Up until recently, I never gave much consideration to what products I was using on my face or body. I used whatever had a stable endorsement, good packaging and - in later years - looked fancy in an instagram flat-lay. But this year, the pinnacle point of my whole conscious journey, I was awakened to the fact that I needed to have more intention in the products I was using in order to align with my evolving values. I wanted to use products that provided the same integrity on the inside of my body, that they claimed to provide on the outer; which, let’s be real, is the real money maker here. So I set about to transition all of my products over the course of the year; replacing each as they ran out with toxin-free alternatives. It can be a costly transition, so I would recommend just switching products out as you use them up and not all at once unless of course you have the means.
It’s easy to be seduced by the illusion of ‘if it’s endorsed by a celeb or in a fashion magazine, it must be good for me’. But, in my opinion, the smaller the marketing budget the brand has, the better for you and for the environment.
I invite you to become a scientist in your skincare routine. Are the products you are using aligned to your values or are you buying them unconsciously? If you’re an animal lover, are you choosing products that are cruelty free? If you’re on a health kick and eating only fresh, organic foods, are your skincare products organic, too? If you consider yourself a conscious consumer, are you shopping small and shopping locally? Give yourself permission to question the claims that skincare and cosmetic brands make. After all, each time we buy a product we vote with our dollar. We vote for that product to remain in the supply chain and in the hands of consumers.
Please please please, if there's one thing you can do for yourself today it's to raise your awareness around the products you are using in your home.
Why is this so important?
As a result of the 18th century industrial revolution, we became exposed to environmental irritants from cars, airplanes, pharmaceuticals, industrialised farming and pesticides, increased air and water pollution, plastics, endocrine disruptors, fizzy drinks, processed foods, and….chemical-laden skincare products. This is one hell of a chemical load on a body that was previously unexposed. But maybe, it has a lot to say for some of the diseases that prevail now, previously unknown, such as coeliac and other autoimmune diseases, infertility, depression, cancers and obesity. I could write a whole other post about this but I sense that might be a topic for another day.
Use products with as little ingredients as possible. If you think about how Nicotine patches work, you’ll know that what we put onto our skin gets absorbed directly into our bloodstream. The main chemicals to look out for are parabens, synthetic fragrance/parfum, phthalates, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), formaldehyde, toluene and propylene glycol. Adopt a viewpoint that if it sounds even slightly chemical-ly, it probably is. If you want to find out more about why these ingredients are harmful, there's a great article here.
How I transitioned
The first product I transitioned to toxin-free was my deodorant. While there has been a lot of scaremongering in the industry around the link between breast cancer and aluminium-based deodorant, there’s insignificant evidence to back that claim up (this was reinforced to me by an oncologist). We should be more concerned about the endocrine/hormone disrupting properties in synthetic ingredients that may cause cancers due to the inflammatory effect they have on the body.
The natural deodorant I’m now in love with - Black Chicken Axila Deodorant Paste - have recently launched a baby sister called Barrier Booster containing no baking soda, which makes me really happy as my armpit skin got a bit rashy with the original formula. I’ve since read up about this, and evidently it’s a result of your armpits detoxing from years of chemical abuse, and not rabies.
So if you're curious about where to start your own transition, here are my top picks:
Cleanser - I’ve been using Mukti Balancing Foaming Cleanser for about 6 months now, and have only just needed to replace the bottle. A little goes a long way, it’s not scented so very low-irritant, and gets all of my stubborn eye make-up off.
Toner - I'm obsessed with The Beauty Chef Probiotic Skin Refiner. It has made a marked improvement on my pigmentation and skin-tone.
Eye serum - Country Kitchen prickly pear eye serum is the goods and it makes your under eyes look dewy af.
Face moisturiser - Again, I can’t go past Country Kitchen. I use the Rose and Chamomile serum as my day moisturiser, and the Rose and Marshmallow face cream at night. I love the fact that they are made on a farm in Kaukapakapa.
Foundation - I prefer to use a tinted moisturiser or BB cream so am currently using Inika Organic BB Cream Foundation for a medium coverage and Edible Beauty No. 4 Vanilla Silk Hydrating Lotion for a really light coverage.
Mascara - I am alternating between Ere Perez Natural Almond Oil Mascara and 100% Pure Fruit Pigment Mascara which I think is my favourite. It smells like blueberries and is super dark and matte, adding mega volume to your lashes.
Sunscreen (face) - I have just started using Coola Mineral Face Sunscreen SPF 30 Matte Finish Tint - it has a light cucumber scent and blends in really well with a silk matte finish.
Lip balm - Chuck out the chemical-laden, suffocating pawpaw ointment in the red tube, and grab a tube of vegan Hurraw balm - every flavour is a winner and there's even one with an SPF. If you like a more glossy finish, Suvana Certified Organic Paw Paw & Honey Balm is a delicious toxin-free alternative.
Body moisturiser - I prefer to use pure oils, because they are generally mono-ingredient, so I alternate between organic sesame and coconut oils as a morning pre-shower moisturiser. Sesame oil is great in the colder months as a pre-shower massage oil due to its’ detoxifying properties; it’s also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. You can read more about the benefits of sesame oil here. Avoid using the roasted sesame oil, as I once did, unless you want to go on a first date smelling like a stir-fry. I use organic coconut oil in the warmer months, and Heritage Store Rose Aura Glow when I’m feeling fancy.
Sunscreen - Sunscreen is one product that is typically very chemical laden and one I would highly recommend switching to toxin free. I have used both Wotnot SPF30 and My Sunshine Natural Sunscreen SPF30 and think they are both great. Slightly greasy, but they rub in really well.
If I can't find a local stockist, I buy most of my makeup and skincare products from Beautiful Because or Nourished Life. They both have an extensive range of organic, eco-friendly skincare and make-up brands, loyalty rewards and really informative blogs. They also have free shipping to NZ if you spend over a certain amount; so if you team up with your friends on an order it works out great on the pocket AND the environment.
If you prefer to shop locally, I can recommend:
I am always on the lookout for new products to try, so if you know of any natural skincare brands I should try please comment below.