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Episode 26: Importance of Natural Beauty

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Bestselling author Joy McCarthy joins us on Supplementing Health to discuss the importance of natural beauty. She will share tips on the benefits of natural skincare and which products you need to keep in your makeup bag. 


The content of this podcast has not been evaluated by Health Canada or the FDA. It is educational in nature and should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult a qualified medical professional to see if a diet, lifestyle change, or supplement is right for you. Any supplements mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please note that the opinions of the guests or hosts are their own and may not reflect those of Advanced Orthomolecular Research, Inc.

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Welcome to Supplementing Health, a podcast presented by Advanced Orthomolecular Research. We are all about applying evidenced-based and effective dietary lifestyle and natural health product strategies for your optimal health. In each episode, we will feature very engaging clinicians and experts from the world of functional and naturopathic medicine to help achieve our mission to empower people to lead their best lives naturally.

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[1:33] Cassy Price: Hello, and welcome back to Supplementing Health. I’m your host, Cassy Price. Today we will be discussing the importance of natural beauty with Joy McCarthy. She is the founder of Joyous Health, a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and a three-times bestselling author. Welcome, Joy, and thanks for joining me today.

[1:48] Joy McCarthy: Hi. Thanks for having me.

[1:50] Cassy Price: I am so excited to be chatting with you today as I think this topic is so interesting, and it’s been something that I personally have been delving into a little bit for some time now. Would you mind sharing with the audience what initially got you interested in natural beauty and products?

[2:09] Joy McCarthy: Yeah, totally. As a holistic nutritionist, when I think back to the mid-2000s when I went to school to study nutrition, I feel like I was already so hippy-dippy, and I was always reading my labels and curious about what was in my shampoo and conditioner. 

[2:33] But the problem was, back then, which isn’t all that long ago, there just wasn’t a lot available. I would go to the grocery store, the health food store, and I knew that these kinds of chemicals that were in our environment and in our products could be harming our health, impacting our health negatively, but there just wasn’t a lot available.

[2:57] Fast-forward – years later to the present day, there is so much available for us, and I think a big part of my own hormonal health healing journey was switching from conventional to using more natural beauty products. I feel like in 2020, there really is no excuse anymore not to use natural products on our body and in our hair because they are a) affordable, and they’re b) widely available, and it is so important for our health and wellbeing.

[3:30] Cassy Price: Why is it that the natural beauty products, or natural products in general, are so important?

[3:37] Joy McCarthy: There are a lot of ingredients. The cosmetic industry is self-regulated in Canada and the U.S. That means a manufacturer basically decides if it’s okay to put xy ingredient into a product. We, as a consumer have to be really aware because we now know – there’s research available. 

[4:04] We now know that there are a lot of ingredients that are used in natural products that can cause harm. A lot of companies may argue, “Oh, it’s a microscopic dose.” But the problem is that it’s the accumulation of using various products throughout the day. You don’t just use one product on your body. You use toothpaste; you use deodorant; maybe you wear perfume; maybe you wear blush or lipstick, or maybe you use shaving cream on your legs.

[4:34] So it’s the accumulation of these various chemicals and toxins that are getting into our body, and they can do things like impact our hormones. So it’s really up to us. We have to be, unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it. We, as a consumer, are 100% responsible for our wellbeing. 

[4:59] We cannot rely on our government or the cosmetic industry as a whole to keep us safe because they’re not. We have to know ourselves, and that’s why it can be overwhelming, not knowing where to start. But we can talk about that in a bit too. You know, where would you start if you’re using all conventional stuff?

[5:20] Cassy Price: Yeah, definitely. I think that is a great point because I think some people shy away from switching to natural products because they’re either afraid of looking oily or greasy or even smelling if they’re switching from a conventional to a natural deodorant, and things like that. Do you have thoughts on this and how people can weather that initial transition better?

[5:39] Joy McCarthy: Yeah. It depends on the product. I feel like some products are a bigger transition than others. For example, when it comes to hair care, I feel that when you switch from a conventional shampoo to a natural shampoo. If you’re using a good quality product, you’re actually not going to notice. You’re not going to have oily hair or dry hair. If you’re using a good product, you’re going to have a product that works, and your hair is clean and shiny.

