Green, organic, non-toxic, cruelty-free, vegan. The world of natural beauty has certainly gained a lot of traction in the past couple of years and is surrounded by a lot of buzz words. It’s hard to get a grip on it all. Like with ethical fashion, natural beauty isn’t black & white – there are a lot of grey areas. I’m still very much on the journey of learning about and transitioning to non-toxic natural beauty products. If you’re new to this world too, I want to share a few things I’ve learned as well as some of my favorite resources.
Read. Read so much. Once you see one article, you’ll find another and just let yourself fall down the rabbit hole. Sure, there’s a lot of propaganda out there, but with a critical eye, you’ll see the difference between the wacky and the serious. Here’s the truth: there are thousands of untested, unregulated chemicals and substances in our beauty products that wreak havoc on our autoimmune and reproductive systems. I’m not going to spout the facts and numbers here and now, but they are startling. My suggestion is to start with Skin Cleanse, by Adina Grigore. The book is a scary wake up call, but an important one.
Determine your beauty philosophy. Once you feel more comfortable in the world of natural beauty, you have to figure out where you lie on the spectrum. You can start by going paraben-free or cut out all unnatural ingredients. Maybe choosing vegan products is more important to you. Don’t buy a single thing until you know where you stand, and what your goal is.
Start small. Going green is not about perfectionism. Pick one area that you are going to start looking for natural beauty alternatives for, like your skin care, makeup, or bath products. I started with my skincare, as I was almost out of face wash at the time and my skin was reacting badly to a new moisturizer. I didn’t invest much: I bought a bar of Dr. Bronner’s tea tree soap and S.W. Basics oil serum. Changing all your products as well as your mindset about beauty is a huge undertaking, so break it into bite sized pieces.
Be patient. You won’t find the right products immediately, but choose the ones with the simplest ingredients, and go from there. When you can, buy sample sizes, or products you can return, in case your skin reacts poorly. I’ve found the best approach is to replace items as they run out. When I notice I’m low on something, like concealer, I’ll research some safe alternatives, and replace then. It’s frankly not very sustainable to just chuck a bunch of products. Remember that there is no regulation on what marketers can put on a product label, and the ingredients list is what matters most. “100% natural” actually means nothing. Check the end of this post for resources to help you figure out what’s good and what’s not.
Be prepared for more. As I began panicking about my skin and the products I was slapping on it, I started to become consumed with everything else, too: ethical and sustainable clothing, organic food and wacky ingredients in my peanut butter, plastic and reducing my waste. There are days when I feel like I’m totally drowning in it all. When you start caring about one thing, like your skin’s health, it’s natural to think of all the other parts of your life as well. I continue to remind myself that any small step is a good one, and that each day I’m making a difference.
I’m still so far from being a natural beauty expert, and still have plenty of conventional products sitting on my shelves. I’m giving myself the grace to learn as much as I can about these products, and take the time to make informed and thoughtful decisions and purchases. If you’re curious at all about this world, check out the following resources.
+ Skin Cleanse by Adina Grigore. I’m not going to shut up about how valuable this book is anytime soon.
+ EWG Skin Deep database. You can search for thousands of beauty and household products to see ratings of their toxicity and see what each specific ingredient is and how it affects your body. So valuable.
+ Think Dirty app. With the app you can scan products when you’re shopping and get a rating, similar to the EWG Skin Deep site. Really great for on-the-go research.
+ Laura’s Natural Life. Laura is chock full of information about natural and safe beauty products. While I don’t have the exact same values as her (I will not give up cheese!) her products recommendations and overall knowledge is valuable.