Green Beauty and my Journey to a More Healthy Skincare Routine
Long time no see pretties.
Seriously. Long time no see.
I’ll admit – I’m REALLY bad at blogging. Not only that I’m really bad at blogging, but I’m completely and utterly aware of it. Its safe to call it a bad habit. You know, nail biters (like me) who always say they’re going to quit, see improvements for a few months and then BOOM, nails are gone. We’ll see how well my promise to myself to blog more keeps up. I’m not too enthusiastic that I’ll be consistent, but I sure as hell will try!
So I’ve realized that I have not done a whole lot in terms of introducing myself/us (an official blog post doing so will happen in a few weeks or so once we can agree on all the photos we want to share/get new photos taken) to you all. This is out of sheer laziness. To be honest with you, I have a list of blog posts I NEED to write. I also have a million other lists. I like lists (ask Ciaran. I write them constantly and buy a million pads of paper and post it notes for said lists). I’m just not always great at crossing things off those lists. Consider this a semi-formal introduction: I like lists. Write lots of lists. We need more updated photos of ourselves. And I’m bad at blogging. Alert the media!
Boy howdy is this post weird and all over the freaking place. I’m going to run with it.
One of those things that you don’t know about us is that we’ve been vegetarians (mostly vegan – I’ll explain in a second) for the last 2 or so years. I really don’t remember when it was we said okay, no more meat. We go back and forth on when that took place all the time. But I’m pretty sure it was around mid-April 2 years ago. Let me be honest, at first we were terrible at it. Absolutely dreadful vegetarians. We ate pizza and bread most of the time, frozen meals from Trader Joes, a smoothie here and there, and usually the only vegetables we ate were roasted broccoli, carrots, and sometimes cauliflower to go along with our potatoes. That lasted longer than I’d like to admit until one day I decided we needed to do better, to eat better, and to be better. So to Pinterest I went!
Really, Pinterest should be paying me for how well I pin. Just sayin’.
I changed our diet dramatically.
We now eat mostly vegetables of a large variety. Eggs I only use from time to time (if I’m out, chia seed ‘eggs’ are my go to for burgers, bread, and such) if we happen to have them in the fridge. I’ve not purchased regular milk in who knows how long (almond and cashew milk only – most of the time I make my own), and yogurt is bought maybe once every couple of months because I’m bad at eating the whole thing. Cheese though, is not something I’m willing to give up. Truth be told I am not well versed in the world of vegan cheeses, and haven’t ventured to make my own just yet. While its something I am going to do, I’m just not ready to give up my traditional pizza with cheese. During this venture into a better diet, I’ve stopped buying a lot of conventional things and making my own – burger buns, artisanal bread, granola, the list goes on. There’s a huge relief in knowing whats in the food you’re making. Truthfully, we’ve never felt better. Sure, there’s usually more work to be done in the kitchen, more dishes to clean, but for our overall health its beyond worth it.
Looking for and researching new recipes and tips for better eating snowballed into reading the labels on our personal products and household items. I am so ashamed of myself that I spent all that time reading the backs of labels on food stuffs and completely ignored the labels of what I was putting into/onto my skin and letting it sit there. Skin is the largest organ on the human body. Its put through a LOT. Sun, water, changes in temperature, beaten, scrubbed, cuts and bruises…I had fallen into the routine of hearing “dermatologist tested” thinking it was good for me.
The truth is its not good for you. The majority of skincare products out there in the world are not good for you at all. Just because its labeled as “vegan” doesn’t mean its good for you. It just means that its not tested on animals. Its like foods being labeled as “non-GMO” – if its not labeled as organic, non-GMO items could still have pesticides used on them. So you’re wasting your time looking for non-GMO without the organic label. You’re wasting your time looking for just vegan make up brands as well.
They’re filled with chemicals.
No regular joe-shmo will fully understand whats on the back of the boxes of foundation, skin creams, face washes, etc. I am a regular joe-shmo. Walking through Ulta, I’d look at the back of lotions and realize that I had no idea what the hell I was reading. Oh! Alcohol! I know what that is. But those moments were few and far between. So instead of buying what I went to buy, I went home and went back to the internet. Instead of standing around in the store trying to google what was in the lotion or makeup, it was a LOT easier pulling up the products on Sephora and Ulta’s websites, copying the ingredient and then pasting it into google.
In general, what I found really upset me.
“plant derived, known human toxicant, environmental toxin, cancer causing” How in the hell can something be plant derived but yet so not good for you? It was overwhelming.
