In my teens and early 20s I was lucky to have pretty easy, clear skin and never gave much thought to what I was putting on it. This laissez-faire skin care routine of mine backfired a couple years ago when my skin suddenly became prone to mysterious rashes. Combine that with the fact that I am no longer 20, live with a green-friendly vegan, and have learned that 60% of what you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body, I’ve started paying a bit more attention. I won’t claim to be a green warrior, but I do try to do my part for the environment, and more importantly, for myself. A startling number of ingredients in most drug store beauty products (shampoos, body washes and lipsticks being amongst the worst) contain known carcinogens and other toxins that can mess with your hormones and increase your risk of cancer and other diseases (for a scary summary of the worst offenders, click here). Whether or not the regulatory agencies charged with such tasks tell me that the levels of these chemicals are dangerous to me, I don’t particularly like the idea of swiping lead on my lips or massaging petroleum derived sulphates into my scalp. I can’t claim that my beauty routine is totally chemical free, but I’m working on it and have so far been pleased to discover that healthier, more natural options that actually work are not only available, but both accessible and affordable. I’ve compiled a list of my favourite brands and a few I’m hoping to try below.
Burt’s Bees -This is an easy one. If you’re a lip balm addict like me, you’ve probably already used this product a few times in your life. But Burt’s isn’t only about lip balm – the company has over 150 all natural products, from eye cream to aftershave. I adore the Milk & Honey body lotion and the tinted lip balm (which uses only natural colours and none of those scary sounding dyes your mother is always warning you about).
Yes to Carrots – While I haven’t yet used this brand of products, I vowed while writing this post to make the shift. I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a sucker for branding, and this company rocks it. The “Yes To” company has 5 lines of skin care products, tailored to your particular skin-type and needs: carrots for nourishing, cucumbers to sooth, blueberries for aging skin, grapefruit to correct and repair, and tomatoes for acne prone skin. These all natural skin and hair care products are made with organic fruits and vegetables and contain no parabens, petroleum, SLS or phthalates. Just check out the chart below – doesn’t that sound more appetizing than the impossible to pronounce chemical ingredients slapped on the back of most drug store products?
Juice Beauty – this is another one on my must try list, in part because its “CC” – for “colour and correct” – cream has been showing up on all kind of best beauty product lists this year. CCs are the big sister to the BB creams that were all the rage last year, offering increased hydration and anti-aging ingredients. Juice products are particularly awesome because they pack an anti-oxident punch with a 100% organic juice base and use ingredients like aloe vera, honey, plant oils and botanicals, with no artificial dyes or synthetic fragrances. Juice Beauty has a full line of skin, make up and hair care products that can be purchased on-line or at one of two locations in Toronto.
Kiss My Face – This is another one you’ve probably seen around and is available at Loblaws, some drug stores, and if you’re in Toronto, all over Kensington Market. Kiss My Face makes a wide range vegan friendly face, body, oral and hair care products made with sustainable plant based ingredients, stored in a solar powered warehouse and sold to you in post consumer recycled containers. I’m a particular fan of the biodegradable Peace Soap line, which allows you to give back while soaping up (10% of profits support Seeds of Peace, bringing together teens from countries of conflict to foster a new generation of leaders).
Other companies worth checking out include Arbonne , Origins , The Honest Company & Druide, all of which offer a range of organic, natural, toxin free, green-friendly personal care products. In honour of Earth Month (April), Origins is planing a tree with the purchase of every one of their best-sellers.
Even easier, straight up almond oil, vitamin E and coconut oil make amazing moisturizers and one of my favourite body scrubs of all time can be made with ingredients you’ve probably already got at home. This Lemon Green Tea Sugar Scrub from Mark Montano‘s Big Ass Book of Crafts smells divine, makes your skin feel soft and moist and is literally good enough to eat. All you need is 1 cup sugar, 3 tbsp epsom salts, the contents of three bags of green tea (I like to use more), 10 tsp. olive oil, 2 tsp honey, and the zest of one lemon or lime (I like to add a squeeze of the juice as well). In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients except the zest, mix in the olive oil, add the honey and stir well. Last add the zest, make sure everything is well mixed, and store in an air tight jar. Over time the mixture becomes more oily and less scruby, but I have found that giving it a good mix or storing it upside down helps keep the consistency.
Any other favourite products or DIY recipes to add to the list?