For those of us who’ve already drunk the proverbial kale juice, swapping out unhealthy choices in order to make room for wellness-boosting alternatives not only makes sense…it’s fun! But going “green” isn’t always easy —at least when it comes to trying to convert, er… invite your friends and family to the world of green beauty and nontoxic personal care.
But first, a bit about my own journey to the verdant world in which I now reside. Four years ago, I was working at a conventional cosmetics company, where I had drawers full of product to test and use as I saw fit. After a couple of months, I found I was reaching for more and more concealer, more foundation, more powder. My skin was in a vicious breakout cycle, and as I sat at my desk to proofread the packaging before it was sent to print, I began paying attention to the ingredients laid out before me. Not that they made any sense; I had no idea what these words meant (Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, anyone?). It wasn’t until some of my co-workers mentioned disposing of some samples using hazardous waste protocols that the lightbulb went on. And boy, did it burn brightly.
I began the purge: First, by reading the labels on my skincare—and promptly throwing away said skincare. I swapped out chemicals and fillers for carrier oils, hydrosols, and essential oils, and my skin responded almost immediately—clearer, glowing and—dare I say it?—younger looking. (Kind of incredible what nourished, hydrated skin can do for the face.) Next came the makeup, and the truth was, the new stuff—with good-for-skin oils and natural pigments—left me looking like me, only better (read: more even, dewy, freshly flushed). Instead of covering up, I felt as if I was revealing myself to the world. I was hooked.
The more I learned, the more I couldn’t un-learn. Knowledge has a way of seeping into your purview and coloring your decisions. I vowed to support indie brands whose passions aligned with mine. I wanted to take care of my skin, my overall health, and the planet and voting with my dollars to ensure these brands’ collective success made me feel like a conscious consumer. (Fun fact: Once you’ve met the maker of the brand you’re using, it’s kind of hard to head to Duane Reade or Saks and plunk down your debit card for an ingredient list you can’t pronounce and a formula you know hasn’t been touched by a human since…well, maybe ever.)
With my newfound passion for green beauty and a fresh understanding of how the conventional personal care industry works, I set off to educate (indoctrinate?) my loved ones on the benefits of going green. Let’s open our minds and our medicine cabinets, I thought, and let’s jump on this tea tree oil-infused train!
But the train, it turns out, wasn’t ready to leave the station.
Here’s the thing about overhauling the “norm”: not everyone will be ready to take that plunge with you…no matter how loudly you cheerlead. Change is HARD. If it were easy, none of us would ever trudge into a job we loathe, or live in a place that doesn’t fulfill us or continue to eat refined sugar. (I’m looking at you, mirror.) It’s even more difficult when you’re being told–no matter how pure the intention behind the telling–that the choices you’ve made up to this point on how you wash your hair or moisturize your body or define your features or color your lips may be affecting your health, skin and the planet in a negative way. Say whaaaaaat?
My reaction to learning about the lack of regulation in the personal care industry was: Wow, that’s terrifying. But now I’m armed with knowledge. So let’s do this. Let’s shake things UP and make informed decisions. For some of my friends and family, though, I’m pretty sure their reactions bordered on: But if it’s not safe, why would it be for sale? Or, But your new stuff is so expensive! Or, There she goes again. The Aquarian with a cause.
So what’s a girl to do? It’s frustrating to see loved ones making decisions you don’t agree with (as I’m sure my parents can attest!), but I’m trying to support these women in their own journey, in their own due time. Maybe it’s encouraging them to swap out their deodorant and their body lotion first. Then, maybe a face moisturizer. However and whenever they discover more healthy alternatives, I’ll be there cheering them on and offering advice (if I’m asked for it). Until then, I’ve taken up a part time retail job selling nontoxic personal care products. And you can guess what these wonderful women are getting as gifts from here on in.