I'm not much of a beauty blogger. I don't think I ever will be. There's a good reason for that.
I'm the kind of person who likes to find what I like and then stick to it. I like to find the "perfect" products for me, and once I have, I don't change from them unless there is a problem (like they no longer work for me, the 'recipe' changes or they are no longer available). This renders me pretty rubbish as a beauty blogger because beauty bloggers are always trying out new products to tell their readers about. I'm sure that each of them have their favorites that they stick to in the main, but I have some rules when it comes to beauty products that would make this hard for me.
I've always preferred more "natural" products. Now, don't worry, I'm not going to go all "only natural is good and man made is bad" on you. After all, poisons occur in nature and many modern medience save lives. I just want to try to avoid as many unnecessary chemicals entering my body as possible. I'm not die hard. I'm not on a "clean living" diet (though I've never smoked, don't drink alcohol to excess, don't drink milk, only eat small amounts of meat and only have 1 or two black coffees a day). Something I have noticed though is that the fewer ingredients a body product has, they more my skin and my families skins like it!
So, what prompted this? As I said above, I've always liked natural. I've also always liked beauty. I started a "beauty" regime of cleansing, toning and moisterising aged 11. Including eye cream! I have also dyed my hair since the age of 12. Probably the worst thing I do!! I used to be a huge Lush fan. They've always touted their products as natural although I am now wise to their practices - there are far better and cheaper products out there! Last summer I heard all about the No Poo revolution via the wonderful Lulastic & The Hippyshake (I adore her blog, I would like to be Lucy!). I gave it a good old go, going without the poo. All in all, I didn't find it too bad. I was already using a sulfate free shampoo and have only ever washed my hair every 4/5 days so it was OK. The thing I really struggled with was the smell. It didn't smell bad but it didn't smell "nice" or "clean". Pete kept moaning that my hair was stinky. It was hot as well and I just didn't feel as clean. It might have been psychosomatic but it wasn't making me feel good. I was just on the cusp of a really bad bout of anxiety as well so after 4 weeks I packed it in.
No Poo wasn't for me then.. but it did open my eyes and make me aware of what is in products, even ones reported to be natural. I started doing a lot of research into SLS and all it's names. What is SLS? Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a detergent and surfactant (breaks surface tension and aids foaming) which is used in many products from shampoo to toothpaste to engine cleaner! It goes by many names such as sodium laureth sulfate, Sodium dodecyl sulfate, ammonium laurly sulfate. Now, lots of people claim it is a carcinogen and other studies dismiss this. What is known, though, is that it is an irritant and people with sensitive skin can react to it in large enough quantities. Considering it is in so many products, I've decided to try to reduce how much I come into contact with. Everyone in our household has sensitive skin, prone to irritation and dry skin. Things I've noticed since using products without SLS are:
- My skin is softer and I can often go without any body moisturiser
- Dry patches occur less often and clear up more quickly
- The weird spotty bumpy things on my upper arms have gone after about 20 years!
- Eczema has improved in my boys
- My Dad's dry scalp has improved (he has suffered for years, I bought him a hemp soap shampoo bar and it's improved!)
Want to know what my essential products are then? Well, over the last few months I've tried quite a few brands but this is what I've settled on for now:
For the boys I'm using Good Bubble shampoo and conditioner. The shampoo doesn't foam much but it works well. It's gentle and smells lovely. After experimenting with no poo, then some hemp shampoo bars, I've now gone back to shampoo in a bottle. I've tried a few. There's a really cool brand called Handmade Naturals. They make a good shampoo. I'm currently using DGJ's hair juice because I can buy it in the supermarket, it's a bit cheaper, gets good reviews and works really well on my hair. Please note that none of these shampoos will foam as much as ones with SLS but they will get your hair clean!
Years of research has gone into what is good and what works well for my skin. What I use now is really quite simple. For my face I use a Japanese bamboo charcoal face sponge (you just wet it and rub it over your face!). If I need to remove eyemake up coconut oil works wonders. For moisturiser I use pure argon oil. It needs to be the real deal but you only need two drops for your whole face. So far 50ml has lasted me 6 months. I have about 15ml left!
I have recently added snail gel into the mix. Dr Organic make one which has ingredients I'm happy with. I read up on each of them before trying it! It tightens my skin and helps repair acne scars. I've noticed that when spots appear they clear up in less than 24 hours since I started using it. If you buy it in the 2 for 1 sales in Holland & Barrett it's not too pricey.
