Reviewing Green Beauty Products

This is new territory for me, dipping a toe into the world of beauty blogging, but I have to say, I remember posting on Facebook last year how I wished someone would finally invent some “green” beauty products that actually work after throwing away a full bottle of useless, but safe, nail polish remover. Since then I’ve calmed down and have walked into this area of chemical-free beauty products with a much more serious and dedicated fervour, so I’m pleased to say that I’ve already had much better results with the soaps and shampoos I’ve tried in 2014 — starting with Giovanni’s Smooth as Silk shampoo and conditioner.

Before I’d even used the stuff I was discussing it with my mom, who raved about the scent, which I hadn’t even noticed, having picked it up at Tesco and placed it directly in my shower caddy. I have to admit, it reminds me of a really pricy shower gel I used once from a company out of London that I also remember hearing was safe for the whole family (and darn it, I have no idea what it’s called now) — but this stuff is much cheaper, and as you’ll find out in a later post I’ve also found a different (cheaper) bath soap that feels quite nice and authentic on this green beauty journey. Bottom line, this shampoo and conditioner smells much better than products I’ve tried from Burt’s Bees, for example, so props for that.

Organic Beauty

It also gives a good lather, which I understand is tough to create without SLS. My son asked for bubbles in his bath yesterday, and having switched to an all-natural baby shampoo for him too, I knew it wouldn’t create those nice fluffy bubbles he’s used to — so I squirted in some of my Giovanni shampoo while the water was running, and sure enough, BUBBLES! Just enough to make him happy, and I danced a little bit inside too knowing that now I don’t have to make a separate purchase for him in the future if I don’t want to — the whole family can use one product.

That said, I do have one caveat — this shampoo is not perfect for me, at least compared to the conventional versions I was using immediately prior (Pantene Blonde Expressions and Neutrogena Triple Therapy Volumising Conditioner). Before, without any products at all I could blow dry (okay, and tame a few flyaways with lip balm or natural face lotion — yeah, I’ve really given up all my conventional styling products) and have amazing, beach-blonde, pregnant-lady hair. (A) I know that my hair may only be this lush because of the pregnancy and (B) the Giovanni shampoo obviously won’t bring out my natural highlights, but…it’s not as light and fluffy and bouncy as it was with the other stuff. In fact, it can be downright flippy and dry-looking, even though this is a moisturising line.

So I have two options: either find some green styling products (volumiser? mousse? flyaway tamer?) or try something new next time. To feed the old beauty-product addict inside of me I know I’m going to end up trying something else first, but at least the stuff isn’t horrible, and it’s perfectly suitable for the days I do NOT blow dry and just tie my hair back (which is pretty frequent).

Final verdict: Thumbs sideways. Love the smell, love the fact that they somehow maintained the lather without using SLS or SLES, but don’t love the way my hair looks when blow-dried compared to the results with conventional products. I’ll live with it until it runs out, but next time I’m going to try a volumising formula for my fine, straight hair.

Natural Deodorant…Do I Use It Or Not?

To stink or not to stink? I always thought that was the question when it came to switching to a natural deodorant — do I want to smell like a horse farm just to “go green,” or should I ignore the issue all together and stick to the regular kind (some of which still leave you stinky anyways)? I pictured dirty hippies, the girls in junior high who still hadn’t had the talk with their moms and didn’t know it was time to start using the no-stink stick. Serious, stomach-turning odor.

But I tried it anyways!

I’d heard about the dangers of conventional deodorant plenty of times; after all, why would natural options exist if there wasn’t a real tradeoff? So around Christmas during our family health crisis, I decided it was finally time to toss the Secret and commit to going au naturel. I was afraid, very afraid, especially with my raging pregnancy hormones, that I would smell like a European tourist. And what was this stuff, anyways, a “crystal” I had to wet before rubbing it under my arms? I thought crystals were for Feng Shui.

Natural Deodorant

Yet I couldn’t ignore the evidence — parabens, found in traditional deodorants, are an established risk for breast cancer. But scientists still claim there’s no link between the dangerous chemical and applying it daily, at least once, to an area where so many positive lymph nodes are detected in women with mammary tumors? Parabens are known hormone disruptors.

Found in the tissues of women with cancer. Sure, even in women who said they never used deodorant — but to me, that doesn’t let underarm protection off the hook. It just means that parabens happen to be in deodorant and a million other conventional products we use too much of these days. Really, it would be laughable if it weren’t so FREAKING ridiculous.

So back to my little experiment…I am officially stink free! (At least I think so — but you’d have to ask those I’ve come into close contact with for the final verdict, I suppose.) There was no transition period while my body “adjusted” to the natural alternative, although I heard that was typical. And I will mention that it’s not like I’m doing any hard-core cardio while I’m pregnant, of course, so when my workouts start to ramp up again I admit to wondering if I’ll regret the switch.

