Thursday, August 12, 2010

Non-toxic toiletries.

Over the last almost year, my blogger (and now real-life) friend Marie-Ève of Marie-Ève in Montréal has been writing about learning about what is in beauty products (and also food) and making good choices. She writes about banishing stuff you can't pronounce, discovering toxic ingredients in make-up and bath products, an organic make-up line you can find at a supermarket, and safe nail polish and shampoo. I admit, when I first read about the idea of organic make-up and products, I thought...uh...yeah...I can't afford organic stuff, and dismissed the idea without too much consideration. I have always just bought from the mainline brands at the drug store, and it worked okay for me, especially since I just can't bring myself to spend tons of money on make-up.* But in the last few months, I have continued to learn and think about toxins in the products I use regularly, and now find the idea of coating myself with products chock full o'toxins and carcinogens every day rather disturbing. There is even this amazing website run by the Environmental Working Group that rates how safe or dangerous products are. I have looked up all my products and the findings were rather scary.** After I discovered the score of the product, I used a Sharpie to write the rating on the bottle, and did an immediate purge of the worst and will get rid of the medium bad ones as soon as I get replacements. My goal is to get most of my products into the low hazard range, preferably with eco-friendly packaging.***

But this has been a long journey and it was only a couple of months ago that I cared enough and was ready (err....desperate enough) to make my first step into green toiletries by trying environmentally friendly shampoo. Annoyed for a few years that NOTHING really felt like it worked for my hair, I was continually switching products to try to find The Miracle Product That "Worked" For Me. After no success and some continued research, I began to wonder if maybe some of the harsh chemicals that I had learned were in all these shampoos were causing my hair to be gross, resulting in it oddly feeling both dry and coated at the same time. I thought about switching to baking soda to boycott shampoo, and even tried that for about a week, but...that wasn't doing it for me either. So I talked with Marie-Ève, who suggested Live Clean, so I tried their moisturizing shampoo and conditioner and liked it. And I got excited about the fact that my new shampoo was not doing bad things to the environment and it was reasonably priced.**** Before I guess I had always assumed that if stores sold beauty products, they were safe for humans and for the environment. But I now know that there aren't really any standard regulations about what goes in there to keep us safe. ( messed up is that?) Check out this interesting 7 minute film called "The Story of Cosmetics" if you want to know more.

So needless to say, I am now ready to make changes in the products I use. Just this past weekend, I stumbled upon a $5 sale on Live Clean products and I found numerous products I haven't seen elsewhere, so I bought a few different things. I got moisturizing body wash, clarifying shampoo, baby lotion (I couldn't find any lotion for adults?), and leave-in conditioner. I also got Live Clean's invigorating shampoo the other day from somewhere else. So now I am totally stocked up for a good long while and have been pleased with everything I bought. And it is so nice to know that these products are made from plant ingredients and don't have parabens, SLS, and other not-good stuff.

I also have been learning more about make-up, and Marie-Ève mentioned on her blog because they ship to Canada. I checked the website out and am excited about the company and their great approach. I just ordered some non-toxic nail polish and a slew of other things from them and can't wait until it arrives so I can try it out! And I got a new eyeliner and powder at a store the other day. It's Physician's Formula Organic Wear (eyeliner) and Bamboo Wear (powder and compact). You have to buy the Bamboo Wear compact and powder separately, but the cool thing is that the compact is re-usable and the disc that holds the powder refill is recyclable. They seem to work well so far, but I have not yet cried while wearing them, so they haven't really been put to the test.

And to switch things up even more....I also decided I want to try using make-up brushes to apply my make-up. Up until now, I have only used the lame applicators that come in the inexpensive, drug store make-up. You know, the little foam pads on those plastic wand applicators? The ones that eventually fall off into the wet sink while you are trying to put on your eye shadow, and that's just gross, so you resort to using your pinky finger instead? Yeah, I decided it was time I give actual make-up brushes a try, so I started educating myself about them and how to apply make-up with a brush. I learned that there are natural brushes (which are made out of animal hair) and synthetic (which are often made out of Taklon). I decided to buy some synthetic ones that use environmentally-friendly components like bamboo and recycled aluminum. After researching options, I decided to try ecoTools, which is available in Canada at drug stores and pretty inexpensive for quality make-up brushes. (Who knew that big-name make-up brand brushes could cost SO MUCH?) Anyhow, I got the 6 piece ecoTools bamboo set (blush brush, eye shading brush, eye liner brush, lash and brow groomer, concealer brush, and a hemp/cotton storage roll), a foundation brush, and an extra eye shading brush. They are soft and I am really enjoying them so far! They make me feel like I am pampering myself as I put on make-up. And I feel like my eyeshadow looks better when applied with a brush.

So I am going to give this all a try and see how it goes, but I can tell you that I am already super excited about the eco-friendliness of it all and the fact that these products are not harmful like the stuff I was previously using. And I am going to eventually look into homemade recipes for products too. And yes, I guess this post makes me sound rather girly-girly-with-a-touch-of-"hippie"-too, but I'll just happily embrace it.

*Though I did get some Clinique powder foundation for the wedding last fall. I liked it, but was not convinced it was actually worth the extra expense and decided I would go back to my normal stuff when I used it up.
**Scary, as in even the most famous baby lotion, which one would think would fall into the "0" to "2" low hazard range rates a "6." SIX! A product for babies is in the "3" to "6" moderate hazard range! I even had products in the "7" to "10" high hazard range. And these high hazard products....they are normal products by main stream brands. It's not like I am buying arsenic lotion or something. SCARY.
***The numbers are a pretty effective motivator. I mean, do I really want to slather this "7" all over my body or scrunch my hair with this "8"????
****Cause I am always looking for quality products at great prices.


  1. It is scary isn't? My "awakening" was similar, I just stumbled upon an article on children's exposure to toxic ingredients, and it all went from there. Before, I had just never been asking myself questions and just plainly trusted the manufacturers, which I've since learned is more often than not a big mistake! It's not been that easy for me either, I still haven't found replacements for everything, but it's a process. I have even decided to give cloth diapers a try for the baby (at least some of the time)...

  2. @Marie-Ève: Yes! And I have also decided to (someday, if we have kids) use cloth diapers too! I was just going on and on with S the other day about it, and all I had learned recently about cloth diapers. Young House Love has a recent post that was fabulous on their cloth diapering experience:

  3. We use Live Clean stuff too! It is awesome that it's so widely available and priced like normal products. Don't really wear makeup so I have no explored that line of things, but I did just buy a Diva Cup which I have yet to try--am nervous about it but I know lots of women who swear by them. Maybe that will be your next (slightly hardcore) step. :)

  4. @accordionsandlace: Yep, I've got the DC. :)

  5. Ok, now I am going to see what my products rate... scary!

  6. @Mrs. T: Would be curious to hear how it goes rating your products... Maybe products down under are better??