It’s been ages since I wrote about what’s filling my medicine cabinet and my makeup bag so I thought I’d do a giant post summarizing the products I’m using these days.
When you’re trying to make the switch to natural products, knowing what to buy and where to buy it is often the hardest part. Hopefully, this post will make things a bit easier!
Please don’t look at this guide as “You Must Throw Out All Of Your Products And Buy/Make This Stuff NOW”, but as more of a pre-emptive reference guide for when you are struggling to get your kid to tolerate your homemade toothpaste and wondering how the fuck I do it (hint: I don’t).
If you’d like to transition to natural, homemade or waste-free products don’t panic and replace all of your current products right away. Use up what you have, switch things gradually, and be gentle on yourself if things don’t work for you! I’ve included a summary in italics after each section to share a little about where I am in the “going green” process. There’s always room for improvement!
Also, I wholeheartedly encourage you to support local shops whenever you can, but I know that isn’t always possible so I’m including Amazon affiliate links to specific products to make them easy to find.
Alright – let’s dig in!
Mascara: Using and loving this one by Josie Maran for over a year now. It’s made with Argan oil (more on this later) it goes on soft, doesn’t clump, and washes off easily. It does smudge a bit if your eyes get moist, which I’ve found is fairly typical with most natural mascaras, but not enough to turn me off of it.
I used to recycle my mascara tubes through Terracycle but they’ve discontinued the program – If you have tips on how to sustainably dispose of them, please let me know!
Blush: Josie Maran Colour Stick in Coral. I like this for a little flush of colour in my cheeks – especially in winter when I’m looking extra pale.
Bronzer: An ancient Physicians Formula one (not pictured because it’s so decrepit) that I’ve been trying to use up for.ev.er. I don’t use this too often, but it’s nice to have around when I need to look like I’ve seen the sun.
Foundation/Coverup: MAC Studio FIX. I’ve had this for ages (too long, probably!) and I used to mix it into my moisturizer to make a light, tinted moisturizer that evened out my skin tone. I don’t do that anymore so I just use this for undereye circles and to camouflage the occasional blemish. When this is finally used up I’d like to try a concealer pencil instead, which eliminates packaging
Brow Powder: At the moment I use a really inexpensive Quo brow kit similar to this one. I’d like to source something a little more Eco-friendly in terms of packaging and ingredients when it’s used up – if you have a suggestion, leave it in the comments, please!
I feel like makeup is one of the areas I struggle with the most. I try to commit to using a product up completely before purchasing a replacement, so I’ve been waiting a while to transition my brow powder and cover-up to something more Eco-friendly. I also struggle with packaging – even the natural Josie Maran products come in tubes that aren’t fully recyclable. This is something I don’t quite know how to get around, so at the moment I focus on keeping my makeup as minimal as possible, and purchasing natural products that work well and last a long time.
Body: I dry brush before I shower using one of these and then afterward while my skin is still damp I do a full-body coconut oil massage. My legs and hands typically need a heavier lotion, so I use my homemade body lotion, recipe here.
Face: OK, this is the big change. Way back in the day I used Eminence face cream. I loved it, but it was expensive. And when I say expensive I mean like $$$$$ expensive. Embarrassingly expensive. I adored it but my budget did not, so a few years ago I switched to a cream by Andalou Naturals which was significantly cheaper and available in my local grocery store. Yay!
I was really happy with this face cream – some of you might remember that I was positively evangelical about it because it made my skin feel like velvet. I used this right up until two months ago when again, the price came to be a bit of an issue, especially since I had moved to a super dry climate where I felt like I was using twice as much cream to quench my parched skin. This single mama is on a pretty tight budget, so I’m always looking to trim costs any way that I can.
I started really digging into natural skincare options and then, two months ago, I took the plunge and started using 100% cold-pressed argan oil as a face moisturizer. I fucking LOVE it. That’s right, I’m breaking out the big girl words for this one.
