When I embarked on a cleaner beauty routine, I did it for the sake of the environment. I wanted to cut out packaging, ditch plastic bottles and reduce resources sucked up by needless beauty products. The toxins contained in those products - and my personal health - hadn't really factored into my decisions. Discussing skin and body care with toxin-free gurus, The Smart Mama and MamaBird, at Blogher, coupled with my Whole Foods skin care class and The Big Green Purse, motivated me clean out the rest of my medicine cabinet.
The best way, I've found, to find a cleaner product is to read the ingredients. Here is a list of ingredients deemed unacceptable by Whole Foods Market's Premium Body Care standards. An even easier way, though, is to pick products with fewer ingredients and to aim for only ingredients that you can identify. The unpronounceable ones are generally bad but, in particular, you want to avoid the following:
- parabens (usually these show up with "paraben" being the last part of a multi-syllable word)
- propylene glycol
- sodium lauryl sulfates
I use and love my Burt's Bees shampoo bar. Some folks dislike the residue but I've always felt that it means my hair is clean. I notice no difference once my hair is dry. It only has about 14 ingredients - all recognizable - and has the added benefit of no plastic packaging.
I use a vinegar rinse in lieu of conditioner. I got the recipe from Life Less Plastic last winter and have been loving it ever since. It is super cheap, I'm in control of all the ingredients and it has virtually no packaging. Bonus - I reused a plastic bottle headed for the recycle bin as my dispenser. Here's how to make it:
1 liter of hot water (about 4 cups)
3/4 cup vinegar
1 bag of herbal tea, for fragrance
I'm not one of those people who feel that they can pass up on hairspray entirely. My hair just won't let me. Instead, I use Aubrey Organics Natural Missst hairspray. This one has a bit more ingredients than I would like (anyone have an alternative??) but it works great, even watered down a little, and I don't use it every day. Unfortunately, the bottle is plastic but I eek out as much as I can and then recycle the #2 bottle.
A couple times a week, I've got some unruly hair going on and will whip out my texturizer to subdue strands. I use John Masters Organics bourbon vanilla and tangerine hair texturizer. This was a recent purchase and I love the way it works . . . and smells. Makes me hungry. It comes in a glass bottle with a plastic lid.
Preserve toothbrushes, made out of recycled yogurt bins (#5 plastic) and recyclable through a return envelope available at the purchase site, seem to be the best bet.
I purchased my lip balm from the beekeeper at my farmers' market. Although the tube is made out of plastic (next time, I'll see if she can do it in a glass jar), the product is local, contains a handful of recognizable ingredients, and helps keep local bees buzzing.
Eco-Dent dental floss is hands down the most eco-friendly floss I've found. It is vegan waxed and comes in a paper (not a plastic) box that is printed with soy ink. The floss tends to come apart between teeth that are very closely spaced but it works well for me and my kids.
A lot of people use baking soda or homemade toothpaste instead of store-bought. I'm sorry. I'm a dentist's daughter and I just cannot do that. I use Jason Sea Fresh Gel and have for several years. It tastes good, works well and comes in a recycled plastic tube that is allegedly recyclable. Where and how, I have no idea. It has more ingredients than I would like, though. Anyone have a store-bought toothpaste without tons of ingredients that they love?
I'm not one to use a bunch of skin care products. First, I'm lazy. Second, I have sensitive skin that reacts to virtually everything. Here is what I do use, though:
I love the California Baby sunblock products. They seem to be the least toxic available and work really well. We've been using these - especially the stick - for several years.
I was a dedicated Cetaphil user for years but finally ran out a couple months ago and made the switch to a less toxic brand, Earth Science. The lotion applies beautifully, my sensitive skin loves it and it is paraben free. The ingredient list, though, is littered with long, methyl-sounding ingredients - not on the Whole Foods "No!" list but still . . .
For hand cream, I use one that comes in a glass jar from a local beekeeper. I love stuff like this that you can get local and can readily identify all five ingredients. Plus, it works great on dry, gardener hands.
I told you I was makeup-lite. This really is all I own. Because I use makeup only a couple times a month, it was the last thing I got rid of. After attending the Safe Skin Care Class, though, I decided that the stuff I had was better off in a landfill than on my body or down the drain.
I purchased some concealer from Lavera, an organic brand that specializes in sensitive skin. It is made with a long list of ingredients, only about half of them recognizable, and comes in a plastic tube (sorry Beth! but sometimes a girl has GOT to cover up a pimple). It does work really well and is way better than that three year old tube of Cover Girl I was using.
I also bought a Lavera compact for face powder. I'm not completely thrilled with the ingredients or packaging on this one but I am happy with how it works, it is less toxic and I will only use it a couple times a month.
Last on the list is my mascara - I had to take it out of the box for its photo op. It is from Zuzu and our Safe Skin Care Class instructor loves it. Again, it comes in a plastic tube that cannot be recycled so thumbs down on packaging. However, the mascara is made from nine ingredients - all of which are easily identified. Does it work? I'll let you know when I get around to trying it out.
There you have it. If beauty is skin deep, I'd like my skin to be as toxin-free as possible. What about you? What beauty secrets do you have to share? Anything homemade? Less toxic or less packaging than I've listed here?