[6:09] But then other products, there is a little bit of a transition I would say with things like natural deodorants. But then there’s a whole other discussion we could have on natural deodorizers that you can eat and why do people smell so bad in the first place? Deodorant doesn’t stop you from sweating. A deodorant simply just masks the smell, and some deodorants have different essential oils like sage, for example, which helps to fight stink being those antimicrobials. 

[6:41] A lot of people find that when they go to a natural deodorant, that they do smell more, but you want to actually address the underlying cause if you really do smell bad, then perhaps you want to look at your diet and do a bit of a detox because a natural deodorant is really not the same as a conventional deodorant. But then it can bring up some good points that I just mentioned.

[7:06] And things like toothpaste. For me, if ever I’ve been travelling, and I forgot my toothpaste, and I call down to the front desk, which obviously I haven’t been travelling in a long time. But you call down to the front desk, “Hi. Do you have some toothpaste?” They, of course, give you a Crest or a Colgate, and you realize how gross it tastes. It’s full of chemicals, fluoride, harsh ingredients, and not at all supportive for your oral microbiome, which are the thousands of bacteria that live in your mouth.

[7:38] Toothpaste is one thing that most people are using at least two times a day, and that’s a good one to switch. Once you’ve switched, if you do go back, you realize how chemical-tasting your conventional toothpastes really are. 

[7:55] Cassy Price: Yeah. Absolutely. They are also much sweeter in my experience. They taste more artificial that way.

[8:02] Joy McCarthy: Yeah, totally.

[8:02] Cassy Price: So I do think there has been a bit of an uptick in awareness over the last five to ten years, which you’ve alluded to in your intro story there. That’s been really about certain substances, not necessarily about the industry overall per se. Through that, I think natural has become a bit of a buzzword. So what are some of the other substances that people should watch out for or look for to ensure that they’re truly getting safer products?

[8:31] Joy McCarthy: There are a lot of them, and I’ll talk about some of them, but just to build on what you were saying about natural, natural is an unregulated term. Even in the natural beauty industry, if you see something labelled natural, it doesn’t actually necessarily mean it is. That’s why you need to be an avid label-reader, and you do, as a consumer, have to educate yourself or look to others who are using clean beauty products and do what they do.

[9:03] I think, ultimately, it’s good to know for yourself, why are you choosing, say, mineral-based makeup and cosmetics. I think it’s so important. I think people stay on track with their wellness goals when they really understand why they are doing this. In my second book I wrote, Joyous Detox, I focused a lot on beauty, and I have a whole chart in there, and I can share some of those things with you. I outlined the toxic ten ingredients, and this list can also be found on the environmentaldefence.ca website or on page 57 of Joyous Detox.

[9:41] Let’s start with parabens because these are truly the most commonly used preservatives in cosmetics, but they’re often used as unlisted fragrance ingredients. So, if you see fragrance – I personally, if ever I see anything that says perfume or fragrance, I put it right back because that’s the wild west. You have no idea how many ingredients could possibly make up that fragrance because no company has to disclose even natural, like good companies, they just don’t have to disclose what that’s made up of.

[10:14] Parabens are basically like antimicrobials. They are preservatives that prevent products from going bad. You see them in everything. But the problem is that parabens have definitely gotten a bad name over the years. You see conventional products writing on their labels, paraben-free, but then they’re just using another type of antimicrobial preservative that’s actually just as bad.

[10:39] We know that parabens are linked to everything from endocrine disruption to reproductive toxicity, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity, skin irritation. They’ve also been linked to breast cancer, and you find these in shampoos, moisturizers, shaving cream, cleansing gels. 

[11:00] You can find more about parabens and the different methyl parabens and all the different kinds of parabens if you go to the environmental working group (EWG). They have their skin-deep database has an ingredients list of every ingredient you could possibly want to look up, and you can type it in there. Parabens definitely are a toxic-ten ingredient that I would watch out for.

[11:28] Formaldehyde-releasing ingredients. You might think formaldehyde, that’s what I used when I was dissecting mice in grade 10 science class. I don’t know if you remember that stink. I remember it so well, and I always hated that smell. I’m actually curious if they still use that to preserve things. I’m guessing they do, but anyhow, formaldehyde is terrible.