I promise I haven’t been hired by Big Argan Oil to shill their product, I just really love it and although I have provided a link to the specific brand I use, feel free to choose any one you want – there’s hundreds of different brands out there.
Here’s why I am 100% in love:
- It’s inexpensive, one bottle ran me around $20 and I’m going on month three of using it. I bought a small bottle at first to see how my skin liked it but I’ll buy the bigger size from here on out and it’ll be even less expensive at that point.
- It’s natural. There’s one ingredient. No fragrances, no additives, I could drink the stuff if I wanted to.
- It’s multi-purpose. I add a bit of it to water and use it as a detangling spray for Olive’s hair, I’ve used it in my homemade lip balm, and I use it sparingly as a smoothing serum if I heat style my hair.
- My skin feels like motherfucking silk. SILK. I don’t even understand how it’s this soft. Witchcraft, I suspect. Seriously come over and stroke my cheeks, you’ll be amazed.
- My skin tone looks way more even, like I’m wearing light foundation but I’m not. I wish I’d thought to take before and after photos but who the hell takes before and after photos? Seriously though, I even think my perplexed forehead wrinkles are smoothing out?! What is this world?
A few notes:
-My skin took about a week to get used to it, it felt sort of rough for a little while which I think was either because the old skin was sloughing off or because I wasn’t using enough (I used one pump at first and I now use two).
– I was really nervous about using oil on my face, which is why I waited two months to recommend it to you in case my face exploded or something. To date, it hasn’t caused any breakouts, which makes sense because Argan oil is one of the least comedogenic oils out there.
– It does have a very nutty/olive-y scent, which takes a bit of getting used to after using creams that smell like goji berries, but I don’t even notice it now and it’s so worth it that who even cares.
– It’s absorbed best when applied to damp skin. Wash your face, lightly pat it dry, and then massage the oil in with your fingertips.
Super happy with my moisturizing methods. I won’t be making any changes to any of this in the foreseeable future.
Face Wash: None. Zip, zilch, nada. This probably works for me because I don’t wear a ton of makeup, but I just use a warm/hot washcloth to steam my face and then lightly scrub it. I found that my skin gets really tight and itchy whenever I use face cleansers so I gave them up years ago and haven’t looked back since – one less thing to buy/make!
Body wash: None. Zip, zilch, nada. I use bar soap where needed.
Eye makeup remover: Plain coconut oil, massaged into eyelashes and removed with a warm washcloth.
Toothpaste: Equal parts coconut oil and baking soda (experiment with these amounts to your preference), with a few drops of spearmint essential oil. I’ve used a variation of this recipe for over five years now and I always get glowing reviews at my regular dental checkups.
Also, if you’re worried about the abrasiveness of baking soda, don’t be. What you’re using now is probably tougher on your teeth – read why here!
Toothbrush: I’m not going to link to the specific brand I’m using because I’m actually not a huge fan of it. I’d heard great things about Brush With Bamboo for a plastic-free toothbrush but I balked at the price and bought a cheaper one instead… big mistake! It has a mild bamboo taste and sheds its bristles whenever I use it – bah! When this one is worn out I’ll replace with the genuine Brush With Bamboo brand and see if that makes a difference.
Deodorant: I’m not a very sweaty or stinky person so I don’t wear deodorant every day, but when I do I either whip up a simple paste of coconut oil, arrowroot powder and baking soda or I use Routine deodorant cream in the Like a Boss scent (chosen just for the name, obvi, but loved for the spicy blend of lavender and bergamot).
Loving everything in this section. I don’t see myself making any significant changes in the foreseeable future, aside from the toothbrush brand.
BITS & PIECES
Lip balm: I make my own (shown here in a reused lip balm tube) with a blend of beeswax, olive oil, argan oil and/or coconut oil. I will try to keep track of the quantities of each ingredient next time I make it – I’m sort of winging it at the moment.
Exfoliant: For my face, I use a mix of baking soda and water applied lightly and then rinsed with warm water.
