When I went vegan about five years ago, one of the side effects that propelled me through the tough transition period was the near-immediate effect it had on my skin. Within weeks, my complexion had brightened and cleared, enough so that I tossed out the foundation I had been regularly slathering on. My hair would take a little more time to recover, but over the months, it became visibly stronger and shinier.
Still, the most significant change for me wasn't the transformation I was seeing in the mirror, but in my approach to my routine. I found that by paying such close attention to everything that went into my body, that discerning eye began to wander elsewhere: As I learned about the benefits of certain ingredients I was eating, I wanted to learn more about their external impact, too. I began reading labels and choosing cleaner products; I started to devote as much love and care to my skin as I did to my meals. The process has been long but I've done it organically, and it's ongoing to this day.
Superficially speaking, the immediate effects of my new diet that I noticed on my skin and hair have only been bolstered and amplified by the special consideration I now take in my beauty routine. My skin and hair have never looked better, and more importantly, I truly love taking the time to care for myself in every respect. But how have my hair and skin benefited from going vegan, specifically?
My skin glows. (And I barely break out.)
Acne has never been a huge issue for me—even as a teenager—but my blemishes have gone from vague annoyance to nearly nonexistent. Beyond that, my complexion is more even in tone, and when I find myself eating the right balance of nutrients (specifically enough healthy fats, which was a struggle in the beginning), my typically dry skin actually glows with hydration.
I know when my diet is off-balance.
Because it shows up on my skin. I've never been more in tune with how my diet impacts the outside of my body. When I've been drinking too much wine, my skin gets a certain dullness to it. Too many taco runs? Bam!—mini breakout on my chin. While I understand some people might not, I love having these direct visual cues to let me know that it's time to clean things up a little. It's also simply a relief to know the reason behind a blemish. It's further proof that my skin and my gut have a symbiotic relationship.
I'm more discerning about different ingredients.
During my early vegan days, I took a very DIY approach to my beauty routine: I preferred crafting my own formulas from single ingredients, and believed that almost everything I needed for my beauty routine was lying in my pantry.
Nowadays, my vanity is full of products crafted by others, but this initial stage—as well as again, educating myself about the foods I was eating—fostered an appreciation for all the amazing benefits of these natural ingredients. Apple cider vinegar is still one of my favorite cure-alls. Coconut oil? I use it everywhere. And in my experience, nothing dries up a facial zit as quickly as detoxifying clay powder—not even the topical blemish treatments I used as a teen. Because of this awareness, I've started to pay much closer attention to labels and ingredient lists. I know which chemicals and synthetics to avoid as much as possible, and try to aim for clean formulas.
My hair has a new lease on life.
I've mentioned before that my hair was the first part of my routine to get the all-natural treatment. My strands were perpetually frizzy and dry for the first 19 years of my life, no matter what kinds of products I used. That all changed when I switched to natural (or nearly natural) formulas. I try to avoid heat styling and blow-drying to begin with, but the truth is that it's also no longer necessary. And as with my skin, filling up on healthy, plant-based fats like coconut oil, avocado, and nuts has given my hair a glossy sheen that was never there before. (It grows ridiculously quickly, too.)
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The natural beauty market is growing at breakneck pace, but it's still relatively new—and very exciting. I love the fact that I've learned about so many amazing up-and-coming brands just by seeking out clean and innovative formulas. Plenty of my current staples made their way into my routine through deep searching.