From coffee enemas to saltwater flushes to tech cleanses, supermodel and wellness entrepreneur and supermodel Elle Macpherson is the queen of green and clean. Here she shares the secrets of her regime
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?
Coffee enemas are excellent at detoxifying the gallbladder and liver. Traditionally used to remove parasites, they encourage bowel movements, which helps flush out bacteria, heavy metals, fungus and yeast, relieve constipation and improves the function of digestive tract, liver, and colon.
I rely on coffee enemas for a regular detox, something I’ve learnt a lot about through my friend Angi Fletcher. “Coffee enemas stimulate detoxification enzymes in the liver and increase its detox capacity,” she says.
I follow the Gerson protocol, use Lifeboost coffee and prefer to use a glass kit so I’m not absorbing the BPAs from any plastics.
I also like to do two seasonal cleanses throughout the year as the seasons change (spring and autumn are best) to turbo charge my physical and mental wellness.
Not only does a good cleanse improve energy and immunity but they can also reduce free radical damage to help prevent disease and ageing. Think of a cleanse as a powerful weapon against chronic inflammation, which is the cause of all disease.
I like Clean 21 Cleanse Program, Kroma 5-day Reset – Signature and Zencleanz One for my seasonal cleanses but it is best to assess by your symptoms and how your body feels. A cleanse is as individual as you are.
Cleansing my space
Finally, given I like to treat my life as one constant cleanse, it goes without saying that this is the same for my home, office space and wardrobe. All spaces tend to be quite organized, making it easy for me to find things, especially when on the run. Most things are labelled and put away in their allotted place so I can find them effortlessly. This also means I’m not buying two of everything simply because I can’t find it, which saves time and money! My bedroom is uncluttered and I don’t have a TV in it so my sleeping space is clear of distraction.
I live by the principles of wabi-sabi, which include Acceptance of Imperfection, Appreciation of Transience and Connection to Nature. Simplicity and giving back is a big part of this so I like to give away what is no longer resonant to family, friends and those who need it. This keeps my drawers and cupboards user-friendly and in a state of flow year-round.
When it comes to my kitchen, I preference non-toxic cookware (no non-stick pans) and natural cleaning products. My fridge and pantry are under constant review; I am careful not to keep any seed oils or products with gums or additives.
I take care of my internal space every day with breath practice and meditation. My daily practice includes meditating in the morning for around 25 minutes -- either guided or in silence. I’ve found this guided cellular release mediation from my spiritual mentor, Paul Darrol Walsh to be very helpful. It only takes 30 mins and you’ll be amazed at the changes you’ll witness in your capacity to let go of self-limiting habits that lie unnoticed in our cellular memory. Meditation is the ultimate detox for the mind.
Elle’s Cleanse Kit
Regular dry body brushing: Helps the body release toxins while stimulating the lymphatic system.
Clean 21 Cleanse Program: An Ayurvedic cleanse providing full system support.
Kroma 5-day Reset – Signature: Full body detox programme.
Zencleanz One: Cleanses the colon in one day.
Rejuv Liver Support: Fantastic for opening up the detox pathways, as formulated by Dr Laubscher herself.
Coffee enemas: These stimulate the liver and gall bladder, providing a second-to-none detox.
Infrared sauna or mat: I like TheraPro - PEMF/Infrared/Red Light Pad
Theresage TheraO3 - Bubbler: I love this for cleaning fruit. Mix with tap water in your sink to disinfect all forms of unhealthy foreign bacteria, viruses and parasites on fruit and veg.
Mini trampoline: Try the Plunge Rebounder. These are great for lymphatic stimulation.