Over the past few months, I have become more concerned with ingredients than I ever have been before. Not ingredients in food (but yes, I am still concerned with that), but ingredients that make up the concoctions that I use on a daily basis – that is, skin and hair care products.
Thanks to my older sister who, though grew up wanting to be a vet, has spent a significant amount of time studying the likes of biological sciences and organic chemistry and is now going to Osteopathic Medical school, I can proudly say that I’ve been conscious about these things for a few years now. She turned me on to organic or natural products (like EO or Avalon Organics) because they had less of the chemical stuff and more of the stuff that I could actually eat…in their more natural form that is. Grateful Body goes the whole 9 yards and makes 100% natural skin care…they are marvelous. Still, I never bought these kind of products religiously, mainly because of the price premium, but also because I felt that the other skin and hair care products worked much better. But if the mood struck me, then I’d surrender the extra bucks for a guilt-free shower but a less satisfied feeling about my hair (which, for the record, is really the only part of my body which has not worked well with these products).
So what’s changed? I’m not entirely sure, but I have to give a lot of credit to two authors of a blog I’ve been frequenting as of late: No More Dirty Looks. Of course they, Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt, are the authors of the book with the same title, but with a talent for articulation and a passion for a clean (and more natural) shower routine, they have graced us with a daily blog about clean beauty products.
A friend introduced me to the book and I was only able to read the first few pages (and I must admit I still have yet to buy the book and finish it) but I got far enough to know that they both decided to go clean – they not only made the switch to clean products, but they came clean with the dangers of some of the most common ingredients in normal beauty products (ranging from shampoos all the way to make-up)! They also reveal a list of products that have passed their very strict ‘clean test’ – from my understanding, even the everpresent ingredient ‘fragrance’ is scourned upon (because it usually is not naturally derived).
Needless to say, I was impressed with their bold move to lay off the chemicals and I felt a strong urge to follow suit. So since my friend had to go back to Chicago, she took her book with her and I was left wanting more. I decided to scour the internet for anything with their names on it and came across their blog. The first post I read was about using apple cider vinegar on the scalp after shampooing. This was entirely new to me, but already I felt another sudden urge to go clean and was almost compelled to go out and buy some apple cider vinegar. Well, I didn’t. Why not? You ask? Partially because I wasn’t entirely ready to make the switch (both mentally and financially). Not to mention I still had bottles of some organic shampoo, conditioner and body wash that despite their organic label, still contain the naughty ingredients and wouldn’t pass Siobhan and Alexandra’s clean test. I hate waste and decided to wait until they were empty before making the switch.
When they were just about empty, I regressed and bought shampoo and conditioner that I’m not sure qualifies as ‘clean’ (Yestocarrots). It’s 99.4% natural and paraben-free (I have no idea what paraben is or why it would be used in my shampoo and conditioner). It has a lot of ingredients that I recognize (carrot juice and olive oil) and a few that are questionable (sodium benzoate? lauryl glucoside?). But as I’ve expressed regarding adopting a meat-free diet, why have the mind set that if you can’t do it 100%, dont’ do it at all? I’m taking baby steps here and have been for a few years now.
Thanks to Siobhan and Alexandra, I feel like I’m taking the necessary leaps to get to their level sooner! Today I actually bought a conditioner recommended on their blog…but it took a couple days of research before I decided on it. A recent post of theirs was about not washing hair and as you would come to find out from reading their blog, Alexandra does not wash her hair. I learned that shampoo basically strips our scalp of its natural oils, which in turn causes us to produce excess oils, inevitably causing us to wash our hair more often…and the vicious cycle continues.
I’m actually interested and quite anxious to do a wash-free trial of my own because my hair is dry and I have been told that by a couple different hairdressers (dammit!). On top of washing my hair less often, and using less shampoo, I plan to indulge in my recent purchase of Siobhan’s recommended Alaffia Coconut and Shea conditioner (but since my hair is kinda wavy/curlyish, I got the one for curly hair). I’m so excited to try it out because not only does it pass their clean test, but as Siobhan mentions, the Alaffia company is committed to giving back to the community from which the shea is derived, Togo, West Africa: the shea butter is Fair Trade certified and 10% of sales contribute to the Alaffia Community Empowerment projects.
So I feel very good about this purchase and I can NOT wait to get so fresh and so clean, clean!
- Fair Trade Toiletries (befairbuyfair.wordpress.com)
- S&M: Eco-friendly Toiletries (petiteinthecity.com)