2015 Proved To Me That Clean & Green, Affordable Beauty Is Here and Has Been for Decades!

My 2015 New Year’s Resolution is already making my 2016 much brighter. Taking and maintaining control of our health in ways other than nutrition was my resolution for 2015. I must admit, it is one of the few I ever kept. With increased awareness, it has become important to me to further reduce exposure to toxins and harmful products in my family’s life as much as possible.  So in 2015 I resolved to discover and make significant improvements to what we put IN our body by buying certified organic, non GMO, and humanity raised food, and to focus on cleaning up what we put ON our bodies through personal care products.  Fortunately, we have a local Whole Foods, Fresh Market and Trader Joe’s, so finding the foods we sought was easy. So that means much of my time in 2015 was consumed with finding accessible, affordable products free of parabens, phthalates, fragrance, BHA, formaldehyde or it’s releasers, oxybenzone, nano particles, PEGs, triclosan, mercury, lead, coal tars, petroleum distillates, toluene, and hundreds of other ingredients of concern.  Guess what?  I found them! And surprisingly, they have been around for decades despite what we might think!!  It was time consuming and exhausting at times, but it ended up being a productive and successful journey.

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I spent hours and hours in local grocery stores, exploring Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Target, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Sephora, etc.  I spent countless hours on-line and digging through products in my own home, reading labels, cross referencing ingredients with sources such as Environmental Working Group Skin Deep, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Healthy Child Healthy World, and scanning with my favorite consumer app, Think Dirty. It was exhausting at times, but well worth it as I know that 2016 brings me more peace that we are on a much better path into the future. I also feel like I can now spend more time in 2016 doing and learning new things since we have made so many great changes in 2015. As I know others are on the same journey,  it was important to me that my first 2016 blog post be to share some of my finds and discoveries to help others.

I have had an increased awareness over the past few years, but one article in particular put this journey into high gear. Dr. Mercola’s article Deadly and Dangerous Shampoos, Toothpastes, and Detergents: Could 16,000 Studies Be Wrong About SLS? is hands down one of my fave ever! It address not only SLS, but so much more when it comes to daily use of personal care products.   With more choices for safe, effective & affordable alternative products readily available, we definitely are living in better times. Even if a budget is tight, as many are including mine, there are ways to shop smart and save such as using multi-purpose products, concentrated products, and cost-effective sources and quite frankly, doing away with other things that are less important. In other words, prioritizing our budget to meet our goals. So with this in mind, I wanted to share some of my favorite finds and sources that can help you if on the same journey.
 Here are a few of my favorite natural & organic personal care discoveries that have helped my family on our mission to take and maintain control of our health and wellbeing without stressing our budget. Keeping in mind that change is difficult for some and “better for you” products can cost slightly more than traditional brands made with cheap, synthetic ingredients of concern, I am sharing the brands and products that made the biggest difference overall for my family because they offer multi-purpose products and products that last longer in general, so they end up costing less per use.
Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Liquid Soap
Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Liquid Soap
My #1 favorite discovery and tip is to use multi-use products such as Dr. Bronners Castile soaps. Dr. Bronner’ has been making pure castle soap since 1858! Fair trade and certified organic ingredients and essential oils make up this all time fave multi-purpose product. I have seen this product around for years but honestly, with all of the tiny writing on the label, I was overwhelmed and confused about exactly what to do with it. Then one day I was determined to solve the riddle. Much to my surprise, when I turned the bottle around, I saw a list of uses:  bath, shower, shampoo, shaving, hand washing, bathing the dog, washing dishes and clothes and cars, mop floors, fruit wash and all-purpose cleaner and more!  To date, my family has used the liquid for all of these purposes except fruit or car wash because I am using up what I already have on hand. I cannot imagine going back to a dozen other products when Dr. Bronner’s offers me so much, and in concentrated form and a a nice range of scents and sizes. Peppermint and eucalyptus are our favorite for cleaning tasks.  Lavender, citrus, rose, almond and eucalyptus are  our  favorite for the showering, bathing, shaving, etc. Unscented/Baby in the light blue label is a great choice if you have little ones or want to add your own essential oils to customize your product. I have seen a limited range in drugs stores, mainly peppermint, and sometimes lavender.  A far more expansive and lower price range can be found at Dr. Bronner’s, Whole Foods and membership-based Thrive Market which everyone can try for free for 30-days. I am in my first month free trial of Thrive Market. If new to you also, they carry the top selling brands you find at Whole Foods like stores, focusing on organic and non-GMO products, offered at 25%-50% discount. So far so good…so look for an update on my experience in future post.
castile bar soap
Dr. Bronner’s Castile Bar Soap
By the way, the Dr. Bronner’s pure castile soap bars are long lasting, and they are great for bath and shower if you prefer a bar soap. They are also perfect for traveling and camping since one bar can take care of your cleaning and laundry needs. Plus no liquid means less trouble packing for air travel.
Nourish Organic Argan Oil Balm
Nourish Organic Argan Oil Balm
Multi-use organic head-to-toe body care products not only save money, but space.  I am crazy in love this USDA Organic Argan Oil Balm by Nourish Organic.  It is perfect to help deeply hydrate, replenish and protect skin. It is like a one-stick wonder.  I use it on my face, hands, feet, arms and legs…anywhere I want to moisturize and protect.  I am especially loving it now that the weather is colder and windy. An extra bonus is the beautiful sweet orange oil it contains that for me is very uplifting on gloomy days. Nourish Organic was the first U.S. company to offer USDA Organic skin care, beginning in 2003, and they have continued to expand into more great hand and body care products. A review on some of the products I have used is in the works. I first found this USDA Organic brand at Whole Foods, but I have found better deals for Nourish Organic on their website and at Thrive Market also.
Neal's Yard Organic
Neal’s Yard Organic Beauty
Concentrated/denser cosmetics, skin care, body care, treatment products, etc. help to stretch any budget while providing peace of mind when you choose brands who intentionally leave out all concerning ingredients. My two favorite discoveries of 2015 are Neal’s Yard Remedies and 100% Pure cosmetics. I love the aromatherapy, herbal based natural and organic beauty and body care from Neal’s Yard Remedies out of London, a UK Soil Association certified company and the only cosmetic company with a 100/100 Ethics rating by the The Good Shopping Guide. The products are crafted in small batches and developed by herbalists and naturopaths. They are very concentrated and seemed to last forever! My daily skin care products are lasting me 4-6 months on average and some I still have going on 8 months!
Wild Rose Beauty Balm
Wild Rose Beauty Balm
I am over the moon crazy about their world famous and beauty blogger fave Wild Rose Beauty Balm that has at least 10 uses including cleanser, moisturizing treatment, facial mask, lip balm,  nail balm, heel softener, eye brow tamer, completion highlighter and more.  It truly is a one-pot wonder! I am delighted that after 30 years, they are now available in the U.S. from NYR Organic Consultants!
100% Pure Color Palette
100% Pure Color Palette
100% Pure cosmetics is my new favorite cosmetics find!  Founded in 2005, they create gorgeous cosmetics that are not only vegan and cruelty-free, but they are made from pure, natural and organic ingredients that you can read and recognize. It gets even better as their products are free of artificial fragrances and color and synthetic preservatives.  And wait for it…the colors come from fruit extracts!  They wear very well and the products last a long time! Win-win! I am trying more and more of their cosmetics, so reviews to come.

