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20 Things You Need to Know About Organic Beauty

1. Don't Trust Every Label You See

More people today than ever are interested in organic beauty and concerned about what they put on their skin. We try to eat healthy and we drag ourselves to the gym, Pilates or Yoga so of course we want to make sure our skin isn't soaking up potentially cancer-causing chemicals that we unknowingly put on our faces, our bodies and our scalps.

Just because something is labeled "natural" does not mean it is comprised only of ingredients found in the woods. The industry isn't properly regulated yet, so read the labels carefully. A bottle marked "organic" must contain 95 percent organic ingredients, but those marked "natural" or "made with organic ingredients" may still contain the bad stuff. 

To make your life easier, I did the research for you and have found skincare products that truly are organic, don't test on animals and get thumbs up from the major review sites. Check it out: 10 Best Organic Products for Your Skin.

2. If There's One Crunchy Beauty Item You Buy, Make It Coconut Oil

Photo Credit: Henrik Sorensen/ DigitalVision/ Getty Images

People like to ask me about my beauty secrets. Lately, I've been telling people my No. 1 beauty secret is extra virgin coconut oil. I find it is the most amazing natural beauty product available today. Use it to moisturize skin, add life to dry hair, apply it as a foundation primer and to remove makeup.

You can get coconut oil in most grocery stores and any health food store, but the cheapest prices will be online (buy from Amazon).

Look for "extra virgin" on the label. You want the pure stuff. Here are 5 amazing things you can do with it (you'll love how one jar will last a long time): 8 Amazing Beauty Uses for Coconut Oil.

3. Mineral Makeup is a Good Healthy Bet

Mineral makeup companies tend to market themselves as purely organic. Made up of ground-up zinc oxide, iron oxide, titanium dioxide and mica, it certainly sounds organic. WebMD totally busts this myth in interviews with scientists. It turns out even the organic stuff has to be processed in a lab and most makeup is made up of minerals, anyway. 

"I’d like someone to show me a zinc oxide mine," cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson says toWebMD.

"It doesn’t exist. Zinc oxide is synthesized in the lab."

Gulp. But that's not the whole story. What sets mineral makeup apart from other makeup is what it doesn't have: preservatives, parabens, mineral oil, chemical dyes and fragrances. All of those things may cause women with skin sensitivities to break out.

When it comes to makeup that comes in powdered form (think eyeshadows, foundationsblush, bronzers), mineral makeup is actually your best healthy choice. I've researched the best organic makeup on the market and included them in the following lists. Many of those listed are mineral products:

4. It's Amazing What You Can Do With the Staples in Your Kitchen

If you're the crafty sort, the type of person who likes to whip things up in the kitchen, then there's no reason you should ever buy a $22 lip scrub, a $40 facial mask or a $64 facial scrub (yes, I own all of these) when you can make these products yourself for a dollar or 2 from staples found in your kitchen.

What's more, unlike some products out there which are tested on animals and possibly full of ingredients you really don't want on your skin, you know exactly what you're dealing with when you make your own beauty products.

For some of the greatest DIY beauty tips ever, don't miss 18 Ingenious Beauty Uses for Average Kitchen Items

Make it

5. Know all the Good Databases So You're Armed When You Shop

6. Look for Sulfate-free Shampoos

Sulfates, the ingredients in shampoo that causes it to lather, are highly controversial. Many natural health experts recommend avoiding any shampoos with the foaming agents sodium laureth sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate as main ingredients. Why? Laboratory studies show that products that end in "eth" (such as sodium laureth sulphate, polyethylene glycol, oleth, myreth and ceteareth) all test positive for 1,4-Dioxane, a proven cancer-causing petrochemical.

