The Beginning of My Organic Journey

I’ve always been fairly “green” conscious in my day to day life (eat organic veggies, careful where I buy my meats (no beef), consume very little fast food, make my own laundry detergent and drink lots of water/teas). I also recycle. But I failed miserably at most everything I put on my face/body. What’s insane is that I knew it wasn’t healthy and did it anyway. The non-organic products were plentiful, cheap and had creamy creams and sudsy soaps. I did try my hand at going organic years ago, but “organic” meant no suds, lotions that sat on the skin or were too watery, and they were definitely expensive and choices were limited. Product spreadability was minimal and makeup was laughable.

My “out with the chemicals, in with organic/all natural journey” began after returning home recently from visiting Sedona. (Maybe because of the “Sedona magic” I kept hearing about?) I was privileged to meet up with a longtime Canadian internet pal and her husband while there. We hiked quite a bit and I mostly wore lightweight, long-sleeved shirts, lightweight pants, and a visor (with my head previously sprayed with sunscreen before meeting up). My friend owns a shop in Canada that sells organic/natural cleaning supplies and soaps, so she’s all about being green. We even talked about why my eyes were always so red. She asked me what I used for eyeliner and mascara and I told her Almay and Maybelline, respectively. She just nodded. I’ve used Maybelline mascara since I was a teenager and I switched to Almay eyeliner, hoping to stop the redness but it didn’t. On our last day of hiking, it was going to be hot so I wore shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. I brought my chemical-laden sunscreen with me. Before we set out, I got out of the car and sprayed myself down. Now, she is a very sweet person, but I noted her look of slight disapproval as she moved, though I made sure I was far enough away from everyone and downwind. I thought she just didn’t understand that I HAD to wear sunscreen. Her disapproval must have made an impression on me because once home, it didn’t take long before I began my search, so I thank her.

I wear makeup every day. Most days I feel like I could scratch my face off. My eyes water and turn red every day. I raided my bathroom cabinets, drawers, and shower, covering my computer desk with at least four or five dozen products (ridiculous in itself!). I scoured each product label, entering the long chemical words to find out what they were and the harm they can cause. I got sick to my stomach as I placed makeup, hair care and skin products – some brand new and unopened (some expensive) –  in a trash bag. The MONEY I wasted! I thought about the HARM I have been doing to my precious body from all the parabens, phthalates, glycols, etc! I read some of the side effects of certain chemicals in makeup and hair/skin care products: headaches, hair and scalp problems, premature aging, infertility, acne, skin allergies, eye infections, hormonal imbalance, cancer, and skin discoloration. Some even contain arsenic and formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives! Nope, I’m done. I decided to switch out all of my products to as organic/natural as possible, then I set out on my mission. I’m sure there are some fantastic and fantastically expensive products out there that work well, but I am a retired teacher so the items I researched and chose were within my budget.

Organic Throwaway

I searched for organic shampoos/conditioners, soaps, eyeliners, serums, facial SPF moisturizers, facial scrubs, primers, foundations, eye shadows, mascaras and lotions. I researched every ingredient, science study, and multiple reviews for each product. I also looked for products that were labeled cruelty-free. Four days later (I love being retired!), I had a good list of items to try. The items I chose were also based on me being a redhead with dry skin, fine hair and almost 60 years old, but maybe this will inspire you to go on your own search that fits your criteria.

Makeup: Organic makeup that I could try on in a local store was extremely limited so it was an easy search, though not inexpensive. I settled on Juice Beauty. The reviews were outstanding for the organic aspect and good to excellent for application. Way over one dollars later, I have serum, concealer, blush, primer, and foundation from Juice Beauty. I’m fairly happy with it and even though the coverage is sheer, I now know I’m putting something healthy on my face. Plus, I don’t mind seeing my freckles so it works for me and my face doesn’t itch. I tried the Juice Beauty eyeliner and took it back because it was not creamy and it was next to impossible to use. (My Canadian friend sent me a Dr. Hauschka eyeliner pencil and I love it. I will order more on Amazon.) I didn’t like Juice Beauty eye shadow colors (still researching eye shadows) or their facial setting powder so I went with Bare Minerals Mineral Veil. I had used it before and liked it so I went back to it. I settled on Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes for my mascara and I have to say that so far, I love it. I need a facial sunscreen so I found Australian Gold Botanical tinted MINERAL facial sunscreen (no chemicals!) with broad spectrum SPF 50 and it is AMAZING! I love this stuff and compared to the chemical sunscreen lotion/moisturizer I was using, I’m over the moon happy with this product. It goes on smoothly and the tint doesn’t really color your skin, it just helps so the minerals don’t appear white on your face. It’s magic! They also have it in an non-tinted lotion for the body and a spray so I can spray my head as well. That was a BIG score for me since sunscreens can be so chemically harsh and I tend to break out with so many of them. I can’t say enough good about the Botanical sunscreen line.  UPDATE: I found an organic makeup online, Zuii, and they have samples for $2.00 each. I spent $26.00 for samples of primer, foundation, lipstick, and pressed & loose powders. I’ll do another update after I receive and try them.

