A little-known fact about me is that I grew up on an organic farm. My parents taught me to respect our land (my brother will be the fourth generation to farm it), and for our family part of respecting the land that literally fed me is taking care of its nutrition. You may not know that soil, much like people, depends on a delicate balance of nutrients to perform optimally. Certain plants leech nutrients like calcium and potassium from the soil, while others add it back in. For this reason, organic farmers rotate which crops they plant in which field each year--to maintain the delicate balance. Organic farmers like my dad also have to abide by very strict standards for crop control--my high school summers were spent 'walking beans' aka literally walking up and down rows of beans in 100+ acre fields, hand-picking weeds since conventional, chemical-based weed control is not allowed with organic farming.
So what does this all have to do with my blog? Well today I'd like to talk about my transition from conventional cosmetics and skincare products to natural/organic/green/'clean' beauty. You might think that, given how my family makes a living, I eat only organic products, never wash my hair, and am extremely conscious of my environmental impact. Unfortunately, until just recently, you'd be wrong. Much like many people, I eat what's at the grocery store, shower regularly, and while I am an avid recycler and take public transit everywhere (I don't own a car), my education/awareness regarding the impact my lifestyle has on the environment is embarassingly scant.
Lately I've had a series of blemish outbreaks on my skin, which got me studying up on what may be breaking me out and what I can do to stop it. In my research, I started to realize: I try to eat healthy (although not organic), exercise, and generally take care of myself. Why, then, am I exposing myself to all sorts of chemicals, whether it be in my shampoo, mascara, face wash, lettuce, or shower cleaner? My search for cleaner, purer products started with my desire to simplify my routine and my exposures to harmful chemicals.
So, looooong story short, I'm transitioning my skincare and beauty products to much more natural/green/organic/'clean' products. And since I've had to do a lot of research to even start this process, I thought I'd share some of the best of what I've learned. If you are interested, please click the links below for some amazing education from people much smarter and more eco-friendly than I.
Useful Information for Judging your Products:
- Environmental Working Group (their site is under construction now--usually you can find the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database by clicking the 'health/toxics' tab and clicking 'Cosmetics Database')
- I also learned a lot from this explanation of some of the strengths and weaknesses of the EWG database. A lot of people use this as their holy grail by which to judge products, but as you can learn, the database is imperfect (though a great place to start).
- Cosmetics Info
- Makeupalley: This is a fantastic source for user reviews of tonnnnnns of different products. It is by no means restricted to natural/green beauty products (in fact a lot of the more popular natural products don't have entries and it's more popular for conventional cosmetics products) but I find the reviews to be very helpful in determining which products may work for my skin.
- Saffron Rouge's list of different organic certifications and what they mean
- Fig and Sage's explanation of what different organic/natural terms mean
Lists of Ingredients in Cosmetics to Avoid:
- EcoSalon's list of 7 beauty ingredients to avoid
- Fig and Sage's List of Ingredients We Avoid
- Organic Beauty Talk's list
- Glamology's Dirty Thirty
- MyChelle's Alternatives to the Dirty Thirty
- Bubble and Bee's Chemical of the Day blog
Current Favorite Organic Beauty Blogs:
- Fig + Sage
- Organic Beauty Talk
- No More Dirty Looks
- Green Product Junkie
- Green Makeup
- Free to be Natural
I hope that you enjoy learning about this topic as much as I do. In the upcoming weeks I plan to keep you updated to my journey to cleaner beauty. Since I know this is not everyone's cup of tea, it won't be the sole topic of my blog. But because I started this blog to document things I'm interested in at any given point in my life, I think it's important to document my process. Hope you'll enjoy the ride!