How to swap to natural beauty products

Claire ChartersBeauty, How to 18 Comments

Editor’s note: Please welcome Claire Charters to Styling You. Claire is a blogger at simpleluxeliving.com, a lifestyle blog curated to inspire readers to live a more luxe yet simpler, gentler, kinder and conscious life through DIY projects, gardening, mindful consumerism, wellness, decor ideas and more. 

With conscious consumerism on the uprise, many of us are seeking out handcrafted beauty products where the emphasis is on holistic wellness and natural curatives rather than on modern chemicals and synthetic fillers.

Natural beauty products made purely from Mother Nature are not only ‘chic’, but  have a positive impact on both your beauty and your health, plus they are good for our planet.

How to switch to natural beauty product

Make Sure ‘Natural’ Is Really ‘Natural’

‘Natural’ is the millennium buzzword for health and well-being and unfortunately companies are cashing in on this.  Scan the beauty aisle and you will discover that many labels on mainstream beauty products boast the words ‘natural’ ‘pure’ ‘100% natural’ or ‘botanical’. Sadly this in not usually the case. These are just savvy marketing terms  used to ‘green-wash’ the consumer.  The words “natural” and “all-natural” are not regulated labelling terms and if you read the label you will quickly discover that the product usually only contains 1-2% natural ingredient.  Natural ingredients come straight from mother nature and are listed on ingredient labels as both their common and scientific name.

In order to extend the shelf life of beauty products you will  find many quality products are only 95-98% natural, this is not necessarily a bad thing, so long as the preservatives used are of the less toxic type.

Educate yourself on the chemicals to avoid and get in the habit of reading your labels and understanding exactly what is in all of your beauty products. A great resource is the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database site, which rates popular cosmetics and personal-care products with hazard scores on a scale of 0 to 10, depending on their toxicity.  They have also launched a free barcode-scanning app, so its as simple as waiving your smartphone over the product in store and seeing how it ranks.

What To Look For On Your Labels

Look past the pretty packaging, ignore the miraculous marketing claims and go straight to the ingredient list. If you need a science degree to decode the label then avoid the product.

There are many chemical components found in beauty products, some which are more toxic than others. According to the research and findings from David Suzuki these are the Dirty Dozen you should avoid at all times:

  1. BHA and BHT: Used as a preservative in moisturisers and makeup.
  2. Coal tar dyes: A colourant found primarily in hair dyes. Avoid the terms p-phenylenediamine and “CI” followed by five digits.
  3. DEA-related ingredients: Used in products that are either creamy or foaming such as body wash, shampoos, moisturisers and facial cleansers. Keep an eye out for the related chemicals MEA and TEA.
  4. Dibutyl phthalate: Found in many nail care products.
  5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives: Can be hidden in any product. Look for the wording DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15.
  6. Parabens: Used in many products as  a preservative.
  7. Parfum (a.k.a. fragrance): Found in almost everything, even in some products marketed as “unscented.”
  8. PEG compounds: Used in many cosmetic cream bases such as moisturisers and creamy foundations.
  9. Petrolatum: Used to lock in moisture and create shine in hair products, lip balms, lip sticks and moisturisers.
  10. Siloxanes: Look for ingredients ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone.” Commonly used in products that soften, smooth and hydrate.
  11. Sodium laureth sulphate: Used in foaming cosmetics, such as shampoos, cleansers and bubble bath.
  12. Triclosan: Used as an anti-bacterial agent in toothpaste, cleansers and hand sanitisers.

For the full list of chemicals to avoid click here.

Natural beauty products

Is Natural More Expensive?

