I’m just going to come out and say it: I love girlie products. I want it all–the hair stuff, the skin stuff, yummy-smelling lotions, loads of makeup, you name it. Bonus if the product itself is pretty, like my teal Lancome eyelash curler or my Nest fragrance bottle. I want daytime moisturizer and night cream, I want my body lotion to complement my soap and if I read about it in a magazine, I’ll most likely give it a whirl.
But, about a year ago, I started transitioning to more ‘natural’ products. I use that term loosely, as it has about zero meaning in the cosmetics industry (nor does it in the food industry). For the purpose of this blog post, I’ll use the term ‘natural’ to mean a product formulated with fewer chemicals and one that scores low on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database (more on that in a minute).
I was inspired to make the switch after many talks with my nearest and dearest, Emily, who has been using super-natural (or making her own) products for years now. She does her research, and while I don’t think anyone is going to drop dead while brushing their teeth with Crest, I’d still rather be safe than sorry. In my personal (and admittedly not super educated) opinion, there just hasn’t been enough research done to assess long term affects of some of the common chemicals found in our everyday products that get absorbed through our skin. I don’t want to find out in 30 years that the parabens and phthalates in my shampoo cause cancer, or that lead, arsenic or mercury in my lipstick were terrible for me. What the heck is arsenic doing in my lipstick??
For more on the chemicals in our products, check out Chemicals of Concern at SafeCosmetics.org.
So why don’t I just make my own? See above. I like my products. I like the hunt in the store, the testing of new ones, the pretty packaging. And plus, who has time for that? I wanted to find a product that scored well according to the EWG and that wasn’t too hard to find in a store locally, or, perhaps on Amazon. (And now that our co-op is open, it will be even easier!)
Enter EWG’s Skin Deep. It’s a database of thousands of products that each receive a score based on their ingredient label. Emily introduced me to it and they even have an app for your smartphone so you can scan barcodes in-store to see a product’s rating before you buy. Not everything I buy is a 0 or a 1, but I try to keep almost everything at 3 or below.
Before I get into what I’ve been using, here are some things I’ve learned along the way:
-some of the more natural products don’t produce as many bubbles as other products, which is because usually the sudsing action is because a foaming agent like sodium laureth sulfate has been added to the product
-going ‘fragrance-free’ is often the best, as the term ‘fragrance’ isn’t regulated and can include anything
-baby products are often also good choices, as they tend to be gentler, targeted for sensitive skin and fragrance-free
-not all products within a brand are rated the same! be sure to check each and every product specifically, as different formulations may have different ingredients
And now, for your viewing pleasure, my medicine cabinet:
Here’s a list of some of items I’ve found, their EWG rating, and why I like them:
-Tom’s of Maine Antiplaque & Whitening Fluoride-Free Toothpaste in Peppermint: EWG 1, it feels and tastes like the toothpaste I’m used to (it does come in Fennel, which is often what other more ‘natural’ toothpastes taste like–yuck!)
-MOOM Hair Removal Kit: EWG 1, once you start waxing, you’ll never go back to shaving your bikini line again. Just sayin’. I’d been using this for awhile and in fact just this moment looked it up on EWG and was happy to find it scored so low. It better; it’s basically sugar. (You can find it on Amazon and the men’s version is cheaper but the. exact. same.)
-Burt’s Bees Orange Essence Facial Cleanser: EWG 1, it doesn’t foam AT ALL, but it works like a charm and smells nicely citrus-y. I use it at night and in the morning to cleanse, and keep a separate foaming cleanser in the shower.
-Burt’s Bees Body Lotion or Baby Bee Lotion, both fragrance-free: EWG 2, I believe they’re the same formulation and I receive these through an Amazon subscription for bit of a discount. Each bottle is 6 oz and I can go through about 1 per month. I love the scent (it just smells clean, maybe a hint of baby powder?) and the tube is super convenient.
-Neutrogena Eye Makeup Remover: EWG 3, I’ve used this particular product for years and have tried Almay’s Oil-Free version (EWG 2) but find it stings my eyes a bit. I plan to try Almay again in the hopes that it won’t sting/I’ll get used to it in order to use a product with a lower rating.
-Jason Purifying Tea Tree Gel: EWG 2, this one was hard to find in the database, so I’m not sure the rating I listed is accurate. But, it’s paraben, SLS and phthalate-free, and way cheaper than a tiny tube of Bikini Zone (which is just lidocaine, anyway). I use this post-waxing and it soothes my skin and removes redness almost immediately. Tea tree oil is known for it’s antiseptic properties, and my medical doctor once recommended it for a toe-nail fungus (I hate to admit I must be prone to them) and it worked! No antibiotics needed! Note the small Jason Tea Tree Oil bottle next to my fragrances.
-Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15: EWG 2, I’m a firm believer in using sunscreen (my red-haired, freckle-covered father had skin cancer when I was a child), especially on your face. Because my tinted moisturizer also has sunscreen, I don’t use this every day (although I probably should), and tend to use it when I know I’ll be outside a lot.
-BAN deodorant/antiperspirant, unscented: EWG 1, I was THRILLED to find this gem. I’m a sweater, and transitioning to a natural deodorant terrified me. I tried a Tom’s of Maine and Kiss My Face formulations, and I was still feeling wet and sticky under my arms. I love that this version is just like what I’m used to (a little white perhaps, but not sticky) and the lack of scent isn’t a problem at all.
-ACURE Night Cream: EWG 1, this is an anti-aging product (hey, you can’t start too soon!) I found at our Wegmans and have really loved. They have an entire product line, including hair care and skin care. At $16.99 a tube, it’s not super cheap, but it’s also not what I’d call super expensive either.
-Say Yes to Blueberries Age Refresh Eye Firming Treatment: EWG 1, I purchased this INSTEAD OF another product after looking them both up on the EWG database. Love it.
Moving into the shower:
-Pureology Hydrate Light Conditioner: EWG 6???, I know when I looked this up 6-9 months ago, it was not a 6. It’s possible I have an old formulation that was rated lower, that has since been replaced. Hmm. Too bad; I LOVE this product. It’s pricey, but it does a great job not weighing my hair down and between the size of the bottle and my short hair length, it lasts awhile.
-Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Lemon Sage Thickening Shampoo: EWG 5, man, I’m really striking out in the haircare department! This I can explain: it was an impulse purchase the last time I was placing an Amazon Pantry order. I’ve also tried Kiss My Face Big Body Volumizing Shampoo (EWG 2) and liked it.
-Aquaphor Baby Gentle Wash and Shampoo: EWG 2, this is a great, simple sudsing face wash.
-Kiss My Face Moisture Shave: EWG 4, I was surprised to find many of the scented varieties and the fragrance-free scored as high as a 4. I have the pomegranate-grapefruit version as it was the only one available in Amazon Pantry at the time, but I intend to go fragrance-free next time I buy. I’ve tried various other natural shaving creams and have been disappointed; I like this one enough to stomach the 4 rating.
Well, that’s the tour of my bathroom! Just to keep it real, my makeup and nail polish collections haven’t gone ‘natural’ yet… Thankfully, the tinted moisturizer I swear by (Laura Mercier, EWG 3) has a low rating, as well as many of the BareMinerals products. As for my nail polish? Well, I have just too darn many to start over now!
Disclaimer: None of these brands know who I am. I didn’t receive any of these products to try in the mail, nor am I advocating for any of them in any way.