(A little preamble for context: I mention a lot of products/brands/apps here but I’m not paid by any of them to talk about them, I promise! My purpose here was to give as much info as possible so I’ve added links to make it easy for you, not because I’m sponsored by any brand or product. I never ever receive money for posting about anything! It’s all just a real life journey! So here we go.)
I’d heard it time and time again, ‘Your skin is your biggest organ.’ ‘You absorb thousands of chemicals through your skin’, ‘there are so many gazillion toxic chemical ingredients in your cosmetics.’
I just didn’t really want to listen. I’ve willfully stayed in denial for years knowing that while I’ve been feeding our mouths well, our skin and home environment not been given the same value and attention. But really, waving goodbye to my foundation friend of 10 years just wasn’t on my happy list, and there were so many things I wanted to spend money on more than green, non toxic hippie house care products. This has been the part of the wellness journey I’ve ignored for the longest time but for transparency and to keep this a journey, I wanted to let you in and detail out exactly what we do! In truth it began about 15 years ago, when my aunt got the whole family on the aluminium free deodorant train after warning us about the links with breast cancer. After trying a few, a lot, every single one out there, I found the only one that works for me and I’ve used it ever since. That deodorant was probably the first time I actually thought about the effect of what I put on my body, and mistakenly was also the last for a long time.
Fast forward a decade to and we began thinking about starting a family. When I knew that most likely my body was about to become home to another human, my priorities quickly changed. What I hadn’t got round to doing for myself, I couldn’t not do for another human being. When I thought about a perfect, untouched, uncontaminated little body growing inside of mine I wanted to give it the absolute best home possible. The thought of any unwanted chemicals in its developing blood stream, or anything toxic anywhere near it was all I needed to spur me on! Now obviously I couldn’t control everything, we live on planet earth, and on a budget; but where I could I decided to make the effort and to step by step give it my all!
Before I go on, a note on fear: As soon as anyone starts talking about toxins, chemicals, the dangers, and all the surrounding topics, it can be easy to create all kinds of fear. I’ve felt it. It’s real. Personally I choose not to buy into those fears anymore. I live by the principle that I do what I can (not just what’s easy but what I really can push to achieve) and then I let the rest go. I constantly re-assess and see if I’m able to take another step forward but then I refuse to worry about the bits I can’t do. So my purpose here is to be transparent, and to inspire, to show simple ways to make little changes, and not to induce fear about what any individual can’t do! I think that living with constant worry and fears about how we manage life can be as toxic in it’s own way, as wiping chemicals on our skin each day. So I’d just say do what you can, take small steps, keep taking small steps, and don’t let yourself worry about the rest!
It took me a long time to dive into my makeup bag and be honest with myself. I’m fairly simple in my cosmetics but I love what I love! When I decided to make these changes, honestly, I was daunted. To help me, I made some starting guidelines for myself on the journey. I decided that my goals were:
(1) not aiming for perfection but doing the honest best I can with products, which I decided was ideally an EWG rating of 0-2, (I’ll explain this below)
(2) making sure my makeup is always fully off at night, and
(3) wearing it as little as possible. (Less than 7 days a week was something I never ever thought I’d be happy with. Right now I probably wear makeup 3 days per week.)
I still buy store bought makeup, and yes it’s completely possible to clean up your makeup bag right at the store! Keep the journey simple and achievable! 6 months ago to start this journey, I downloaded the EWG app (here’s the online version) and tentatively walked around Target. The app, by the Environmental Working Group lets you scan a product by its bar code and then tells you the ingredients, rated 0-9 on a scale of toxicity of ingredients. It then details out, if you want, what each ingredient is rated on its own, and what the potential risk factors are. For myself, I decided I would be happy if I could have everything I put on my skin was in the 0-2 range. Yes my health is worth an investment but I also wasn’t ready to spend $100s ordering online and testing until I found a fully organic product I liked, so that’s why I chose this as my goal. I can do it locally and easily, and at least here, I could return a product if it didn’t work for me.
