You’ve been working on creating the perfect cache of hair products, makeup, body lotions, and perfumes since you were 12, right? Now you are hearing about the potential hazards lurking in your beloved collection, and wondering if you should be tossing your phthalate-packed but highly praised lipstick (and shampoo, night cream, mascara, the list goes on and on) and replacing it with some brand you’ve never heard of. It can be overwhelming, enough to make you want to throw in the towel and forget you ever read anything about parabens or petrochemicals. But don’t lose heart; going green can be fun, exciting, and even affordable. I thought I might draw on my former life as a clinical psychologist (true story) and offer up 6 tips for making the transition to natural and organic beauty products without sacrificing your sanity!
1. Stay informed. The more you know about why you are switching over to eco-friendly products, the easier it will be to stay motivated when you lose some of that initial enthusiasm. Feelgood Style is a great place to start, and there are several fantastic books to check out as well, including Not Just a Pretty Face by Stacey Malkan, one of the creators of the Skin Deep database, or The Green Beauty Guide, by Julie Gabriel. When you are feeling discouraged, go back and read through the articles or chapters that motivated you to make the switch in the first place.
2. Take it easy. While there will always be those of us who tend to do everything in the extreme, the majority of us are at risk of burning out if we attempt to change every piece of our daily routine simultaneously. If you are feeling overwhelmed (or broke), prioritize. Start with those products that cover a lot of skin, like body and face lotions, or ones that can be inhaled, like hair sprays and perfumes. Slowly, as you run out of your commercial shadows, shampoos, and body shimmers, replace them with natural or organic counterparts. Take that time in between to read reviews, lurk on message boards, or ask experts in the industry what they think might be the best products for you.
3. Get a buddy. Just like with dieting, changing your entire beauty routine is easier when you have support. Find a friend who is interested in exploring natural beauty products as well. Many of my customers partner with their sister or mother, trying out each other’s selections as a way to save money. If no one in your social sphere is interested in going green, find a message board or social network site dedicated to chemical-free beauty.
4. Make it fun. We are way more inclined to make changes when it’s enjoyable. So get some friends involved, have your book club read Malkan’s book, ask your local natural beauty products retailer if they are willing to host an after-hours wine and makeover party. Or host one yourself!
5. Keep it simple. While we may not like to admit it, humans are programmed to take the path of least resistance. Find ways to make the switch as pain-free as possible. If you happen upon a trustworthy, high-quality local retailer or an online store with good customer service and knowledgeable staff, stay with them until you feel more comfortable exploring.
6. Keep an open mind. Have you fallen in love with every conditioner you’ve ever tried, or did you need to suffer through a few bad hair days while searching for the best one for your hair? Odds are, it was the latter. The same holds true for natural products. I have heard many times over women concluding that “natural is not for me” after trying one product that didn’t work out. If the first natural shampoo you bought left your hair feeling greasy, then return it and try something else. Most retailers and online shops have generous return policies, particularly on skin and hair care. For makeup, find a store that offers makeovers, or an online site that offers samples. Most women eventually find their “holy grail” products within the natural and organic arena; it just takes a little patience and perseverance.