Eco-Nuts / Soap Berries
My most surprising multi-use discovery of 2015 was USDA Organic EcoNuts!  Reusable laundry detergent and fabric softener in one that gives you 8-10 loads. The 360-load box lasts my family of three, with an average 3 loads a day, 6 months!!  No worries about nut allergies…they are really berries, not nuts. Most importantly, they really do work! I first saw them on Shark Tank and had to learn more. I am very happy I did! You can purchase on-line from their website, Amazon, VitaCost and local stores like Whole Foods and Bed, Bath & Beyond. I pay $29.99 at my Whole Foods. That is a cost of $5 a month for laundry and fabric softener combined for my family!!  Hello!!  How crazy is that?! That is cheaper per use  than anything you can find, even at a dollar store!
Back to my favorite article that inspired my biggest journey of 2015.  It ends by giving “Final Tips and Tricks to Lighten Your Toxic Load” such as avoiding products that contain SLS and other concerning chemicals.  It suggests going organic, using products that carry genuine organic seals (i.e. USDA and Soil Association) and using products made by green, animal and eco-friendly companies. I can truly say that my year-long 2015 journey was a success! All of the companies and brands that we added to our life in 2015 provide this for us. If you are on the same journey, I wish you much success and feel free to start where I left off in 2015 and plan to continue well beyond 2016.
light comes in
I am jumping into 2016 feeling free and at peace. Green, people, plant and animal-friendly, certified organic and safer ingredient personal care products really do exists!! I use them everyday day! If you are also looking for natural and organic brands and products free of parabens, phthalates, fragrance, BHA, formaldehyde or it’s releasers, oxybenzone, nano particles, PEGs, triclosan, mercury, lead, coal tars, petroleum distillates, toluene, and they hundreds of other ingredients of concern, check out my Natural & Organic Faves section of my blog. It is a list that is ever growing as I continue to keep my eyes open for more great discoveries that align with my mission for concern-free, natural and organic personal care that really works!
Cheers to a Happy and Healthier 2016!!!
XOXO, Hope Maria