I had stumbled upon a website called the Environmental Working Group or EWG for short. From there, I had found that they have a database called Skin Deep that you can look up the ingredients that are on your personal care products. The moment I made that discovery, I realized 6 hours later I had spent my entire day with my makeup laid out in front of me trying to figure out how safe they were for me to use. Conclusion: they weren’t safe at all and all of it went in the trash immediately. The website itself is not perfect. Some ingredients I haven’t been able to find. Lots of ingredients haven’t had in-depth studies. When you go about the natural beauty world bloggers out there, some people love the website, others call it the PETA of the green world (i.e, laughable, not actually doing good for the world, etc etc). Another website I found is called Skin Safe . Its much like EWG and provides information on brands known to contain allergens (or not). Its not focused on the toxicity of an ingredient or what is associated (if anything) with that ingredient. Both have their merits, soI bounce back and forth between these websites often. VERY often. You should see my browsing history. They pop up a LOT. Do I think the EWG is full of it? Personally, no. Sure, its not perfect. But its saved me a lot of anguish on finding safer products for us to use. If the ingredient has the potential to aid in cancer development, buh-bye. Anything with ‘fragrance’? GTFO.
You don’t know how many hours and how much energy I’ve put behind finding safer products for us to use. There have been days where I spent 6 hours or more in frustration trying to find a foundation that wasn’t laced with toxic chemicals, or any other item you can think of. I would be legitimately upset that companies are out there actually pumping this stuff into bottles and selling it to all the joe-shmos out there saying it will do wonders for your skin. That its dermatologist approved. No, the reality is that it could potentially be aiding in killing you. Doctors aren’t always as reliable as we want them to be – I know someone who’s been mis-diagnosed for something that wasn’t hard to see. Whether it was to squeeze more money out of them or total incompetence I don’t know. Even my own doctor prescribed strong medication for my anxiety instead of offering me other alternatives. He went straight for the drugs. (I personally drink Holy Basil Tea to combat my anxiety.) But if doctors are mis-diagnosing for the sake of money, then they’re also approving products that could land you in their office. Zit free skin with known cancer causing ingredients isn’t worth thousands if not millions of potential dollars in medical bills later on in life. Its just not.
Did you know it only takes 30 seconds for whatever you put on your skin to enter your blood stream? I didn’t either until I dived down the research rabbit hole.
Hang on, I need to come down from this soap box before it topples over.
Come to think of it…if you’ve made it this far, holy crap. You’re awesome. I LOVE you. Like a lot. Hang tight…the good stuff is coming. I promise! Phew!
Finding the right products for my skin has been a roller coaster. Its one that I’m STILL figuring out. I’ve gone through product after product trying to find something that actually worked for my late 20s acne prone/combination-in-the-cooler months-skin. For the longest time I thought using products with oils was bad for my acne. BOY WAS I WRONG. So wrong. I thought serums were things you used when you started to get wrinkly. HAH, WRONG AGAIN. Obviously I was ill-informed in the world of skincare and what was actually good to use, and this whole experience has been incredibly eye opening. So for you lovely people, I’m sharing with you what I use on a daily basis. Don’t worry, I’ve got a list of links for you to check these rad babes out for yourself.
Lets start internally.
The older you get is all the more reason to take care of yourself. I take collagen every morning to help with my skin primarily. This particular one I picked up from Earth Fare calls for a tablespoon with 6oz of water on an empty stomach for better absorption. Done. It doesn’t taste all that bad, and you’re drinking water. If you’re like me, sometimes you forget to drink enough water. As we age, the amount of collagen our body produces reduces hence causing sagging skin and wrinkles. Is it vain? Sure. I’d admit it. But it also aids in wound healing, our joints and bones…so really, theres no reason NOT to take it unless you have an allergy to something in it. Then you might have a problem. (read labels kids!)
Glow Beauty Powder has been fabulous. I mix in a teaspoon in with my smoothies and call it a day. Packed with probiotics for gut health (There is actually a lot of research out there that our gut health is actually far more important than we thought. And there are studies out there correlating gut bacteria to our every day decisions) and other good stuff for a healthier you. Since I don’t eat yogurt too often, this isn’t a bad thing to throw into that smoothie to get those things I’m missing. The Beauty Chef has lots of other great things (including protein powder), and I definitely recommend. If you live in the US, you can’t buy directly from the website, so I buy from The Detox Market (Actually, I buy a lot of my stuff from this website. Its a great resource!).
