I read an article over at Beauty Editor (which I think is a lovely website and better than a lot of the celebrity/beauty websites I’ve visited because Michelle is SUPER real about stuff and isn’t afraid to speak out about issues in the beauty industry).
Case in point, her article: 5 Scary Reasons to Avoid Petroleum and Mineral Oil in Your Skincare Products. For me, Michelle is preaching to the crowd and I love that she tackles stuff like this on her site! I’m a huge believer in being careful about what we put into our bodies.
When I found out I had Endometriosis, I immediately thought about all the chemicals I’d been unknowingly putting into my body for years and years. Anything that you rub onto your skin is absorbed into your body. Pretty scary, right? So not only do we need to be ultra careful about what we put into our bodies for foods (including things like BPA’s from plastics), we need to be aware that the beauty products we use every single day are giving us a high exposure to whatever chemical compounds are inside. Once I realized that no one knows exactly why people get Endo, I started looking at beauty products as a culprit because they contain chemicals that disrupt our hormones. Major red flag!
As a result, I made some big changes. Here’s a list of tips:
1. Makeup: I’m a huge makeup girl. I wear it every single day and have been doing so for years and years. Probably since I was in my early teens. The products I used previously included Mary Kay, Almay, Cover Girl and more. So everyday I was slathering my skin with these products. And guess what they’re filled with? Yup, toxic chemicals.
I have now switched to mineral based products (powders). Which are a heck of a lot better than the chemical infused products found at your local drug store. I’m now a big fan of Everyday Minerals because their products are great and they aren’t super expensive and you can get these really cute little samples to try them out. I had also checked out Bare Minerals at the time, but found them to be pretty pricey.
For those afraid to step away from a liquid foundation, it’s really not that different. As long as you use a moisturizer if you have really dry skin, you won’t have a problem. I don’t find them to be too powdery looking. If you are worried about a powdery feel, I believe Bare Minerals makes a liquid foundation. However if you go with a mineral makeup, be sure to get the right brushes, it really makes a big difference in how it looks (i.e. patchy or a smooth even application)
I’ve bought almost all my makeup from Everyday Minerals, including foundation, blush, bronzer, eye shadow, eye liner, lip products, concealers, etc. They also have a really nice brush selection and I have several of these too. I really love their eye makeup and I know you’d think the eye liner wouldn’t be as good, but it’s so easy to use with a small angled brush and the results are amazing. I think even better than a pencil!
The only item I still buy drug store is mascara. I haven’t found a natural replacement, however I don’t wear it everyday, only on special occasions, which works okay for me since I have dark eye lashes, but this might be a problem for light haired girls. A good thing to keep in mind though, is how you are reducing your overall consumption of chemical products. So if you can reduce even by 30% or 50%, you’re already doing so much better than you were!
2. Moisturizer: I have really dry skin, so a moisturizer for my face is essential. I have several things that I’ve tried. My go-to products are Alba products. I realize that they aren’t the perfect solution, but are definitely better/more natural than a lot of the moisturizers you can find out there. I’ve also made my own moisturizer from coconut oil, shea butter etc. Finally, I have a friend Stephanie, of Enchanted Gardens, who creates her own homemade products and she created an argan rose facial serum that really works well and is all natural.
As far as an all-over moisturizer, I typically use Alba products there too and use their scrub for my face too. However, I don’t moisturize my entire body all the time. I probably should, but I get too lazy about it and hate the feel of regular moisturizer all over. It can make your skin feel slimy and yes, that’s a huge amount of skin you’re covering so imagine how much is being absorbed into your body!
2. Face Wash: I don’t wash my face. That sounds gross, but it’s true. I used to use all kinds of anti-acne potions for my face and the truth is, all of them just dried out my skin incredibly and made the acne situation even worse. And if you have hormonal breakouts, that stuff pretty much does nothing for you and makes the situation worse. It took me a while to realize this! But ever since I never use those kinds of face washes. Now, when washing my face at night, I use a natural soap to wash the eye make up off (or some coconut oil works well too) and then just wash the rest of my face with water and a wash cloth. I also do have an Alba scrub that I use on occasion.
3. Shampoo and Conditioner: Here’s where I’ve been failing lately. I know that I should use a more natural option and I know I “should” do the no-poo movement, but I have not gotten there yet. Part of the problem is that just like my skin, my hair is really dry, especially in the winter. I’ve tried just about everything to fix this and the only things that seem to help is to turn the water on the shower down low to cool for washing and to use cool/less hot air when blow drying. Even then, I still get static and really dry hair. I’ve even tried coconut oil in my hair but that seems to make it look greasy, although the moisture does help.
For a while I was using It’s a 10 because some of their products don’t contain parabens etc. Lately though I’ve just been using Dove because It’s a 10 is expensive. I’ve thought about using Big Sexy Hair but I’m always wary of buying expensive products in case I don’t like them. I’ve tried lots of other more natural hair care products and usually find I don’t like how my hair feels (for example: Trader Joe’s sells a natural hair care line but I can’t really get into it). Mr. VS, BTW, uses a Bert’s Bee’s shampoo and seems like like that quite a bit. He’s against seeing alcohol and sodium lauryl sulfate.
4. Soap: Again, I’ve sort of failed when it comes to an all natural soap. I’ve tried using my own body wash and scrubs made with oils and salt or sugar. These work great and I absolutely love how they make my skin feel, however the downside is that any oil based product (such as olive oil, saffron oil or coconut oil) clogs up your drains! Just like you wouldn’t pour oil directly down the sink in the kitchen, you shouldn’t do it in the bathroom either because it can coat your pipes. So I’ve been struggling to find another way to go natural with soap. I have found a few natural soap options and a good one is Jenness Farm. I’ve bought some of their soaps and moisturizers and really liked them. I’m sure there are all kinds of other places online where these things can be found. Again though, it can get expensive.
