Fashion / Beauty

Making the Clean Beauty Switch — My New Chemical Free Life

This Lifestyle Change Can Help the Environment and You

BY // 06.07.19

For a decade now, the scene in my bathroom included several Chanel compacts, no fewer than a dozen bottles of perfume, every La Mer product imaginable, and that pink-and-green tube of mascara that I’ve loyally used since my teenage years.

But in less than a month, that’s all changed. I’ve gone clean. Perhaps I drank Gwyneth Paltrow’s all-clean, all-natural Goop Kool-Aid — or read too many articles about the lack of regulations around heavy metals and harmful chemicals used in the beauty and hygiene products we apply to our skin daily.

Whatever it was, I was called to make a change.

Not long ago, I found myself at Knox Street’s Follain boutique. The Boston-based clean beauty brand was founded in 2013 by Tara Foley and has since led the clean-beauty movement, stocking its e-commerce and brick-and-mortar shops with only the best clean beauty products, which are all aggressively tested and vetted for both the purity of their ingredients and their effectiveness before hitting the Follain shelves.

At Follain, I was a deer in the headlights, but I knew one thing: I had committed. And when I commit to something, I jump right in. I decided that all of the products I had been using — every bit of makeup, soap, even my deodorant — were about to get replaced by items that are nontoxic, organic, chemical free, biodynamic, or plant-based.

The idea of changing things up was, admittedly, the natural next step in what I call my personal wellness journey. (Call it a cliché, but it’s true.)

A year ago, after six years of taking a rather aggressive medication for an autoimmune disease I was diagnosed with in 2012, I went off the drugs cold turkey. (My doctor thought I was insane.) In turn, I cleaned up my diet. I eliminated processed sugar, gluten, and most processed foods and began consuming more plants and healthy proteins and fats.

Proudly, I haven’t had one health issue since — and I’m fully convinced that a clean diet based on whole foods can help the body heal itself.

But I felt slightly hypocritical. If I was so diligent about what I was putting in my body, why wasn’t I considering the products I put on my body. Our skin is our largest organ, after all, and as I wade into my 30s, the notion of protecting myself from harmful chemicals has become just as important as treating my skin with products that will promote longevity.

So, here we are. My first question was simple: If I were to replace one product in my daily routine, what should it be. The answer was obvious: It starts with soap.

We use soap more than any other product — and, what’s more, soap goes straight down the drain and into our water system. If it’s packed with harmful ingredients, it’s just as bad for the environment as it is for our skin. So, I bought one of Follain’s name-brand soaps, which can be used in the kitchen, shower — basically anywhere. They come in refillable glass bottles, and the price to refill is excitingly affordable.

With step one down, it was time to dive deep into my skincare and beauty routine. One thing to keep in mind: I am low-maintenance. A 12-step beauty routine is not for me. If I have to spend more than 30 minutes getting my face together — for work or for black tie — I spiral into a whirl of anxiety.

With this in mind, I was recommended and purchased the following products: Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator, a dreamy face-mist toner that you spritz on after washing your face (I use the Indie Lee Rosehip Cleanser, which doubles as a makeup remover, and organic muslin washcloths that are technically meant for babies but work wonders for adults); Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil, which leaves my skin hydrated and glowing and has replaced my traditional moisturizer; and Organic Bath Co. Peacefull Organic Body Butter, which has a divine whipped texture that is light and airy on the skin.

For makeup, I start with a tinted moisturizer by Ilia, followed by a cream bronzer by W3LL People. I brush a bit of RMS Beauty Tinted “Un” Powder on my skin and then swipe my lashes with Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara. (I also have an Ilia eyeliner, which I reserve for nights out or more formal occasions.)

Ilia Color Haze shadows
Ilia Color Haze shadows

Lipstick proved the hardest switch — but one of the most important. You ingest your lipstick, gloss, or balm on a daily basis, so it better be safely edible. I like to sport a red lip for evening to-dos, so, so I opted for the Rebound shade by RMS Beauty. For daytime, I use Kari Gran Lip Whip in Rosie Gold or Follain’s everyday lip balm.

Beauty Game Changers

Perhaps the two products that have been the major game changers for me are shampoo and deodorant. My shampoo and conditioner are by Innersense and combine vitamin E and shea butters with sage and tamanu essential oils. My hair looks and feels lighter and bouncier — and I feel better knowing that the shampoo washing down the drain isn’t polluting our oceans.

For deodorant, I go back and forth between using PiperWai Activated Charcoal Deodorant Stick, which is natural and aluminum-free, and Milk + Honey Cream Deodorant No. 20 — a simple blend of organic virgin coconut oil, organic shea butter, baking soda, organic arrowroot powder, beeswax, and vanilla oil, which can be purchased through Milk + Honey online or at the new Milk + Honey spa at The Shops at Clearfork in Fort Worth.

More than a month into my new routine (and yes, I now only use clean laundry detergent, dishwasher soap, and cleaning products — but that’s another story for another day), I can attest to the fact that the lifestyle change where skincare and beauty is concerned has been just as profound as the dietary changes I made a year ago.

It’s as mental as it is physical: The aforementioned products do the job, whether its moisturizing my skin or giving me the perfect red lip for a night on the town. I also feel emotionally at ease and more mindful in my daily routine, knowing that I’m doing my tiny part in cleaning up the environment, all the while protecting my skin from harmful chemicals.

A friendly reminder: The FDA only loosely regulates skincare and beauty. So chemicals found in most mainstream beauty brands are highly toxic.

Also worth noting: The words “clean” and “natural” aren’t regulated at all, so should you decide to drink the clean-beauty Kool-Aid, seek products that are vetted by experts. For me, it was the team at Follain.

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