As a journalist, editor, and writer who obsesses over the products I put on my body (ingredients lists are my friends!), I can’t help but want to write about my findings. Since I started researching, writing about, and using natural and organic beauty products in 2009 — I’ve written about natural and organic beauty and skincare products for Breathe, Charlotte magazine, StyleSeat, and Beautorium, among others — I’ve come to a few conclusions, and it’s from this standpoint that I present Indigo + Canary.
Fact: In the United States, testing of cosmetics is voluntary — the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers the cosmetics industry to be a self-regulating industry. According to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database, 89% of ingredients used in personal care products have not been evaluated for safety by any publicly accountable institution. That means the burden is put on you as a consumer to take responsibility for protecting yourself — and often, that’s not an easy task.
“When you are balanced and when you listen and attend to the needs of your body, mind, and spirit, your natural beauty comes out.” –Christy Turlington
I think making healthier decisions in any regard (eating healthy foods, exercising, or using natural products) is a process. Any effort you make is better than no effort. Really! If you just can’t bear to give up your aluminum-based antiperspirant, but happily switched to an organic body cleanser, I’m OK with that. (I will probably point you in the direction of a few more natural alternatives, though…)
As a consumer, you have to make choices every day about what’s best for you and your family, and I believe that even the smallest trade-offs are worth it. My hope is that this blog will help you make those decisions. Some products are more natural than others, and there are some ingredients I absolutely will not touch. But I don’t think you have to be all-in, 100% natural and organic in order to enjoy and benefit from natural beauty.
With all of this in mind, here are a few things to know, and a few of my guiding principles:
- Natural does not necessarily equal organic. And that’s OK. There are many natural products out there that aren’t organic (and even many organic products that can’t claim to be 100% organic) that I think are safe and beneficial. I choose to use the term “natural” and “nontoxic” because I don’t want to focus exclusively on organic products. You’ll find both natural and organic products on this blog. Some people refer to them as “clean” products.
- Natural beauty is full of greenwashing. It can be a challenge to wade through all of the confusing information out there. Hopefully this blog can be a resource and a place to ask questions. (I’m also a big fan of a little healthy debate…)
- There are a few really awful things commonly found in cosmetics. Bella Floria has a good list of common cosmetics ingredients to avoid. Chances are you wouldn’t want those things on your skin anyway — but unless you investigate the ingredients in the products you use, you might not realize what’s really in them.
- Sometimes you love a synthetic product too much to give it up. As long as you’re making a conscious decision, I support this! A while ago, there was a comment on this post from a reader who said she’s OK with some synthetic preservatives in her cosmetics if the trade-off is not having to worry about her products’ expiration dates, and I think that’s fine. I might not make the same choice, but I completely respect her for evaluating the information and then making an informed decision. I know health nuts who need a french fry fix every so often — just consider those synthetic products to be the french fries of your beauty regimen. I might encourage you to use them sparingly (if I can’t talk you out of using them altogether), but I know it can be hard to give up your favorite products, and I know that often there’s more to choosing what products you use than just the list of ingredients.
- I believe that natural beauty is part of being healthy. Period. Seeking to be healthier and feel better is partially what made me fall in love with natural beauty in the first place, and I think that concept — that beauty products should be about more than just beauty — is easily lost.
That’s it. Agree, disagree? Let’s talk!
PS: I work hard to maintain transparency and integrity on this blog. Here’s the proof.