If you have an arsenal of beauty products you love you may be intimidated by this step, but on the flip side, it might just excite you. Although “green” beauty and hygiene products used to be limited to hippie smelling soaps and deodorants that didn’t work too well, there’s now an entire industry dedicated to creating safe products with quality ingredients that actually work. Which means there’s a whole new world of beauty products for you to explore and fall in love with.
Buyer Beware: Green Scamming
I start with this to save you time, money, and frustration during your new journey. During my own first young days purging my beauty arsenal I fell victim to green-scamming... embarrassingly many times. I wasn’t buying Pantene pro-V or Dove soap, which I considered chemical-laden-, but instead I was buying products that looked more natural without really reading the labels (and before I knew about www.ewg.org/skindeep). Turns out most of these are just as bad as your conventional soap.
First I was green-scammed by Alterna Bamboo. I’m a curly-haired girl so my excuse is fear of frizz. Alterna Bamboo seemed a nice choice since it has organic Kendi Oil and Organic Bamboo Extract, and had a “sustainable feel” (whatever that means). Wrong - Here are 4 ingredients I’d like to highlight a few ingredients that are definitely not safe.
Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Phenoxyethanol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Ssaccharomyces
What they do: Endocrine disruption, immuno-toxicity, Organ system toxicity, Endocrine disruption, bioaccumulation (which means what goes in doesn’t come out)
My second green scam was using Alba Botanica Kukui Nut Body Creme. I love the flowery-packaging and scent, plus the fact it’s sold in major health food chains around the nation. Did I mention the scent?? Here are 3 toxic ingredients inside:
Coumarin, Benzyl Benzoate, and “Fragrance”
What they do: Well turns out that scent was toxic, darnit! All three of these toxic ingredients are for scent specifically, and the first two are banned in the EU because of their proven negative effect on human health. The 3rd “fragrance” is ranked extremely high in toxicity (8 out of 10) by the Environmental Working Group as linked to cancer, immuno-toxicity, and organ system toxicity.
I think you’re catching what I’m throwing here. Many products are packaged and sold with a “green” looking package and print when, in fact, they’re not. Remember, anyone can put the word “natural” on a product, it doesn’t mean a thing. Similarly, be aware of words like Organix, or “Made with organic ingredients”. Products like these may only contain one organic ingredient (if any) but are purposefully misleading you.
Don't Forget about your shower water
If you've never considered filtering your shower water, you're not alone. Most of us assume the water that comes out of our sinks and showers is safe, especially if you've ever consumed tap water in a developing nation abroad... Later stomach.
Even though tap water in the US is mostly safe from bugs, what you might not see is the amount of endocrine disrupting chlorine it takes to make it this way, not to mention the amount of other contimenets that now infiltrate our water supply. Case in point: Atrazine - an herbicide found in products such as Roundup, and contaminates over 80% of American tap water.
The toxicity associated with atrazine has been documented extensively. The adverse reproductive effects of atrazine have been seen in amphibians, mammals, and humans-even at low levels of exposure. Concentrations as low as 0.1 ppb -- part per billion -- have been shown to alter the development of sex characteristics in male frogs, and that’s with one single exposure (not a lifetime of drinking it). When exposure coincides with the development of the brain and reproductive organs, that timing may be even more critical than the dose.
Our friends (who are quickly becoming our frenemies) at the EPA say 3 ppb is okay for people to drink on a daily basis. Umm, what?? That’s 30x the amount as frogs need to change sex in one single dose! And that’s every day, over the course of our lives, rather than one exposure
If you're immediately freaked out, well, you should be. Living on Kaua`i we're ground zero for a battle with the chemical giants spraying gallons of this stuff on the West side, causing birth defects, cancers, and health concerns at an unprecedented rate. If you're lucky enough to not be located next to a GMO testing site, it's much easier to avoid by a) filtering your tap water, and b) filtering your shower water. Because the particle size of atrazine is larger, it's easier for a carbon filter to remove. I bought this one for my own home.
I’d first like to introduce you to Miranda Bond. She’s a former endo-sufferer and creator of an amazing makeup line called Inika, which she developed in response to her body healing after she removed her toxic exposure. This is her story, and one worth watching to get inspired about moving past the chemical burden.
Second, I’d like to introduce you to www.ewg.org/skindeep. This website will be your new best friend while you’re making these changes. Not only can you search their enormous database to see how toxic your current beauty regime is, but you can also use it at the store before you buy other products to ensure they’re not green scamming you. Bookmark it now on your computer and on your phone so you can check products in stores before you buy.
My Own Journey Through Toxicity: hope for the hopeless
I say hopeless because my parents called me the lotions and potions girl. Holy God did I love everything about cosmetics and beauty products from the packaging to the color to the scent. Which is why I think I started off like most people with a bit of trepidation, replacing a single product here and there with a "green alternative" but not sure now much I needed to fully commit to this lifestyle. It was when I finally read and watched enough to fully understand the extent of my toxic exposure I knew I needed a full overhaul. It was my tipping point, and what I’m hoping to help you find through the TED talks, documentaries, and links on these pages.
