How to switch over to green beauty (without getting overwhelmed)
What is green beauty? I believe green beauty is makeup, skincare, and hair care that is free of toxic chemicals, artificial colors and flavors. Green beauty is beauty products that you aren't afraid to put on your skin, ingredients you can pronounce, and hopefully vegan and cruelty-free as well. Maybe you've wanted to switch over, but the thought of researching ingredients to avoid, then getting rid of all the products you spent a lot of money on at Sephora or Ulta pains you so much that you shelve the whole idea altogether. I can tell you that I've switched over to green beauty, and I've never been happier. It can be overwhelming if you try to do it all at once, but I will explain how to do it gradually, so you never feel overwhelmed.
I used to shop at Sephora all the time. I'd occasionally go to Ulta, or maybe a department store for products from Chanel or M.A.C., but for the most part, it was Sephora. I was obsessed with getting products that were advertised as being the best, most luxurious products out there, until one day I realized there was a big problem with my skin. I developed sensitive skin over the years, and it wasn't that bad until I reached 30 years old.
When I was 30 years old, I went to a doctor because I had developed a very itchy scalp seemingly out of nowhere. The doctor examined my scalp, and said that it looked like I had seborrheic dermatitis (a type of eczema), and that was why my scalp had become so itchy and dry. I was told I'd need a shampoo that had harsh ingredients to help it, but when I used it, it never really healed my scalp. My scalp was always itchy and red, and nothing helped. I remember thinking one day that maybe I was allergic to something, because nothing I used for the dermatitis helped. I figured if it was seborrheic dermatitis, then eventually something would heal the outbreaks, but if it was an allergy, I'd have to get rid of what I was allergic to.
I researched hair care ingredients and common allergens, and then looked at my hair products. What I found was that most of the ingredients in my hair products were known allergens. I stopped using the products and tried different products without those ingredients, and eventually my scalp healed. It took a week for my scalp to stop itching intensely as it had been, and a couple months for the dry patches to completely heal. I couldn't believe the difference, and how simple the fix was; instead of living with a type of eczema for the rest of my life, I cut out the allergens and my skin healed. My scalp doesn't itch all the time anymore, and I learned which ingredients my skin likes and dislikes through trial and error.
After I learned what worked for my hair, I realized that I wanted to learn more about ingredients in makeup and skincare. I learned that I had a lot of products that included ingredients I was allergic to, and that the ingredients were also toxic to my body as well. It wasn't long before I took out every single makeup product and skincare product and did a massive purge. I got rid of everything that had toxic ingredients and anything I was allergic to. I felt good, but I also felt very sad and overwhelmed because I had no idea how to find better makeup, skincare, and hair care. I felt that I was left with nothing, and worried about finding better alternatives.
You don't have to do it this way. I realize how overwhelming this is, and how, if you try to purge everything at once like I did, you might find it impossible to get rid of anything at all. What I recommend is starting very slow. Whatever reason you have for going green, start slow. This doesn't have to be an immediate process. Give yourself time to learn what you are okay with, and go with that.
I think my biggest mistake was not trying to find great replacements for the products I was using before I purged everything. I felt so overwhelmed when I realized I didn't know how to find great replacements. At the time, I had been subscribed to several beauty subscriptions boxes, including Ipsy, Boxycharm, and Wantable. I researched green and vegan beauty boxes, and I found one called Petit Vour. Petit Vour is described as being a vegan, natural, cruelty-free subscription box, so I was intrigued. After trying them out, I was very happy to learn that the products weren't the kind of chalky, terrible products I thought natural, vegan products were going to be; they were just like the products I had come to love at Sephora, only non-toxic.
The box is $18, and you get to try a few products that may include skincare, body products, hair care, or makeup, and they are all considered luxury. I've been subscribed to them for a few years now, and I've found a lot of products through them. They have an online shop, so anything that you try through the box you can get through them. You can also get products through the company stores of the products, but I like that it's all in one place at Petit Vour.
