Have you ever come across the words “be yourself; everyone else is already taken”? Did they cause some pause for thought? If yes, you are not alone. Growing up, many of us begin to wonder who we really are and how to best shape our lives. Spoiler alert: it is far from an easy journey but worth every step.
Your unique blueprint
If these words make you think “yes, but …” there is science to back up this sage advice. We are born unique, even when we greet the world as identical twins. Moreover, we are each born with, and then “cultivate,” our own unique microbiome.
Yes, there is the combination of cells and genes that is you and that influences your physical and mental health, the psychological traits you display, the way you handle stress, or even how social you are.
In other words, deep down you cannot be anyone else even if you tried. Your inner world that includes thoughts, feelings, and yes, bacteria too (your body’s microbiota) is making sure of that.
Definitions need not apply
Beauty is about symmetry and features displayed with geometrical perfection, some say.
It is about what fills our lives from inside out, others opine, creating everlasting, impactful beauty: the harmony in one’s ease of being and the way they tread, with kindness toward self and others.
The wiser ones among us will say true beauty has never been about perfect features but humbleness, kindness, curiosity, and remembering to start and end the day with gratitude.
Healthy equals beautiful
Stress affects the skin, which can cause it to age prematurely or develop and exacerbate skin conditions such as psoriasis, dermatitis, hair loss, acne, and rosacea. Sleep deprivation leaves a ruthless print as well, and then there is the compounded effect of what we “feed” our skin, from diet to hygiene and beauty products.
It is worth considering that everything we put on our skin, from soaps to lotions to perfumes, will affect not only our skin cells but the vibrant community of microbes that form our skin’s microbiome, which ensures that our largest organ maintains its state of balance.
Not surprisingly, many of us come to realize that natural, self-sustaining beauty is found through a healthy diet and lifestyle and compassionate self-care, rather than in jars of expensive face cream.
Each one of us is an entire world, which means that no part should be considered on its own. Authentic living encompasses this holistic understanding.
You may know someone who you consider to be living authentically. They are likely to be referred to as grounded, in control of their emotions and life trajectory. Nonjudgmental but able to speak their mind. Tall order? Let’s unpack.
“Living authentically is not a destination but a journey,” says Catherine Cloutier, registered clinical counsellor in Kamloops, BC. “A process of becoming more comfortable with emotions,” she explains, “so we can express ourselves in alignment with our values and beliefs.”
Living authentically in most areas of our lives is the more reachable goal. “Be authentic wherever you have choices, such as parenting, relationships, or consuming habits,” says Cloutier, “knowing that it’s not perfection you should strive for.”
Be inspired … within reason
Living authentically before the age of internet had its hurdles, yet the emergence of social media has increased the challenge.
Children compare themselves to their peers or influencers, but so do grown-ups. “Strive to know yourself and be consistent with your values and ethical principles, in personal or work relationships,” says Cloutier.
Living authentically means doing your best in any given situation, Cloutier says, because our lives are context-dependent. You can change some things but not others, so find a source of inspiration that will help you develop a positive, self-assured mindset, rather than comparing yourself to others.
Know the difference
“We are less stressed when we are congruent,” says Cloutier, such as when the way you live aligns with your values.
Allow yourself time and space to explore beliefs, advises Cloutier, and when possible, surround yourself with people who can help you reassess perspective.
Set your intentions, but keep an open mind because there may be hurdles along the way. For that reason, make sure to include self-compassion in your toolkit. Mostly, trust your gut instinct. Your second brain resides there, and within it, the one voice to heed: yours.
The “how to” of authentic beauty
- Consume a healthy diet, avoiding highly processed foods and excess alcohol.
- Get between seven and eight hours of sleep to support a positive mindset.
- Find time to move every day.
- Connect with nature to recalibrate your inner compass for the things that matter.
- Drink water: among its benefits are improving digestion and promoting healthy-looking skin.
- De-stress through meditation, deep breathing, or journalling.
- Honour your inner wisdom and learn to let go of emotional burdens.
Top natural beauty trends for 2022
This year, it’s all about embracing the real you, making health-conscious decisions, and enhancing your unique natural beauty.
This less-is-more approach allows your natural beauty to shine through by focusing on three key steps: cleanse, moisturize, and protect.
Clean, transparent skin care
Beauty companies are promoting “clean” products free of synthetic ingredients that are damaging to our health and the environment, including parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde donors, talc, and PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene).
Our skin’s surface hosts a microscopic world of beneficial bacteria, just like our guts. Keeping this microbiome healthy is a new focus in beauty products.
Yes, acne from mask-wearing now has a new foe: beauty products with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and sebum-regulating botanicals to soothe and protect mask-ridden skin.
Spa-inspired tech gadgets
Try out high-tech beauty tools such as microcurrent rollers to stimulate, tone, and tighten the complexion; at-home laser hair removal devices; or LED masks designed for reparative red-light therapy.
Hand sanitizers with natural ingredients such as lavender, tea tree oil, and eucalyptus help calm and nourish skin without sacrificing antibacterial properties—and they smell great!
To keep our hair healthy from the scalp down, these shampoos, conditioners, and hair products include antibacterial ingredients such as coconut oil, manuka honey, and tea tree oil as natural remedies to mild irritation, redness, and flaking.
Scalp care, too
New hair supplements boast natural ingredients including B vitamins, zinc, iron, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids that are designed to create naturally healthy locks at the source.
Advanced blue light protection
New beauty lines are experimenting with natural ingredients such as algae derivatives, antioxidants, vitamins, botanical extracts, and UV filters to help protect skin cells from damage caused by exposure to high-energy blue light.