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Going au naturel

Several weeks ago, I wondered whether any of you had started checking the ingredient list of the beauty products you buy. My sense in talking to other women about this is that few if any of us are doing this. It’s simply not a part of our culture yet.

More and more though, I’m coming across articles that talk about all the preservatives and chemicals in the beauty products we use, and I have to say, it’s definitely given me something to think about. So many of us take steps in other areas of our lives to stay healthy and not put a lot of junk in our bodies (think: eating organic, drinking lots of water, exercising, etc etc etc), but I’ve noticed the cosmetics industry is one arena that we tend to forget about. I recently came across this video and article on Time.com, and I was blown away. Isn’t it crazy that there has been virtually no testing to see how all these chemicals in our beauty products interact with one another?

Believe me, I am not one to get preachy about things — I really believe to each her own. But, I’m also a huge product junkie (specifically, skin care products) and once I started reading up on this topic a little more, I was certainly surprised. Lately, as I’ve hit my late(r) 20s, my skin has been changing, and after experiments with several different skincare lines didn’t yield the results I’d hoped for, I started trying more natural products with fantastic results.

Lots of aestheticians and dermatologists say that if you’ve got a regimen that works, stick with it, and there is probably some truth in that. However, if you’re interested in trying out more natural products, I wanted to share a few I’ve tried and am really liking.

Aubrey Organics Rose Mosqueta Nourishing Shampoo — I have to warn you about organic, all-natural shampoos like this…they don’t foam the same way regular shampoos do. But I found out that’s because they lack sodium laureth (or lauryl) sulfate, which helps get things good and foamy (and consequently, has been shown to be a major skin irritant). This shampoo is made from all-natural ingredients, and though I was convinced I wouldn’t like it and would really miss the foaming action, I’m actually quite fond of it. I find it doesn’t strip my hair nearly as much as regular shampoos, and ever since I started using it, scalp irritation and itchiness that I THOUGHT was due to the weather or diet or some other external factor has completely disappeared. TMI? Eh, whatevs — this stuff works! Available in various health food stores, GNC stores, and from their website, Aubrey Organics.

Kiss My Face Whenever Conditioner — You guys, I’m in LOVE with the way this conditioner smells. Of course, everyone is attracted to different scents, but this is a lovely, fresh scent of lime and green tea with hints of thyme and lavender. I know that sounds weird, but I really like it, and the fragrance stays in my hair all day. Again, I was skeptical that this wouldn’t condition was well as Dove or Pantene does (my normal go-tos), especially since the first time I used it, it didn’t feel as ‘slick’ in my hair. But I think that’s just because my hair is soaking in all those good essential oils. Frankly, my hair has been as soft as it usually is. Available at TONS of health food stores, Whole Foods, GNC, drugstore.com, and their website, Kiss My Face.

Josie Maran Argan Oil — Recently, I got my hair cut, and instead of any straightening products or glossing sprays, my stylist worked a dime size drop of pure argan oil through the ends of my hair (NOTE: NOT the roots). I seriously had the best blow out of my life. I don’t like to blow out and straighten my  hair every day (in fact, it’s more like once every few weeks), but lately when I’ve been doing so, using just a touch of argan oil has produced unbelievable results. I use the regular 100% argan oil, not the stuff formulated for hair — that actually has more chemicals in it.  Available on the Josie Maran website (also available at Sephora)

Avalon Organics Vitamin C Hydrating Cleansing Milk — With my skin acting so weird lately, I figured I needed something as gentle and non-stripping as possible. This cleansing milk has been a god send. It has a light orange creamsicle fragrance, and is great at removing makeup. I like to apply a little on my dry skin, then tissue it off with a cotton ball, then apply a bit more and ‘wash’ my face for real. It leaves your skin so hydrated and soft. Available at lots of health food stores, Whole Foods, CVS, Trader Joe’s, drugstore.com, and their website, Avalon Organics.

ACURE Organics Seriously Firming Facial Serum — This stuff is the entire reason I decided to write this post. I AM IN LOVE WITH ACURE. I came across this line in a local grocery store, and was instantly intrigued. All their products are natural, using organic and fair trade ingredients where possible. I have been using this facial serum (a combination of 10 different oils) on my face every night before bed. When I wake up, my skin is baby soft. It has a lovely, soothing lavender scent and feels soooo good going on. Even though the bottle is small, I literally use two drops and it covers my whole face…so it’ll last a long time. If you’re interested in trying the Rodin Olio Lusso face oil (for $140, no less), this is a great substitute. I like this product so much that I’m really looking forward to trying other products in the ACURE line. It’s everything the modern natural skincare line should be — effective, affordable, and definitely NOT too granola! Available at health food stores and from their website, ACURE Organics.