Well this depends on what brands you currently use. If you use designer brands from department stores then going natural will definitely be cheaper, however if you stock up on beauty products at the grocery store then be prepared to spend a little more on your products.  Clean and green products are a made with high quality ingredients which do cost more money than cheap chemicals and fillers. However, a little bit goes a long way – so I find that my natural products generally last longer. Also when you choose to go more natural you no longer get persuaded by those marketing scams such as ‘anti-ageing’ ‘moisture locking’ and so forth, and your beauty cabinet becomes more simplified with less products. The great thing about exploring the world of natural beauty is that you will find nourishing formulas and ingredients in your own kitchen. I have a beauty garden in my backyard and often make my own products, which also makes for great gifts come Christmas and birthdays.

Tips To Get You Started Today

So, you have decided that you want to build a more green and clean beauty cabinet. Thats great- but where to now? I will be honest, going cold turkey and ditching all the harsh chemicals from your beauty routine can be a rough transition. Natural products usually don’t have the same consistencies or scents that you may be use to in your current products which is why many people give up, claiming that they don’t work as well as the chemical ones.

The biggest thing you may notice when you make the switch is that your skin may temporarily break out. It should only last ten days or so before your skin settles – so try and stick though it. It will be worth it in the long run.

Here are some tips to help you swap those chemical products for more natural alternatives:

  • Don’t throw everything out at one, rather replace products as you run out.
  • Start with the easiest product to replace such as body wash and lotions. Leave your favourite make-up items till last.
  • Simplify your beauty routine. Don’t believe all the hype that you need a different product for every thing. You don’t  need separate creams for your eyes, face, body, hands, feet, etc? Your wallet and cabinet space will thank-you.
  • Ask for samples first before committing to the purchase. If free samples are not available then opt for trial or travel sizes.

Lavender as a beauty product

The big question is whether ‘natural’ products perform better than the chemical ones. I won’t lie – you do need chemicals if you want your lipsticks to stay on for 14 hours and petrochemicals are needed for that fake lash look. However, natural beauty has come a long way since those days of patchouli, hemp oil, flaking mascaras and drying lipsticks.  My advice is to stay constantly inspired and up-to-date  by reading product reviews and natural beauty articles from both magazines and bloggers.  I have a great natural beauty resource guide that gets added to almost daily: read it here.

Choosing natural and ethical beauty products on a daily basis is not only good for your health and the planet, it  feels good on both a spiritual and cellular level. Don’t get so hung up on perfection and doing everything right – at the end of the day it is all about moderation. If there is a product you just can’t live without – don’t be super hard on yourself for not being able to give it up. It is important to remember that even if you manage to switch out one or two items from your beauty drawer – you will be having a positive impact on your own health and towards a greener planet.

Will you give it a go, Stylers?

claire-chartersClaire is a qualified beauty therapist, interior decorator and Feng Shui consultant who has a passion for writing about simple luxuries, French country living, gardening, travel, natural beauty, wellness, and zen inspired living.

Comments 18

  1. Can I be honest and say that sometimes I put natural beauty in the too hard basket because I’ve spent money on product that hasn’t worked and I’m not prepared to do more research to find the right product, having said that I read these posts and I get inspired to make a difference to my chemical product consumption. I usually use Trilogy products and Garnier. I’m interested in making my own products. Once I have more time on my hands out of the busy baby rearing season I’m in.

    1. Hi…thanks for your honesty about putting it in the too hard basket. You know there is so much information out there, much of it conflicting, so it can get overwhelming. And then when we try natural products that don’t work – it can be even more frustrating. Making products is so much fun – its great to do with the kids also. Have you tried rosehip oil – thats a simple but ever so effective facial hydrater. And just simple coconut oil from the grocery store makes for a great body balm – or foot treatment. Thanks for reading.

  2. Claire, you are right when you say ease into the natural products – it makes the transition a lot less scary. Although I can’t claim the phenomenal success of “Neats” below (who has not used shampoo since Boxing Day), I have weaned myself off the daily or every-second day hair washing routine – the less poo movement, perhaps? And, I’m with you in terms of simplifying, using less products and those that actually work!

