By Cheyanne Mandeville
Many of us are now aware of the harmful chemicals in our beauty products, the terrible experiments performed on animals, and corporations using billions of dollars in marketing to sway our purchasing opinions.
We’ve heard the horror stories, but what do we do about it?
Recently, I’ve become a little obsessed with finding the answer. I’ve had some successes and some failures, so I want to share with you what organic and cruelty-free products have worked for me without compromising.
These two brands have saved my life: Physicians Formula makeup and Shea Moisture bath products. According to www.ewg.org, over 500 products sold in the U.S. use ingredients illegal in Japan, Canada, and the EU, but the FDA doesn’t regulate most of these chemicals; therefore, we have to take matters into our own hands. Physicians Formula carries foundation, blush, eye liner, and mascara, and is available at Walmart for about the same price as CoverGirl, Maybelline, or Neutrogena. The mascara and blush was an easy switch because they worked just as well as the non-natural brands, but the foundation was much lighter coverage than what I’m used to. However, I’ve noticed I don’t break out nearly as much, even if I fall asleep in it (which is especially helpful on the weekends!) Not to mention, it has SPF 15 so you never have to worry about forgetting your sunscreen.
Shea Moisture was another easy switch because it’s available at Walmart, Target, Walgreens, etc. and sometimes I simply don’t have time to make it to Fox Farm or Suzanne’s (although I recommend shopping local as much as possible). Shea Moisture carries shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, lotion, and other bath products. The shampoo was a difficult switch for me because my hair is so used to sulfates that it felt oily and needed washed almost every day. To avoid the extra oil I would recommend starting out with a clarifying shampoo, which strips your hair of all the products already in it, making the sulfate-free version easier to work with. I’ve always been one to use bar soap rather than body wash or even face wash because of my oily skin, so the only struggle with switching to Shea Moisture was paying the extra $1-$2 for it. I would highly recommend paying the little extra cost to keep those toxins off your skin! Give either of these brands a try if you’re just getting starting and don’t have time for DIY or trips to the health store.
When I first discovered Henna as a form of hair dye, I was jumping for joy—finally, a way to dye my hair without harmful chemicals … and for the same price as box dye?! I was ecstatic. And although I’ve had great success with Henna, my disclaimer is that after doing some research, I found that there are no regulations on the claims companies make about Henna. For example, just because a box says “Chemical Free” and “All Natural” does not mean that it is (typical). Henna in its pure form is simply a powdered leaf derived from a Lawsonia plant. When mixed with boiling water, the powder creates a reddish brown color to be used as dye. However, a chemical called para-phenylenediamine is added to change the color to something darker (Note: Henna cannot lighten, it can only add color to hair). Needless to say, I was unsure about including Henna to begin with, but I feel I have had such great results with it that I had to share. I have been dying my hair black for about ten years, and I must say since switching my hair truly feels and looks so much healthier.
To use, just mix the Henna powder with boiling water and apply to hair, wearing gloves, of course. Trying to cover every inch is more time consuming than with a regular hair dye because you’re dealing with more of a thick paste here. You will need to leave it in for about two to three hours, which sounds crazy, but Henna does not absorb into your hair as fast as traditional dye. Finally, just rinse and use plenty of conditioner to get all that clay-like dye out. For me, the color is not as intense as my normal black is; it’s definitely a softer tone. For clean up, I simply swept up the pieces that had hardened into a clay and wiped down the counters. If you do decide to give it a try my suggestion is to do a test strip using a small amount of hair and seeing how it reacts before doing your whole head.
In a perfect Pinterest world, I would use only DIY products, but let’s face it—they don’t always work as well! I’ve tried DIY shampoo, conditioner, lotion, toothpaste, body spray and haven’t been hooked on anything yet, until discovering DIY spray-on deodorant. I’ve tried organic deodorant before, but it never seemed to work until I started making it myself. It’s been about two months since I discovered this recipe that keeps me dry and free of chemicals (plus is WAY cheaper than store bought). At first, I was experiencing some extra sweat and stench throughout the day, but that has completely gone away (do armpits detox from store bought deo.—maybe?) If you’d like to give it a try here’s what you’ll need:
Recycled spray bottle
½ tbsp. high quality salt
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoon witch hazel
5-8 drop essential oil
Mix these ingredients together in a bowl, pour into your spray bottle, and feel free to
garnish with a cute sticker to jazz up your boring bottles (I get mine from www.redbubble.com).
For more information on what beauty products to try or avoid, my favorite blog is almostexactly.com. Alex is an expert on DIY’s and gives you full detail on the importance of going organic. Another great resource is Bunny Free, the free app the keeps track of what brands test on animals. Good luck!
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