There are also boxes like Art of Organics and Pearlesque Box. I've tried both, and liked both, but they focus on skincare and hair care, and don't usually include makeup. Art of Organics is $38 a month, and Pearlesque Box is $39.95 a month. Both include non-toxic products, and it is a great way to discover new brands. I think that getting these boxes are great if you are first starting out and don't know which brands you like, or which ingredients work for you. I've never had a problem with customer service with any of these subscription boxes. With Petit Vour and Art of Organics, their customer service responds via e-mail very quickly, and with Pearlesque Box you can either skip a month if you are not interested in receiving a box that month, or you can cancel online. As far as rewards, Petit Vour gives you back 20% in store credit for your purchases, and you can get points for reviewing your products in your monthly box. Art of Organics gives you 15% off of your purchase in their store if you are a monthly subscriber.
If you don't like subscription boxes, and want to try things in person, I've found that Whole Foods and Sprouts have a section where you can try makeup, skincare, and body care from companies who feature non-toxic products. There are also new green beauty brands at Sephora all the time, but since "natural" beauty is not a regulated term, you really have to look at the ingredients to determine if it is a non-toxic product.
If you are interested, I've included some of my favorite non-toxic skincare and makeup brands on my About Me page.
So which ingredients do you avoid? I started out with avoiding parabens, phthalates and BHT & BHA, These are easy enough to spot in your list of ingredients. They are used in your makeup, skincare, hair care, and even food packaging, and have been linked to cancer, endocrine system disruption (your hormones), and are known allergens.
Here is a good list of ingredients to avoid when you are starting out:
I find that if you start looking for a small list of ingredients to avoid, you will probably become curious about what other ingredients to avoid. The way I've switched over is to continue researching what ingredients to avoid, and finding better products to switch over to. Once I had a system of trying out and buying green beauty products, I got rid of products that were more toxic. It became easier to let go of toxic products when I knew I had a great replacement for them.
As far as body and skincare, you can also make your own products. I've made my own face masks, body scrubs, and dry shampoo, and found that it's very easy to make these products. I've found my favorite recipes for DIY beauty on a website called Wellness Mama. I've found that you save a lot of money by making your own body scrubs with organic sugar, organic essential oils (food grade only), and a carrier oil like organic sweet almond oil. You can also use organic coffee instead of sugar for a more intense scrub, or even salt if you prefer a salt scrub over sugar or coffee. Where you might pay $20 to $50 for an organic body scrub through a luxury company, you might be able to make four times the amount for under $20, and it's exactly how you like it. I usually get ingredients for DIY beauty through Vitacost.com, as they have a lot of organic base ingredients for a relatively inexpensive price. You can also look to your local grocery store for ingredients like organic cocoa powder (great for DIY dry shampoo for brunettes when mixed with arrowroot powder) and organic sugar.
You may be wondering if there are affordable options for non-toxic beauty products. DIY body products can be relatively inexpensive, but skincare and makeup are usually not in my experience. However, you can try less toxic makeup and skincare. It may not have the most awesome ingredients, but most of the ingredients are way less toxic than brands like Maybelline and NYX. I've found that brands like Burt's Bees and Pacifica are pretty good as far as skincare, but have not had the best impression of their makeup products. They are often on sale at Target and Ulta. They tend to range anywhere from $5 to $20 depending on what you get.
Whatever route you choose in order to start switching over to green beauty, whether it be subscription boxes, trying products in person, DIY, or even all of the above, just remember that you don't have to do it all at once. If you go slow, you will have a much better chance at succeeding and you will be much better for it because you are getting those toxic ingredients out of your life and off of your body. Give yourself time to change, because it is a process, but it's so worth it in the end.
Note: I am not sponsored by any of the subscription boxes, websites, or companies listed above. All opinions are my own and I have not received any compensation to include money, products or gift cards.