The Crystal I’m using right now, also, is just a deodorant, not an antiperspirant — so I don’t always feel completely dry, but I’m not exactly one to wear silk blouses or tight-fitted jersey dresses anyways. Frankly, I’m pleased, and I’m hoping anyone who’s on the fence out there about making the switch goes out and tries it right away. There’s really nothing to be afraid of after all, and there are other options available if the first kind you try isn’t 100% satisfactory.

Sodium Laureth What?

Both sodium laureth sulfate and its close relative sodium lauryl sulfate are commonly used in countless kinds of shampoo, bubble bath, toothpaste, soaps, deodorant and detergents — it’s what makes the products foam up, what gives them their bubbles. But did you know they are also very dangerous, and highly irritating?

Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) can actually damage your hair follicles in the case of shampoo/baby shampoo, cause damage to the skin in the case of bubble bath or body wash and can cause permanent (yeah, you heard me, permanent) damage to the eyes in children — not to mention your everyday liver toxicity. It’s another one of those great chemicals like phthalates that gets inside your system and stays in the body’s tissues — only in this case, being metabolized by the liver, your body really has to expend a lot of energy to get rid of it. The EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database classifies these agents as likely to be toxic or harmful. There is “strong evidence” to support this claim, including over 40 studies that you can read yourself if so inclined! If you’re at home, get up, go to your bathroom and examine your toothpaste, shampoo, body wash and baby shampoo. I’ll bet you any amount of money that at least one of the products you use every day has sodium laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate as one of the first few ingredients. If you’re reading this on the go, stop at a drugstore or grocery store. Try to find a popular shampoo or body wash WITHOUT one of these bad boys. I seriously think you’ll come up empty handed.

So if something is so toxic and harmful, why are we “allowed” to buy the stuff and scrub it on our heads, faces, bodies and, did I mention, all over the insides of our mouths? Well, think about it this way, for one: You can still buy cigarettes and foods with trans fats, both of which are linked to cancer. Consumer products companies generally loathe replacing chemicals in their precious formulas, because that costs huge amounts of time and money — and, after all, it’s only our health and vitality at stake. Don’t expect your favorite brands to do away with SLS any time soon, because there is no government agency that actually regulates how much a manufacturer uses or claims not to use in a given product! We might as well be talking about herbal supplements or bottled water, two other areas where the government basically sits on their collective ass rather than stepping in to protect our health and wellness (more on that later). Vote with your dollar and look for something safe — I’ll provide some examples below for you to munch on. Let’s not risk developing cancer because we love our Paul Mitchell shampoo so much, mmkay? Here are some practical alternatives to swap out the next time your toothpaste and detergent are running low.

Jason Powersmile toothpaste contains no sulfates or preservatives (no animal testing, either). I use the stuff every day. If you don’t have a local earthy-crunchy health food store like I do that sells it, try Amazon. They sell everything!

Dr Bronner’s Pure Liquid Castile Soap can be used in a million different ways, but I’m most excited about using it to clean dishes as even Seventh Generation’s dish soap contains SLS. (That was a shocker to me. SMH, Seventh Gen.) You can get tons of different varieties of Dr Bronners on Amazon also, or at Target and health food stores too.

Natural Newborn sells chemical-free baby wash, lotion, massage oil and more. Keep in mind, however, shipping can be slow from these smaller organic companies as they’re often small and family owned, so order with enough lead time in advance (not when you’ve already run out of your baby’s old favorite).

The Skinny book I’m reading now recommends Amazon Beauty Rahua shampoo and conditioner, Sukihair Clean Balance Shampoo and Glory Locks Hair Cream aside from the Giovanni Smooth and Silk line I told you about in an earlier post. I’m looking forward to trying all of the above!

Face washes can also contain SLS as a foaming agent, so try (again, Kim’s picks) Terra Firma Cosmetics Face the Day Cleanser, Suki Sensitive cleansing bar or OSEA Ocean Cleanser (which sounds the yummiest to me). I’ll review all of the products for you as I try them, starting with the Giovanni hair care and Jason toothpaste I mention using above.

Don’t mess around with this stuff, guys. I know it’s easier to just go on using what you always use and ignoring what you may consider to be paranoia or conspiracy theory, but what have you got to lose? Are you really that attached to your bottle of Pantene? Don’t keep it shallow, sister. Pass along this info to your beauty-obsessed friends, your wives who do the shopping, your moms and girlfriends and whomever you think is otherwise too lazy to care. Get them to care by showing that YOU care about THEIR health and wellbeing! Try one product and let me know how it goes — I promise there are alternatives out there for everything, and I’ll help you find the best ones.