Elle Macpherson: The most important step in my beauty routine. (It’s not what you would expect)

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Our founder, Get the Gloss columnist and queen of all things ‘green and clean’ talks coffee enemas, saltwater flushes and tech cleanses.


I didn’t realise the importance of a good cleanse, or in Australian parlance, a ‘detox’, until I was faced with my own ever-changing health challenges ten years ago prior to creating WelleCo. Inflammation had quietly established itself throughout my demanding career and it began to dawn on me I could no longer rely on my genetics. And it wasn’t until I was sitting in nutritionist and naturopath Dr Simoné Laubscher’s Harley Street office in London that I realised I could no longer ignore my body’s warnings that it was time to clean up all those years of cellular damage. I have Dr Laubscher to thank for transforming my health over a decade ago and giving me the impetus to bring WelleCo to life.


Without the concept of cleansing, there is no way I could look and feel like I do today: calm, at peace, energetic, clear-headed and vital at almost 60. It is this fundamental process -- consistently eliminating toxins from my system - that reduces inflammation and, in turn, the body’s signs of deterioration (some call it ageing) inside and out.


Toxins are omnipresent in 2023 – they are part and parcel of our environment, drugs, foods, pesticides, smoking and stress. Most of these, according to Dr Laubscher, create reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as free radicals that damage cells, collagen, and DNA, contributing to inflammation and ageing.


Our number one detox organ is the liver. It is constantly cleansing and transforming toxins into things we can excrete. The lungs and skin are also important for detoxification, particularly in the case of air pollution.


I strive to live ‘clean’ and unencumbered and to make wise choices for my body every day. For me, the definition of ‘clean beauty’ is to do as little harm -- to the mind, body, spirit and planet– as possible. This means consciously consuming, but also consciously cleansing. Toxin removal is the most important step in my beauty routine.


How I cleanse my face and body


I like to keep things pretty simple when it comes to cleansing my skin. I’m as conscious of the chemicals I might be applying as those I’m trying to expel. It’s about being diligent on both sides. For me, the foundation of healthy skin is The Super Elixir™ (read more about that below) and The Skin Elixir, which, being loaded with antioxidants helps reduce free radicals formed in the body.


I love to start the day off with a swim, schedule permitting. Dr Laubscher talks a lot about how amazing sea water is for the skin, in that it is both antiviral and antibacterial, but also high in minerals, including calcium, potassium and magnesium. Magnesium can help your skin maintain moisture, making it appear dewy and youthful. Sea water is also said to be great for chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.


When I can’t get my Vitamin Sea, I like to use Dr Sturm’s Enzyme Cleanser on my face twice a week. It does wonders for my skin, powerfully removing dry and dead skin, makeup, pollution and other impurities. I also like to keep some Conserving Beauty biodegradable, instantly dissolving makeup wipes for easy removal as they are kind on our planet. I love Briogeo’s Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-exfoliating Scalp Scrub Shampoo to draw out extra product from my hair – it offers a second to none cleanse.


I also prioritise dry body brushing, or Gua Sha, aiming to do it from head to toe at least three times a week to stimulate circulation and lymphatic drainage, clearing my system of any toxins and exfoliating the body for smooth, soft skin. Following this, I’ll apply a clean body cream or oil.


My daily cleansing tool kit


The Super Elixir™ : This is my daily nutritional greens powder, containing barley, wheatgrass, alfalfa, broccoli, spirulina and spinach. It supports all the major detox pathways while expelling the heavy metals. It works from your own individual starting point, so it obviously has more work to do with someone on the more toxic end (who might stress a lot, drink alcohol, consume sugar etc) than the average person (who might be relatively balanced for the most part). It’s at the heart of my year-round detoxification process and then I boost that foundation with other lifestyle measures and additional cleanses.


Salt water flush: I hydrate with filtered water, lime, with a little Celtic sea salt when I rise, which I put beside my bed the night before. I try to drink three litres of water per day. This flush has so many wellness benefits including trace minerals and clearing fluid retention while helping establish an optimal PH level in the body. My colon loves this flush! As Dr Zach Bush, who has an excellent series about hydration says, “If you're giving the kidneys no water to work with, your main mechanism for detoxification is limited.”


16:8 intermittent fasting: This supports the body’s ability to detox naturally according to Ayurvedic medicine. This deep detox occurs approximately eight hours after your last meal. I like to fast daily for 16 hours, from around 7pm and eat again around 11am.


Boosting the lymphatic system: Dr Laubscher speaks of the lymphatic system like a ‘sewage system’. It needs to flow like a river if we are to be optimally healthy. I make this system a serious priority in my day-to-day, with daily saunas (sweating is key in toxin elimination) and dry brushing (essential for blood circulation which activates detoxification in liver, kidneys and other organs). Most evenings, I’ll spend an hour in my Therasage infrared sauna with the temperature cranked up to 170 degrees. I’ll then jump in my cold plunge bath for about five minutes.

Juicing: My system also responds favourably to low-carbohydrate, mineral-rich vegetable juicing, as per the advice of functional medicine doctor and New York Times bestseller Dr Frank Lipman. I’ll juice for days when I’m run down, detoxing and fortifying my system from deep within. I love celery, cucumber, broccoli, romaine lettuce, lemon, lime, and ginger with our super greens. Sometimes I might add a wheatgrass shot or two for extra effect just prior. It's a live enzyme boost!

A detox bath: Given that the skin is the body’s largest organ, a bath is a clever, swift and affordable means of removing toxins. As Dr Axe, co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, says, “Using essential oils, which provide antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory benefits, along with common household items like baking soda, Epsom salts and honey, can help flush impurities from the body by allowing it to sweat out toxins.”

Digital detox: I am really conscious of EMFs, electromagnetic frequencies from electronic devices so I detox from them at every opportunity. My friend, Luke Storey has inspired a lot of my EMF awareness, bringing my attention to the fact that EMFs can lead to a whole lot of health issues ranging from cellular stress to DNA damage. `I like to do a tech cleanse once a week for a full day – everything totally off or on aeroplane mode. When I can’t, I try to do at least eight hours on a Sunday. I also don’t sleep with electronics close to my bed, turn my wifi router off at night and wear blue blocking glasses. I also like to use a SafeSleeve radiation shield cover on my mobile phone.


Plus I believe daily vitamin D from the sun, regular exercise, breathwork and minimising stress all directly or indirectly help facilitate detoxification.


So given that I have a strong year-round foundational cleanse protocol, I then add in extra reinforcement based on the seasons, life events and according to what my body actually needs at the time.


And this is key here: act according to the needs of your body. Remember your body is always speaking to you — guiding you in its own natural, subtle language. What’s it telling you?


Read the rest of our founder’s column over atGet the Gloss.