Lesson 1: Do Not Switch everything all at once: I'm the type of person who, once she puts her mind to something, gets it DONE (you could call that determination, or just impatience....). So I did a lot of research, figured out which products I wanted to try out first, and bought new products. I quickly transitioned out of my old 'dirty' products and switched to the new regimen within about a week:
I've always heard that your skin takes about 6 weeks to adjust to products, and it's recommended to only switch your routine one product at a time to see how it works for your skin. I never believed it, as I've never ever ever had problems with products. Boy did I this time around!
Long story short, I tried the above-pictured new mascara, eyeliner, blush, sunscreen, moisturizer, facial scrub, facial cleanser, night cream, deodorant, and shampoo all at once. I liked most of the products initially, but the Honeybee Gardens eyeliner/mascara made my eyes/cheeks swell up like balloons, my nose run, and I was extremely tired! Hooorrrrrrriible allergic reaction!
I stopped the mascara and eyeliner and was doing ok, had a few breakouts but nothing crazy. I went on a trip and tried a sample of the RMS Beauty Beauty Oil, which isn't anything fantastic as a product, but also I didn't like it because it caused the same reaction as the mascara/eyeliner!!
By comparing products, I narrowed down the allergen to either jojoba oil or tocopherol (aka Vitamin e). Neither are common allergens, but after using a couple products again (like the RMS Beauty blush from above) and having similar symptoms, I realized: I'm allergic to jojoba oil! BOOOO, since it's in tonnnnns of natural beauty products precisely BECAUSE not very many people are allergic to it!
This lead me to Lesson number 2: Listen to your own body more than you listen to other people's opinions. I kept reading that jojoba isn't allergenic and kept messing up my skin because I'd use jojoba products, until I finally dug deep enough and found some reports of people with similar reactions to jojoba as mine. Just because a product works for lots of people doesn't mean it will work for you. Conversely, even though I can't use these products, you probably can and probably would enjoy them like I did for a short period of time!
So I returned all my products that contained jojoba oil:
And that's how I learned Lesson number three: Contact the makers of the products if they don't work for you. In my case, I talked with Honeybee Gardens and they were fantastic to work with--they actually sent me two products (their toner and a lipstick) that don't contain jojoba, which I'm enjoying so far. The natural beauty world is ever-expanding but still comparatively small, so these companies tend to work hard to keep your business if you express why you're not satisfied with one of their products (and aren't bitchy about it!). Even though I can't use the mascara/eyeliner, I will continue to support Honeybee Gardens because of their great service--and their great products! I also enjoy purchasing products from Spirit Beauty Lounge and Whole Foods, as they both have a satisfaction guarantee (I was able to return everything I had problems with, no questions asked).
On to Lesson 4: Skin purges shouldn't last weeks and weeks. At about the same time I was figuring out my allergy, I was published on No More Dirty Looks. Thanks to some helpful feedback from their great readers I came to the conclusion that coconut oil was just not the right moisturizer for me--it was clogging my pores. I thought that the whiteheads I was experiencing on a daily basis were just my skin purging built-up impurities. Nope--turns out coconut oil can be highly comedogenic for some people!
Side note on skin purging: according to some, oils like coconut oil can cause your skin to have whiteheads/breakouts for a short period of time and then your skin adjusts--the thought is that because coconut oil is antibacterial and antifungal, it may cause your skin to 'purge' impurities that are hidden in your skin. But this purging period (also known as a 'healing crisis') SHOULD NOT last a long time! It took me too long before I wised up and just switched to a different moisturizer.
Lastly, I've learned Lesson number 5: the path to cleaner beauty is long and winding. What works for one person won't necessarily work for another; what works for a little while may cause a reaction down the road. For example, I didn't have any problems with the RMS blush--even though it contained jojoba--until after I had my two really bad reactions to other products. It seems like those intense reactions have caused an increased sensitivity to jojoba, so I can no longer use the blush or any other product with jojoba without feeling tired, with a runny nose and itchy/puffy/red eyes... :( Basically, I just need to listen to my skin/body more and work with, rather than against, what my system can handle.
So what am I using now?? Glad you asked:
I'm still not 100% satisfied with the moisturizing part of my routine--I think shea is a bit comedogenic for me, so I'm trying to find a better night-time alternative--but my skin is clearing up after its bad allergic reactions and weeks of comedogenic product dosage. I also received Sprout Skincare's Cocoa Lip Balm in my last Birchbox, which is now my all-time favorite lip balm! Highly recommend!
Long (Loooooong) story short, play around with what works for you. I plan to review in detail some of the products I love, so if you're curious just hold your horses! :)