I’ve had the idea for this post up my sleeve for months now, and even sat down to start writing it several weeks ago. I’m sure you know by now that I am passionate about clean living and leaving the toxins at the doorstep (buh bye!), but I can’t say I’m the speediest writer. Whoops.
As I started writing this post, I wondered if it should have been one of the first published on my blog. But really, I have learned so much more about that natural beauty life (yes!) since first starting this site. So I guess its been a long time coming, but today I am finally talking about how to make the switch over to using clean beauty products.
Tossing out all of your conventional beauty products at once is overwhelming and expensive. I know because I’ve been there, sister.
Several years ago I learned about the questionable side affects (links to cancers, possible reproductive and developmental issues, hormonal disruptions and skin irritation, to name a few) that may come along with the majority of makeup and skincare items gracing the shelves of major retailers, and I knew almost immediately that I was ready to be done with that.
The problem was that I wasn’t sure where or how to begin the process. I didn’t want to keep buying my usuals, so I began haphazardly picking up cleaner versions. The bank account felt that pretty quickly, and I became frustrated when the new items didn’t always live up to my expectations. I wish I had someone to give me some direction back then, so I’ll share what I have learned along the way.
1. The first tip will both save you money and minimize waste. Don’t go tossing out your entire makeup bag in one fell swoop. Instead, adopt a one-in, one-out practice. As you use up a product that you already own, replace it with a cleaner version. This way you can ease into using natural products without feeling the pressure (both financially and time-wise) to replace everything at once.
2. Read labels and learn what to avoid. You may know that many conventional beauty products are laden with “nasties” such as artificial fragrance, parabens, phthalates, triclosan, formaldehyde, aluminum, BHA, propylene glycol, PEGs, petroleum, and many more. But did you know that safety testing is not required in the US for chemicals that go into personal care products? While hundreds of harmful chemicals are banned from cosmetics in Europe, only eleven ingredients are banned in the US (you can read more here).
So how do we discern which are good when so many products are available on the market? Especially when it seems that everything these days is labeled as “natural” (which is an unregulated term, actually). One resource that has helped me is the EWG’s Skin Deep website (they also have an app called Healthy Living). The Environmental Working Group has rated the toxicity level of over 70,000 products from more than 2,000 brands. On their website and app, you can search for products to see how they rate ingredient-wise. The lower the score, the cleaner the ingredients. This also comes in handy if you choose to buy conventional brands of cosmetics. You can compare the ratings of those conventional products to determine which is the safer buy. If a product isn’t listed, you can also search for single ingredients to get an idea of how a product measures up. Eventually you will become more familiar with which ingredients you do and do not want in your daily routine, but this is a great place to start.
3. Choose the cleanest options for products that are applied to the largest areas of skin, and/or are applied often. This is because many of the ingredients in beauty product absorb into skin and can even enter the bloodstream. When I use cosmetics, I want to make sure that I am using the safest ingredients possible when coming in contact with our body’s largest organ.
For example if choosing between buying a natural foundation or an eyeliner, I would go for the foundation. As it covers a much larger area of skin than the eyeliner, the foundation will have a greater positive impact on your skin. The same goes for products applied more often. If you wear blush once a month but use concealer every single day, it might be a better idea to invest in a concealer first. Note: another area to consider is lip products. These can easily be ingested throughout the day or while eating and drinking, so you may want to think about phasing out conventional ones sooner rather than later. Of course this depends on if, and how often, you wear lipcolor.
4. Pay attention to ounces and expirations. Most products will list on the packaging the expiration date or how many months it lasts after opening. Think about how many items you will realistically be able to finish up within that time period, and don’t overbuy in any one area. For instance, don’t purchase two or three of those dreamy looking detox clay masks at once when you likely won’t be able to use them all before they go bad. Instead consider keeping just one detoxifying mask and one moisturizing mask on hand so you can enjoy the process of both using and finishing them up without having to discard unused product.
Remember also to look at the price per ounce, not just the outright cost. A $50 price tag on a face oil might seem steep, but if it lasts for 12 months it may be a better buy than paying $30 for an oil that is half the size. Of course, you might want to try a sample first before springing for a full-sized product to make sure you really love it. This leads me to the next tip…
5. Remember when I said I was frustrated after wasting money on products that didn’t work out? One of the best ways to avoid that is to take advantage of samples and mini sizes. Many brands will let you buy travel, mini, or sample-sized products so you can test it the first time before committing to a full size. You will likely more per ounce, but you will also save plenty of money over time if an item doesn’t quite work out. Many stores will include free samples with your order, and some will even let you choose which samples you receive, similar to Sephora. Integrity Botanicals, Nuciya, and Credo Beauty will all let you pick your own samples from their current selection. I try to choose things I know I will be running out of in the near future. Sampling has not only helped me avoid some fails, but also allowed me to find some treats that I never would have sprung for on my own.
6. After you have narrowed down your beauty selections and are ready to take the plunge, use coupons and promo codes whenever possible. Brands and bloggers will often announce them on social media (especially around holidays!), and many websites will offer a coupon to new email subscribers. When possible, I try to order everything I need from just one online store to hit the free shipping mark.
7. Don’t be defeated if something doesn’t work out. When overhauling your beauty cabinet, you will inevitably have some flops along the way. Think about when you first started using beauty products- in Middle School? Junior High? How long it has taken since then to build a routine and find your groove? Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your new green beauty routine.
8. If I’m not a fan of a product, I try to reduce waste by re-purposing it. Here are a few of my favorite substitutions:
Facial serum didn’t do much for your face? Use it as a cuticle or body oil.
Face scrub too gritty for delicate skin? Use it to exfoliate your body before shaving.
Shampoo left a lot to be desired? Use it as a shower gel.
Conditioner too thick for your hair? Use it as a shaving cream.
Lipstick isn’t your color? Tap a little onto your cheeks as a cream blush.
Lip balm flavor isn’t your favorite? Use it on elbows, knees, and dry patches as an all-purpose balm.
Blush or bronzer aren’t the right shade for your cheeks? Use them as eyeshadows.
Foundation or concealers that are too light for your skin? Use to highlight. Ones that are too dark? Use to contour.
If a product is defective or you are highly unsatisfied, many companies will offer returns. Just make sure to check their return policy before ordering. And finally if you cannot find a way to use something, share the clean beauty love and pass it on to a family member or friend. Maybe they’ll discover a new gem.
Do you have tips for making the switch to greener and cleaner beauty? Share them in the comments below!