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The Beginner's Guide to Getting Your Green On: Clean Beauty 101

Going green is a topic that is constantly coming up in the food, personal care and beauty spaces and we all have heard of it, maybe even dabble, or are fully immersed into this world. No matter where you are on the journey down the green brick road to Clean City, it can be overwhelming, intimidating (mentally and financially), and you can feel a little lost. It does't have to be that way- one choice at a time, one product at a time, one lesson at a time. It doesn't happen overnight, it doesn't happen perfectly, and it isn't always linear. But really, what the hell does happen instantly, perfectly, and strapped to the back of a rocket ship??? Nothing does.

 

As you wander down the brightly lit isles of aesthetically appealing products gleaming with bamboo lidded tops, leafy green logos, and phrases like "plant extracts" and "made with natural ingredients" you may begin to feel overwhelmed and wonder to yourself "Where on Earth do I begin???"

-all of us wandering the isles, even when you're in deep in this lifestyle. Trust me.

The amount of products launched weekly is astronomical, and they are all super pretty and draw your eyes in! It makes your head spin.

Let's start with the first and most important part of the process - choosing a product with safe ingredients. As this series progresses, we will be sharing other components you may want to consider, but for now, let's get you safe!

To avoid bringing home a product that you discover is actually junk, don't choose them by what the front of the bottle looks like and promises. Keep your eyes peeled for phrases like:

"Made with Natural Ingredients"

"Contains Plant Extracts"

"Vegan"

"Paraben Free"

"Sulphate Free"

"Cruelty Free"

"BPA Free"

These attributes are all amazing things for a product to have, don't get me wrong, but so MANY companies cling onto one or two of these attributes as their life raft in the  "clean" beauty sector. The rest of their ingredients and attributes can be entirely hideous, unsafe, unethical, and toxic AF. I will not be directly calling out brands and products, but I am confident that when you think about this, a few come to mind. 

This is called green washing.

Beware, those leafy green logos, "Made with Natural Ingredients" claims, and wooden bamboo lids are all there to appeal to someone wanting to make better personal care, beauty, and makeup choices. At first glance they look like perfect choices, but flip the bottle and look at the ingredient list to get to the bottom of it.

Here's a guide to the top 10 worst offenders to look for:

  • Propylene Glycol- irritant, kidney damage, converts to lactic acid on the body. It is found in almost every type of personal care product.
  • DMDM Hydantoin - Formaldehyde releaser- found in shampoos and lotions mainly. Inhaling vapors from it is cancerous.
  • Quaternium -15 - Formaldehyde releaser- Found in hair care, avoid!!! Stylists unfortunately have a lot of exposure. 
  • BHT - Butylated Hydroxy Toluene - THE WORST. This is a preservative that is used in makeup, skincare, creams, etc. and it enters the body and STAYS in your tissues. It causes cellular damage to DNA by it being broken down (metabolized) and releasing free radicals. BAD BAD BAD. This is found in MOST makeup lines. Scary!
  • Sodium Laureth + Lauryl Sulfate- Found in shampoo, body wash, face wash, bath bombs, hand soap etc. Major skin irritant, SLES is also often contaminated with 1.4 dioxane - Cancer causing and does not need to be disclosed if it has been removed or not. 
  • MEA, DEA, TEA- These are found in products that foam, like shampoos, body washes, facial cleansers. Ex- Cocamide DEA- Cancer causing, hormone disrupting, and scarily enough can even penetrate organs like your gallbladder and brain from topical use.
  • Parabens- Methy, Butyl, Propyl, Benzyl are prefixes you will see in front of the word paraben. Found in every aspect of personal care, makeup, and skincare.Used as preservatives. Mimics oestrogen, causes cell division in tumors, and is linked to breast cancer, reproductive issues.
  • Triclosan- Antibacterial agent. Found in face wash, hand soap, tooth paste, etc. Creates antibiotic resistant bacterias, causes liver and thyroid dysfunction.
  • PEG- Polyethylene Glycol- Used as a thickener in cosmetics, also used to break down grease and oil. Very common in face wash. Actually speeds UP skin's aging. OMG.NO.
  • Mineral Oil- also known as "Paraffin"-Found in creams, makeup, hair care, balms, baby care, etc. It is a petroleum by-product that does not allow the skin to breathe, and often has carcinogenic contaminants. 

I could keep on going and going, but this is a good reference to start with. 

Here are some tips on where and how to begin making the transition:

  1. Start replacing products as you use up what you already have. No one likes wastefulness and anyone that shames you to the point where they say you cannot possibly ever use what you already have again is being predatory.
  2. Speaking of replacing products, I recommend high priority ones to start with are products that are left on the skin like facial and body moisturizers, and makeup- primers, foundations. They pose the highest risks due to how long they are sitting on the skin. 
  3. Pick and choose your battles. It is not a race to a finish line- find out what is important to you and start there. A lot of clients of mine transition in phases. Skincare. Makeup. Bath and Body. Hair.
  4. Super trendy and eye catching packaging is nice, but keep your eye on the price point. A lot of times flashy packaging is what you end up paying more for. 
  5. Ask questions. Then ask more questions. Don't be afraid to want to know more about what you are spending your hard earned money on.
  6. Set a budget and stick to it. Remember, one thing at a time. Don't stress about spending outside of what you can afford. Every effort you make adds up to a great positive effect. The products will still be there when you have more room in your budget. 
  7. Watch out at places like Sephora, Target, and Ulta. They are LOADED with green-washed brands. It is like a mine field! 
  8. Understand that products that are made with clean ingredients will not behave the same way traditional products do. They will feel a little different, smell different, and perform differently. Different is not bad- we have just become so used to having our body wash smell like candy and our hair conditioner to be extremely slippery from toxic chemicals that anything different seems like it won't be as good.
  9. Spend time educating yourself here and there, you would be amazed at how empowering it is when you can begin to decode labels! Don't make yourself crazy over it though!! Everyone was a beginner at one time.
  10. Shop small, shop local. Chances are you will have a superior product in your hands and that you will have been able to have one on one time with the creator or a very knowledgable person that will help you choose what will suit your needs best.

You've got this in the bag. One choice, one product, one day at a time. 💚

Thank you so very much for taking the time to read this blog! Please leave any questions or comments below- having meaningful engagement is one of the best parts of what I do.  

xo, 

Natalie, Founder 

 

 


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