For hand soap, I typically use Method from Target or Mrs. Meyer’s. I’ve also bought their dish detergent, and pods for the dishwasher and their laundry detergent. I really like the scents etc. Again, probably not perfectly natural, but pretty good. I also like Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap and have in fact found that it works great for shaving! So no more store bought shaving lotions for me.
5. Deodorant: This is a tough one, but important. There are claims out there that deodorants contain aluminum that may lead to things like breast cancer. SCARY!! So I’ve been trying really hard lately to find a product that works. Several of the ones I tried simply didn’t work for me because I had an allergic reaction (i.e. Tom’s of Maine and Trader Joes) but this is probably just my body being picky, these might work fine for you. The product I did find that does work for me and is carried in a local grocery store is Crystal. I really like their roll on, however a caveat is that while it seems to work well if you aren’t sweating, I do seem to find it works less if I’m sweating a lot or it’s a very hot day. So on the days I want to be absolutely sure I don’t have a problem, I still use my old Dove Deodorant. But I figure, just like anything else, I’m reducing my exposure by at least 75% and I can wear the Crystal deo all winter long without much of a problem since it’s cold outside.
6. Laundry Detergent: I’ve already mentioned that I’ve used Mrs. Meyers which I really like and which smells pretty damn good. I’ve also made my own laundry detergent, thanks again to my friend Stephanie (who has a recipe on her website). This worked really well for me when I was having some serious chemical allergies. I’ve also used Ecos Laundry detergent and like it very much. For the bath and kitchen I also use Bon Ami and Bar Keeper’s Friend.
7. Toilet Paper: Here’s one you’ve probably never thought about but I sure did when having some extreme chemical sensitivities and that’s TP! It’s something we use every single day, especially a lot for women, and did you know that most brands use bleach to whiten their TP? Yup. So you’re basically applying a bleached (with chlorine) product directly to your sensitive areas! So I’ve since started using only products that are not bleached using chlorine. For example: Green Forest, Marcal Small Steps or Earth Essentials.
8. Reusable Items/Kitchen: I use a lot of towels in my house, so I don’t have to buy disposable products. So, kitchen towels, face clothes, rags for cleaning etc. I also use glass containers for storing leftovers etc. I do have a few BPA free plastic containers but never put them in the microwave and only use them for cold items or those that don’t need to be reheated. I also use a lot of stainless steel for cooking and wood/bamboo for cutting boards etc.
9. Lip products: I don’t really wear lipstick all that much. One reason is because I’ve had allergic reactions to it before and another is because I have fairly red lips anyway. However, I do use moisturizing products for my lips. Jenness Farm, mentioned above has some fantastic lip balms that are tinted that I love (I have one called Merlot, I love it!). Stephanie of Enchanted Gardens also sells lip balm (it’s better than Bert’s Bees!). I’ve also used Bert’s Bees and Alba too. Things like Blistex, Chapstick and the like are no good!
10. Toothpaste: This is another one that I struggle with. Since I’m so very “sensitive” (Goddamnit) I tend to get cankers and so can’t use regular toothpaste. I’ve used Tom’s of Maine before and like that pretty well. I also only buy toothpastes that don’t contain Triclosan. Again, it’s related to endocrin disruption (or hormone problems) and a boat load of other stuff too. I now use Biotene. Not a perfect solution, but it doesn’t contain Triclosan, nor sodium lauryl sulfate. (That’s the stuff that makes things foamy (like soap and toothpaste) and it’s another baddie, like Parabens, etc). I think people find it difficult to switch to a toothpaste that doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate because they are so used to that foamy experience. But you do get over it after a while.
11. Water!: Water is of course essential (duh!) and I highly recommend using a non-plastic bottle. I know that most bottles these days claim they don’t contain BPA’s but I tend to shy away from them anyway and go for either metal or glass. Two of my favorites are: Hydro Flask and LifeFactory. Plus the Life Factory bottles are so damn cute and the Hydro Flask keeps your drinks cold even in a steaming hot car. They are AWESOME. I have the 40oz and love it.
12. Antibacterial anything: I really try not to use antibacterial products too much. They go above and beyond and just aren’t good for you. If in a pinch, fine, but not on a regular basis. Plain old soap and water is the way to go!
Finally, I just want to air a few complaints that I have: It’s impossible (or hard) to find baggies for lunch items that are not plastic. I wish I could find either fabric or wax paper. I know they must exist but I just can’t find them and grocery stores don’t carry them. I might have to make my own.
Another gripe is that I wish all restaurants and coffee establishments would use paper products and not Styrofoam. Ugg…I hate getting a coffee in a Styrofoam container or take out too! Definitely not a good choice for the environment.
In closing, have you tried to “Go Green”? I’ve found that people won’t make a change unless they discover they have a problem/illness or someone they know or love has a problem that could have been caused by the poisons we subject ourselves to on a daily basis. And since this is true, I don’t see any of these chemical filled products going away. As long as there’s demand, they will exist. I am glad that there is some movement toward more natural products!
I think we need to realize that just because it’s on the market does not make it safe! Things that are created in a lab contain so many chemicals, we don’t know what any of them are and yet we blithely put them on or into our bodies (and more than likely if it’s a new product, it has not been widely tested over years and years). I encourage you to think twice about what you buy and remember when you use it that it’s going into your body and could effect your health. You don’t have to make a massive change in your life, but every little bit helps and over time you’ll find that you’ve done a lot to make your life better.