[11:55] Cosmetic companies use formaldehyde-releasing agents in things like foundation. The problem with the formaldehyde ingredients is that they slowly off-gas. If you are using a foundation on your face, and it has a formaldehyde-releasing ingredient in it, you have it on your face the whole entire day, so you’re absolutely being exposed to formaldehyde, and it is very concerning because it’s an immune-system toxin. It’s a skin irritant. It is a known carcinogen. 

[12:34] It’s also found in hair care products, hair colouring, and nail products, and you’ll see it listed. I talk more about this in Joyous Detox and what it is listed as because you won’t know it’s a formaldehyde-releasing agent. You have to know what to look for. Sometimes you see it listed as DM-DM, hydantoin, quaternion-15, super-long confusing words.

[12:58] There are apps, of course, out there that can help you so that you don’t have to remember all these long scientific words. But formaldehyde-releasing agents are in many different types of cosmetics. Coal-tar, derived colours – what do you think makes all those amazing colours of that L’Oreal or Mac, your favourite fuchsia pink or red, ruby-red lipstick? Those are petroleum-based colours. It’s disgusting when you think about that.

[13:28] These kinds of chemicals are associated with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Leukemia, bladder cancer, dermatitis, and of course, there are short-term reactions to using products like skin irritations, hives, itching of the skin. I would be really cautious when you’re buying a new lipstick or a lip gloss. Go to the health food store, ask questions.

[13:56] This is why you’ll notice that a lot of natural cosmetics, you don’t see the same kind of vibrant colours because a lot of times, they’re using colouring found in nature, like natural colouring, not colouring found from coal-tar derived colours. That’s something else.

[14:16] Then, the final thing that I would like to mention is getting back to fragrance. A lot of them are basically phthalates. Phthalates are molecular size plasticizers. Phthalates are basically what adhere a scent or fragrance to your skin or to your clothes, so whenever you smell a perfume or cologne – this happens to me. 

I’m very anti-fragrance. I’ll go and hug someone, and then later on, I’m like, “Why does my hair smell like that person. Oh, right. Because they were doused in cologne.” So, you essentially have plasticizers attached to you, but these are terrible for health. They disrupt our hormones. When we breathe them in or absorb them in, they actually mimic estrogen in our bodies. 

[15:11] Phthalates are even known to cause birth defects, and they’re also persistent in our environment. This is why a catch-all is like when you see perfume listed, but it’s spelled – I don’t really don’t know why it’s spelled this way, but it’s always parfum, or you see fragrance, but you don’t see the details of what it is. Then, you just don’t know, and it is likely phthalates, so unless you’re using an essential oil like it’s a really natural essential oil that I would steer clear of ever using perfume or cologne or using Glade plugins or any type of air freshener.

[15:52] Any and all cosmetic that has a fragrance is going to have phthalates unless the fragrance is with essential oils. This is one thing that I always watch out for because I find personally that anything with fragrance really irritates my skin, and it makes my upper lip feel itchy, so I know right away if it’s natural or not. But again, even the natural industries, you sometimes see fragrance listed, so you have to read your labels.

[16:25] Cassy Price: Yeah, absolutely. You had mentioned that there are apps out there. I know one of the ones I personally like to use is the EWG’s Healthy Living app. Did you have other apps that you can recommend for our listeners?

[16:37] Joy McCarthy: Yeah. I like that one, and one more that I would add to the list – I haven’t used it in a while, actually, but it is a really great resource, as well as the Think Dirty app. That’s a good one too. The reason I don’t use it as much anymore is because I’m in this industry, and I know a lot of it – the different chemicals to watch out for. But I get it. The average person doesn’t know. As far as I know, I think that app allows you to scan. I think you can scan the barcode – you scan something, and it’s super user-friendly, and it makes it easy for you to figure out what’s good and what’s not. 

[17:18] It’s like when you buy package food. You look at the ingredients, and if there are ingredients that you don’t know what they are, you can’t recognize, you can’t pronounce. You can apply the same to natural beauty products. Is it just full? Does it have 15 ingredients, none of which you know what they are? Then I think that’s a good one to put back on the shelf and not buy it.

[17:44] Cassy Price: Outside of the personal health reasons that you mentioned, are there other reasons that it’s better to do natural beauty versus some of these chemical-laden ones that are out there?