Whether there's enough of these petrochemicals in shampoos to cause long-term effects is what's up for debate. But if you want to be safe and not sorry, go the sulfate-free route. Here is a list of the most popular ones in Best Sulfate-free Shampoos:

1. ALTERNA HAIRCARE CAVIAR ANTI-AGING REPLENISHING MOISTURE SHAMPOO

2. NEXXUS COLOR ASSURE VIBRANCY RETENTION SHAMPOO

3. PAUL MITCHELL AWAPUHI WILD GINGER MOISTURIZING LATHER SHAMPOO

4. OGX NOURISHING COCONUT MILK SHAMPOO

5. CHRISTOPHE ROBIN CLEANSING PURIFYING SCRUB WITH SEA SALT

 6. ENJOY PROFESSIONAL HAIR CARE SULFATE-FREE HYDRATING SHAMPOO

7. GIOVANNI COSMETICS SMOOTH AS SILK DEEP MOISTURE SHAMPOO

8. SHEA MOISTURE RAW SHEA BUTTER MOISTURE RETENTION SHAMPOO

 

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7. The Best Moisturizers are Oils

I advise organic lovers to keep it simple when it comes to moisturizing and stick to oils. Extra virgin coconut oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, olive oil and really, any sort of oil, work great to hydrate skin both on your face and body.

Make it

8. How to Safely Color Your Hair

If you want to stay safe at the hair salon, consider an organic vegetable-based dye.

Here's a list of seven brands I've heard are quite pure. Most are widely available but I'm including their manufacturer's websites so people can do their own research and ingredient-label-reading before using. Several of these brands are also available at Naturalhairdye.com, which has an interesting decision guide to help consumers make educated choices.

9. Soaps for the Shower, Cleansers for Your Face

Many soaps will actually strip skin of its moisture. Stick to natural soaps made of super moisturizing ingredients including goat milk, shea butter, clear glycerin, liquid castile or olive oil. For the shower, you can't go wrong with Dr. Bronner's castille soaps (buy from Amazon). They are biodegradable, vegetable-based (derived from hemp), organic, USDA-certified and fair-trade certified.

Most of us have some sort of skin sensitivity, whether is dry skin, eczema, oily skin that causes pimples or rosacea.

Opt for the most basic cleanser possible. Dermalogica makes good facial cleansers (buy from Amazon) and many organic beauty experts swear by Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Cream (buy from Amazon). Do-it-yourselfers might try organic milk (full fat, please), half and half or Greek yogurt as a cleanser. 

You can also mix honey with milk if you have dry skin and salt with warmed milk if you have oily skin. 

10. You Can Make Hair Masks & Rinses for Little Money

One of the hottest trends in hair care is natural hair mask and hair rinses that you can make from basic ingredients found in most kitchens. After all, why spend $$ or $$$ on a bottle of fancy conditioner when you can make an amazing one from products that cost pennies? For example coconut oil mask is the most simple hair mask you can make for yourself. It only has one ingredient – coconut oil!


11. Skip the Makeup Remover, Use Almond Oil, Castor or Olive Oil Instead

12. The Buzz Over Argan Oil: Truth or Hype?acure-organic-oil.jpeg - Acure Organics

It seems every single person I know with dry or curly (or dry AND curly) hair swears by Moroccanoil hair products. The main ingredient in Moroccanoil products is "argan oil" which comes from the kernels of the argan tree found in Morocco. Used on its own, argan oil is an incredibly rich source of Vitamin E and essential fatty acids. It can be used on the hair and skin. Argan oil on its own is organic.

Moroccanoil the brand contains a ton of other ingredients (mostly silicones) that aren't organic. But they still work wonders to control frizz.

According to Wikipedia, the number of personal-care products on the US market with argan oil as an ingredient increased from just 2 in 2007 to more than 100 by 2011. But overproduction has led to an environmental problem with deforestation of the argan trees (perhaps "deforestation" isn't the correct word since the argan tree grows in deserts). Turns out, argan oil is incredibly rare and demand is putting the trees at risk. In the end, this organic product may not be very environmentally-friendly, after all.

13. Avoid Palm Oils, But Don't Avoid the Sun

Palm oil is found not only in popular food items including cookies and popcorn, it's also an ingredient in many cosmetics. Greenpeace urges those of us concerned about global warming, deforestation and the ruining of habitats for orangutans and Sumatran white tigers to not buy products with palm oil.

