I received the following from a reader:
I would love to see more beauty product reviews and info. I'm always looking for a great new shampoo/body wash/etc... and I trust you to find the healthiest stuff.
First of all, thank you for your confidence and trust. That warms my heart. And, thanks for making your request - it's a great one!
OK! Beauty stuff! Better yet... Eco & Animal Friendly Beauty stuff! I'm a true girly girl at heart. I love makeup and beauty goodies. It all started back when my mom let me wear purple eyeshadow to school when I was about 12 years old. I was hooked. When I was growing up, you could stick me in a makeup department for hours and I was happy as heck. However, these days there aren't many makeup departments that make my list though. Too bad there weren't great healthy products back then! Now that I'm aware of the toxins present in most beauty products which not only harm animals with testing, but that are also destroying our environment, I've become uber selective with what touches my face, hair and body.
Before we begin with some companies that I enjoy, I want to introduce you to Skin Deep - Campaign For Safe Cosmetics, the amazing website put forth by the Environmental Working Group. This site is instrumental in helping me find the healthiest and least toxic beauty products. You can search the database by entering the names of various companies (although not every one of them is in there) or by searching specific ingredients (helpful when companies aren't listed). I'm seriously grateful for this website. I look forward to the time when more and more companies are added. The EWG does so much work in helping people learn about the various toxins in products and our environment. For example, check this page out for useful health tips. (BTW - They are always in need of monetary donations to help further their work if that's something you're interested in, go here.)
Check out these eye opening videos of some of their work...
The Beauty Products I Use
I strive to make my makeup, skin, hair, and overall body care as pure as possible, eco-friendly, cruelty-free, all natural, and non-toxic. The following companies are some of the brands that I use and recommend. I do not list every green or vegan company out there, as I've not tried them all. Furthermore, not all of the companies I listed here are vegan (although most offer vegan products - be sure to check specific products if that's important to you). Some offer vegetarian products that use honey or beeswax, but I don't purchase those. However, even if they offer vegetarian products, they are animal friendly in testing and eco friendly in ingredients, packaging, etc. There are also some companies that I've tried and not had much success. I talk a bit about those, too.
A note about mineral based products. Minerals are pretty much the rage and have been for a few years now. I do have some myself, but I read this blog post from EWG recently which I found intriguing: Is Mineral Based Makeup Safer?
I've tried many things from this company: mud shampoo, face cleanser, body cleanser, face toner, hand soap (the citrus smells divine!), intensive shea butter moisturizer (great stuff), and deodorant (it's the best natural deodorant on the market in my opinion - love it, although most days I don't use deodorant - a perk of clean eating! - but I admit there is a day here and there, maybe from hormones, where I like a little help and this is what I turn to). I'm partial to their fragrance-free options because I try to avoid products with essential oils while pregnant. I was a fan of their mud shampoo, but then my scalp started flaking. I'm now using Morrocco Method's hair care line (detailed below). Terressentials' products are hand-crafted, USDA Certified Organic, and they are truly 100% Natural. I will most likely try some of their baby line, too, when the time comes. (See Nature's Paradise link below for another great baby option.)
I've been using Morrocco Method's products on my hair for almost a year. The awesome thing about their products is that they're organic, vegan, gluten-free, and even Raw! I'd go into more detail about why I'm a big fan, but I already have here... also read the comments section in that link because the owner, Anthony Morrocco, dropped by to chime in. He addressed some readers' questions - gotta love that level of commitment and accessibility, it counts for a lot in my book.
I'm a paying customer of theirs, but recently they sent me a review package including some of their groovy elixirs to use on my scalp and hair. I love them. My husband and I have marveled at the rate of my hair growth. Some say that the pregnancy is contributing to that, but I've been using Morrocco Method products for some time now, well before I became pregnant. They also sent me their Agave Mist Styling Spritz to try. The only thing I'm not crazy about is the spray bottle... the sprayer thing itself shoots out a spray that is not "mist like" which makes it a little hard to use. I've bought and tried their Feng Shea Facial Scrub which is a nice exfoliator.
They have released a new conditioner, Pearl Essence Cream Rinse, which I'm eager to get my hands on. And, they have an interesting Lunar Hair Chart for the best days to cut and beautify hair each month.
This is a lovely company with terrific products. Raw Gaia has beautiful, living skin care products created from cold-pressed, organic and vegan ingredients, infused with essential oils and floral waters of the finest quality. I thought I'd have to miss out on playing with their products for the most part because the company is based in the UK, and it wouldn't be very environmentally responsible of me to have stuff shipped here frequently. However, it appears from their website that some online stores in the United States carry their products. That is helpful because those online retailers probably buy in bulk, but it's still better to buy as locally as possible. Regardless, I like this company and wanted to showcase them. Plus, I have some European readers, so this is a great company for them to try.
Zosimos Botanicals is an excellent company. I use their loose powder mineral foundation. One of the best aspects about this company is the customer service. I know that when I turn friends on to them, they'll get treated well. And, what's more... they're an environmentally conscious company. They handcraft their own line of natural products in a 100% wind-powered workshop. Cool!
I have a lot of fun on this website and could spend hours on it. They make a nice blush (Stargazer), as well as some eye shadows (I use these for liner and shadow), and I'm a fan of some of their lipsticks. Try their sample sizes to experiment with colors first - as they can be a little different than what you might expect. They have a vegan mascara that I haven't tried yet, but plan on doing soon. Coastal Classic Creations continues to get excellent ratings in the Skin Deep database I mentioned earlier. In my dealings with them, this is another company with terrific customer service.
