Let's face it: beauty as we know it in today's world isn't very green. Many of us slather all sorts of toxins onto our skin, luxuriate for far too long under a constant stream of hot water, pour bottles of unwanted beauty-related chemicals down the drain and use quite a bit of electricity to get our hair just so.
Once you make the decision to green your beauty routine, sometimes it's hard to tell where you should start. Here are 5 tips you can use to gradually shift toward being naturally eco-fabulous.
1. Look up all of the products you use in the Skin Deep cosmetic safety database. You may find that even brands you thought were on the more natural side contain alarmingly high levels of carcinogens and other toxic ingredients. Don't focus on replacing them all at once. It will be a learning process and you'll have to go through some trial and error to find the products that are right for you. Lipstick is a good place to start, since so much of it ends up in your mouth.
2. Change your body lotion. If there's one product you immediately replace, this should be it. Your skin absorbs chemicals from the products you put on it, and nothing gets smeared onto larger areas of the body than lotion. Most conventional lotions have ingredients like petroleum, formaldehyde, toxic synthetic fragrances and even hormone disrupters. Some natural, healthy choices are made by brands like Kiss My Face, Alba, JASON and Aubrey Organics. You could also switch to 100% natural shea butter, cocoa butter, jojoba oil or coconut oil, all of which have excellent moisturizing properties and often contain no preservatives or other ingredients at all.
3. Unplug it! Your hairdryer and other styling implements, that is - at least for one day every week. You may feel like you can't live without your flat iron or can't leave the house without a blowout, but is it really necessary to get all done up just to go to the grocery store? If you feel like your hair just doesn't look good without the help of these energy suckers, go to a stylist and have them show you how to style your hair without them. You may find that a slightly different cut or some hair gel makes a huge difference.
4. Use less water. Turn the water off while you're scrubbing your face, just as you do (hopefully) when you're brushing your teeth. Take shorter showers - the water may feel good, but it sure is a waste of water to stand there for an extra few minutes just because you like to. And, if your feet are sore, soak them in a foot bath or a bucket instead of taking a full-body bath. It'll use far less water, and sometimes it can be just as refreshing. Showerheads that reduce the water flow can also be really helpful.
5. Buy in bulk. Many products like lotion, shampoo, conditioner and body wash can be purchased in large sizes, which cuts down on the amount of packaging that gets thrown away - plus, you'll save money. You may even find, like I did, that one product can do the job of many: I use Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Castile Soap as shampoo, face wash, body wash, hand soap and even to clean my house. For travel, get a set of reusable containers and just refill them when you need to - resist the urge to keep buying new sets of cute little mini bottles.
While this is just a small sample of what you can do to green your beauty routine, just getting started is huge. You'll breathe a sigh of relief once you've simplified the products you use and the ritual you go through every morning - who knows, you may even find yourself with some extra time to actually have a nice breakfast, go for a walk or spend a few extra moments with your kids. Viva la Green Revolution!