[17:55] Joy McCarthy: Yeah. I would say that I think it’s important for people to think about the health of our planet as being equal to the importance of the health of our body. We have to remember that everything that we put on our body, everything we wash our hair with, it just goes down the drain. So we are essentially consuming this back again into our body – all these hormone destructing ingredients.

[18:19] When we wash our makeup off our face at the end of the day, or we’re washing our hair with these chemical-laden shampoos and conditioners, all this is going down the drain going into our lakes and our rivers and our oceans, and it’s ultimately coming back to us in the water we drink, in the food we eat if we eat fish or if we eat animal foods. All these things come back to us.

[18:41] I think it’s important to think beyond your own two feet in all of the choices you make. Whether it comes to what clothes you buy, what you feed yourself, what products you use to clean your toilet bowl. I think it’s a good practice to get into thinking about our planet as well because we can only be as healthy as our planet, and we know that our planet is suffering. I have a daughter, and I think about the world that when I’m no longer here, what is the world that she is going to be in. And when she has children, and her children’s children have children, I think it’s important to think about that.

[19:22] Cassy Price: Yeah, absolutely. We can only do so much for ourselves, but helping the generations after us, as well, is just as important. Do you have recommendations for items that are commonly found in the kitchen or in the house that could double as part of a regular beauty routine?

[19:39] Joy McCarthy: Oh, yeah. Totally. I have lots of different DIY recipes on my website for different things. There are so many food products that you can use, for example, as a face mask. For someone who has acne-prone skin, things like raw honey, mixing up some sort of mask, or doing avocado. Avocado is really nourishing and hydrating to the skin. It’s not going to be as effective as something like hyaluronic acid, but there are definitely foods we can use.

[20:12] Also doing hair masks like, for example, coconut oil is great on your scalp if you have any type of fungal infection or if you have dandruff, dry scalp because coconut oil is antifungal. There are so many products. Some people put egg in their hair. Just don’t have a hot shower if you do an egg wash in your hair because you’ll have a scrambled egg mess on your head.

[20:44] You can do an apple cider vinegar spray is a really great conditioner for your hair, and also helps to remove buildup. That’s the thing with some natural hair care products. Because they are so natural, some of them but not all of them don’t really clean your hair really well. So, using an apple cider vinegar rinse once a month or every two weeks, depending on how often you wash your hair, can get any film off of your hair and help your hair be shiny. 

[21:20] Cassy Price: That’s super cool. Switching gears a little bit, but tying back to what you were mentioning before, the beauty from the inside out angle and what we eat really affects our overall health as we are all aware. But how does that influence your natural beauty, and like you said, the scent of a human and that sort of thing?

[21:39] Joy McCarthy: In terms of what you eat for natural beauty?

[21:44] Cassy Price: Yeah.

[21:45] Joy McCarthy: There are so many amazing foods that are anti-inflammatory, rich in antioxidants, high in vitamins and minerals. I would say when looking at how you can have a really healthy beautifying diet. I would say the first thing you want to look at is what could you slowly remove, and then what can you add? I would say they’re equally as important. 

So considering your skin and your hair and your nails, you want to think about hormonal balance, and you want to think about foods that naturally lower inflammation. Then, what are the obvious things that increase inflammation: sugar, pasteurized dairy, modern wheat, GMO, soy, corn. Look at the foods that are pro-inflammatory. Look at the packaged foods that are full of chemical additives and preservatives and slowly cut those out of your diet.

[22:53] That will help your hormones be more healthfully balanced. That will reduce the inflammation in your body, which again is going to help your hormones, and when you have less room for that stuff, then you have more room for all the good stuff. I think one of the most important things when looking at your diet is making sure that you eat a wide variety of colourful vegetables and fruits.

[23:15] Everyone knows that we need to eat fruits and vegetables. We all know it. This has been drilled in our heads since we were wee-ones. But what I think a challenge for healthy people is, and I’ve seen this over the years by looking at people’s food journals, they’re like, “Oh, I eat so healthy, but I have all these health issues.” They’re eating the same foods all of the time. 

