“It’s not easy being beautiful.” Truer words were never spoken - especially if you’re consciously trying to live a life in which you only use products that are natural, healthy, and good for the environment. I wanted to create a comprehensive guide that covers my basic beauty routines and how I’ve kept them “green.” Ready to give your beauty counter a bit of a makeover?
I am a self-professed beauty guru. I love trying on new colors for lipsticks and eyeshadows, trying over and over again to perfect the cat eye, and have been known to pluck my eyebrows into oblivion (thankfully I don’t do that too much anymore - too much.)
But as a naturalist, sometimes these two things conflict with each other. But over time I’ve developed and learned various tricks to creating substitutes for my most in-demand products.
Mascara/Makeup Remover: Olive oil. This has worked better for me than any actual, professional makeup remover I’ve tried. It gets everything off, it’s gentle on your skin, and it’s natural.
Lipstick: I’ve been doing this since I was little, because making your own lipstick is probably one of the most fun experiences you’ll have playing with your mom’s spices. First, you’ll need beeswax pastilles, shea butter, and coconut oil. Mix one teaspoon of each together and put it in a little jar or an old lip balm container (baby food jars work great!) Mix them together, and you’ll have a clear, curative, moisturizing “lip stick” that will leave your lips feeling great. But that’s not the best part - if you want colored lipstick, you can play around with the palettes of various add-ins. My favorite is my recipe for red lipstick - you combine beet root powder with a small pinch of red kool-aid powder - then dash a little bit of cinnamon in it. This creates a beautiful burgundy color that also tastes like Christmas! For other colors, play around with it - use cocoa powder for browns, turmeric for orange, etc.
Foundation: I’m a big lover of mineral makeup, which contains ingredients that are a lot safer than store-bought powders, and I actually think they do a better job. The downside is that they are a bit expensive, but since it takes me months to get through a jar, I don’t usually mind.
Skincare and Hair Products
I have really pale, finicky, high maintenance skin and hair. My cheeks break out whenever I’m the slightest bit stressed (spoiler alert, I’m always stressed) and my bright, red hair gets greasy and oily at the touch of a finger. But a lot of the best beauty products out there that might come to my rescue have a lot of bad chemicals in them - ones that not only irritate and hurt my skin, but also contain toxic elements that get thrust back into our ecosystem as we use them, rinse them, and drain them. One of the most widespread offenders is shampoo, which frequently contains 1,4-dioxane - a harmful chemical that can contaminate marine habitats. Here are a few substitutions for some everyday products that aren’t so great for the environment - but offer the same results!
Shampoo: Get “sulfate-free” shampoos to avoid harsh chemicals. The environment will thank you, and your hair - it’s gentler!
Face Masks and Creams: For this option, you can do one of two things. The first is to look for products that say “paraben” free - these little buggers have been clinically linked to breast cancer and can be ingested through the skin. Your second option, and my personal favorite, is to simply use all-natural products for facials and scrubs. For example, did you know honey and lemon are both great natural ingredients that, when mixed together and used as a face mask, can help alleviate acne scars, exfoliate your skin and pores, and just leave you feeling refreshed? The honey is great because it moisturizes my skin and leaves it feeling baby soft.
Deodorants: Many kinds of underarm deodorizers contain aluminum, which has not only been linked to the development of breast cancer, but also pollutes the environment when it’s thrown out. To avoid these drastic circumstances, you can either buy all-natural deodorant (I love Tom’s!) Or, you can simply use a natural route - a great technique that I use is to simply rub a lemon slice under your arms every morning. It kills bacteria, and smells fresh and fruity! Just don’t use it on days in which you have recently shaved - you can use things like baking soda and cornstarch mixed together on those days, or permanently if you prefer the no-scent route.
Last but not least, this one may seem obvious on a superficial level. Of course we shouldn’t waste water. Of course showering twice a day is probably not necessary. Of course we should not leave the water on while we brush our teeth. Of course.
But our morning beauty regimen is one of those periods of the day in which we do use the most water - we shower, we wash our face, we brush our teeth, we rinse out our brushes to comb away flyaways. So it’s important to be aware of this - and to take action to synthesize where we can. My solution? I call it the One-Stop-Shower-Shop. I have a little caddy of all my things - shampoo, conditioner, face wash, tooth brush, combs - and I keep them all in the shower. Because I use them all in the shower.
Some people might think it’s a little “ew” to brush your teeth in your shower. I personally think it’s the exact same thing as doing it in the sink - but this way, you’re using water that was already being used anyways. Here is my routine:
I step into the shower, turn the water on. I quickly lather my shampoo, rinse it out, and put my conditioner in. While I let this soak (usually I take 2-3 minutes) I brush my teeth, wash my face with my face wash, scrub my body, then I turn the water off. At this point, I shave my legs and my underarms (running the bath here and there to rinse out the razor) and only turn the water back on when I’m ready to rinse the conditioner, shaving cream, and any remaining soap. When I step out of the shower, I can usually come in at around 4 minutes. That’s only 240 seconds of shower time. Impressive, huh?
While I had to skip many of the more minute details to cover everything, I wanted to illustrate the types of things anyone can do to lessen their carbon footprint before they’ve even stepped outside in the morning - and to create a healthier, more natural regimen for your physical health, too. There are so many harmful things in the products we use every day - isn’t it time to change that?
What do you think? Are you ready to “go green” where it really matters? Let me know in the comments!