    1. Hi Inese, thanks for sharing your thoughts. So happy to hear that you have joined the natural beauty movement. Isn’t it just great to simplify the beauty cabinet – less clutter and more money in the wallet. I love having white space in my cabinet (rather than an overflowing cabinet of products), I find it very soothing. Modern life tends to be so chaotic – so the more things we can simplify then the better.

  3. I went no poo (shampoo) this year… and haven’t washed my hair with shampoo or conditioner since Boxing Day. And I switched to using a mixture of henna and indigo to colour my hair. I’m so pleased with the difference it’s made to my hair and scalp. Next on the list is having a go at making my own lipstick and tinted moisturiser 🙂

    1. Thats great. I have yet to try henna and indigo for hair colour – it is on my list – I hear it is very conditioning. Lipstick and tinted moisturiser – wow that sounds great. Please email me a recipe when you get one that you are happy with. Very interested in the tinted moisturiser. Makes me so happy when I hear other people share my passion for natural beauty. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts

    1. Isn’t it just wonderful. The natural products have come a long way since the earlier days, and because many of the fillers are harsh on our skin and hair, when they are removed it gives the active properties of the botanicals and herbs a chance to do their job (nourish and repair)- just as mother nature intended. The chemicals in Body washes, shampoos and conditioners are hugely contributing to the poisoning of the ocean – so the ‘turtles thank you’ for making the switch 😉

  4. I love natural products, so this is all right up my alley, thankyou Claire!
    I especially love coconut anything! love m:)X

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed this – and I am even more happy to hear that you are also a natural beauty lover. Its a movement that is growing more and more each day – hopefully it will become more mainstream as more and more people see its benefits. Yes the humble jar of coconut oil from the grocery store is great for absolutely everything – i put mine in a pretty mason jar so it makes my beauty cabinet feel a little more luxe.

  5. Great post Claire,I must admit I love Dermalogica ultra calming moisturiser but will have to have a good look at the ingredients as I have really sensitive skin,and come out in horrible itchy rashes after using some face products BUT I have no idea what I’m reacting to!

    1. Oh I to was a Dermalogica Devotee for many years. I loved their range – I found it to be the best as far as non-irritation. This sensitive range from Dermalogica has no artificial fragrances, so there may be a chance you are reacting to the artificial fragrance in other products. I tried the all natural brand AEOS straight after Dermalogica and found them to be equally amazing – no reaction whatsoever. With high quality skincare products you generally shouldn’t have to much of a reaction unless you are reacting to one of the natural ingredients (which is still possible). You can buy AEOS from the benaturallyou online store. Actually there are heaps of amazing brands in this store. Email the lovely owner Sam and see if she can send you any testers or recommendations. Im not sure if she does testers but if you buy something from the shop she may be able to do something. 🙂
      http://benaturallyou.com/products/#category=aeos

      1. Thank you Claire I will have a look and I wouldn’t try anything unless I could trial it first I’ve learnt my lesson now Xx

    2. Thank you so very much I might try that range after I’ve finished my Dermalogica,I now wouldn’t try anything I can’t get a tester or a sample of because sometimes it can take up to 5 days for the rash to develop,thank you for your help Claire Xx

  6. Great post. Im considering trying the Enjo face off makeup remover pads and body square as well. They are supposed to be great and you don’t get any more natural then cloth + water!

    1. Glad you enjoyed this article. I have never used the Enjo pads. But you are so right – nothing is better than natural clothe and water. If you find you need something a bit more active to remove your makeup – coconut oil or virgin olive oil are wonderful – just wash off the oily residue with clothe and water afterwards. I sometimes add lavender to my olive oil – the earthy smell makes for a gorgeous beauty ritual

        1. Will have to put Enjo on my list. Oh rosehip oil is amazing. That is pretty much all I use also – except when I want to treat myself with a luxury new product. Something I learned: Apply the rosehip before you exercise, the body heat you generate will cause the oil to absorb more deeply into the skin, really allowing it to feed and nourish.

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