The sad thing was, even though I knew these products were detrimental to my healing, I couldn’t bear to throw out my expensive collection of potions! I mean, it’s amazing what a girl can accumulate, and I had TONS. As an intermediate step I created what I called my “Cancer Bag.” In went all the toxic beauty products I adored, the pretty eyeshadows and bronzers and lip balms and anti-agers. I chucked the bag in my closet and told myself if I really needed something I could get it.
I'll admit that over the course of three months I did go back in the bag two times, both for eyeshadow. But after three months I opened the bag to what I know understood was a “chemical scent” (I couldn’t really differentiate before) and a bag full of stale, old products. My relationship with these had ended, and I was ready to throw ‘em all away. Later Cancer Bag.
The benefits I got in return were quite nice. In addition to removing harmful chemicals from my everyday stresses, I found my new beauty routine felt great. It was much more simplified (no more hundreds of little bottles and cases everywhere with god-knows-what-product), I had a few main products I loved, and a small bag of quality makeup that made me feel good. I felt more put together in general, and my bathroom clutter was gone.
Over the past 2 years year I’ve tried many products and I’ll say these are the ones I’ve stuck with and do love them all. Your choice of replacements may differ I'm sure, but if you want any suggestions these are the products I use to stay healthy:
Brands I Absolutely Love:
Leahlani Skincare, Andalou Naturals, 100% Pure, Inika, and Living Libations
Specific Products I use:
Shower filter: removes chlorine and pesticides found in most tap water. I got mine at aquasana
Soap: oatmeal bar from health food store, honestly soap is the easiest thing you can buy, no plastic packaging necessary.
Shampoo and Conditioner: Beauty without Cruelty Brand. Great for curly hair. Use conditioner for shaving as well. $12
Face wash and Probiotic Spray: Bentonite Cleanser is super gentle, follow with probiotic spray and watch your zits disappear and your skin biome returns. $26 for both, and they last forever. Alternatively I did oil cleansing for a while and did love it. Living Libations makes a beautiful, high-quality Seabuckthorn Oil Cleanser, worth a peek if you’re interested $30
Moisturizer: Aloha Ambrosia oil by Leahlani Skincare. A splurge I don’t mind $52
Exfoliator: Honey Love 3-in-1 Exfoliator, another by Leahlani skincare. It’s a locally made product on Kaua’i that’s soothing on the skin, and makes you glow. $28
Toothpaste: Toms is great, so is Jason. So are many others. You really want to avoid triclosan that’s in most commercial/chemical toothpastes which is highly toxic, so most natural toothpastes will do the trick.
Deodorant: the hardest hippy switch you can make, I couldn't do it until I found something that actually worked. This Crystal Roll On Mineral Deodorant is what I found to work amazingly!
Lotion: Jojoba oil. I tried the coconut oil fad — I hated it! It never absorbed into my skin, but it sure did ruin a lot of my clothes. Jojoba oil is completely different, it absorbs quickly and your skin feels great. Any organic brand will do. If you’re a real sucker for lotiony-lotion I highly recommend Andalou Naturals
Perfume: Kaua`i Orchid by Leahlani Skincare is my obsession. All essential oil, you won’t believe how beautiful it smells. $24 for a roll on. Natural perfumes don’t have the lasting power of chemical ones, so it’s the perfect size to pop in your bag and take with you to reapply if needed.
Sunscreen: Honest Co is what I’m using on my face and chest right now when I'm in intense sun for long periods (the hardest part of going green is sunscreen since most leave you a little white-smeared from the zinc). For my body I use Everybody Love the Sunshine SPF oil by Living Libations. Most of the time though I just let the sun do it's thing, we all really need vitamin D :)
Tampons: Seventh Generation organic. Cotton is one of the most heavily pesticide-sprayed crops in the world, and tampons are made from this with the addition of endocrine disrupting bleach. Going organic is the way to avoid unwanted chemical being placed right where you care most. Note: some women swear by the Diva cup, I just never tried it.
I’ve tried a host of natural makeup lines, and seem to keep falling back to my staples. Mind you, I’m not makeup obsessed like I used to be, so if you’re crazy about colors and trends, I’d urge to to check out the many organic beauty blogs that exist on the internet.
For the simple island-girl, these are my go-to’s:
Mascara: 100% pure in Black Tea, this mascara is phenominal! And it makes your eyelashes grow rather than fall out … I didn’t realize my eyes could look so healthy again
Eyeshadow: Inika, RMS Beauty, 100% Pure are all brands I have right now.
Foundation: I hardly ever wear, but I use one by Vapour Beauty that makes my skin look pretty dewy.
CC Cream: CC by Andalou Naturals, I can’t sing the praises enough for this product! It was really hard to find light coverage in an eco-product, but this is it. Perfection, only $20
Highlighter: Living Luminizer by RMS Beauty. $38
Bronzer: Inika Loose Mineral Bronzer. This was the first bronzer I bought and still have it 2 years later. What I’m saying is that it really lasts, as well as I don't know if there's better ones because I never looked ;)
Lip and Cheek Tint: by 100% Pure. This is a great lip balm/stain, and also acts as a simple cheek color when you need.
Eyebrows: Brow Filler by the Honest Co. To be honest (no pun intended), this is the only product of theirs I liked, and I tried a good handful. Maybe others had a good experience, but to me they all felt cheaply made. Can't complain about the simple eyebrow pencil though!