Growing up with problem skin, I often resort to testing a myriad of products and treatments. As a beauty fiend, my mom collects samples which she kindly hands off to me. So far, I’ve tried over 200 brands, everything from the usual suspects like Clearasil to lesser-known companies like Sisley. I sample products from the U.S., U.K., Japan, Korea, France, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Under each brand category, I try at least three items: cleanser, serum, and moisturizer. Think of me as an international testing laboratory, founded in 1993.
Brands employ an elaborate skincare regimen to provide the “full effect.” This is a misleading marketing ploy to get consumers to buy more. I’ve been duped into following the triple cleansing, double serum, 10-step beauty regimen, believing every promise written on the bottle. In hindsight, I realize that it has more to do with my insecurity than the serum’s actual effectiveness. The more I believe that I’m a hopeless case, the more gullible I become.
Two years ago, I stumbled upon a book that completely changed my perspective on beauty and self-care: No More Dirty Looks by Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt. It is among the few publications that ignited the green beauty movement in the early 2000s. Two sassy ladies decide that it’s about time the beauty industry shed its deceptively polished exterior. Their book is a consolidation of personal experiences and research that uncovers the dirty underpinnings of the facade that we see at beauty counters.
The page-turning how-to unveils one vital truth that I always go back to when making a purchase: that products should have zero fillers and only carefully chosen, clean active ingredients. Fillers come in all forms. Pore-clogging silicones like Dimethicone and Cyclohexasiloxane can cause cystic acne. Parabens/preservatives are skin irritants that can cause redness, blotchiness, bumps, and swelling. In mainstream brands, actives are usually cited at the end of the ingredient list because there is very little of them in the product itself. Even face oils by prestigious companies contain mostly mineral oil or silicone.
Armed with my wits and my discerning eye, I made it my mission to sift through pretty much every purchase I consider. I currently use one product line for face, body, and hair: Everyday Coconut. Each product has less than five ingredients, all derived from nature. I buy it from Sprouts Market during their 25% off sale. A 32-ounce bottle costs $11 and lasts for a year. I use Trilogy’s Rosehip Oil, $29. A bottle is enough for 6 months of use. My favorite toothpaste is Kiss My Face Triple Action Fluoride-free. At $4.99 per tube, it lasts me 6 months. I’m a fan of the Kari Gran Three Sixty Five organic sunscreen, $48. I replenish it about twice a year.
With consistent use, I find that my regimen heals crater scars, evens out hyperpigmentation, and prevents breakouts. My big switch to green beauty also gave me the courage to do the unthinkable: I no longer use makeup and hair products! I find that my skin and hair don’t need them anymore. Surprisingly, the key to better hair and skin is to not mess them up with the wrong products.
Looking to switch to greener alternatives? Start with a face oil. It is the single most transformative and indispensable product category in green beauty, I have found. Here are my top three face oil recommendations:
Trilogy’s Rosehip Oil works well with acneic oily skin, battling pigmentation. This magnificent oil kills bacteria while simultaneously evening out the scars they leave behind. It has a lightweight consistency while still being emollient, which suits those with sensitive skin. I wrote an article about the many benefits of this oil on my blog.
Stark Skincare’s City Recalibrating Face Oil has a medium consistency, which is ideal for cold and windy weather. This treatment is moisturizing without that annoying greasy feeling. The serum also includes a proprietary blend of adaptogens, which minimize damage caused by stress and the environment. This face oil is fitting for city dwellers looking to heal and protect their skin from environmental damage.
Skinowl’s Maqui Berry Beauty Drops is rich yet non-comedogenic. This oil is perfect for those needing serious moisture. Skinowl’s founder, Annie Tevelin, initially formulated all her products to combat cystic acne. This oil is no exception. If you have dry, acne-prone skin, recovering from pigmentation, this is the hero product for you.
Another reason to shop green is to support independent, female-owned small businesses. All products mentioned in this article are created by women, and the companies are still run by those same women. Annie has a small team that works from her house in LA. Jess, Stark Skincare founder, does the product formulating, mixing and packaging. She’s also in charge of brand copywriting. Her husband does the shipping. The sunscreen mentioned in my regimen is made by a woman named Kari Gran. She created her skincare line whilst in a battle with cancer. Her quest to eliminate all carcinogens in her diet and skincare led to the creation of a green beauty empire. The Everyday Coconut line is created by a woman named Prarie Rose Hyde when she met her West African husband, Olowo-n’djo Tchala. They run a brand called Alaffia, which is also a foundation in Africa, helping thousands in need of food, medical care, and education.
The face of the beauty industry is ever-changing. The rise of greener options is a huge step forward that benefits those of us who don’t fit in the mold that mainstream brands built. The movement also empowers women who can’t quite find the right product to create their own. As our awareness and knowledge grows, smarter and healthier alternatives await in our future.
Hazel V. is the author of a minimalist lifestyle blog with simple and attainable solutions to life’s complications. You can check her out at www.thesimplestanswers.com.
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