I’ve mentioned on a few occasions about one of the biggest and quickest improvements I experienced going from decade-long-vegan to omnivore was improvement in the condition and aging of my skin. I also mentioned a few times about how ridiculously easy (and can be inexpensive) my beauty routine is. Well, as you might imagine, a lot of ladies wanted to know what I do for skin care.
So… apart from eating a skin loving diet high in skin enhancing nutrients (retinol, collagen, essential fatty acids just to name a few), I have a simple skin care routine.
OK! Beauty stuff! Better yet… Eco & Animal Friendly Beauty stuff! I’m a true girly girl at heart. I love makeup and beauty goodies. It all started back when my mom let me wear purple eyeshadow to school when I was about 12 years old. I was hooked. When I was growing up, you could stick me in a makeup department for hours and I was happy as heck. However, these days there aren’t many makeup departments that make my list though. Too bad there weren’t great healthy products back then! Now that I’m aware of the toxins present in most beauty products which not only harm animals with testing, but that are also destroying our environment, I’ve become uber selective with what touches my face, hair and body.
Before we begin with some companies that I enjoy, I want to introduce you to Skin Deep – Campaign For Safe Cosmetics, the amazing website put forth by the Environmental Working Group. This site is instrumental in helping me find the healthiest and least toxic beauty products. You can search the database by entering the names of various companies (although not every one of them is in there) or by searching specific ingredients (helpful when companies aren’t listed). I’m seriously grateful for this website. I look forward to the time when more and more companies are added. The EWG does so much work in helping people learn about the various toxins in products and our environment. For example, check this page out for useful health tips. (BTW – They are always in need of monetary donations to help further their work if that’s something you’re interested in, go here.)
Check out these eye opening videos of some of their work…
The Beauty Products I Use
I strive to make my makeup, skin, hair, and overall body care as pure as possible, eco-friendly, cruelty-free, all natural, and non-toxic. The following companies are some of the brands that I use and recommend. I do not list every green or vegan company out there, as I’ve not tried them all. Furthermore, not all of the companies I listed here are vegan (although most offer vegan products – be sure to check specific products if that’s important to you). Some offer vegetarian products that use honey or beeswax, but I don’t purchase those. However, even if they offer vegetarian products, they are animal friendly in testing and eco friendly in ingredients, packaging, etc. There are also some companies that I’ve tried and not had much success. I talk a bit about those, too.
A note about mineral based products.Minerals are pretty much the rage and have been for a few years now. I do have some myself, but I read this blog post from EWG recently which I found intriguing: Is Mineral Based Makeup Safer?
I’ve tried many things from this company: mud shampoo, face cleanser, body cleanser, face toner, hand soap (the citrus smells divine!), intensive shea butter moisturizer (great stuff), and deodorant (it’s the best natural deodorant on the market in my opinion – love it, although most days I don’t use deodorant – a perk of clean eating! – but I admit there is a day here and there, maybe from hormones, where I like a little help and this is what I turn to). I’m partial to their fragrance-free options because I try to avoid products with essential oils while pregnant. I was a fan of their mud shampoo, but then my scalp started flaking. I’m now using Morrocco Method’s hair care line (detailed below). Terressentials’ products are hand-crafted, USDA Certified Organic, and they are truly 100% Natural. I will most likely try some of their baby line, too, when the time comes. (See Nature’s Paradise link below for another great baby option.)
I’ve been using Morrocco Method’s products on my hair for almost a year. The awesome thing about their products is that they’re organic, vegan, gluten-free, and even Raw! I’d go into more detail about why I’m a big fan, but I already have here… also read the comments section in that link because the owner, Anthony Morrocco, dropped by to chime in. He addressed some readers’ questions – gotta love that level of commitment and accessibility, it counts for a lot in my book.
I’m a paying customer of theirs, but recently they sent me a review package including some of their groovy elixirs to use on my scalp and hair. I love them. My husband and I have marveled at the rate of my hair growth. Some say that the pregnancy is contributing to that, but I’ve been using Morrocco Method products for some time now, well before I became pregnant. They also sent me their Agave Mist Styling Spritz to try. The only thing I’m not crazy about is the spray bottle… the sprayer thing itself shoots out a spray that is not “mist like” which makes it a little hard to use. I’ve bought and tried their Feng Shea Facial Scrub which is a nice exfoliator.