NOTES: In my search for organic makeup, there were several good ones online but I didn’t want to try something I couldn’t test in the store. Also, in my opinion, the four “cleanest” brands I found that weren’t organic or natural (and most not cruelty-free) were It Cosmetics, Tarte, Clinique and Bare Minerals. Though each one had some product(s) with an ingredient I wanted to avoid or the reviews clarified what I wasn’t looking for, many products in these lines are somewhat acceptable, except for those trying to be purely natural and avoid bad chemicals. Because of this information, Juice Beauty was the clear winner for me. Origins is the oldest “organic” company (by Estee Lauder) but I read where they have come under fire for including “not so organic” ingredients in their products. Recently, Estee Lauder has come out with Origins Organics so that may be another brand to try in the future.

Shampoos and soaps were fairly easy to find so narrowing shampoos down for me came down to reviews. My scalp used to itch and I noticed my hair was starting to break off – not fall out – but break off. I use a lot of hair care products that provide volume as well (the labels on those products really made me sick to my stomach from all the bad chemicals in them!) I chose two brands so I could rotate them. I have fine, limp hair and need a volumizing shampoo. The Acure Volume Shampoo is outstanding! My scalp quit itching and my hair had gorgeous volume after the first round! My hair felt so clean. The other shampoo and conditioner I chose are the Juice Organics Volumizing brand. They are also good, but I love the Acure best. My local grocery store had organic soaps with which to bathe. I chose a lavender scent and it’s wonderful. I still use Lever2000 deodorant soap under my arms, but that’s something I’m going to have to work through.

On to facial scrubs: I had ordered the Acure Brightening Facial Scrub on Amazon and was waiting on it when a worker/friend in our local vitamin shop suggested Organic Manuka Honey Face Scrub. I wanted to try my new makeup right away so I bought it. I had been using the same facial scrub for many years and I’m guessing it’s best for teens with oily skin because my skin became drier and drier as time went on – and no doubt because I’m getting older, as well. The Manuka scrub left a slightly oily feeling on my face which was weird because I’m used to a very dry feeling after using a scrub. I didn’t like it at first, but 5 minutes later, my skin was radiant and not oily! I think I can get used to this. I haven’t yet tried the Acure scrub yet but if it is anything like their shampoo, I’m sure I’ll be pleased. UPDATE: The Acute facial scrub is intense. The granules are bigger so a light scrubbing is all you’ll need to do. Once a week with this product will be enough for me. 

Organic Facial Scrubs

For hair care styling, I chose Organic Excellence Styling Spray for hair volume/hair spray, and Giovanni Organic Hair Care L.A. Natural Styling Gel for some extra hold for my wonderfully fine, limp hair. I have these products on the way from Amazon so I’m not able to tell you about those just yet. I hope to update soon. UPDATE: These two products are PERFECT for my hair! I cannot use as much of the Giovanni gel that I had used of my previous gel product because it can tend to get heavy, but when I combine it with the Organic Excellence spray, the hold is just what I was looking for. I am extremely happy with both of these products and how well they work together.

This journey has been a real eye-opener for me. I’m so glad I challenged myself to make these changes. I know I can’t avoid all the chemicals in my life, but I do have daily control over what I choose to put on my face and skin. Organic products have come a long way so if you are like me and were turned off to using them years ago, I urge you to challenge yourself to live a cleaner lifestyle. There are many other products out there I want to try, but I started with what I felt was immediately important to my lifestyle and within my budget.

Now to turn my household completely green…

©Lori Ziegelmeyer

*And just FYI: I do NOT get paid for any product mentioned here on this blog*

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