As mindbodygreen’s beauty editor, one of the most frequently asked questions I hear is, “I want to go natural, but I’m overwhelmed. What should I switch first?” The good news is that green beauty has blossomed quite beautifully over the last couple of years. To go green used to require some kind of sacrifice in efficacy, but that is no longer the case.
“When it comes to skin care, there’s no reason anyone should be using anything but green beauty products. There is high-end technology for keeping skin healthy, amazing scents (if you like that sort of thing), and beautiful packaging so it looks good on the bathroom counter,” said Katey Denno, a green beauty expert and celebrity makeup artist. It’s true that skin care offerings in the naturals space have evolved beyond “use coconut oil for everything” and “there’s an essential oil for that.” Thank goodness.
A good thing to remember is that green is increasingly a spectrum—it’s not as black and white as it used to be. Some of your favorite drugstore brands are working to create cleaner formulates free of parabens, phthalates, and other system-disrupting chemicals while naturals are continuing to evolve, utilizing safer preservative technology that allows products to be more shelf-stable. While we’ll always love mom-and-pop natural brands, the fact is that ingredients like essential oils, plant extracts, and methods used to harvest these ingredients aren’t always the most sustainable.
If you want to choose cleaner, greener products in 2018—take it one step at a time. Here are the three most important swaps to make:
1. Switch micellar water for rosewater.
A few years ago, micellar water started trending in a big way because it was the ultimate all-purpose cleanser that didn’t require rinsing. The problem with many micellar waters and micellar water cleansers is that they contain several unnecessary ingredients, usually preservatives, that can wreak havoc on the skin. Holistic esthetician and health coach Britta Plug recommends using rosewater instead. “Rosewater is so gentle, it’s great for all skin types,” she said. If Plug’s own skin is any indication of the powers of rosewater, run, don’t walk.
2. Swap shower gel for organic bar soap.
“It’s all about the math. The skin of your body from the neck down constitutes 91 percent of the roughly 2 square meters that get exposed to skin care products,” Sarah Villafranco, M.D., who founded Osmia Organics, wrote in a mindbodygreen article about how to choose organic skin care. Instead of buying three different face cleansers, start with your body cleanser. Many people overlook it, but it’s one of the most effective swaps you can make. Bonus: Swap out your moisturizer for a body oil or clean body lotion.
3. Exchange conventional antiperspirant for an aluminum-free one.
While there isn’t much hard evidence linking aluminum-based antiperspirants to cancer, it’s hard not to draw a connection between the two. Most antiperspirants are made of 20 percent or more aluminum, and it works because it clogs the sweat glands. The problem? Our lymph and sweat glands are concentrated under the arms because that’s a major detox pathway. If we continue to clog it with antiperspirants and don’t give the underarms a break, it can lead to an accumulation of not only aluminum but toxins waiting to be sweated out. Making the switch helps dry any sweat that does come out while keeping the area moisturized and, in some cases, scenting it with natural fragrance.