They have released a new conditioner, Pearl Essence Cream Rinse, which I’m eager to get my hands on. And, they have an interesting Lunar Hair Chart for the best days to cut and beautify hair each month.
This is a lovely company with terrific products. Raw Gaia has beautiful, living skin care products created from cold-pressed, organic and vegan ingredients, infused with essential oils and floral waters of the finest quality. I thought I’d have to miss out on playing with their products for the most part because the company is based in the UK, and it wouldn’t be very environmentally responsible of me to have stuff shipped here frequently. However, it appears from their website that some online stores in the United States carry their products. That is helpful because those online retailers probably buy in bulk, but it’s still better to buy as locally as possible. Regardless, I like this company and wanted to showcase them. Plus, I have some European readers, so this is a great company for them to try.
Zosimos BotanicalsZosimos Botanicals is an excellent company. I use their loose powder mineral foundation. One of the best aspects about this company is the customer service. I know that when I turn friends on to them, they’ll get treated well. And, what’s more… they’re an environmentally conscious company. They handcraft their own line of natural products in a 100% wind-powered workshop. Cool!Coastal Classic CreationsI have a lot of fun on this website. They make a nice blush (Stargazer), as well as some eye shadows (I use these for liner and shadow, but honestly, I’m not crazy about loose powders for shadows so I don’t use these as often anymore). Try their sample sizes to experiment with colors first – as they can be a little different than what you might expect. They have a vegan mascara that I haven’t tried yet, but plan on doing soon. Coastal Classic Creations continues to get excellent ratings in the Skin Deep database I mentioned earlier. In my dealings with them, this is another company with terrific customer service.
Want to pretty up your face and body with organic fruit and veggie extracts? Then check out 100% Pure, which definitely has a spot in my heart. I’m a fan of many of their products – they smell amazing, and why wouldn’t they? They’re mostly made from fruit and veggie extracts and other awesome smelling natural ingredients. I stick with the products of theirs that are vegan and I’ve been very happy with them. It seems like they’re continuously offering new colors, which is nice to see. When I first started with their products, I noticed they were heavier with the pinks than with the peaches (I prefer the peaches).
Some of my favorite picks from 100% Pure are: hand lotions (vanilla is true heaven), cleansing foams (my skin is left feeling clean, not stripped), coffee bean eye cream, pineapple enzyme face mask (this stuff is fun), rose facial mist (total aromatherapy relaxation in every sprtiz), body butters, powder blush (I apply a couple of layers to get the color I want), and the vegan lip options. I also love their compact powder, Healthy Flawless Skin Foundation Powder. You’ll notice that the description on their website says it’s vegetarian, but there are only vegan ingredients. I called to confirm and I was right… it’s vegan.
A unique aspect about 100% Pure’s products is that they pretty much do not contain minerals (except where she uses mica for a shimmer effect), because the owner, Susie Wang believes that fruit and veggie extracts are the best option for your skin.
This company makes one of the best USDA certified organic shampoo/soap options for babies. They offer products for the whole family, too. I’ve only bought the baby shampoo (I used it on my face and body), but many of their other products look promising and I plan on trying some.
I wrote about this company in a blog post here (there’s a video, too). It’s a great little company from Santa Fe. They are working on some “raw” products – yay! Just like I enjoy getting to know the people who grow my food from the farmers’ market, I love the idea that I shook hands personally with the man crafting such fine products for my face and body.
UPDATED (May 2010) WITH THREE NEW REVIEWS:
Dr. Alkaitis (my favorite) – Click the link for a thorough review
There are a couple of products that I regularly use straight from my kitchen. Most notably they are rose water, orange blossom water, and coconut oil. You can find rose water and orange blossom water at most Middle Eastern markets or online. I use it on an organic cotton ball as a refreshing toner for my face. When it’s hot in the summer, I put it in a spray bottle and spritz my face, neck, and hair with it. It’s delightful.
