edited april 7, 2023: this was written years ago so I deleted a few companies/organizations I no longer support. also note, my product routine is SO incredibly pared down nowadays (oil cleansing and leahlani beauty balm for the face and a body oil for the rest!
I am frequently asked what personal care products I use so I figured it was time to do a piece on ‘natural beauty’.
I’ve always been inclined toward the ‘natural’ side of things and through many years of self-study, working in the spa industry, and gleaning information from experts I’ve accumulated quite a bit of knowledge and experience in the realm of essential oils, herbs, and nutrition. 25 years ago, before I became a massage therapist, I was the buyer for beauty + supplements at a prominent West Village health food store which is where my interest really took root. I was bombarded with questions daily so it was in my best interest to learn how to answer them! I became fluent in the The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Prescription for Nutritional Healing books…and as a result, never stopped learning.
Most people don’t realize that my other job is as an educator for red flower and Beauty Secrets. All of those photos you see on my Instagram page of cruise ships, exotic locales, and spas? That’s me on location, teaching therapists about ingredients, products, and treatments.
If you haven’t been paying attention, there has been a personal care product revolution! Natural beauty is nearly everywhere these days – from boutiques to national chains; BUT the flipside is that greenwashing runs rampant. Greenwashing is when a company presents themselves as being ‘eco-conscious’ with select products, using exaggerated marketing jargon to tout their environmental awareness, when in fact, it represents a tiny sliver of their company and they are not truly ‘walking the walk and talking the talk’. Did you know the FDA DOES NOT REGULATE personal care products and the terms natural, organic, non-toxic are extremely vague and sometimes misleading? Did you know that a product could contain a mere 10% of naturally derived/organic ingredients and still be able to use the term ‘natural’ or organic? Did you know only 11 chemicals are banned in the US compared to over 1300 in Europe and 165 in Canada?
The bottom line is, YOU NEED TO READ + UNDERSTAND INGREDIENT LABELS.
Get into the habit of looking up an ingredient if you don’t know what it is or how to pronounce it. Plant-based ingredients can be as effective or more so, often safer, and more nourishing than a synthetic, petroleum, thalate, sulfate, or alcohol based formula. I cringe whenever I see Cetaphil in my clients’ homes (and I see it often) because it is pure garbage…here’s why. You want to seek out products that provide nutrients to your skin rather than strip it of its natural oils. You want plant-based ingredients that draw moisture to your skin rather than dry it out. You want ingredients that enter your bloodstream (like essential oils do) to be healthy and non-toxic rather than carcinogenic.
What gets confusing is that sometimes an ingredient sounds synthetic but is in fact plant-derived or, the ingredient could be derived from animals, synthetics, or plants. Therefore, it’s important to know more about the company’s philosophy and sourcing before you make a purchasing decision. These days there are so many great companies making great products – some vegan, some cruelty-free (aka no animal testing), some organic, some a little of all of those!
If you’re looking to swap out your skin and body care products for healthier, organic, or vegan check out the lists on Skincare Ox and Ethical Elephant. Vitacost is another source for affordable products. Because I have either used or worked for/with them I can personally vouch for Juice Beauty, 100% Pure, OSEA, ila, Naturopathica, and red flower. I have been using Acure Organics for a couple of years now and thoroughly enjoy their products. The line is incredibly affordable, effective, and available at my local supermarket (Wegmans). For a wealth of information and more brand options I encourage you to visit Beauty Heroes where Jeannie Jarnot has created an incredible company showcasing her passion for natural beauty and is all about consumer education and promoting brands that meet her criteria and standards for elevated, conscious personal care products.
And just for fun, my current routine includes:
- Alaffia body wash
- Desert Essence coconut shampoo and conditioner
- red flower lymphatic phytopower sea cleanser + masque (in the morning)
- red flower rose camellia plum soft-water mist
- red flower illuminating rose collagen renewal serum
- red flower essential omega berry massage oil (body moistrurizer)
- Schmidt’s deodorant
- Acure radically rejuvenating cleansing cream (for evening)
- Acure brilliantly brightening scrub (twice weekly)
- red flower bioactive berry white peat exfoliant (fully body exfoliation 1-2x/wk) or my Korean scrub mitt
- Acure radically rejuvenating vegetable peel (1x/wk)
- a rotation of masks because I love masks and am always on the search for more!
- red flower jasmine rose rhassoul clay and the one that pulls double duty as a cleanser as mentioned above (and is an absolute ROCK STAR product!)
- Astara – all of them because they’re the best
- Naturopathica White Tea Antioxidant Mask – and their Sweet Cherry Brightening Enzyme Peel and Pumpkin Purifying are absolutely amazing
I hope you take the time to do some research and consider making some changes to your beauty routine. If you have any questions I’m happy to help!