[23:35] They’ve been eating a blueberry smoothie for the last five years and steamed broccoli with dinner, or they eat the same salad with the same ingredients, the same things all the time. They’re just getting the same nutrition all the time. What you really want to do is eat lots of different colours because if you eat lots of different colours, how beets get that beautiful colour is from a phytonutrient that makes it red. That particular phytonutrient is really good for helping the liver better detox. It also acts as an antioxidant to protect the liver when the liver is detoxifying harmful compounds.

[24:11] The more colours – colour for health because phytonutrients are what give foods their colour, taste, and texture. There are over 23,000 known phytonutrients, and they work together synergistically as well. So when you’re eating a whole food, then you’re getting a food that has all of these ingredients that are meant to be together that have synergistic benefits.

[24:37] This is why I say to fill your grocery cart with lots of different shades of green and red and purple and yellow and as many colours as you can, based on how many people you’re feeding in your family. If it’s just you, obviously, then that’s going to be a lesser variety of colours. A lot of people, the only leafy green they ever buy is spinach or romaine. 

[25:00] So, what I would encourage your listeners to do is if you are stuck in the same habit of always eating the same leafy greens, then every time you go grocery shopping, buy a different leafy green. That’s what we do in our home. We eat a lot of salads, so at any one time, we might have arugula or romaine or kale. We make sure that we mix up our greens all the time, and then we put different colourful fruits and vegetables in our fridge. We make sure our fridge is packed with colour. Colour is a queue for health and lots of phytonutrients.

[25:37] Then, of course, there are foods that have specific skin benefits beyond just those phytonutrients. If we look at good fats, for example, we have a fatty layer, we have a natural barrier on our skin and on our whole entire body, an oil barrier. When we are obsessed with washing and using these body washes, we are sloughing off that incredibly important natural oil barrier.

[26:12] That actually protects your skin. That’s almost like your body’s first line of defence. It helps your skin be healthy; it helps your skin glow. So, what can you do from the inside out? You can eat things like avocados, olives, and nuts and seeds. If you’re not vegan or vegetarian, then eating lots of fish, like sardines and salmon and halibut. These are foods that have nature’s most potent anti-inflammatory, which are Omega-3 fatty acids. What these do is, they put out the fire of inflammation.

[26:48] Inflammation is at the root of pretty much every skin problem, whether it’s eczema or rosacea, and there are foods that specifically calm inflammation in our body. They’re like that fire hose of water, and they are the Omega-3 essential fatty acids. We get those in fish; we get them in grass-fed beef. We get Omega-3s, we can get plant-based Omega-3s in the form of chia and walnuts and flax and flaxseed oil. So we want to make sure we have lots of good fats, both for their anti-inflammatory benefits and because they create moisture from the inside out.

[27:24] I think a direct and very obvious sign that you are getting enough of Omega-3 fatty acids is how shiny is your hair? I’ve seen this so many times over the years with my clients when they didn’t know the importance of good fat, and they ate any kind of fat. As soon as they started eating more good fats or maybe even taking fish oil, their hair got so much shinier. So, it’s proof right there because it helps to lubricate your scalp. I often see people with a very dry scalp. If it’s not fungal, then it’s often just because they’re deficient in something. It could be Omega-3s, it could be vitamin D because vitamin D deficiency can also show up as dry skin as well.

[28:11] Cassy Price: Okay, cool. I didn’t realize that one, so that’s good to know about the vitamin D. For listeners who are parents, like you and I are, do you have tips to getting some of these superfoods into your little one’s diet, especially when they’re going through some of their picky-eating phases or those days that are more challenging getting them to eat the healthier options that help set them up for a foundation of health later on?

[28:37] Joy McCarthy: Yeah, totally. With kids – I have a daughter, she is five. Even though she eats super healthy, there are definitely days where she is very picky. I think with kids, you have to get creative with what kinds of foods you give them. Obviously, for the parents listening who are just starting out, and they have a baby who hasn’t even been introduced to food, the earlier you can introduce more different flavours– 

[29:07] Don’t be afraid of different herbs and spices when they’re seven to eight months old. You don’t have to hold off introducing those flavours. The more flavours you can introduce in that phase of food introduction, the more their palate later on in life will reflect all those different flavours. The same thing when pregnant, as well. When you’re pregnant, the more different flavours they eat, the more diverse that baby’s palate will actually be.