I use organic coconut oil as a moisturizer, too. I’m not crazy about using it on my face – I don’t seem to react as well as some others do for that. But, I like it on my legs and my growing pregnant belly right now.
Now, for a couple of animal and eco-friendly companies that are not my favorite.
This company makes both body care as well as makeup. I want to like this company. Truly, I do. So much that I’ve tried many of their products, some of them twice! I keep thinking, “They get great reviews, even some awards, so surely I’m missing something.” But, for the life of me, I can’t get excited about them. The Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser, that’s one of the things I’ve tried… twice. It didn’t get my makeup off very well and just didn’t give me a clean feeling. It smelled heavenly though and I wanted to eat it! The face lotions… they just didn’t make me jump for joy. And, the makeup… hmmm… well, I’ll start by saying that the cheek and eye colors, which I have tried, contained beeswax. I actually bought them without knowing that. However, I still wanted to review them without that as a consideration. Some of the colors were nice, but here are my beefs: The eye cream colors did not stay put. At all. By the time I left the house after applying it, there were oily creases. Now, maybe I have oily eyelids? I don’t know. I tried many things like using powder as a base, touching up with powder after, etc. Nothing helped. The eye colors are also not easy to apply. I tried using both a brush and my fingers. The cheek tints had some nice colors and effects, but it wasn’t easy to carry in my purse because the jars are a little heavy and took up room in my makeup bag, but how can I complain about glass jars, right? It’s nice to have makeup in those! The biggest problem with the makeup I tried was that (3 times!) the pots of color started to smell horrible after a relatively short period. It smelled rancid. That said, I’ll give the company big props for great customer service, their mission, and their use of glass containers for most of their products.
To be fair, I’ve only tried one of their eye powders, but I wasn’t crazy about it. It didn’t have much punch for color. A friend of mine who is a former makeup artist recommended them to me; however, I wasn’t impressed enough to try again since I was already happy with Coastal Classic Creations (mentioned above).
This company has a nice, clean website. Their mission is commendable (green packaging / containers and pure products). I only tried a couple of their products including the cream eye shadow and living luminizer. The cream eye shadow gave me similar problems as the Suki brand did – it creased and felt a little oily on my lids. Now, it is supposed to have a glossy-like effect, but it creased on me and I didn’t care for that. The website says that if creasing occurs to use a finger to gently (pat) correct, but who wants to do that all day? By noon, I’d have it mostly rubbed off if I kept doing that. The Living Luminizer is their best seller, but I was not a big fan. It was kind of weird to use. I tried highlighting various recommended areas of my face with it but found that either I didn’t notice it at all (making it a waste?) or it was too obvious. Perhaps I needed professional help using it… but if a makeup product is too hard to use, then who wants to use it? RMS uses minerals for their products but claim that they are not in the form of nanoparticles, thereby possibly making them healthier (does anybody know if this is true?).
Well, that gives you a look into my makeup drawer and shower. Hope my recommendations have helped. I’m off to shop (I got a little excited after visiting all of these websites when collecting links for this blog post). So, what are some of your favorite products? Leave your recommendations, successes, and horror stories in the Comments section.
I’ve been needing a new purse for a while now. My closet is filled with torture (beautiful as the end result may seem, my Chanel and Gucci bags just aren’t sexy to me anymore). So, they continue to sit in my closet. Meanwhile… this girl needed a new purse (or two!). I’ve been carrying around an old hemp purse of my grandma’s (I think she bought it in Spain about 40 years ago). It’s cute, but too small. And… it has some leather on it (not a whole lot, but it’s there). Still, it’s sentimental to me because it was my grandma’s.
Some of you may be wondering what the big deal is with leather for me. Well, I’m a veganfirst and foremost for ethical reasons… to save animals. So, it would seem beyond silly for me to wear or use leather. But, I have it in my closet. I have kept it from my pre-vegan years, but I’m not using it (think: shoes, belts, purses).