Want to pretty up your face and body with organic fruit and veggie extracts? Then check out 100% Pure, which definitely has a spot in my heart. I'm a fan of many of their products - they smell amazing, and why wouldn't they? They're mostly made from fruit and veggie extracts and other awesome smelling natural ingredients. I stick with the products of theirs that are vegan and I've been very happy with them. It seems like they're continuously offering new colors, which is nice to see. When I first started with their products, I noticed they were heavier with the pinks than with the peaches (I prefer the peaches).
Some of my favorite picks from 100% Pure are: hand lotions (vanilla is true heaven), cleansing foams (my skin is left feeling clean, not stripped), coffee bean eye cream, pineapple enzyme face mask (this stuff is fun), rose facial mist (total aromatherapy relaxation in every sprtiz), body butters, powder blush (I apply a couple of layers to get the color I want), and the vegan lip options. I also love their compact powder, Healthy Flawless Skin Foundation Powder. You'll notice that the description on their website says it's vegetarian, but there are only vegan ingredients. I called to confirm and I was right... it's vegan! Yay!
A unique aspect about 100% Pure's products is that they pretty much do not contain minerals (except where she uses mica for a shimmer effect), because the owner, Susie Wang believes that fruit and veggie extracts are the best option for your skin.
This company makes one of the best USDA certified organic shampoo/soap options for babies. They offer products for the whole family, too. I've only bought the baby shampoo (I used it on my face and body), but many of their other products look promising and I plan on trying some.
I wrote about this company in a blog post here (there's a video, too). It's a great little company from Santa Fe. They are working on some "raw" products - yay! Just like I enjoy getting to know the people who grow my food from the farmers' market, I love the idea that I shook hands personally with the man crafting such fine products for my face and body.
Natural Food Products From My Pantry
There are a couple of products that I regularly use straight from my kitchen. Most notably they are rose water, orange blossom water, and coconut oil. You can find rose water and orange blossom water at most Middle Eastern markets or online. I use it on an organic cotton ball as a refreshing toner for my face. When it's hot in the summer, I put it in a spray bottle and spritz my face, neck, and hair with it. It's delightful.
I use organic coconut oil as a moisturizer, too. I'm not crazy about using it on my face - I don't seem to react as well as some others do for that. But, I like it on my legs and my growing pregnant belly right now.
Now, for a couple of animal and eco-friendly companies that are not my favorite.
This company makes both body care as well as makeup. I want to like this company. Truly, I do. So much that I've tried many of their products, some of them twice! I keep thinking, "They get great reviews, even some awards, so surely I'm missing something." But, for the life of me, I can't get excited about them. The Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser, that's one of the things I've tried... twice. It didn't get my makeup off very well and just didn't give me a clean feeling. It smelled heavenly though and I wanted to eat it! The face lotions... they just didn't make me jump for joy. And, the makeup... hmmm... well, I'll start by saying that the cheek and eye colors, which I have tried, contained beeswax. I actually bought them without knowing that. However, I still wanted to review them without that as a consideration. Some of the colors were nice, but here are my beefs: The eye cream colors did not stay put. At all. By the time I left the house after applying it, there were oily creases. Now, maybe I have oily eyelids? I don't know. I tried many things like using powder as a base, touching up with powder after, etc. Nothing helped. The eye colors are also not easy to apply. I tried using both a brush and my fingers. The cheek tints had some nice colors and effects, but it wasn't easy to carry in my purse because the jars are a little heavy and took up room in my makeup bag, but how can I complain about glass jars, right? It's nice to have makeup in those! The biggest problem with the makeup I tried was that (3 times!) the pots of color started to smell horrible after a relatively short period. It smelled rancid. That said, I'll give the company big props for great customer service, their mission, and their use of glass containers for most of their products.
To be fair, I've only tried one of their eye powders, but I wasn't crazy about it. It didn't have much punch for color. A friend of mine who is a former makeup artist recommended them to me; however, I wasn't impressed enough to try again since I was already happy with Coastal Classic Creations (mentioned above).
This company has a nice, clean website. Their mission is commendable (green packaging / containers and pure products). I only tried a couple of their products including the cream eye shadow and living luminizer. The cream eye shadow gave me similar problems as the Suki brand did - it creased and felt a little oily on my lids. Now, it is supposed to have a glossy-like effect, but it creased on me and I didn't care for that. The website says that if creasing occurs to use a finger to gently (pat) correct, but who wants to do that all day? By noon, I'd have it mostly rubbed off if I kept doing that. The Living Luminizer is their best seller, but I was not a big fan. It was kind of weird to use. I tried highlighting various recommended areas of my face with it but found that either I didn't notice it at all (making it a waste?) or it was too obvious. Perhaps I needed professional help using it... but if a makeup product is too hard to use, then who wants to use it? RMS uses minerals for their products but claim that they are not in the form of nanoparticles, thereby possibly making them healthier (does anybody know if this is true?). Unfortunately, I learned that some (or all?) of their products contain beeswax. Darn. I couldn't find specific lists of ingredients for the various products on their website, so I'm not sure if the products I bought were vegan... I now suspect they weren't. I should have checked that before purchasing, but I've learned my lesson and will do so next time!
Want to know why I'm a stickler for avoiding bee products - read this!
Well, that gives you a look into my makeup drawer and shower. Hope my recommendations have helped. I'm off to shop (I got a little excited after visiting all of these websites when collecting links for this blog post). So, what are some of your favorite products? Leave your recommendations, successes, and horror stories in the Comments section.