For my body, the dry brushing really helps keep my skin soft, but for extra exfoliating I mix white or brown sugar with a bit of olive or coconut oil and give myself a good scrub (be careful, your shower/tub will be slippery after using this!)
Nail Scrub: A paste of baking soda and coconut oil works incredibly well to smooth out and moisturize the cuticles around your fingernails and toenails. I do this every few weeks or whenever I paint my nails.
Razor: I have a stainless steel safety razor similar to this one, which uses super inexpensive stainless steels blades that I buy in bulk like this. I like using a 100% plastic-free razor and recyclable blades and I especially like not paying around $20 for a package of five replacement blades like I used to. I’ve used this style of razor for about four years and it’s always worked really well.
I’m totally rocking this one. No changes in the near future.
For years I have used my homemade shampoo & conditioner recipe and absolutely loved it, but goddamn is it challenging to do here in Alberta. Something about our water, whether it’s the mineral content or the chlorine, makes it way less effective than it was in BC and I have to boil the water first to get it to work.
Needless to say, that extra step sometimes doesn’t happen, so sometimes I boil my water and mix up a batch of my homemade shampoo and conditioner (recipe here) but if I’m short on time I just hop in the shower and use a J.R. Ligget’s shampoo bar. It comes in recyclable paper packaging and works really well.
As much as I love my homemade recipe, the shampoo bar is definitely useful to have when I don’t have time to boil water and then let it cool to make my homemade stuff. If I was still in BC I would definitely be using my homemade shampoo and conditioner 100% of the time though 🙁
I’m pretty happy with my hair routine! Aside from moving back to BC, no huge changes will be happening here.
Hair: I have seen a significant change in Olive’s behaviour over the past few months but for a loooooong time, washing her hair was an absolute fucking nightmare. She would scream and fight like she was Satan being doused with holy water.
Thus, although I used to use my homemade shampoo & conditioner mix on her hair back in the good old days when she was sweet and compliant, I eventually had to switch to a store-bought 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner to minimize the trauma for both of us. We tried a few natural ones but the latest one we’re working our way through is actually just a L’Oreal Kids Frozen kind (Because I thought that branded characters would make her actually want to wash her hair) (I was wrong) (Sigh) (That icy melon scent tho!)
Anyway, when we use this one up I’ll start trying the bar shampoo or my homemade recipes instead, now that she tolerates hair washing a little more happily.
Toothbrush: Olive has this baby bamboo toothbrush by Senza Bamboo and really likes it because it’s just like mine. Both of our bamboo brushes can be composted when the bristles are removed, and come in plastic-free packaging.
Toothpaste: Same deal as the shampoo, actually getting her teeth brushed won out over fighting to brush her teeth with my homemade toothpaste like I used to, so at the moment she is using an Orajel My Little Pony toothpaste in a sickening bubblegum flavour. She loves it. (Double sigh.) I’m thinking about buying a sweet orange essential oil to make some kid-friendly homemade toothpaste, I’ll let you know how that goes!
I’m definitely welcoming the opportunity to swing Olive back to natural products I’m more comfortable using once these ones are used up!
PHEW! That got insanely long – thank you for sticking it out to the end! If you have questions, comments, or recommendations, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
A really awesome charcoal deodorant I bet you would love link:
Saw it on shark tank. It’s amazing.
Haha, I actually wrote an article on that a while ago! I don’t think I’ll need more for ages, between my homemade stuff and the jar of routine, but I am filing this away mentally for if I do!
I use the Rocky Mountain Soap Company shampoo bar. It works well, has minimal packaging, has great ingredients, and is made locally.
I will check that out! Thank you, Marina!
Hi Madeleine, with the oil you’re using as a face moisturiser, are you using it at night or in the morning or both? Maybe it’s just being an Australian, but I find I need a daytime moisturiser with sunscreen in it, so I use the Andalou Naturals one with a tint and sunscreen, but am curious about using oil at nighttime, so might give that a try when my Andalou night one runs out 🙂
I use it morning and night, after washing my face. I have found sunscreen face creams sort of hit and miss, so I think I’ll just apply a separate sunscreen in summer.