I’m not of the mind to just throw it all out either. My leather pieces do have some meaning to me; there are memories with each one. For example, my first Chanel purse was a gift from my mom when I graduated from high school early. My second Chanel was a reward to myself when I was working 80 hour work weeks years ago. The stories go on from there. I have some from my very young childhood (like 13 years old). However, I don’t want to use them or advertise them. I realize that the animal has already suffered for it, and it seems rather wasteful to just pitch it.
From Peta.org: “Every year, the global leather industry slaughters more than a billion animals and tans their skins and hides.(1) Many of these animals suffer all the horrors of factory farming—including extreme crowding and confinement, deprivation, and unanesthetized castration, branding, tail-docking, and dehorning—and cruel treatment during transport and slaughter.” Read more here.
So, what’s a girl to do? I have no idea. They’re stashed away for now.
Meanwhile… I needed something new. Something that showed my style and beliefs. Something eco-chic. Something cool. Something sustainable. So, I chose hemp. I found two bags and bought them without hesitation. The first one is dark brown and functional. It has many compartments and plenty of room for my girlie stuff (makeup, money, pens, paper, raw snack bar, cell phone, etc.) and the other one I chose is black. This second purse is a little dressier. It’s perfect for date nights with my husband, dinners, etc. I bought them both here (one of my favorite online stores). They’re perfect.
Living a healthy lifestyle does not stop at eating Raw Vegan food, although that’s the best start! Achieving optimal health also extends to your immediate environment. Think about it – does it make sense to work hard at purifying your body by eating Raw Vegan food if you’re inhaling toxins and slathering chemical-laden products on your skin? No. It was after doing research about the dangerous chemicals in beauty/home products that I rid myself of them immediately. I’m not taking any chances with my health or the health of my family. Moreover, I’ve been extra careful lately since I want to ensure that I’m avoiding chemicals in the house while prepping for pregnancy (and after, for that matter) and I’ve been making a lot of my own stuff (that’s the extra fun and rewarding part). There are many reasons that I’m doing this: my personal health, my family’s health, the environment and as a future mom… It’s important for a baby to smell the true essence of his/her mom and dad – not covered up in scents from hair/makeup/beauty/cleaning products. This is very important for bonding (especially for encouraging breast feeding because a baby is naturally drawn to his/her mother’s body odor). I’ve been asked many times about the cleaning supplies I use. There are plenty of options out there and I’ve tried many. What I find interesting is how my sense of smell has changed. I find that when I’m in some people’s homes (or around some people themselves) that the smell is too much for me now, because they wear strong cologne or they use air fresheners or home cleaning products full of chemicals. I never picked up on that before because I used them myself… but I do now and it’s hard to be in places (or around people) that smell toxic. Everyone is on his/her own journey however. Heck, it wasn’t that long ago that I threw away my favored Tiffany perfume. I concentrated on the food I was eating and my physical fitness routine for a long time before venturing into the territory of changing my beauty and home care routines.
Furthermore, let’s talk about the environment. What’s so great about using bleach or chemical-laden products to keep your toilet and counters clean, if you’re polluting and damaging the environment (including your drinking water). Every little step we can take to help our environment is great – from recylcing to using our own bags at the store to air drying our clothes to using eco-friendly cleaning products.
Last but not least, you can save money by making your own products (and it’s so easy)! Yes, there are a number of green cleaning products you can buy (for example… Mrs. Meyers brand is lovely and popular), but it’s cheaper to whip up your own. I’d rather save the money by making my own, then treat myself to an organic cotton t-shirt or organic produce! Either way, if you’re buying or making green cleaning products you’re making a world of difference for your health, your family’s health, and the earth. Now, that’s just plain SMART!
Here are some of the things I’m doing to keep my home clean:
Laundry – 1-2 caps of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap. I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing this for my future baby’s clothes (the unscented version) when the time comes as well. It’s important to stay away from normal commercial clothes soap when washing your baby’s clothes because their skin is so delicate. There are some natural brands on the market just for baby’s, such as Seventh Generation (I think). I can’t imagine it getting any simpler than Dr. Bronner’s unscented soap though. Note:for extra brightening power, add 3 oz of chlorine free bleach by Seventh Generation as the water fills up (before adding your clothes). Scrubbing – baking soda does the trick. Or, another good one is Bon Ami Polishing Cleanser.
