The proverb “You are what you eat” means that whatever you put into your body affects your entire being. The same holds true for what you put on your skin. After all, the dermis is your body’s largest organ, and it absorbs everything you put onto it.
After many years working as chefs, Debra and Hugo Saavedra became interested in the other ways food nourishes the body. So, using themselves as subjects, they researched the nutritional and healing properties of different essential oils, herbs, fruits and vegetables, literally processing the ingredients in their own kitchen laboratory and testing how each one affected their hair and skin.
They eventually came up with Saavy Naturals, a line of products that contains only food-grade ingredients rather than the chemicals found in other products. In fact, the product line refers to its 100% natural wares as “food for your skin.”
We asked the Saavedras about the benefits of using food-based products and whether we should start smearing yogurt and bananas on our skin and hair. (They said we shouldn’t.)
Here are three of the biggest insights into food-based grooming products they shared:
1. The skin absorbs everything it touches, affecting the entire body.
“Whatever you put on your skin, you pay the price sooner or later,” says Hugo. “Five years from now, 10 years from now, if you put chemicals, synthetics and terrible stuff like people do, it shows.”
Indeed, the skin’s outer layer, hair follicles and sweat ducts all help it absorb anything placed on it, including any nutrients or chemicals. They enter the bloodstream more quickly because they bypass the liver, unlike the things we ingest orally. That means that the things we put on our skin affect our bodies quicker and sometimes much longer than the things we eat.
2. Many personal care products contain potentially harmful chemicals.
This skin’s ability to absorb nutrients and chemicals becomes a bit worrisome once you realize that many personal care products contain potentially toxic ingredients like synthetic colors, parabens and even formaldehyde.
Lots of people choose shampoo, soaps and moisturizers based on price, scent or brand, never looking at the extra ingredients that might actually be harmful.
For example, many hair and skin-care products contain parabens, a series of potentially cancer-causing preservatives used in up to 90% of personal care products found at your typical grocery store.
Even when products do contain natural fruits, oils or nutrients, companies will sometimes over-process or corrupt them with chemicals, neutralizing their potentially beneficial effects.
Wary of these trends, the Saavedras started procuring ingredients from gardens and farms around the world, researching their effect on the body as a whole. They soon learned that food-grade ingredients provided health benefits both internally and externally that also smelled great and felt luxurious.
As a result, they ended up creating candles, a sugar scrub and other products that you can literally eat, though Debra assures us they work much better on your skin.
3. Food-based products can yield additional curative qualities not found in industrial-grade products.
Many name-brand hair conditioners use silicone to help make hair smoother and shinier, including Garnier Fructis, Herbal Essences and Dove products. But silicone can build up on the hair and scalp, weighing it down and even triggering allergies, eczema and psoriasis.
Through experimentation the Saavedras found that cabbage creates a gooey extract that imitates silicone’s silky smoothness but without the potentially unhealthy build-up. Furthermore, the cabbage extract also contains healing antioxidants, which makes a great hair conditioner that doubles as an excellent shaving gel and moisturizer for treating eczema.
Natural ingredients can also have sensual and aphrodisiac qualities as well. For example, Saavy Naturals’ edible candles contain scents like Bulgarian rose, jasmine and violet, aromatherapeutic ingredients known to help induce relaxation, boost energy and ward off headaches.
Saavy Naturals’ Bay Rum and hemp body wash for men has an intoxicating, sensual quality to it, and one person in particular found that the coconut-lemongrass brown sugar scrub had such an aphrodisiac effect that they kept it under their bed to enjoy during playtime.
Debra says that when people first feel her lotions on their skin, they often exclaim “Wow,” and she adds that couples will sometime use them for sensual, healing massage.
“A good chef cooks not just for your mouth but for all of your senses — for your eyes, for your nose,” Debra says. “That also includes the sense of touch.”