Now Dasher, now Dancer, now Prancer, now Vixe – oh wait…
So a couple of things. That bar soap? That stuff is GOLD. The only problem? You can’t buy it anywhere. Why? Because my mother-in-law (well, she’s not technically my mother-in-law YET, but she will be, and I consider her family and love her to bits and she’s the absolute cutest) makes it. Safe organic ingredients, homemade essential oils (RIGHT?! Like I said, the cutest)…I always thought using bar soap on my face would just simply dry it out. I was so wrong it’s not funny. When we went to Europe earlier this year (blog post about that to come later), she gave us a couple of bars and told me to try it on my face and see how it works. At the time, I was battling some cystic acne under my eye (UGH) and in a couple of other places. I kid you not…I started using that bar of soap and 3 days later saw significant results and those results have maintained and its been a month now.
Odacite Gentle Rejuvenating Cleanser is lovely. I only use it during the colder months though when my skin is drier (hence the combination skin). Warmer months its too much. If you have combination skin year round, then this baby is worth a try. One of the best things about Odacites’ website is that they have kits based off specific skin care needs you can buy to try out. If it doesn’t work for you, then you don’t buy the full size of that particular product. Skin care is all about trial and error. What works for me may not work for you. But you’ll never know until you try.
Odacite Mint + Green Tea Treatment Mist is my best friend. Well, not my actual best friend. But my best friend when it comes to my face. This stuff is gold. Its green, but its gold. This treats my acne while also moisturizes – so I can skip my moisturizer. I spray this on after washing, then apply my serums immediately while its wet and let those soak in before I put on my makeup. I’m telling you, if you’re prone to breaking out, give this stuff a go. You may break out a little more after the first few uses, but after that things should clear up after the “purging”.
Pai Geranium & Thistle Rebalancing Day Cream is fabulous. Its light. Soaks in quickly. And has not caused any break outs (like moisturizers tend to do for me). I’ve actually noticed that I’m a little less oily come mid-day when I use this. However, because its been a little warmer, I’ve had less of a need to use this. Now, when we’re in full summer mode, I may pick this baby back up to help keep my mid-day oily face at bay. This one I’m still learning, so I’ll have more of an updated review for you later on when I find other lovely and beautiful green beauty products to add to your radar.
*Pai also has kits you can try to see if a particular line works for your face. Highly recommend!
Odacite Serums in particular Bl+C and GR+G. These two have SAVED my skin. The other two are great, but because we’re in the warmer months, they’re a bit too heavy for me (if you want to buy them off me, they’re barely used and I’m happy to sell them to you! Cheaper price too since they’re gently used ;)). But the Bl+C works fabulously on my break out spots. Gr+G helps moderate the oil my skin produces while helping to clear acne. It doesn’t block it. You should never ever block your skins natural oil making ability. Skin makes oil as a defense line. Its whats protecting all your innards after all, let it do its thing. But the over-production of oil can be a problem, so thats where the balancing comes in.
Odacite has tons of serums for different skin care needs – even combo packs. One of the best things about Odacite – the samples! You get to pick samples with every order, so you can try out different serums and other items. I’m using my Ba+S eye contour sample and I will definitely be buying a full size once its gone. Fine lines have been evening out (not completely mind you, but enough for me to notice a difference), and my under-eyes just look better.
Now onto my favorite: Masks! (If you’re friends with me on snapchat, you see my face with masks all the time. I am not sorry and I also am not sorry about my love and obsession for masks. Its my favorite way to pamper myself and really set aside time to care for ME. Since I spend a lot of my time on other people and capturing beautiful memories for them to remember, I need to take care of me too. So, indulging in face masks with a hot cup of tea is a weekly routine of mine)
Odacite Synergie Immediate Skin Perfecting Beauty Masque If I could sing any more praises for this stuff I would. I LOVE this mask. Its gentle, its calming, and it comes with a booklet on things you can add to it to intensify the benefits. The color is a light blue-gray and its super thin and fast drying. I use this baby twice a week (I generally measure out 1sp to 1/2 – 3/4 tsp water to mix and add a couple of drops of the Bl+C serum for extra acne fighting. The beauty of this mask is that its up to you to make it work for you. YOU are in charge of your own skin care, so do what you need to do to make it benefit for you – but this is great on its own too. Seriously).