All-Purpose Cleaning – Get a 32 oz spray bottle and put in the following: 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar, a small squirt of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap, 1/2 cup chlorine free bleach by Seventh Generation (or there’s another brand… Ecover, I think), and fill the rest with water. Optional: add 10-20 drops of tea tree oil (and/or 10-20 drops lavender oil). I use this recipe for counters, bathrooms, tile floors, walls, etc.
Extra Basic All-Purpose Cleaning – Get a 32 oz spray bottle and put in 1 cup distilled white vinegar, a small squirt of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap, and fill the rest with water. Use this recipe the same as above. This (and the recipe above) are great for disinfecting and deodorizing.
Mirrors – Get a 32 oz spray bottle and fill it halfway with water and top off the second half with distilled white vinegar. How easy, safe and great is that???
Ant Deterrent – Put peppermint scented Dr. Bronner’s soap in a spray bottle with some water and spray along windowsills and cracks.
Toilet Cleaning Power – Baking soda and distilled white vinegar. Scrub away the germs and enjoy a shiny toilet bowl.
Dishes – I love washing dishes by hand because it’s relaxing to me. And, with raw food, washing dishes is a snap! My routine is generally to let them soak in a sink of water which has a squirt of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap. For extra cleaning power, add a splash of chlorine free bleach by Seventh Generation Heavy Duty Cleaner – Get a bucket of hot water and add a squirt of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap, 1/2 cup baking soda, 10-15 drops tea tree oil and optionally, you can add 5-10 drops lavender oil. Note: It’s important to avoid essential oils when you’re pregnant, so wear gloves when using this solution, if you’re pregnant, or leave out the oils all together – or, better yet, get someone else to do the cleaning! haha
Of course, use towels for wiping (paper towels are wasteful) or tear up some old t-shirts.
Whew! I got through that post without giving away my secret news!
You probably know by now that I’m all about LIVING THE RAW VEGAN LIFESTYLE, and that means my actions are beyond what food passes my lips. I’m also trying to be as green as possible. Here is a helpful list from Co-op America Quarterly (Fall 2007) for 10 Things You Should Never Buy Again to help preserve our home, earth:
Styrofoam cups Paper towels Bleached coffee filters Overpackaged foods & other products Teak and mahogany Chemical pesticides and herbicides Conventional household cleaners Higher-octane gas than you need Toys made with PVC plastic Plastic forks and spoons
PLUS 5 MORE: Farm raised salmon Rayon Beauty/Body care with phthalates and parabens Cling wrap High VOC paints and finishes
And, did you know that you can recycle your compact fluorescent bulbs by taking them to your local IKEA store? Details. Another option – you can order a Sylvania RecyclePak for $15, which is a special lined box for 8 average CFLs. The fee covers shipping to and recycling at Veolia Environmental Systems. Cheers to our earth!
Oh, and by the way…One of my favorite shows on CNBC, Mad Money with Jim Cramer, is focusing on Greencompaniesthis week. It’s been great so far, as I’ve learned about Green technology companies as well as companies making changes to be more Green (like Wells Fargo). Whether you invest in the market or not, it’s great because it can help you make educated choices as a consumer… maybe you’ll choose Wells Fargo over another bank because they are doing so much to be Green. I think he’s doing Green all week, so there are still some days left to check it out.
The holidays are my favorite time of year, and now is a good time to start planning. One of the things I love to do is give Raw desserts as gifts. Gone are the days of giving unhealthy, fattening, processed chocolate to people. Make way to usher in gifts of healthy exquisiteness…Raw organic cookies and candies. What better way to introduce this amazing lifestyle to others, right? Keep in mind, Raw desserts as gifts don’t have to apply only to the winter holidays. You can do this all year long with birthdays, retirements, anniversaries, house-warming gifts, etc. Go to a craft store and buy cute little bags and boxes. Or, do what I did and look for things to reuse…see those gold boxes in the picture? They were given to me last year with gifts in them. I’m reusing them to be environmentally friendly.
