February 23, 2012

Organic Beauty — It's Not Just For Food Anymore. Natural Hair and Skin Products are Effective, Affordable.

As published in the Free Times.

Whether you’ve practiced it for 30 years or recently jumped on the hip green bandwagon, organic is in. Chemical-free, all-natural products are increasing in popularity as Americans seek to care for themselves as well as the environment. But while organic produce is turning up in refrigerator drawers, shelves outside the kitchen tend to remain stocked with chemical-laden, toxic products — and we’re not just talking about household cleaners. With so much time, energy and money spent ensuring what goes into our mouths is good for us, we need to remember another way our body intakes substances — our skin.

An oft-heard cry is “But organic is so expensive!” Au contraire! Going “green” for your hair and skin can be easier and sometimes less expensive than using conventional products.
Hair Swap shampoos that strip your hair of its natural oils for something detergent-free. The selection at Rosewood Market includes the Aubrey Organics line, starting at $5.95. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can make your own shampoo by starting with a base of Castile soap (the generic term for soaps not made from animal fats) and combining it with eggs, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and herbs. Belladonna’s and Target carry an 8-ounce bottle of the beloved Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap for $7.99.

An apple cider vinegar rinse will get rid of product build-up and soften hair. One-third cup vinegar mixed with one liter of water can be kept in the shower for regular use. Apple cider vinegar restores your hair’s PH balance (abused by the high alkaline of most hair products) and can also help with dandruff. Or, to go über-Earth friendly (and save money!), try the no-wash method gaining popularity. After six weeks of not washing one’s hair, the natural balance of oils is restored, eliminating the need for shampooing altogether.

Make-Up “Mineral” make-up is quickly becoming an alternative to conventional foundations and powders. There’s no need to shell out money for kits containing abrasive ingredients when the only shells you need are right at home. Grind clean, dry eggshells to make a powder suitable for the face; add your favorite fragrant oil for a body powder. Arrowroot powder (available at EarthFare and Rosewood Market) is also good to set make-up and absorb oil. A smidge of brown iron oxide can be added for color, and micronized titanium oxide will add sunscreen protection. Iron oxide or mica in other colors can be added to create chemical-free eye shadows.

Also, use olive oil and a cotton ball instead of commercial eye makeup removers — your sensitive eye area will thank you.
Sunscreen We all know how important it is to protect our skin from the sun, but how do we avoid incurring other damage from what we slather on to keep sun’s rays at bay? Chemical sunscreens soak into your skin, absorbing some of the UV waves. However, they also tend to involve ingredients you want to avoid, like parabens. The old white-nosed lifeguard standbys, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, sit on the surface of the skin, and are the common ingredients found in natural sunscreens.

Burt’s Bees Chemical-Free Sunscreen ($15, Target) adds hempseed oil to its mix, giving an added boost of antioxidant protection. Shea butter (available at Lamb’s Bread Vegan Café) and sesame oil have a low SPF (around 4), and can be mixed with titanium dioxide for a super-softening and protective sunscreen.

The ingredients in shampoos, make-up, lotions and anything else that touch our porous skin will be absorbed into the body and, unfortunately, the FDA’s regulation of the cosmetic industry is strangely lax. Curious to know just what you’re introducing into your bloodstream? Grab a few bottles from your beauty drawers and head to cosmeticdatabase.org. Save the planet (and your health) one beautiful step at a time. Visit fromnaturewithlove.com, pioneerthinking.com, healthrecipes.com, mybeautyrecipes.com or naturalguide.com to find ingredients and recipes mentioned in this article as well as more skin, hair and beauty regimens.

Go Natural - Organic Beautifying Recipes

Natural Shampoo 1 egg 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 teaspoon lemon juice 1/2 cup water or herbal tea A few drops of essential oil of your choice (or none for unscented) Mix together, rub in and rinse out with cold or lukewarm water.

Natural Hairspray 2 to 4 lemons, sliced Water Cover the lemon slices with water in a pan. Simmer for 1 hour, adding water as it evaporates. Cool, then strain. Pour liquid into a spray bottle. Keep in the fridge up to a week.

Natural Lip Balm 1 oz. apricot or almond oil 1 oz. coconut oil 1/4 oz. beeswax 1 tsp honey Natural flavoring oil (vanilla, orange, almond, peppermint, etc.), to taste Melt oils and beeswax in a double boiler (medium heat). Remove from heat and blend in the honey and flavoring with a handheld mixer or whisk. Pour into small jars with screw tops and allow to cool. Keeps for 6 months.

Photos by Jen Ray

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