combined with meditation or prayer, sometimes with external body treatments, were practices designed to purify the body. The result was a clearer, calmer state of mind and a longer, healthier life. Some of these practices have now been verified by modern science (1). In today's society, our fast-paced, sedentary and often stressful lives, our packaged, processed food and synthetic-filled skin care are recipes for poor skin and body health.
Simple steps towards health
We’ve put together some broad guidelines to get you on the road to your healthiest skin - and self. Everyone is different, so choose what's right for you and, if appropriate, consult your GP before embarking on anything drastic. We’ve divided our detox into ‘inner work’ focusing on diet, exercise and the mind, and ‘outer work’ - cleaning up what goes on our skin.
Why 30 days?
Because your skin is always being renewed, it completely replaces itself approximately every 30 days - or a little longer if you’re over forty. After 30 days, you will see and feel the benefits of your lifestyle changes - fabulous, freshly made, toxin-free skin! And in the process, you’ll have created a healthier, happier environment for every cell in your body.
Making the commitment
When you’re planning to make big changes at home while getting on with your busy life, we recommend setting yourself up for success by taking a weekend to get organised. Take the pledge to eliminate alcohol and caffeine, as well as sugar, wheat and dairy products. If it’s too hard to go ‘cold turkey’, gradually reduce these with an aim for total elimination after 14 days. Before you start, we suggest removing temptations from your fridge and cupboards and replacing them with healthy alternatives so you don’t slip up after your first stressful day at work.
Great Diet: Most health experts agree that a whole food, mostly vegetarian diet of predominantly fruit and vegetables will improve your health and wellbeing. It will boost your body’s level of vitamins and antioxidants which slow down the ageing process, while an increased fibre intake will improve gut health and overall wellbeing. Your fridge should be well stocked with fresh fruit and veggies and a store of organic dried goods like lentils and legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. We recommend planning recipes for the week ahead, including a large greens-rich salad daily, and keeping healthy snacks like home-made hummus or guacamole, or home made raw balls in the fridge for weak moments. There are plenty of websites with healthy and delicious vegan recipes to choose from (like this one).
Hydrate: Drink plenty of filtered water - this will help with digestion and improve the flow of lymph fluid which removes waste products from the body’s tissues.
Move: Commit to exercise each day as part of your morning routine. This will benefit the mind while improving the circulation, and make the removal of waste products more efficient. If you’re not used to doing exercise, start with simple yoga stretches or a walk in nature.
Sleep: We now understand that good sleep is extremely important for skin and body health (read more here), and we should aim for a regular 8 hours a night. If you find it difficult to nod off or if you wake up repeatedly during the night, reducing or eliminating caffeine should help, and banning screens for an hour or two before bed can improve things. Learning relaxation techniques to stop the mind going into night time overdrive can also help.
Meditate: The benefits of meditation and mindfulness are wide-reaching for physical and mental health. Guided meditations work well for some (there are many free apps you can try), while others prefer more active meditative practices like walking, music, yoga, running, cycling, swimming or crafts. Anything that takes you out of your head and into your breath and body will work. Some people find it easiest first thing in the morning before the mind really switches on. Others find it easier at the other end of the day.
Skin care without preservatives : Most people are not aware that regular water-containing skin care contains preservatives. These are powerful antibacterial agents that must be added to stop bacterial growth in the product. These can upset the balance of your skin's all-important microbiome, resulting in an altered skin barrier function (read more here). In contrast, water-free skin care does not need a preservative, and can be made using only 100% whole botanical ingredients.
Skin care without emulsifiers: Water-containing skin care also contains emulsifiers, which are detergents that keep the water and oil in a stable mixture. As detergents, they can upset the barrier function in the skin. As we now know, a poor skin barrier can result in chronic inflammation, with potentially long term effects on whole body health (read more here).
No Detergents: Our skin produces its own oils which form part of the all-important skin barrier. Cleansing your skin with strong detergents removes these oils, leaving the skin open to invasion from both irritants and harmful bacteria. We recommend using detergent-free cleansers (oil cleanser or a botanical cleanser) on the face and only minimal natural soap on the body. Follow all cleansing with the application of a well-formulated, synthetic free moisturiser to keep the skin’s barrier function at its best. Make sure you moisturise your face AND your whole body.
Essential Fatty Acids: Use skin care that contains abundant skin barrier-building essential fatty acids, obtained only from certain botanical oils (read more here). These will fortify the skin’s barrier function and help the skin perform its important work more efficiently. Certain botanical oils and whole botanical powders will also add valuable antioxidants, vitamins, humectants and other nutrients that will improve and promote proper skin function and slow the ageing process.
Body Massage: As part of the traditional Ayurvedic cleanse, a daily body massage known as abhyanga is carried out using a warmed, well-formulated botanical oil (read more here). Abhyanga has many benefits including calming the mind, improving waste elimination and circulation in the skin, and rejuvenating the body. It can also improve self-love and appreciation for the body. Carry this out and your whole body will feel energised, while your skin will feel deeply nourished.
Ban Synthetic Fragrances: Do not use anything on your hair or body that contains synthetic fragrances. Synthetic fragrances can be a blend of hundreds of different chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens and hormone disruptors (read more here. Synthetic fragrances are also commonly added to skin care products, shampoos and conditioners, scented candles, laundry products, room deodorisers and cleaning products. We recommend completely eliminating synthetic fragrances from your home for the safety of you and your family.
Natural Fibres: Next to your skin, wear clothes made from natural fibres that allow your skin to ‘breathe’, like cotton, linen, bamboo and hemp. Clothes made from nylon and polyester are essentially plastic, and will trap sweat and salts against the skin, increasing the risk of breakouts and skin irritation.
Say No to Plastic: Try to choose only natural, non plastic implements in your cooking and utensils, as well as in furniture and fittings in your home. Some hard plastics leach toxins, especially when heated, with potentially harmful consequences (read more here), while microplastics are shed continuously from synthetic upholstery and clothing, with potentially harmful impacts on our lungs, and the environment.
Does all this feel like too much work, too hard, too unachievable? If so, why not start with just one thing, something that feels doable. Making one positive change will bring benefits that may give you the energy to think about adding another. And don't forget, it's your precious self that's at stake here - your most valuable asset, that you will be caring for by taking that first step.
Have you tried a detox before? How did it make you feel? Did it inspire you to make permanent changes in your life? We’d love you to share any tips or experiences you have - send us an email at email@example.com
- Michalsen, A. and Li, C. (2013) Fasting therapy for treating and preventing disease - current state of evidence. Forsch Komplementmed 20:444-453
- Vianello, A., Jensen, R.L., Li, L. and Vollertsen, J. (2019) Simulating human exposure to indoor airborne microplastics using a Breathing Thermal Manikin Sci Rep 9, 8670