To get you started, here is a delicious and easy recipe. The richness of the hazelnuts alongside the decadent raw chocolate will surely get anyone excited about Raw. For resources on where I get my organic ingredients, please visit Kristen’s Raw Resources.
Hazelnut Chocolate Snowballs Yield 15-20 cookies
1/2 cup dried, unsweetened coconut flakes 1 cup hazelnuts 2 tablespoons raw chocolate powder pinch Himalayan crystal salt 3/4 teaspoon hazelnut extract 8 dates, pitted 1/2 cup raisins
Process a 1/4 cup of the coconut (reserving the other 1/4 cup for rolling the cookies in) along with the hazelnuts, chocolate and salt in a food processor, fitted with the “S” blade, until coarsely ground. Add the hazelnut extract, dates, and raisins. Process until it is a texture, which holds together when gently pressed between your fingers. Roll into balls and then roll in the coconut. These freeze wonderfully.
Variation ~ Use raw carob instead of raw chocolate ~ Replace 4 of the dates with 1/4 cup dried cherries
It’s about 3pm and I’m just waking up. I stayed up late watching movies (something to the tune of 4:30am). The night began with going to a late movie, Eastern Promises (starring Viggo Mortensen). Great movie! Yes, I brought along my green smoothie for raw goodness. Once I arrived home, I was jazzed with energy, so I watched Batman Begins and G.I.Jane (Did you know Viggo was in this movie?). At that point I was ready to work out after being inspired by Demi Moore, but the gym wasn’t open yet. Where are the 24-hour gyms when you need them?
I’m eating Raw German Chocolate Brownies for breakfast. YUM! I created this recipe because I’m doing a demonstration at Wild Oats to celebrate Oktoberfest . I might even dress up in a costume as a bar wench – haha…we’ll see. I think I’ll eat these all day because I am out of fresh produce in my house. “What??? Kristen Suzanne, you don’t have your kitchen stocked at all times?” Truth be told, I ran out of food….except for the freezer! I have loads of raw food frozen for occasions such as these. I have made (and ready for thawing)….dressings, hummus, pate, desserts and more. You see, ordinarily I’m very organized and prepared….uuhmmm….for the times I’m not prepared.
What actually happened is I spent my weekend at the 10th annual Green Building Expo. My plan was to only attend Friday, but it was so great I went back the second day. It was filled with amazing lectures on how to make green living in your home a reality. I’m now dreaming of solar panel rooftops to make my own energy to sell back to the power company. Very inspiring.
I’m off to the gym now (thoughts of Demi Moore doing her 1-arm pushups are coarsing through my mind and practically pushing me out the door to the gym).
Raw is a lifestyle, not just a diet. This idea can intimidate some, because they never entertained the idea of an entire “lifestyle” relating to their food choices. For others, like myself, I love referring to it as such. It makes my life easier and keeps me focused because there are no contradictions.
This is mylife’s…style. I immerse my entire self into it. Everything is effortlessly connected…from the Raw food I eat to how I feel physically as a result (I feel energized for working out) to whether my mind is calm (I’ll watch the beautiful sunset) or focused and alert (I’m ready to go play in the kitchen) to what I can do with Raw food to control these aspects to affecting things around me such as our home, the earth. All of this matters.
My Raw lifestyle is a part of everything I do…physically, mentally, spiritually, socially, and globally.
Today’s Exercise and Food: It’s my day off from the gym so I put on my bikini, went to the pool, laid in the sun and swam a few laps.
Breakfast: fresh energizing smoothie (1 1/2 cups water, 3 bananas, 1/2 bunch Italian parsley, 2 tsp minced rosemary, 1 tsp chopped fresh ginger, peeled, and a pinch of cinnamon Lunch: 2+ cups chopped veggies (carrots, zucchini, red bell pepper stirred into Savory Pecan Pate) same as last night’s dinner Dinner:zucchini pasta marinara, pumpkin pie