Tuesday, March 8, 2011
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
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.
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!