Go Organic—Because Beauty Is More Than Skin Deep

Story and photos by Lipsa Shah
Banner photo courtesy of Aillea

We all know that eating organic whole foods is beneficial for a plethora of reasons, but using organic skincare products topically is just as important. Skin is the largest living organ on our body, and it reflects what is going on internally. In fact, 60 percent of what you put on your body is absorbed into your bloodstream.

True story: When I was a pre-teen, I would use a generic bar of soap to wash my face. Then I developed acne, which inevitably led to scarring. After I learned what foundation was, I gorged it onto my face and, in college, would fall asleep with pounds of makeup on my skin. My complexion was only getting worse. I was at a loss. I relied on drugstore acne medicine for a quick fix. In recent years, the more I’ve learned about organic food and wellness, the more fascinated I’ve become with keeping everything on my shelves—and on my face—clean.

In an attempt to clean up my skincare routine, I turned to Aillea, one of Raleigh’s newest health and beauty shops, located right in Cameron Village. At Aillea, founder and owner Kathryn Murray Dickinson meticulously picks each and every product that goes on her shelves. She studies every single ingredient listed on the products. Interestingly, all of the products have been developed by people who have had a health scare and realized they were putting toxic ingredients in their bodies.

While the message to go organic is plastered everywhere, you have to ask: why organic beauty products? Why should I drop $50 on a face mask when I can buy a cheap one at my local drugstore for $7? Because investing more money into our health and overall wellness improves our lives.

Organic products are not laced with additives, and they contain fewer pesticides. Tons of non-organic, drugstore products contain paraben and sulfate. It’s imperative to look for products that are paraben-free because paraben is considered a toxic chemical, and it has been linked with unfavorable health concerns including cancer and breast tumors. In addition to avoiding paraben, Aillea also encourages us to stay away from sulfate—because sulfate has been linked to infertility, asthma, and various allergies.

The most alarming fact that I learned after speaking with Dickinson was that there is a big discrepancy in the number of ingredients allowed in skincare products in the U.S. compared with what other countries allow. Dickinson recommends downloading an app called Think Dirty to use as you’re shopping for skincare products. Think Dirty rates products on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the worst, to help consumers understand the ingredients in each product.

Once you know how imperative it is for you and your skin to make the transition over to organic products, the question becomes: Where should you begin? Your fall and winter skincare routine will look a bit different than your summer routine. Summertime is humid, calling for a lighter moisturizer and more emphasis on sunblock. While you should always incorporate SPF into your routine, your fall skin will require more hydration. More hydration means more face masks, more vitamin D, more moisturizing skincare, more treatments.

Aillea’s esthetician, Miriah Walters, recommends having a facial once a month, and she hand picks all of the products she uses specifically for each guest and their skin type. Walters explains that a monthly facial will have the most impact for your skin due to the fact that skin cells turn over at a slower rate as we age.

The Cameron Village location is Dickinson’s fifth Aillea store, but the first in North Carolina. Other locations include Atlanta, Charleston, and two in Denver. By next spring, Dickinson plans to open an Aillea in Charlotte. But regardless of which location you visit, every single one of Dickinson’s staff members has been thoroughly trained about each product that is sold in the stores. Whether it be a new moisturizer, a face mask, or a facial, Aillea’s products and services are committed to enhancing wellness and healthy living.

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