It can be pretty daunting trying to switch to greener products when there is so much varying information available; I know it certainly was for me, anyway! It can be easy to get drawn by “greenwashing” (although, admittedly, I still love a bit of Lush), or to think that you need to spend a fortune on some high-end green beauty product because a celebrity or magazine has recommended it. It can also be really easy to start feeling guilty that your routine is not “green enough” by someone else’s standards, or feel that you should stop using a product you love because someone online has said that it’s “bad”… It’s a minefield out there!
I’ve learned that it’s all about finding what’s right for you; How much do you want to change? What ingredients do and don’t work for you? What can you really afford? As long as you understand what ingredients are in a product and what effects they can have, it’s up to you to decide if you’re happy to put it on your body. I also think – especially if you’re on a budget – it’s about making the changes that are most important to you first; the others can come later and you certainly shouldn’t beat yourself up about not having everything perfect straight away… After all, it would create heaps of waste to just chuck everything out and start again, and would cost you a lot of money up front!
From my own experience of making the switch, here are my top five “cheap-as-chips” tips for transitioning into a greener health and beauty routine:
- Address the worst ingredients first. Personally, I really wanted to get rid of a few key ingredients from my beauty routine as soon as I could: high quantities of SLS/SLES, parabens and petrochemicals. This didn’t mean I chucked everything I already had out straight away, but it meant I started exploring what other options were out there and replacing things as they ran out. I found some affordable products on the high street that were free of these chemicals, such as Amie Skincare and Noughty Haircare. Although these brands (and others I tried) still use a lot of ingredients in their products that many green beauty converts would disapprove of (such as “fragrance”), they were cheap, eliminated the ingredients I was most concerned about at an early stage, and gave me time to try some samples and to more thoroughly research better alternatives, while still feeling I was taking steps in the right direction.
- Get yourself some Coconut Oil. Coconut Oil features in so many green beauty products, and for good reason! It’s really great as a moisturiser on its own (although don’t use it on your face as it’s highly comedogenic, meaning it can clog pores), and is also a great base for mixing essentials oils and other ingredients to create all kinds of homemade beauty remedies. Just have a Google around and you’ll find loads of uses for the stuff!
- Try some subscription boxes. This is a great way to experiment with different brands and products, without having to splash out too much cash! Another great thing about them is that the products are often handpicked to certain standards (be that organic products, vegan products, cruelty-free products etc.), meaning someone else has already done all the hard work researching and you just get to have all the fun of trying the products! I currently subscribe to the LoveLula Beauty Box, and have also tried The VeganKind‘s beauty box, but there are loads out there to choose from (and not just for beauty products!).
- Switch to reusable sanitary products. This sounds like the most daunting thing (and the most hippie-dippy-nature-lady thing) you could possibly do early on in switching to a green routine, but I promise you, it’s worth it. I switched to a Mooncup almost straight away and I am so pleased I did; not only has it saved me a fortune on tampons, it can actually be a lot more convenient if you can make it work for you. If you’re not aware, conventional tampons and pads are produced using a lot of harmful chemicals, including chlorine-bleach, which is what makes them so look pristinely white! Don’t get me wrong, there are still times when I have to suck it up (pun intended) and use a good old Tampax (e.g. on days when I’m out and about for 12+ hours and know I won’t have access to a loo with a private sink I can use to rinse my Mooncup), however I feel much happier knowing I’m not exposing myself to that amount of chemicals nearly as often as I used to be, or creating nearly as much waste. I have also recently purchased some cloth pads from Eco Femme, to use alongside my Mooncup on days when I want that extra bit of protection; they have an awesome incentive called Pad for Pad, which provides free cloth pads and education for girls in rural India. There are also lots of organic and chemical-free disposable sanitary products out there to try, if using reusable products is a bit too much for you.
- Take note of how your diet might be affecting your skin. Before you go splurging on loads of products to correct problems you’re having with your skin, take note of other areas of your lifestyle; If your skin seems dehydrated, are you drinking enough water? If your skin seems dull, are you getting enough nutrients from fruit and vegetables? I’m in no way at all a super healthy eater (I do try to be as balanced as I can, but I must admit I’m also partial to an occasional KFC), however I found that simply making sure I eat enough fruit and veg and drink enough water has greatly improved my skin, without having to add too many products to my routine. Of course your skincare routine is important, too, but I’ve really found that thinking about addressing my skin’s health “from the inside out” is a useful thing to do first.
Are you thinking of making the switch to a greener routine? Are you a green health and beauty enthusiast who has some of their own tips to share? I’d love to hear from you!