Thank you so much for this post. Taking notes…
I’m glad it was useful for you!
So just curious – what happened to the acv-based toner and coconut oil moisturiser suggested in your book?
Since moving to Alberta I find I don’t need a toner so much because it’s so much drier here (having an active kid around definitely also influenced eliminating one step from my routine!) . I still use coconut oil as an after shower moisturizer, but again, the dry climate here made me need something a little more intense, so I started making my own lotion, too! Hope that answers your questions 🙂
I’m planning to make a salve that calls for beeswax and I noticed that your lip balm calls for some. Do you have any recommendations for an online Canadian source?
Hey Lindsay… Visit your local farmers market and head to the people selling their own honey… They often sell the wax too. Originally though, I found mine on Etsy.
Thank you for the suggestion, Sam! There is someone selling honey at our market, I will check with them.
Hi Lindsay! Sorry I missed this! Sam is spot on, those who sell honey will often sell beeswax too. Last Christmas I asked for some in my stocking and my mom gave me a giant brick of it (seriously I’ve been using it all year and still have 80% of it left!) but I’m not sure where she got it!
I know someone already mentioned it but Rocky Mountain soap company is great. Never tried the shampoo bar but I love the avocado face bar and use the cherry kids tear free shampoo and conditioner on my two year old. Natural ingredients,made in Canmore but has that fake fruit smell that inexplicably kids (and me to be honest) love.
Hi, Madeleine! I’ve been using acv/bs on my hair ever since reading about it on your blog. Thank you for helping me save so much money and packaging and making me healthier! Since you asked for recommendations, I wanted to tell you that I use safflower oil on my face after a brief stint with Argan oil. It seemed weird to me, too, but I haven’t experienced any negative effects of moisturizing with oil either. Safflower is supposed to be great the skin and costs way less than Argan oil, and may be grown more locally, depending on the brand. A wee bit of vitamin E can be added to it, but I’ve never made this step a priority. Thanks again!
I’m so glad you’re using and loving the shampoo and conditioner – now do you see why I am so crazy in love with it?! Haha!
And thank you for the tip on Safflower oil! I will remember that!
Hi Madeleine, thanks for the tips! What makes you think JR Liggett’s has SLS? I thought I remembered it only being saponified oils and essential oils. Maybe there’s another name for SLS that I don’t know? I use it on my daughter’s hair and it makes it so shiny and manageable.
Oh my gosh, I was totally wrong about that one! I’m not sure why I had it in my head that it contained SLS, maybe I was mixing it up with the LUSH bars? I researched their ingredients and you’re absolutely right, no SLS! I am updating my post to reflect that, thanks so much for the correction.
Thank goodness! I’ve recommended it to many of my friends for their babies and I was worried maybe I’d missed SLS on the label which I’ve long since recycled.
We use this toothpaste for our 2.5 year old. It has fluoride and flavoring so it still gets a 3 on EWG but no SLS and my daughter likes it: http://www.thenaturaldentistkids.com
She hasn’t discovered Elsa yet…but she does have a Clifford the Dog toothbrush. Can’t win them all 🙂
I came across your baby sleep post when my daughter was new and have since shared it with so many people (the same ones to whom I recommend JR Liggett’s). It is almost universally met with a huge sigh of relief. Thanks!
Thank you for the toothpaste recommendation! And I’m so glad the sleep post is continuing to help people – I had no idea it would resonate so strongly, but it always makes me happy to hear!
Thank you for the safety razor information – perfect Christmas present for my dad, who has been using homebrand single razors my entire life!
It’s a fantastic gift for the men in your life! So classy 🙂
Thought you might be interested, apparently even better than argan! Not sure how expensive though…
Whaaaaat? Oh man, I am always one step behind! LOL. I will look into this, thank you!