by Trish Allan: Until recently, “looking your best” meant unknowingly dousing yourself in chemicals that are now know to be very hazardous to our health.healthParabens, triclosan, sodium laureth sulfate and BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) are just a few of the ingredients used in traditional cosmetics and beauty care products. They’re used for a variety of reasons, such as: to preserve the product, emulsify it, control the viscosity of the product, and to pigment the product. Some of these chemicals are known carcinogens, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors, which can accumulate in the cells of the human body over time.

While these products can sometimes improve our appearance, they’re no match for true beauty, which radiates from within. It’s the product of a clean, nutritionally dense diet, daily exercise, stress management, and minimizing one’s exposure to toxins. Nature and nutrition provide a plethora of “beauty products” that will nurture every cell in your body, relieve your body burden and have you feeling absolutely beautiful.

1. Hydrate from the inside out.

Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water per day, and eat hydrating foods. Include hydrating green juices and smoothies, water-rich salads, vegetables, and fruit. Consider your climate and season, but try to choose raw foods as much as possible. Staying hydrated supports detoxification and elimination of waste from the body. Optimize this process by starting each day with an eight ounce glass of water at room temperature (or slightly warmer) and the juice of half a lemon.

2. Eat your healthy fats.

Each of your trillion cells is made up of a membrane that is fat. Fat is absolutely essential to maintaining your health. It metabolizes fat-soluble vitamins A,K, E and D, it lubricates joints, promotes healthy cell function and is key to healthy hair and skin. Choose the best quality, healthy fats, which include olive oil, coconut oil, and flax oil. When cooking with oils, choose those with the lowest smoke point, such as coconut, and use on a low heat. Whole foods are an excellent source of fat (avocados are a great choice, and they’re also very hydrating at 70% water). Also good for you: raw nuts, and seeds, and fatty fish like wild salmon.

3. Get your sleep.

It’s called beauty sleep for a reason. Deep, abundant sleep is restorative and therefore beautifying. Aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. If sleep is elusive for you at times, improve your sleep routine by including things such as blacking out the room completely, and turning off all screens including phones and tablets at least 1 hour before intending to sleep. You body absolutely needs this precious time to repair and rebuild.

4. Get moving.

Physical activity has so many benefits. It increases oxytocin and serotonin levels, making you feel better. When you feel better, you’re happier and smile easily (which is very beautifying). Physical activity oxygenates the cells, supports the removal of waste, and increases your life force energy. It also stimulates the lymphatic system, which, unlike the cardiovascular system does not have a pump and requires movement for optimal function. Stimulation of the lymphatic system promotes the release of toxins through our skin, our largest organ, when we sweat. If you can, vary the location of your workouts between indoors and outdoors. Being in nature always provides a refreshing and rejuvenated appearance to skin and eyes.

5. Choose your products wisely.

Anything applied to the skin travels into the bloodstream and becomes part of the body. Always choose the best quality, non-toxic products you can find. Fortunately, organizations like the Environmental Working Group are making this information easily accessible through their Skin Deep database. Users can check the ingredients and toxicity of the products they’re considering so they can make informed choices about buying or continuing to use certain products.

6. Learn to make your own beauty products.

Food provides an abundant opportunity to create beauty from the inside out and from the outside in. For example, avocado and lemon juice makes a very moisturizing mask, while a honey and banana mask will leave your skin soft and glowing. Experiment with various ingredients: fruits, yogurt, oatmeal, green teas, and eggs, and create all-natural products that are packed with nutrients for your skin and your body.

7. Manage your stress.

Whether your stress is brief of prolonged, you’re still releasing the hormones adrenaline and then cortisol. Although very valuable in times of crisis, these hormones should only be in the bloodstream for a moderate amount of time. When exposure to these hormones is prolonged, the body ages. Develop stress management strategies such as meditation to manage your stress.