It's Not Easy Being Clean

Clean Beauty |

This is a topic I've been wanting to share for a while. I am obsessed with clean products. "Clean" meaning I can pronounce and understand the ingredients. Made in small batches? Even better! I've more recently been attempting to buy products packaged without plastic. Glass is infinitely recyclable and does not contain BPA the way some plastic does. I can also wash and reuse glass bottles which I'm amassing into quite a collection. The hardest to figure out have been shampoo and body wash. Understandably, brands are not keen to put products that soap you up in the shower into glass bottles, so I have rediscovered soap bars. I think it must have been a serious marketing success to turn everyone from simple soap bars to body wash. I can remember actively shunning the idea of soap bars for culinarily named washes like Cucumber-Citrus or Brown Sugar-Vanilla. Herbal Essence was in every shower stall in college. But when you look at the ingredients, these conventional products contain sodium laureth sulfate, a detergent and skin irritant that is one of the cosmetic chemical "dirty dozen" as well as other toxic chemicals. Now I use soap bars that actually contain foods like coconut oil and goat's milk rather than chemicals meant to smell like food.

If you're just getting into the clean game, learn the essentials with this new book by the ladies of eponymous blog, No More Dirty Looks. Also check out this new app, Think Dirty, which allows you to scan the barcodes of your products for potential toxic ingredients and cleaner recommendations. I'll most often check with the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database before I purchase a product. If the actual product isn't listed, you can search specific ingredients for their toxic levels. All of these organizations are working to fill the gap the government leaves industry to exploit. The beauty industry has been allowed to use unlisted chemicals and carcinogens under the guise of "trade secrets" for long enough and its clear that consumers have had enough. Like, literally, our bodies are full of those same toxins.

So you wanna get clean? It's a bit challenging, but not impossible. I promise once you start clearing out the chemicals, you will feel better. Just as I've done with fashion, I'll start a section under my Resources to help you along. Once you identify clean brands that work for you, it will get easier. And it will probably be cheaper! I now use fewer products than I ever have with better results! I'm going to share a few of my tried and trues to get the ball rolling.


Apple cider vinegar is a versatile (and cheap!) beauty product. I use it as a hair rinse in a dilution of 1:1 ACV to water after I shampoo. It makes my hair shiny and pH balanced. I also dilute it 1:2 ACV to water plus a drop of white thyme oil to use as a facial toner, which I store in a glass bottle. For bonus points, use it with washable organic cotton rounds like these from Juniperseed Mercantile. You can find apple cider vinegar and the oils at your local health food store. I use high quality sunflower oil and castor oil for the oil cleansing method. Much has been written about this method (a.k.a OCM) across the internet, so I won't expound upon it here. I've found this article by Crunchy Betty on troubleshooting to very useful. I know cleaning your face with oil may sound bizarre, but it has definitely been one of my most beneficial changes. Just pipe up in the comments if you want to know more and I can dedicate a whole post to it. I'm not partial to any particular bar soap (instead of body wash), but I like it to be moisturizing and with as little packaging as possible.


After cleansing my face, I'll often use a mask, especially if there's trouble brewing. I'm off and on with this clay treatment bar from Fresh because it's more expensive than the ubiquitous Aztec Secret Healing Clay found in most health food stores and Whole Foods. Honey is another natural treatment for problem spots and some people even use it as a facial cleanser. I'll mix it into a paste with the green clay as a powerful spot treatment. Just make sure you use raw organic honey; I like the Once Again brand because they are a cooperative company, but buying local honey is another good alternative. Turmeric can be added to the honey or the green clay to boost healing - but just a little or you'll tint your skin orange.


I learned about Blissoma's Smooth A+ Perfecting Serum on No More Dirty Looks and it has really made my skin less irritated and blemish-prone. The MyChelle brand is solid and available at most Whole Foods where you can test it out. I've previously used their face wash, but I'm down to just the Vitamin A Plus Serum, which I mix with the Blissoma at night. I use only the Blissoma during the day. My lips are perpetually flaky, but I've found applying Waxelene at night before bed helps tremendously. I use plain old coconut oil as body moisturizer. All of these items come in glass containers.

I really love sharing this stuff, so there will be plenty more to come. Let me know if you have any questions or clean product recommendations. I'd love to hear them!  Also check out my Clean Beauty Pinterest board for more recommendations and recipes.


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