[29:34] A way to get more fruits and veggies in, the obvious ones are smoothies, making smoothies. But remember that you have to make a smoothie taste really good. Myself as a nutritionist, I would gladly slurp back the most disgusting green smoothies ever with all the best ingredients, but try to give that to a three-year-old. Forget it. They’re not going to eat it.

[29:59] You have to also keep in mind how it tastes. You’ve got to make your food really tasty, and you can do that with whole foods. I think smoothies are a great way. Mix things into yogurt like I do with my daughter. I put a super-foods powder in. I put hemp hearts in, some cinnamon, so she’s getting a whack of antioxidants, lots of fibre, lots of phytonutrients. 

[30:19] Pass the sauces. Soups are great for kids, as well. If your kids don’t like chunky soups, you can puree them, but what a great way to get in lots of fruits and vegetables. You could make it with a chicken stock that you’ve made yourself or bought from your local butcher. 

[30:39] Then the other thing for parents that’s really important to remember is if you feel that you have a picky eater, don’t give up. Kids have to try things seven to eight times, so if your favourite food ever is avocado, and you give your child avocado for the first time, and they’re like, “This stinks. I don’t like this.” Try again. Try it in a different way. Try it in guacamole. Sprinkle it with a bit of sea salt and garlic powder.

[31:06] Remember, as well, once you’ve tried it multiple times, with picky eaters, sometimes you just need to take a break. Take like a month break, and then try and reintroduce it again. Then, the final thing is to remember that there are foods that you don’t like as well. My daughter hates mushrooms, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get her to like mushrooms. I’m okay with that. I like mushrooms. 

[31:29] You know what? It could be that she just doesn’t like mushrooms, and that’s okay. Sometimes kids, a) they don’t like it, or they’re trying to assert their own independence and have control over something. So saying, “I don’t want to eat this” can often be more about they want some more control and more independence, and I think it’s important to respect that and never ever force children to eat something.

[31:53] I remember when I was a kid, and my mom would give us liver and onions, and I even remember what it smelled like, and we were not allowed to leave the table until we finished eating. But I refused to eat it because I just hated it so much. I think that’s important with kids because you want them to have a very healthy relationship with food. That’s important to never force your child to eat something.

[32:17] Cassy Price: Definitely. I would agree, and I think finding new and unique ways for them to experience it, I agree with that as well. 

[32:26] Joy McCarthy: And get them involved, too, as young as you possibly can. Get kids in the kitchen. Get them to choose a recipe that they want to make with you. Go grocery shopping together. Get your children involved in meal preparation, so they don’t just think that you’re a restaurant and food arrives on the dinner table, they eat it, and then they leave. I think that’s part of a healthy lifestyle, establishing those health habits young with kids. 

[32:56] Teaching them how to cook is absolutely a life skill that all children should be taught. We know in research that these health habits established early on means that you’ll have a healthier adult as well. So they’re more likely to maintain those healthy habits when they go off to college or university even though, of course, through the teen years, it can be a little bit tricky and hairy. But if you continue as a family to make healthy eating a priority, for the most part, kids do come back to it.

[33:30] Cassy Price: Yeah. Absolutely. Unfortunately, we’ve hit the end of our time for today, but if our listeners want to get in contact with you, how would they go about doing that?

[33:39] Joy McCarthy: You can find me at JoyousHealth.com. That is my blog, where I share hundreds of recipes and amazing healthy resources. Or you can find me on Instagram @joyoushealth. Also, I have a podcast called The Joyous Health Podcast, and you can find me there.

[34:00] Cassy Price: Awesome. Thank you so much again for joining us today, Joy. It has been an absolutely amazing conversation and super informative and lots of tidbits that I think our listeners can use.

[34:11] Joy McCarthy: Thank you for having me.

[34:13] Cassy Price: Yeah. Absolutely, and thanks to our listeners who tuned in today, as well. We hope that you have found something that you can use in this conversation and that you’ll join us again next week for more ways to supplement your health.

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Thank you for listening to Supplementing Health. For more information about our guests, past shows, and future topics, please visit AOR.ca/podcasts or AOR.us/podcasts. Do you have a topic you want us to cover? We invite you to engage with us on social media to request a future topic or email us at [email protected]. We hope you tune in again next week to learn more about supplementing your health.

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