SanRe Organic Skinfood Supple Sunshine Day Cream — I couldn’t believe that I could find an all-natural day cream that had SPF 30! Like the ACURE facial serum, the SanRe cream is entirely oil based, and uses zinc oxide to protect your skin from UV rays. It can feel a bit oily going on (not greasy, just not emollient like moisturizers I’m used to), but after a few minutes, my skin soaks it up and is primed for makeup (or not). Available at various health food stores, and from their website SanRe.

Avène Eau Thermale — I love misting my face with a bit of this thermal spring water before I jet out the door, and also as a pick me up during the day. It feels so refreshing! Available at some independent pharmacies/drugstores, drugstore.com, dermatologists, and their website, Avene USA.

South of France French Milled Vegetable Soap in Shea Butter — There’s nothing like a bar of shea butter-scented soap. To me, it is the essence of ‘clean.’ I like that this soap only has vegetable oils and glycerin, with lots of shea butter. It doesn’t strip your skin of moisture, and the bar is so big, it lasts a long time. Available in various health food stores, and drugstore.com.

Aura Glow Lavender Body Oil — Every time I use this stuff, I feel like I’m at the spa. The smell of lavender is so soothing, and your skin feels very soft afterwards. It’s great for your legs after you shave them. Just give yourself a bit of time before getting in bed or into jeans — your skin needs to soak it up! Available in various health food stores, and drugstore.com.

EO Everyday Body Lotion — This line has become my new favorite body lotion. It soaks in quickly, and I like that the product is made locally, in Marin County, CA. It’s a great alternative when I don’t have time to let body oil soak in. Available at Whole Foods, various health food stores, and from their website.

Now, each of these products would score differently on an “all-natural” scale. The simple truth is that in lots of cases, it is just easier for manufacturers to use certain chemicals to stabilize products, give them the textures we’re accustomed to, and so on. But, when I started comparing the ingredients in these items to the products I used to use, it was amazing how much more natural these were. It’s virtually impossible to have a completely natural beauty routine (just like it’s nearly impossible to have perfection nutrition all the time and not indulge in dessert), but I think that small changes can make a difference.

If you’re interested in learning about what’s in your favorite beauty products, my co-worker Joanie pointed me to this amazing site called Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. It’s not completely comprehensive (in terms of cataloging every single product on the market), but with 65,000 product records, it’s a great start. You can type in a particular brand (like ‘Laura Mercier,’ or ‘Pantene‘ or ‘Secret‘) and find the products you use. From there, it will give you a general ‘hazard’ rating from 0-10, and also break down all the ingredients in each product by potential health concerns (and to be fair, it also tells you whether the research on each chemical is strong, fair, limited, or non-existent, so you can make your own judgement call about whether to use the product).

8 Responses

  1. Love this post. Thanks for the great product recommendations!


  2. Thanks for this post!

    I would echo the Aubrey Shampoos, which I’ve been using together with Avalon Organics conditioner (rosemary). I got my Dad’s hair (naturally thin and thinning), so I definitely worry about my hair. Once I moved to the South, I had to find a new hair routine stat to combat all the humidity and this worked. Takes a little getting used to, but worth it. I still keep a bottle of Pantene in the shower for very “special” days ha.

  3. LOVE this post! This is amazing info for me, I’m especially interested in the shampoo after you talking about how you stopped having “issues” after using it (besides, i *really* like the name (c: )! Brilliant. Thanks for the tips and HAPPY WEEKEND!

  4. Love your post and blog, thank you for the recomendations, I love to share best things too.
    a big kiss

  5. Yay VMac!

    Here are some of my conclusions:


    Desert Essence — anything, literally. I purchased their face wash, moisturizer, exfoliator, and face pads.


    Everyday Shea or Allaffia products–they are made on the West Coast and use Fair Trade Shea Butter and support environmental projects and women’s products. And the Everyday Shea is available in 32oz for 10 bucks! I found mine at Whole Foods.

    I really love Alba’s Un-Petroleum Jelly, too. Super mild and moisturizing!

    Let’s be honest and say that some of this Au Natural stuff can be spendy. Looks for products on VitaCost.com–they’re a wholesaler that can offer discounts up to 40-50%!

    Thanks again, V. :-)


  6. Love this post!! I’m constantly on the lookout for new “natural” products. I’ve been looking for shampoo/conditioner forever – I can’t wait to try yours. I’ve been using the Skin Database for a while and it scares the @#$@ out of me!! I’m slowly trying to replace all my products with healthier ones.

    Oh, that video you posted is fantastic. So eye opening.

  7. This is awesome. So informative. I feel like you did the research and now I’m just cheating off you. Thank you. Luckily I’m almost out of my shampoo and can restock with the natural stuff.

  8. I can’t believe you recommended AuraGlow! That is the best stuff. And all the different scents are to die for. Like a garden.

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