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In Conversation with TOTUM NaturopathyBLOG POST
With a commitment and desire to inspire change and provide a space for individuals to explore truth and deep connection, Hunna Armstrong and Katherine Bibby birthed TOTUM Naturopathy to share what they have learnt about the body and how everything within us on a physiological level, and also all that surrounds us, all that we do, all that we are – are intricately connected.
We recently sat down with Hunna and Katherine to explore what natural beauty means to them, why it is important to focus on organic, natural and clean ingredients and botanicals within your skincare, and what role the environment plays in our health and wellness.
1. You are incredible advocates for women's health - physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
Why is this so important to you, and how have you shaped TOTUM Naturopathy to be a defining voice within the industry?
It is so important to us because how we feel within ourselves, whether that be physically, mentally, or emotionally, impacts how we can show up in the world. Our health impacts our ability to create and nourish meaningful relationships, set personal boundaries, engage in our communities, and have a positive impact on our environment.
As women growing up, we were never taught how to understand our menstrual cycle or how taking oral contraception could impact our mental health down the track. There is so much that was missed. This is why providing a platform for women to learn about their bodies and understand how to support themselves holistically is something we are so passionate about.
Healing is always constant and evolving, we are all at different stages of understanding ourselves and our bodies. People just want to be heard and have someone to share where they are at with their health. Our Western society hasn’t provided a level of care that embodies ALL of an individual, which neglects the true ‘cause’ or the ‘why’ behind an imbalance or disease.
The bones of the birth of TOTUM comes from a deep pull to share what we have learnt about the body and how everything within us on a physiological level, and also all that surrounds us, all that we do, all that we are – is intricately connected. We need to be looking at the entirety of someone to truly be able to make a significant change, not only to their health but to the health of our community and further our Earth.
We’ve shaped TOTUM through the foundation of a strong purpose. People are seeking true, deep connection and our mission is to provide a space for individuals to explore this.
2. You often talk about the importance of skin health for women.
What are your non-negotiables and how can we best support ourselves every day?
Skin is complex, it’s our protector and it doesn’t allow us to hide from our emotions. If we’re embarrassed, we may blush. If we’re excited or fearful, perhaps we get goosebumps. If stressed or mentally overwhelmed, we may breakout in eczema/dermatitis or acne. How we feel has an overt impact on our skin, which is why daily mental well-being practices are non-negotiable to us. This will look different depending on how we are feeling each day, but a lot of the time it includes focusing on the things that bring us joy in our days, doing breath work practices to calm our nervous system, and including a nature walk to bring fresh oxygen into the body, stimulating the lymphatic system to process waste and support our immune system.
When it comes to skin health another big non-negotiable is keeping things simple with our skincare routine. Our skin does so much on its own to regulate and balance itself, all we really need to do is provide it with some gentle topical support.
The most important thing to understand is that the external health of our skin is influenced so much by our internal environment. This is why drinking water, eating a balanced wholefood diet, moving our bodies, supporting our stress levels, and working on our relationship with ourselves is how we believe we can best support ourselves each and every day.
3. We at Macabalm celebrate and hero the natural beauty in all of us. What does natural beauty mean to you?
Natural beauty for us is living with authenticity, and in alignment with our values, purpose and the natural world. When this is achieved, beauty can be seen and celebrated in the vibrancy of spirit, the joy of a smile, and the glow that exudes from the essence of a person living within their truth. Being kind, open and comfortable in your own skin is what we believe emanates natural beauty.
4. What are your skin care rituals?
We are both very minimal when it comes to topical products. we take the less is more approach as our skin already self-cleanses, exfoliates and moisturises. Sometimes it needs a bit of a hand due to the current environment that we live in and all that we are exposed to.
Hunna: In the morning I splash my face with cold water and with a damp face, apply a nutrient rich oil. With the cooler weather, my skin tends to be a bit drier, so I’ve made up a vitamin E rich cream with chamomile, gotu kola and calendula for their anti-inflammatory properties. I often spray some rose water on my face and take a few deep breaths in to really take in the scent. Often in the evening, I like to do a gentle face and neck massage with oil and finish off with a dab of lavender essential oil on the nape of the neck to gift me some extra calm before bed.
Kat: When it comes to my skincare routine, I keep things very low key. I massage a gentle cream cleanser onto my skin morning and night and remove it with warm water. I also have a newfound love for my konjac sponge which I go over my face and neck with in the shower because it just feels SO good. After showering I then use the same rich moisturiser on my skin morning and night.
5. Why is it important to focus on organic, natural and clean skincare ingredients and botanicals?
What are their benefits?
Our skin doesn’t wish to be tampered with too much, it has an in built system of self-cleansing, exfoliating and moisturising. When it comes to topical skincare we want to support our skin barrier function, as opposed to interfering with it. Going back to the fundamental principle of living in reciprocity with our natural world, we must consider the power of natural ingredients to support us. We are nature after all.
Three hero ingredients in Macabalm that we love are Macadamia, Jojoba oil and Kakadu Plum:
Macadamia oil is rich in antioxidants and essential fatty acids which topically help to protect the skin’s barrier, reduce inflammation and speed wound healing. It also holds the natural ability to mimic our skins’ lipid system allowing it to hydrate and soothe without causing congestion.
Jojoba oil has a very similar molecular structure to our skin’s natural oils and can deliver potent antioxidants, whilst also supporting the moisture richness of the skin without interfering with sebum production. Sebum is incredibly important for moisturising and protecting our skin.
Kakadu Plum is a native indigenous Australian plant packed with vitamin C, a strong antioxidant that protects the skin from environmental pollutants that create oxidative stress and damage the skin barrier function.
6. How else do you like to support healthy skin holistically?
As Naturopaths, we work with our patients to get to the root cause of why they are experiencing certain skin issues. Once we understand this, we work with the patient to adjust their diet and lifestyle to optimally support their skin health. On top of this, we love to use herbal medicines to support the skin.
As herbs have multiple actions within the body, we can blend personalised herbal tonics to gently guide the body and the skin back into balance. Some of our favourite herbs to holistically support skin health are Calendula to reduce inflammation and support the lymphatic system, Nettle leaf to cleanse and detoxify, and Echinacea for immune and antimicrobial support.
7. How important is it that we remain connected to nature and the environment around us?
How does it affect our health?
Our relationship with nature is everything! As a species on this planet, we are so deeply influenced by the ebb and flows of the natural world. From a day to day perspective staying connected to nature and our environment helps regulate our sleep wake cycles, balances our hormones, and boosts our feel good neurotransmitters. We need clean, fresh air to oxygenate our cells, fresh running water for hydration, nutrient dense soil to feed the food we eat, safe, secure homes, and a healthy ecosystem to support all these things we rely on.
From a broader perspective, the health of our planet and the balance of its ecosystems greatly impact the health of humans. We can see this so clearly with climate change now at our doorstep, with more severe weather events creating new health issues. With the recent floods in our community of Northern NSW, we saw more infections, allergic reactions, and issues with mould toxicity, on top of the devastating mental and emotional toll of losing access to safe shelter, food, and water.
The more we go against the natural world, the sicker we become. We need to remember that this planet is our only home, and as animals, within its ecosystem, we have a huge impact on its health and wellbeing. The structure that our society runs on makes it difficult for us to truly live in alignment with nature, as we take and consume more than we need.
We are the reason why the Earth is warming. This is why being a conscious consumer, becoming an activist for structural change, and getting involved with your community are so important. We all need to be a voice for the future we want for ourselves and future generations.