Saturday, November 19, 2011

So Fresh and So Clean Clean

As I've mentioned before, one of the things I've been slowly working on this year is replacing all of my toiletries with products that minimize or eliminate toxic ingredients. I figured if we're focusing so much on eating clean and organic, why not see if we can also focus on cleaning up what we're putting ON our bodies, too?

To help find healthier products, there are two websites that I like to reference - the EWG database and This might not have been a perfect system, but I basically tried to find all products that were rated "green" on both of the sites. Honestly, trying to understand the complexities of all the toxins and harmful chemicals enough to where I could navigate shopping on my own was too overwhelming, so I figure a green rating on both sites was a good place to start.

Shopping for healthy cosmetics and toiletries is difficult because there are essentially no regulations on this industry. They can use almost any ingredient that they want, claim whatever what they want, label it however they want, and they don't have to disclose everything on their ingredient list. And I feel that many companies take advantage of this to sell Americans cheaper-to-produce and more toxic products that are illegal for them to sell in other countries, because of their toxicity. Johnson & Johnson, anyone???

Current events rants aside, my other main focus with all of this was keeping it price-friendly. Because...well...this momma's on a budget. So all of these products are similarly priced to other mainstream national products, and some are actually a little bit less expensive. I also tried to limit it to products that you can buy in-store, but you can also check out Amazon and if you want to buy online.

Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps - love these products. Apparently the actual Dr. Bronner was a little crazy, and the labels on the products are definitely crazy, but seriously...these soaps are fantastic. I initially bought the castile soaps to use in my green cleaning mixes, and then I also tried it for body wash and face wash, with good results. I read that some people use it as a shampoo but I didn't try it and therefore can't vouch for it. Their lotions also seemed to be great, although they have a very limited scent selection. You can find these products at Target (for the castile soaps, in the cleaning section), some Publix locations (castile and bar soaps), and Whole Foods (soaps and lotions). The best thing about Dr. Bronner's is that the ENTIRE brand line is rated green on both sites...not something a lot of companies can claim!

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Burt's Bees: For this line, you're really going to need to look up each product individually. Some things are rated great and others are really not so hot. I do like their lip balm and their Orange Essence Facial Cleanser. You can find Burt's Bees at Target and a lot of grocery stores, and the nice thing about Burt's Bees is that you can sometimes find coupons online or in the newspapers. They also have a lot of their products in a trial size, if you want to test it out.

Tom's of Maine - love this company too. I use their toothpaste, deodorant, and lavender body wash. I can find it at Target, some Publix locations, and Whole Foods. For this brand, if you're trying to stay in the "green", you'll want to look up the individual type of product that you're looking at...depending on the ingredients some products are on the low yellow side.

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 Aveeno Baby Lotion - after we made the switch to California Baby for all of Anna's stuff, I had a huge bottle of the Aveeno Baby Lotion and I didn't want to just throw it away, so I started using it myself. And after I started this whole project, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this lotion is actually rated very highly on both sites. And, a LOT of the fancy organic lotions sold at Whole Foods ranked lower than the Aveeno Baby, at almost 3x the price! I like it too because it isn't greasy, and you can buy it almost anywhere.

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Hair Stuff: I discovered through this project that shampoos, conditioners, and styling products are among the worst-rated cosmetic/toiletry products. I looked up all of the stuff in my regular styling line and....yikes. I wonder though if it's not as bad as the ratings indicate if the stuff doesn't touch your scalp? I dunno. I haven't really made a major switch from my haircare line though because that stuff was expensive, so I want to at least use it up. I'm also curious to know if these green-rated products are okay to use on color-treated hair (Jessica? Chime in please!). For those of you who haven't sunk a bunch of money into hair stuff, here are some promising options. I would love to hear reviews if any of you use these or try them!!

              Bumble & Bumble Straight Shampoo
              Burt's Bees Rosemary Mint Shampoo Bar
              California Baby Hair Shampoo & Conditioner: Calendula
              Pure & Basic Volumizing Peppermint Conditioner
              Coastal Classic Creations Shampoo & Conditioner
              Alba Botanica Hair: Medium Hold Hair Spray

Sunscreen: California Baby or Badger sunblock are both rated green, and we use California Baby exclusively for Anna. I also use Neutrogena Baby Pure & Free sunblock although it isn't rated green (it's a very low yellow). It's half the price of the first two that I listed so sometimes economy wins out, especially for sun-filled summers at the lake. California Baby and Neutrogena Baby Pure & Free can be found at Target, Badger can be found at Whole Foods, some Publix locations, or Ulta.

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Makeup: I haven't had a chance to try any of the "green" cosmetics yet. I go through makeup pretty slowly (hmm...maybe I should be doing my makeup more often, haha) so I haven't had to replace anything since I started this project. It's on the to-do list though! I have heard good things about the RMS Beauty line, but yikes, it's expensive. Anyone have any recommendations in the make-up area?

For more information, I found this section on to be very helpful:


Lisa Elaine said...

I've used bare minerals for years. Love it. They are ranked as a 1 and I believe they use natural products so it's ok if you forget to take it off at night. I get it from Sephora, but you can also buy it online. It seems kind of pricey, but if you get their starter set mine lasted for 2 years (and then expired) and has foundation, blush, and all the brushes. I just bought some concealer to go with it and then used my own mascara and eyeliner.

Sarah said...

wow that's a great recommendation, thanks Lisa! I just added the starter kit to my birthday list :-)

Jessica Thompson said...

I use bare minerals, as well, and I love it! I'm a big fan of their moisturizer, too.

I went through a shampoo hunting phase last summer (my hair was course and really long, and I couldn't manage it!) and one of my favorites was Pureology Hydrate. It is sulfate free, but when I looked it up on the ewg site, it was more in the moderate level. I liked it so much because it is suppose to be safe for color-treated hair, and, even though my hair isn't color-treated, it was much less harsh and left my hair very soft. (the peppermint smell is nice, too)

I think the one factor I have found that makes it difficult to find good shampoo, is sometimes the "organic labeled" shampoos tend to leave my hair more greasy. I now use Biolage by Matrix and really like it(again, though, another yellow rating).

Lisa Elaine said...

Don't forget to label this post so I can find it again! :)

Kelly said...

I love Toms deodorant but do you find that you have to reapply during the day? I feel stinky halfway through the day and wondering if it's just me hahaha

Kelly said...

Also- Earth Mama Angel Baby makes great products for baby. I like their lotion and bottom balm for Carter.

Sarah said...

Kelly yeah I do usually keep an extra stick of it in my purse and reapply it sometimes, but I did that with my regular deodorant too so I guess I didn't really think about it!! And I've heard GREAT things about the Earth Mama Angel Baby stuff...I keep meaning to try it! Have you tried any of the mom products too or just the baby stuff?

Kelly said...

I've just used the baby stuff so far. The shampoo doesn't lather or make bubbles like people expect (it's not supposed to) but it smells SO good and leaves our skin really soft. We use their bottom balm in conjunction with baby powder when C gets a rash and it usually helps pretty quickly.