Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I'd vouch for them: Eco-Products worth knowing about


Since deciding to be more friendly with ourselves and the earth we've tried a lot of products - some good, some terrible. Let's be honest, the process of transitioning from mainstream to off-the-beaten path isn't always easy and the process of removing toxic chemicals from our house has been a slow-going road.

It's taken us about 3 years to really transition fully into new cleaning, beauty, personal care, and household products. Why so long? Well, first of all, to not be wasteful. We wanted to make good choices but not waste a ton in the meantime. Secondly, it took that long to search out and find solutions we really like - some we found right away, some took trial and error. Third, the process of educating ourselves about toxics - all the chemical names and what they do or don't do, what makes things work (what makes soap foam, for instance) and what needs to stay or go - takes some time. It's ok to take your time. Real change takes time.

Just in case you are looking for alternatives I thought I might let you know about a few products that were a little more difficult to pin-down for me - but, where I finally found something I truly love.

We've tried them all...at least I'm pretty sure we have. Toothpaste is not a bright spot in the land of toxic-free living - it usually tastes a little strange, is chalky or has a weird texture and while you can get used to it you never really love your toothpaste. Until now.

Burt's Bees recently unveiled a toothpaste line that is far and away the best toothpaste we've had in years. Not only are there selections for adults and kids, they also have whitening or not, a gel or paste, and customer service that blew me away.

When we first tried this toothpaste I was in awe, shocked, but it was hard to find - so I bought 6 (yes SIX) tubes where I finally found a Whole Foods that carried it (over an hour away). Problem was the tubes are, or were, mmm, weird. The tubes cracked up the side and toothpaste seeped out. It was gross but I could deal. For some reason though, the other day, I thought I should mention it - I was promptly given a few replacement tubes and told about improvements to the packaging. So far, no problems at all, and the commitment to customers was heartening. So basically, I'm never switching brands again when it comes to toothpaste.

Remember I mentioned that some toxic-free products can take some time to transition into? Deodorant is, far and away, the most irritating to transition to/from. It can take, literally, weeks to months to get your body reacquainted with a "normal" production of sweat, etc. It's not that you sweat more, necessarily, but that scent or feelings of moisture can be something more than you are used to...and it's gross, frankly.

The Tom's of Maine Long-Lasting selections are a great place to start in your transition. They do contain propylene glycol (PG) though, which can be linked to a few things (click on the link if you want to know more), like skin irritation. The scents are nice and light, the product doesn't leave a nasty white buildup, and it's aluminum free. Overall, it's a great start and a good summer stand-by.

If you are trying to go further or someone who is needing less in terms of strength I've had success with the Alba Botanica PG and Preservative Free options. Alba's line is super hypoallergenic and great for sensitive skins - and they are methylparabenpropylparabenaluminum and propylene glycol free. If this is where you decide to start you may want to pack it in your purse though, as you might need a re-application sometimes while your body makes the transition.

This was another one where I tried a lot of products - most too watery, some way too thick, and then I found Desert Essence Daily Moisturizer. This stuff is the best. The best, I tell you - great for everyday and so cost-friendly (as in around $5-7!). The packaging has changed since I last purchased the one pictured but the rest is the same - and for those with very sensitive skin (me), it doesn't irritate, redden, or otherwise hurt. 

Lip Care
I love Aveda products, though I will admit they are sometimes pretty cost-prohibitive, as well as location-prohibitive. Since photographing the image for this post I've also found out they no longer carry the one product I was going to feature. 

That said, I do like some of the Burt's Bees line in the lip department, but luckily, finding something you like is usually a matter of color-preference more than anything when it comes to the "natural" department - this is one area where, I think, the formulas are as good, if not better than the main-stream products.

I should note, for those of you wondering, that the Cosmetics Database is an excellent search-tool for finding, identifying, and understanding what chemical are in your products - search by product, chemical, or company to find information about allergens, cancer-links, and other pertinent information. I highly recommend taking some time to find out what is going on 'behind the scenes' in your favorite products!


Brandi said...

I love Burt's Bees and Tom's. Such good products from both.

Sandy a la Mode said...

i sure do love my burt's bees!! keeps my lips moisturized!! :)

Yvonne said...

Thanks for this. I'm just starting to change over products (see my blog) and had got stuck on toothpaste and moisturiser. I'm going to go and buy these now and give them a go myself.

lesley said...

i'm always looking for great eco-friendly bath & beauty products... thanks for sharing your faves!


diane said...

thanks to your recent tweet about this, i just got my replacement tube of burt's bees toothpaste. the packaging is much better! no leaks so far. the paste is fantastic and makes my teeth feel squeaky clean. their customer service was excellent. i am hooked! :)

Unknown said...

I love the Burt's Bees Toothpaste. I have also used Tom's and like it a lot, too. My favorite night moisturizer is Burt's Bees Night Time Radiance with royal jelly. I love it! It is light but really nourishing. Honestly, I think I can say for the first time that I could actually tell a difference in my skin from this product.

meg manion silliker said...

i must say that i have been using tom's of maine deodorant. and i feel like it just doesn't do the same as my prior (dove) - i never feel 'fresh' - any thoughts?!! do i need to give it more time?

Tricia said...

Hi Meg - Possibly. I've only found the long-lasting version works, the other Tom's stuff doesn't (at least for me). But yes, it probably took a good, solid month to really transition, in the meantime it's lots of patience and re-application! I found layering with a deodorant crystal worked well too and eventually I could use just one or the other. Good luck!

the urban baker said...

I love all of these products and use them regularly. I found a great new toothpaste by The Natural Dentist which I get at Whole Foods. You may want to check them out!

Punctuation Mark said...

great post!!! i use the vitamin C from avalon organics and love it!

Anonymous said...

Have you tried alum crystals as a deodorant? The alum crystal is a natural antibacterial and used straight from the ground. You just wet and rub under your arms. There's some deodorants that use it as a main ingredient, only add a natural scent and comes in roll on form. It's great if you don't sweat like a trucker.

Javacurls said...

Thank you so much for this post. I found it extremely helpful! I'm in the transition process myself and the research is a bit overwhelming. Any ideas on a good eco friendly/organic soap for washing dishes? As well as shampoo/conditioner for adults & little ones? Thanks again!

Tricia said...

Hrmm - yes and no! I'll work on that for you! We use a lot of California Natural for our little one because she's so sensitive but we've got a host of hair types in this house so there is a lot going on otherwise. Like I said, I'll work on something for you!