As for the sun, it's been vilified for causing wrinkles and skin cancer, but sunshine is what compels the body to produce Vitamin D, which is needed to strengthen immunity and bones and heal eczema, rashes, acne and psoriasis.

Just make sure to exposure your skin in the early and late hours instead of the brightest points during the day. And supplement with Vitamin D pills if need be.

14. A Healthy Deodorant

If you hate the idea of putting aluminum and other chemicals crafted in labs under your arms, try a natural deodorant. A couple popular ones that get rave reviews include Lavanila The Healthy Deodorant in Vanilla Lavender, which contains no aluminum, and the Thai Crystal Stone.

The secret to using a stone is to apply liberally to a large swath under the arm (not just where the hair grows). You may need to wet the stone twice and leave the top off the cap so the stone can dry before you close it up.

What's great about these deodorants is you won't get the yellow staining on your clothes that comes with the use of aluminum deodorants. Natural Deodorants That Don't Contain Aluminum. Make your own Deodorant.

15. Never Buy Shaving Cream Again

I found out that olive oil can be used to shave your legs since it's very moisturizing. Hair conditioner also works great for shaving because it's moisturizing. 

You can also skip both and get your legs and bikini area waxed. It lasts longer and has much better results. Plus, wax is natural.

 
  • ½ Cup Oil (olive, grape seed, almond etc.)
  • ¼ Cup Honey
  • ¼ Cup Liquid, Castile Soap
Instructions
  1. Combine ingredients in a bowl and rapidly whisk for several minutes until all of the ingredients have fully emulsified.
  2. Transfer to a pump or squeeze bottle.
  3. A Little Goes A Long Way! You only need a pea-sized amount to create a nice lather!
Notes: This shaving cream will not expire, as all of the ingredients have a very long shelf life.

16. How to Make a Facial Scrub 

While I don't recommend exfoliating daily, you should exfoliate a couple times a week to make sure you slough off all the dead skin cells. Your skin will look amazing after just one time with a good exfoliant.

You can make your own natural scrubs (Brown Sugar Scrub for the Face), but if you're too lazy for this, Dermalogica's Microfoliant (buy from Amazon) is brilliant and super popular among users.

Sugar Scrub Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar (white or brown sugar- preferably organic)
  • 1/2 cup oil (olive oil and coconut oil work great)
  • Optional: essential oils of your preference

Sugar Scrub Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients and store in an air tight jar.
  2. Use 1 tablespoon as needed in the shower. Scrub skin with the mixture and rinse will. it will leave your skin feeling like silk.

17. Make Your Own Body Scrubs

Head to a posh spa and you can treat yourself (for a mere $100-$300) to an all-over body scrub. Or you can spend up to $50 on a fancy body scrub. Why buy when you can make a homemade body scrub out of basic ingredients yourself? 

  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh coffee grounds
  • 2­ to 3 tbsp olive oil

In a medium size bowl, combine the coconut oil, sugar, coffee grounds, olive oil and mix well. Add the scrub to your jelly jars.

18: How to Treat Your Dandruff Naturally

Homemade dandruff remedies are much better for your hair and scalp than the chemicals that are found in dandruff shampoos. I include a two-punch system in my recipe for treating dandruff naturally.

19. When It Comes to Nail Polishes, Skip the Drugstore Brands

If you care about natural skincare, you should consider "3-free" and "5-free" polishes, which don't contain many of the horrible ingredients found in cheap drugstore polishes. Here is the list of the most popular:

1. RGB

2. Chanel 

3. Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics ($10 only)

4. Jin Soon

5. Butter London

6. Ella+Mila

7. Priti

8. Zoya ($ 6 only)

 20. Just Because Something is Organic, Doesn't Mean it's Good for You

Not all organic products are going to work for everyone. While anything containing coconut oil, aloe vera, chamomile and green teas are safe for you, some oils can exacerbate acne or pimples if you have oily skin. Products derived from fruits can sting the skin and may cause rashes or sensitivities. Lemon juice, for example, is touted in many articles for being a great natural toner for skin. But it's actually way too harsh.

It's important to know your skin and what works and doesn't work for you.

 

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