For one reason or another, I’ve never seen much appeal in using all natural beauty products. I love experimenting with this and that, but what matters most is whether or not I see results. If I love a product that just so happens to be all natural, then that’s FANTASTIC, but I’ve never sought them out specifically for that reason.
In my experience, I’ve found that natural products are often more expensive, have a shorter shelf life (they often lack preservatives) and rarely result in dramatic improvements performance-wise when compared to their regular counterparts. Between mashing an avocado to use as a hair mask or using an avocado based deep conditioner that has been specifically formulated to penetrate your hair shaft, I’ll take the more effective—albeit less natural—one every time. While the reasoning behind switching to all natural products makes complete sense from a health perspective, I’ve always figured that it probably isn’t that worth it if I’m still willing to chow down on a McDonalds burger.
Re-examining the Benefits
In a recent attempt to find a miracle cure for the
bags luggage that has made a permanent home under my eyes, a little digging revealed that they might be excess fatty tissue. While fat in the eye area is normal and helps to support the eye, the puffiness of my eye bags seemed excessive. Regardless of how much sleep I get or how long I place cold compresses on them, they never fully go away (especially when I smile)!
I came across a few articles that indicated that the fat in this area—as well as the stubborn exercise/diet-resistant fat everywhere else—may be so difficult to shed because of the chemicals we consume daily and… wait for it… the “nasties” that are being absorbed into our skin through beauty products! That got my attention.
These nasties, as they referred to in the beauty industry, are supposedly also to blame for a lot of the skin ailments people are experiencing nowadays. While the extent of that particular statement may be questionable, the David Suzuki Foundation took a look at the “Dirty Dozen“—a list of the 12 most often used chemicals in cosmetics and their effects when absorbed into our body. According to the article, almost 80% of products contain one of these dozen toxic chemicals, which can include carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, hormone disruptors, plasticizers, degreasers and surfactants. Okay, so that got a little too depressing a little too fast (I actually had to stop reading articles because it made me want to purge every less than organic product I owned) but it did shed a new whole light on my natural vs. not natural product dilemma.
I have come to the conclusion that for me personally, it IS important to make a more conscious effort to use natural products regardless of the extra cost—but NOT at the expense of seeing results. The good news is that although natural beauty products aren’t new, the resurgence of their popularity means that cosmetic companies have been forced to step up their game and create all natural products that are better and more effective than ever before. There are also a few product lines that I’m also very interested in exploring further such as Ren Skin Care (found in Sephora), Michael Todd True Organics (bloggers have been raving about this), and of course, the always creative Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics.
Here are a few quick tips for purchasing natural beauty products:
♥ Be diligent about reading reviews!
The trend towards greener cosmetics means that a lot of new products that have come out aren’t tried, tested and true. This should go unsaid, but I want to emphasize the importance on doing a little digging on new products to find out if they really work, if they smell funny, expire quickly, etc. Avoid making the same mistakes as other consumers by reading up on what they have to say about each product. A quick Google search of “[product] review” is all you need.
♥ Be aware of GREENWASHING!
If you’re going to go all natural then it’s important to do your homework because cosmetic companies have been heavily accused of greenwashing (claiming to be more natural or organic than they really are)! If you’re simply working more all natural or naturally based products into your routine, then this step isn’t as critical, but is still something you should be aware of, especially if it’s the “natural” aspect that you’re paying premium prices for.
♥ Swap out when possible
Swapping products out is easiest with those where results aren’t as important—for example, swap out your heavily fragranced Bath and Body Works shower gel for a more natural one from The Body Shop. Also, try to swap out some of the products that are the worst for you, like shampoos containing sulfates (sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES)). I’ve used both of L’Oreal’s sulfate-free EverPure and EverCreme lines, which are easily found in drugstores and grew in popularity during the Brazilian Keratin Treatment trend as the sulfates in ordinary shampoos washed away the treatment’s smoothing effects.
♥ Purchase in smaller quantities + refrigerate when possible
This rule mostly refers to Lush products, because although I absolutely adore many of their items, I’m often put off by the extremely short shelf life (resulting from the lack of preservatives). As a result, I always try to buy the smallest amount of product and keep items in the refrigerator whenever possible. A week or so before a product’s expiration date, I separate the products into single uses and stick everything into the freezer, taking out only what I need for a week at a time. I’ve heard that this is not recommended by the staff, but personally, I’d rather use the rest of the product up with lower expectations than toss something away that could still have some potential benefit. I’m also more likely to keep purchasing from the store if I actually use up their products, rather than consider shopping there to be a waste of money by throwing half away each time.
Note: Whether or not you should freeze items will vary from product to product (e.g., freeze a face scrub or a cleanser but not the fresh face masks since freezing will kill the enzymes in certain ingredients)
So even if going all natural isn’t for you, try working a few more natural products into your routine—it’s definitely not an all or nothing thing as I had previously thought. There’s absolutely no harm in doing so, with a world of benefits to be gained if you’re able to find some good ones. Don’t discount beauty products or makeup for being less effective just because they’re all natural. There has been a dramatic increase in the quality and effectiveness of natural products in response to the growing market for this trend!
What are some natural beauty products that you have fallen in love with? Are there any that you’ve tried that are absolutely terrible? Share your recommendations below!