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Lately, I’ve become a little more conscious of what I’ve been doing to my body. Over the past 3-4 months I’ve really looked at not only what I’m putting into my body but also what I’m putting on my skin or what I’m using around the house. I think we can all agree that organic food is tremendously expensive and, for me at least, this will be a gradual process. A great place to start the conversion to organic/all-natural is by replacing foods you eat on a daily basis like bread, milk, meats, eggs or whatever makes up the bulk of your diet. This helps lessen the impact on wallets. Another trick in revamping a diet is to make lots of meals from scratch, stay away from eating out a lot (because you have no idea what the restaurant is putting into your food) or stick to the basics (like steering clear of foods that have a ton of ingredients in them that you can’t even read). An enormous change I’ve made in my life is cutting out excessive alcohol. This was mainly a decision based on my choice to follow God completely and clearly, but it also had a lot to do with my health. I believe these two go hand in hand. You can read more here if you missed that post. I’ve seen a significant change in how I feel, and I’ve found much better outlets on how to deal with the things that made me turn to alcohol–like amping up the exercising!
So, what prompted me to switch to an all-natural approach? A big factor is that I have sensitive skin, and my husband has extremely sensitive skin and allergies. Food is one thing, but skin-care and household products are completely different. You’ll be surprised to learn that a lot of all-natural household cleaner recipes will literately cost you pennies, and they are so much better for you. Skin-care can be a bit expensive, but there are also tons of all-natural products you can whip up in your own home that cost so much less than the other crap hanging out on Walgreens’ shelves.
Starting with skin-care, make-up and nail-polish, I took a look at a lot of the products I was currently using and put them in Skin Deep’s online database. The objective of this neat little site is to inform consumers. Many products slip through FDA’s cracks, many are not even regulated by the FDA, and I guarantee you there are tons of misbranded product sitting on the shelves of grocery stores. I just recently read an article about how Whole Foods pulled down all misbranded product back in July 2011 in an effort to adequately put forth their organic/all-natural image. You can read more about FDA coverage here. Skin Deep is a great database to take a closer look at what you’re exposing yourself to. For example, Covergirl’s Eye Enhancers – Sheerly Nude eye shadow blows the lid off allergies and immunotoxicity, and shows signs of cancer-causing agents. I haven’t had a chance to actually match up the ingredient lists for accuracy but for now I’m assuming the site is correct. Needless to say, after perusing the site I decided it was time to trash the make-up I had that was filled with stuff that wasn’t good for me. I found Maia’s Minerals during my quest for organic/all-natural make-up, and I’ve been using their products for about a month. I’ve seen a huge difference in how my skin reacts, and my eyes don’t burn like they did when I got Covergirl mascara in my eyes. I also feel very comfortable with the ingredients and have had no complaints. The consistency of all-natural make-up does take some time to get used to, and the coverage is much lighter, but it’s a small price to pay if you’re looking for something that is better for your skin.
Skin care has been a little bit harder for me to find consistency. I was using Juice Beauty products for about a month, but I still wasn’t satisfied with their ingredient list. I’m still on a search for a great all-natural cleanser, but I’m transitioning the other part of my skin-care routine to olive oil, organic brown sugar, coconut oil, tea tree oil, honey, nutmeg, cinnamon, organic apple cider vinegar with mother and Thayer’s Rose Petal witch hazel toner. Olive oil mixed with brown sugar makes the BEST face (and body) scrub! I try to exfoliate every other day or so, and this mixture is just amazing, and it is so great for your skin. Tea tree oil is naturally anti-bacterial, and makes a fantastic spot treatment for blemishes, but don’t forget to mix it with a little bit of water to dilute its potency. Coconut oil makes a great natural moisturizer, and it’s also a great leave-in conditioner! I also sometimes add a dab to damp hair before styling for a boost of everyday moisture. I’ve read about the rave reviews on mixing apple cider vinegar and the rose petal witch hazel for a great toner. I’ve used Thayer’s in the past, and it really is a fantastic product that doesn’t strip the skin of moisture and boasts all-natural ingredients. Lastly, organic honey, nutmeg and cinnamon mixed together make a delicious and wonderful weekly face mask. These ingredients are also naturally soothing, moisturizing and anti-bacterial. Again, switching to all-natural products can be quite easy and many of these cost much less than anything you’d buy from grocery stores.
The ingredient list in nail-polish took me by surprise the most. Many nail polish brands carry the big toxic three in their lists: Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde and Toluene. Formaldehyde has been shown to cause nasal cancer in rats even though its short term effects are well-known. My thought? I should probably stay away. You can read more here on formaldehyde. It is a very rare event for me to go get a pedicure or manicure, but I will be sure to bring my own nail polish if I go again. I also think it’s important to be cognizant of the toxic fumes in places like these–so many nail polishes carry the big toxic three and nail salons are filled with nail polishes and other chemicals that give off horrendous fumes as a result of their ingredients. In my research I’ve discovered that brands like Sally Hansen and OPI are making efforts to eliminate the toxicity in their nail polishes so that’s a plus because I love OPI! For now, I’ve currently made the switch to Acquarella, which is a water-based polish brand and most of their products are devoid of toxic chemicals. This brand is on the pricey side, like many all-natural products, but I don’t do my nails that often so I’ve stuck to purchasing 2 polishes and their nail conditioner for now. I also feel much better that I’ve eliminated many toxic ingredients, and now my husband can actually stick around when I do my nails in the living room haha. He hates the smells of my other polishes.
As for household products, this has been the easiest to transition to. I remember using Scrub Free in the bathroom while cleaning, and I could not get through cleaning the whole bathroom without going into a coughing fit. It was terrible. I’ve gotten rid of all of our toxic cleaners and replaced them with all-natural, safe, home-made products. The main ingredients? Baking soda, vinegar, non-toxic/all-natural dish soap, essential oil and water. Vinegar and baking soda are the main cleaning agents, and essential oil adds that sweet lingering scent without setting my nasal cavity on fire. As an everywhere cleaner I mix white distilled vinegar, water and a few drops of lemongrass essential oil into a spray bottle. This stuff is great, non-toxic and leaves my kitchen, bathroom and everywhere else clean and smelling wonderful. For areas that need scrubbing I mix baking soda, a squirt of non-toxic dish soap, and a drop of essential oil together in a bowl until it turns into a paste. This stuff is great for toilet bowls, bathtubs and kitchen sinks, to name a few. The main ingredients cost so little–I probably spend $10 every couple of months or so on the main ingredients. And the best news is that these cleaning agents are SO much better for you! I’ve also eliminated what my husband lovingly dubbed as “smelly stuff.” This includes plug-ins, potent sprays and candles. There is a simple rubbing alcohol, water and essential oil mixture I’m going to try out in a spray bottle for a burst of fresh scent, but I’ve been sticking to mixing baking soda and essential oil into small mason jars and placing them throughout the apartment. Baking soda is a natural air deodorizer, and the essential oil leaves a nice hint of scent that isn’t overpowering or dangerous. Another fresh scent trick before company comes over is to boil herbs and spices in a pot of water on the stove. I’ve read about mixing cinnamon sticks and orange peels together. It sounds lovely!
There you have it–my slow transition into better eating and better products that don’t necessarily have to break the bank. In fact, many of the products I talk about above (aside from the make-up and nail-polish) will actually save you money. It’s so easy to get caught up in the next “best” product when in the end it’s much better (and healthier) to stick with the basics.