I didn’t use to pay any attention to the beauty products that I used. I gravitated towards pretty bottles and relied on influencer’s recommending the latest ‘must-have’ product that would transform my hair/skin/life. Over the past couple of years, I’ve started paying more attention to what I’m putting on my body. I want to know what the ingredients are, if there’s anything potentially harmful in it, and that the product definitely hasn’t been tested on animals. I’ve got a long way to go on my ethical journey, but I thought I’d share what I’ve learnt so far.
I think it was an article about green-washing that got me thinking about the beauty products that I use. There are so many brands out there that try to convince you that they’re totally ethical through their marketing, but they’re still full of hidden nasties tucked inside plastic bottles. I was surprised to learn, for example, that one of my favourite beauty brands, Aesop, isn’t as green as we all think it is. Yes, their products boast natural ingredients and their branding certainly draws your attention to the herbs and plants that they use – but many of your favourite Aesop products contain ingredients that would surprise you.
My new bible and tool for checking whether or not I want to purchase a beauty product, is the app ‘Think Dirty’. It’s pretty easy to use; you type in or scan a product and check the ‘Dirty Meter’. This shows you whether the products contain any carcinogenics or any ingredients that can be deemed toxic. Basically, you want to stay well away from anything that goes into the red and be wary of any products with a rating of over 5. One of the app’s features that I love is that it offers alternative products, focusing on the most ethical suggestions.
Coming back to Aesop, let’s take the example of my favourite product (that I still regularly use), the Geranium Leaf Body Balm. The ‘Think Dirty’ app tells me that there are three dubious ingredients included in this product including one that can cause skin irritation and is a potential neurotoxin. I’ve been sucked in by pretty packaging and a delicious fragrance, but why would I want to be coating my skin in something that could potentially irritate it and could affect my nervous system?
I don’t want to come across as preachy. As mentioned above, there are still many products that I know I shouldn’t be using but I haven’t let go of yet. It’s easier than you think to embrace natural beauty, skin and hair care though. One point that I always make when I’m selecting a new product to try is to check that it hasn’t been tested on animals. I don’t eat animals, so why would I allow them to suffer just so that I can have smoother skin or glossier hair? It’s surprising how many brands still test on animals, and even more surprising how many people simply don’t seem to care. Yes, you do usually have to pay a little more when purchasing greener beauty products, but it’s worth it.
What I use
So, what do I use? If you’re thinking of switching to natural beauty products, I thought I’d share a few of my favourites that I recommend. These are mostly British brands, with a few Aussie products thrown in that you can easily get hold of on Amazon. And if you’d like any further advice or would just like to chat about natural beauty, you can find me on the forums!
Since I tried this I haven’t used anything else in the shower. It smells gorgeous, makes your skin feel completely soft, and is 100% natural with no hidden nasties at all. I wouldn’t recommend any other body wash.
This is heaven in a pot. It’s an all-use balm that can also be heated up with your fingers to make an oil that you can apply to your face. I use this on everything and honestly think it’s magic. It contains all natural ingredients but somehow manages to do everything from soften dry skin to heal burns and even calm spots.
I love Jason products, but they’re not always free of harmful ingredients. This sea kelp conditioner is a great purchase as it rates 3 on Think Dirty, lasts forever and makes your hair feel incredibly smooth. I usually can’t run a comb through my hair after a shower, but I can when I’ve used this.
I honestly think that everyone needs a good natural rosehip oil in their skincare collection. I rub a few drops of this Pai oil into my face every night before bed, and it leaves my skin feeling soft and smooth. When choosing a rosehip oil, don’t get sucked in by products that smell as sweet as rose petals. The natural oils will be a darker orange hue and smell muskier, like this Pai oil.
Everyone always thinks I’m crazy when I recommend hair oil! This does make your hair feel greasy, but if you smooth it through your locks before bed with the intention of washing out in the morning (or even immediately before a shower) it helps to calm frizzy hair and make it feel smoother. This Forest & Shore oil is the best I’ve ever tried, and I tend to use it once a fortnight.
I’m obsessed with all of MOA’s products but if I was going to recommend just one, it would be their facial oil. I alternate between this and the Pai rosehip oil every night before bed, as I love how soft it makes my face feel and it smells divine.
I’m pretty minimal with my beauty regime, and I actually prefer using this to cool down my face and neck on hot summer’s days rather than its intended use as a toner. When it’s hot and sweaty, carry this in your bag and give yourself a spritz when you’re feeling flustered.
I don’t actually use body oil that often, unless I have a special occasion or I’m going on holiday, but this oil by MOA is always the one I turn to. I’m heading to Sardinia soon, and I’ll smother this all over my arms and legs for a few days before my flight to prep my skin for a rough few days of sunscreen and salt.
If you only change one product for a cleaner option, make it your deodorant. The thing is, you actually want to sweat, as sweating is our body’s way of regulating our temperature and releasing toxins. Most deodorants work by clogging up our pores and stopping the body releasing sweat, when really we just need to mask the scent that emits when our sweat comes into contact with natural bacteria that lives on our skin. I’ve tried several more natural deodorants and this Sukin spray-on is by far my favourite as it cools you down while masking your natural body odour.
This is probably my all-time favourite product; I have to stop myself from using it up too quickly! You can use it on your face or on your body, and it makes your skin instantly feel baby-soft. I get dry skin on my hands and feet, and tend to use it on my heels and cuticles.
I’m a little bit obsessed with balms, but this is one of my favourites thanks to its incredible scent and how soft it leaves my skin. Again, I use this on my hands, but I also quite often rub it until it turns oily and smear it on my face.
Emma Lavelle is a freelance writer, keen photographer and slow-living enthusiast with an endless wanderlust. Based in the north of England, Emma writes about slow travel, a relaxed pace of life and timeless style.