Mahalo Pele Mask Mahalo was the first brand of skin care I started buying from when I made my decision to purge my old skin care routine. The ingredients are LOVELY. There are several items I’ve used (The Indigo Balm is my favorite during the winter to use at night, The UNveil Cleanser, The Vitality Serum, The Bean Mask etc), but the Pele Mask is one that I keep around and use once a week. It helps clear out my pores and keep my acne at bay. If I’m broken out, it reduces the time those zits stick around. This CAN be drying since its detoxifying your skin, so watch yourself. You can mix this mask with some honey to help calm your skin while it dries.
SW Basics Hibiscus Mask is fun. If you’ve never used it before…its RED. When you wash it off its like someone stabbed a bear in the skin/shower. Why a bear? I don’t know. My dad always teased me after I would shave my legs and say that someone shaved a bear in shower…so there you go. Poor bear.Does it do much in the way of acne care? I dunno. But its got a short list of ingredients and nice to use. I bought mine from Target.
Body Care: Coconut oil coconut oil coconut oil. We go through so much of this stuff. Ciaran uses it too. Its SO good as a moisturizer in the summer. The winter not so much. Then we use raw shea butter as it is naturally. That stuff is magic too (you can buy it on amazon) I buy my oil at Earth Fare or Trader Joes. Earth Fare has the bigger sizes, so we save money over time going that route.
The little Moon Valley Organics tin is a moisturizer bar. I bought that from Earth Fare too! Its a little little bar that you can use for a quick rub down on your hands if they’re dry. Perfectly sized for your purse to carry around with you. This is more of a summer item than a winter one for me. But I grab this bad boy pretty often!
Skin Food by Aubrey is FABULOUS. If you live in Ohio, you may be able to find these at a local store in your area (like a Whole Foods – it costs the same in person as it does on her etsy page). I’ve tried making my own body butter, but I just can’t get the same consistency as she gets. Its not a totally organic body butter, but its better than ANY OTHER BODY BUTTER that I’ve tried thus far. I keep this stuff by my bed to rub on my feet at night. And if I’m feeling extra dry, I put this on after a shower. The container is fairly small for its $20 price tag and will disappear on you pretty quickly, but its just so so so worth it. Since its Etsy, you may be able to message her and see if she can custom you a larger size. Never hurts to ask! I love this stuff, bonus I’m helping a fellow local small business. Its always wonderful to help the little guys 😉
Periobrite dental care…guys, this stuff is MAGIC. This is the best tooth paste and mouth wash I’ve EVER used. Yes, better than Listerine. Safer and healthier for you to use, and I’ve actually had much better overall mouth health after using this stuff. My teeth are whiter, I don’t come across too many issues with sensitive teeth anymore (sometimes they’re a little sensitive to cold items). I usually buy mine from Earth Fare, but you can find them cheaper usually online.
Now, the one product I’m not uber proud to use is the Burts Bees makeup remover wipes. Its one of those items that has “fragrance” in it…and “fragrance” is not all that great. There’s a worry of contamination since they don’t fully label WHAT fragrances they use. I try to avoid everything with the loose term “fragrance” on the label. I am actively looking for something else to replace these wipes. I’ll let you know when I find a good one. The majority of Burts Bees products have some really questionable ingredients. Its better than Neutrogena or any other drug store item (INCLUDING Proactive…that stuff is toxic city) any day, but its still not the best option as there are better ones out there.
The common misconception about Green Beauty is that it doesn’t work. That’s pretty damn far from the truth. It just takes time finding whats right for you. Not all natural skin care is the same. Some lines work SO well for some, but are completely awful for others. Take the time to read the reviews and take them with a grain of salt. Read the ingredients listed. Pop over to the EWG Skin Deep site and and look up the ones you’re unfamiliar with. Do this with EVERYTHING. Trial and error my friends. Yes, you’ll make exceptions. I have, I’ll admit it. But the bottom line is, if you think it might work for you, try it. Lots of places offer returns after a certain period of time if the product just isn’t for you. 100% guarantees are great.
Another great resource for finding safer beauty and skin care is a website called Follain. I’ve got several items on my wish list that I’d love to try.
Since this post has become RIDICULOUSLY long (sorry, kids!), I’m going to stop here for the day. I’ll touch on makeup next, and will continually update you with new skincare/make up that I find. I’m ALWAYS up for suggestions, hell, collaborations are great too. Comment, email, instagram me, what have you!
I don’t want this blog to be just a blog about our photography. We’re humans too, and do things/have interests outside of taking photos. So we’ll mix it up from time to time. Ciaran plans on writing some posts too. Hope you’re ready!
Ps. This post is no way endorsed by any of the products/companies you see here. I found all of these myself in my hunt for green beauty and wanted to share my findings/experience with them!
Until then, stay rad lovelies