The product I was most nervous to scan? My foundation. After spending years with far from perfect skin, and some with medication worthy acne, I’ve tried a number of foundations and I have a favourite. I did not want to let it go. I left it to the end of my scanning list. While my mascara scanned in on at a sad 5 and was fast replaced, happily my big brand Maybelline foundation rated at a 2. I did a happy dance in Target. Really. My blush was a cheap Target own brand but came in at a fab 2 and my powder, that needed to be changed. I was interested at how well some products scored and how badly others did, but after 30 minutes with the app, I had a 0-2 makeup bag. Done. Because I only use a few pieces of makeup, it was easier for me for trade it all in, but even if you change one product, you’re doing better! And you don’t have to throw the old stuff out. Each time something runs out see if you can do just one step better. I kept using my ‘bad’ mascara till it was done, then started the better version I picked up. Just do what you can!
SO WHAT’S IN MY MAKEUP BAG?
I keep it simple. Like I said, I try not to wear makeup every day, and my routine is short.
Lips: Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
Mascara: Physician’s Formula
Blush: e.l.f. blush
Powder: Maybelline FIT Me Matte Plus
Foundation: Maybelline Dream Liquid Mousse
WHAT’S IN MY BATHROOM?
Makeup remover/face cleanser: I use coconut oil on a reusable cotton pad, and diluted Dr Bronners – I keep a jar by the sink with 1:5 water to Dr Bronners solution.
Deodorant: Bionsen Spray (There may be some that are cleaner and more organic but I have tried a TON and this one checks the boxes of no aluminum, and no parabens, and it actually works, even after a 2 hour sweaty workout in our 115 degree summer heat. That’s important for me!)
Toner: Raw apple cider vinegar (Recipe here)
Facemask: Aloe Vera, Activated Charcoal and Tea Tree Oil mix like the one HERE
Dry Shampoo: An arrowroot starch and cocoa mix like THIS
Shampoo: A tablespoon Dr Bronners
Conditioner: Appple Cider Vinegar again but this time as a rinse like THIS
Shaving/waxing – I use an epilator like THIS one, and tweezers! It actually saves me a lot of time (I can now epilate once a month even with dark hair!), and creates zero waste as well as using no chemicals, cream etc. An all round win. (Some people do find it more painful than waxing but I never have, so I love it and highly recommend trying it.)
WHAT WE USE FOR BABY
Cloth diapers: (Although not a product I list this for it’s 24/7 contact with the skin for the first years of life) We use mostly Thirsties covers, unbleached cotton prefolds, and Snappies
Diaper cream: (I barely ever have to use it with the cloth diapers): California Baby, or Gold Clover Baby Balm
Body wash and shampoo: Aveeno Baby Organic Harvest
Baby powder: Organic corn starch
For general moisturizer: Coconut Oil
For Cradle Cap: Tallow Balm (it totally got rid of Clayton’s in a week! Happy mum!)
FOR HOUSEHOLD CLEANING
Floor cleaning: Basic White Vinegar (1/2 cup in ½ gallon)
Washing detergent: Allen’s naturally (cloth diaper safe)
Dryer sheets: I traded them in fully for 100% Wool Dryer Balls like THIS
Kitchen/bathroom cleaning: Vinegar in a spray bottle, Branch Basics (currently unavailable), Dr Bronners
In general, white vinegar is my go to for cleaning. If you use google you can find long lists of all the ways to use it – HERE are some!
And finally… THE GIVEAWAY!!
We are giving away a jar of gorgeous Gold Clover Tallow Balm to help encourage some of you on this journey!! It really is a wonderful, clean, toxin free, skin product! (otherwise we wouldn’t be giving any away!)
For the chance to win some, we want to know what you’re doing to clean up your routine so either:
- head to insta and leave us a comment telling us what you’re doing, or
- post a picture of you cleaning up your cosmetic, or household product routine, maybe using the EWG app in a store to find new products, or going without makeup for a day, or cleaning out your makeup bag, or just drinking an extra glass of water! Whatever taking one step looks like for you, post a picture and tag us with #TWFDgoldclovergiveaway and we’ll pick a winner next week and ship it out to you!
(US shipping only, but we love your journey wherever you are so still join us and post a pic!)