As an organic beauty and health expert and a former beauty editor, Carla Oates knows more about the secret to great skin than the average gal.
Carla is an avid naturalist and product formulator, and she has spent the better part of the last two decades creating beauty products using foods from her kitchen and herbs from her garden, which resulted in the development of her successful beauty supplement and skin health range, The Beauty Chef.
Carla was kind enough to take five minutes out of her busy schedule to chat with us and reveal her secrets for a healthy, radiant complexion.
EE: When did you first develop an interest in nutrition?
CARLA: I had eczema and allergies as a child, and I went to a naturopath when I was a teenager who put me on a diet. From eliminating certain foods and eating others, I noticed a big difference in my skin and wellbeing.
I was working as a beauty editor around 17 years ago and was concerned with the amount of toxic chemicals in skincare, and because of my own personal experience, I understood that radiant, healthy skin comes from within. So I made it my mission to help educate people on healthier skincare options.
I made it my mission to help educate people on healthier skincare options
I wrote a book published a book called Feeding Your Skin, and over the last fifteen years I have written hundreds of articles on natural beauty and health and researched the benefits of plant-based foods for our skin.
My daughter had eczema as a child, and so around 10 years ago I was researching gut health, lacto-fermented foods, and probiotics. I started making lacto-fermented foods and noticed a big difference in her skin and wellbeing.
I created quite a demand, and that demand grew to friends of friends – so it seemed a natural progression to launch The Beauty Chef. Glow Inner Beauty Powder was my first product – containing 24 bio-fermented, skin-loving super foods.
How does our gut affect the way our skin looks?
At The Beauty Chef, our ethos is ‘beauty begins in the belly.’ Digestive health is key for healthy, radiant skin. Our gut is where 70% of the immune system lies, where we metabolise hormones, where we make detoxifying enzymes and where we make nutrients.
So much of what goes on in our digestive system can impact our skin – more and more research shows this link. For example, those with healthier gut microbiota have a better fatty acid profile in their skin; meaning their skin is more moisturised and hydrated.
Those with dermatitis have been shown to have a disruption of normal gut microbiota. Where there is gut inflammation, there will be skin inflammation.
What are some of the biggest nutrition and health hurdles women face today?
The prevalence of processed and high human intervention foods in the average diet. I also believe that an overload of synthetic and questionable chemicals in our food, personal care and skincare is problematic to our health, which is why I recommend buying certified organic food, skincare and personal care products wherever possible.
Also stress! Stress and a lack of sleep. Stress robs the body of nutrients and increases stress hormones that can be as problematic to the body as refined sugar. When we sleep we release important antioxidants and youth hormones. A lack of sleep raises stress hormones, interferes with hunger regulating hormones, and depletes us of anti-ageing antioxidants, melatonin and human growth hormone.
What does a typical day on a plate look like for you?
When I get up, I drink our Glow Inner Beauty Powder in water with a splash of lemon juice. This is usually followed by a breakfast of eggs with mushrooms, tomatoes and salmon, or a buckwheat, miso, apple and date porridge.
For lunch I’ll have a big chicken or salmon salad with nuts, sprouts and avocado. For afternoon tea I’ll have a cold pressed juice, or perhaps a black bean and cacao protein truffle made using The Beauty Chef Chocolate Body Inner Beauty Powder.
Dinner is usually light – mostly salads, veggies and a protein source, like lamb or barramundi. In general I eat lots of carrots, nuts and fruit and drink two litres of filtered water throughout the day.
I love curries, slow cooked soups and stews with bone broth, lots of vegetables, herbs and spices – these are easily digested and great for gut health. We have some great recipes available on our website thebeautychef.com.
You recently launched a topical skincare range – what prompted this?
I became concerned with the amount of toxic chemicals in skincare and cosmetic products. I believe that many of those harsh chemicals can not only compromise the skin’s protective acid mantle and therefore the health of the skin, but may also be absorbed into the blood stream.
One of my favourite products from the range is the Probiotic Skin Refiner, which embraces fermentation for the same reasons we use it with our inner beauty range. Research is showing that by supporting the flora on the skin topically, you can boost your immune system – so there is a direct relationship between what you put on your skin and your immune system.
Harsh chemicals not only compromise the skin’s protective acid mantle…but may also be absorbed into the blood stream
I love the fact that lacto-fermentation is a completely natural biological process. It breaks ingredients down (natural bacteria pre-digest the ingredients), making the nutrients more bio-available. We don’t need to make super-duper synthetic ingredients in a lab (which may send our skin and health into imbalance) to create ‘active’ ingredients.
Here, we have this incredible process that turns natural ingredients into super-natural ingredients that are active, balanced and rejuvenating – and it’s all done by nature! I love our Probiotic Skin Refiner as it is a skin hydrator, exfoliant and collagen booster – all in one.
What’s a surprising fact about our skin that people might not know?
The skin, hair and nails are the last places in the body to receive nutrients, as they go to more important organs first, so nutrition is important for glowing skin.
What’s next for The Beauty Chef?
We’re launching The Beauty Chef Cookbook*. It contains more than 150 gluten-free and dairy-free recipes including healthy spins on traditional dishes, special occasion treats, simple family meals and time-honoured ferments.
*The Beauty Chef Cookbook by Carla Oates, $49.95, is available from October 2016 from thebeautychef.com and leading bookstores.