For eye cream I use.... coconut oil!!! Haha. That stuff works for everything! Just pop a bit under your eyes once or twice a day. Only a little though. If I want to exfoliate my face I used bicarbonate of soda! It is hands down the best scrub I've ever used. You don't need to rub it in much as it's surprisingly abrasive. I used latex gloves on my hands when I apply it because I have very sensitive skin on my hands and it dries them out if I get it all over my hands. I put some in the palm of my hand (I have a pot of it in the bathroom) and then I sprinkle some water on to make a paste. I then apply the paste to my face and gently rub it. Sometimes I leave it on for 10/15 minutes like a face mask. I also use it as a scrub on my body if I feel I need it!
Lipcare. I love Burts Bees lipsalves. They are easy to find, not expensive and work very very well. They are 100% natural as well. I've also discovered Ki Yo Ko lipbalm lately. A little more pricey but my goodness it's beautiful to look at! It also works well. I don't find it as long lasting as the Burts Bees but it gives a nice gloss, feels nice to put on, smells nice (no real fragrance, it's very gentle) and it just looks fantastic. I love their ethos too.
For body moisturiser, if I need it (which I rarely do these days) I just use virgin coconut oil! Cheap, good for your body, it works and it smells good! In the shower I wash with shower gel from Organic Surge. It does have sodium coco sulfate but I'm happy enough with that. It foams nicely and they have some lovely fragrances. I can also buy it with the food shop. It's important to me that I can access products easily. I also use Organic Surge for bubble bath. For the boys I use Good Bubble wash and bubble bath. Again, lovely smell and kind to their skin. I don't use anything special to shave with, just shower gel!
For a deodorant I use a crystal deodorant by Naturally Fresh. I've been amazed by this. I can buy it easily in Waitrose or with my online food shop. It works so well. It doesn't stop you from sweating (which is good! Sweating is an essential, normal body process!) but it does prevent odor. It works. Honestly, before using it I felt I was quite smelly after a night in my bed. I don't know what it is exactly, whether hubby and I make ourselves all stinky at night time.. I don't know if it's all the getting up and down with Felix, but either way, I'd wake up in the morning feeling smelly. Since using this, no more smell. I promise you! I've not tested it in the heat of summer yet but I'm happy so far!
Hand washing - it's easy to buy lovely handmade soaps! Loads of people sell them online or in little shops and the packaging is minimal!
Perfume. I don't use much these days, but when I do, I prefer to use perfume oils like those sold by Sorcery Scents. They are long lasting, you don't need much at all.
Hand cream. This has probably been the hardest to find. For years I've sworn by Hand Food by Soap and Glory. Nothing else kept my hands feeling moisturised all day long. I tried loads of different natural brands, Burts Bees, Neil's Yard, Handmade Naturals. None of them were moisturising enough. And then I found Dr Organic's Argon Oil hand cream. This stuff is the dogs. Honestly, it really works. It smells nice and it's not full of nasties. I researched every ingredient and am happy with each one!
I've been a fan of mineral make up for years so once I started down this route I decided to buy only mineral make up. For everything. Foundations, eye shadows, mascara, lip stick, blusher. These days you can get all of them in mineral form. Probably the thing I miss most is lipstick, I've not found the mineral ones to be as good in colour choice. But that's something that will improve over time I'm sure. Lipstick is something that we lick off by accident, it's going straight into our bodies, so I decided it's an important one to change. I buy almost all of my mineral make up from Lily Lolo. Gorgeous packaging, good prices and great products. I also use E.L.F minerals.
I've got to be honest and maybe a bit controversial here. I don't slather myself and the boys in cream.. and do you know what? We don't burn. We try to stay out of direct sun in the heat of the day (think 11am-3pm). I use lots of shade in the garden. Keep a hat on them and some sort of clothing with sun protection (you can buy clothing that gives SPF 50+ protection). But.. if I do put some cream on I use Jason mineral sunscreen. Something really great about mineral sunscreen is that it starts working as soon as you put it on as it forms a barrier on your skin. This one absorbs nicely and it's mega expensive.
I think that completes my list!!! All in all, it's nice to know what works for us, what to buy and wear from. It's like one less thing to fill my head with!! Also, my bathroom shelves are pretty uncluttered these days. There aren't heaps of products. I've decided to stick with bog standard colgate toothpaste because the boys hate the taste of the natural one I bought. Pick your battles eh! I also admit I still dye my hair at present... I know it's not great, but everyone's got to have a vice!! Also, you know what? We don't need to wash as much as we think we do. We all share the bath water in our house, one bath washes all four of us.. and I'll admit that I don't always have a bath every night, sometimes a good basin wash with a flannel will do!! No one has told me I stink yet! If you're looking to follow the really natural route, do check out Lulastic because she is an inspiration!