Sometimes I wonder if it just seems like the topics I’m interested in are becoming mainstream because I live in a sheltered “wellness bubble”, as I like to refer to it as. I surround myself with other health and wellness junkies and it can appear that the vast majority of the population is living a somewhat similar lifestyle to my own. Luckily, something eventually pops that beautiful bubble and I am faced with the reality that, of course, this really isn’t the case at all. Although I do believe more and more people are taking steps to lead a healthier lifestyle in general, there is still such a long way to go in terms of educating the masses on important health related issues and lifestyle choices.
It took me a while to even start this post because of its scope. Low-tox living has been at the forefront of my mind lately, but there is just so much to say about it and so much ground to cover, that the idea of writing about it seemed daunting. Too big. And you know how I have a tendency to ramble on… I want to say it all, but that would mean writing a book, not a blog post.
So I decided the best thing to do was pick one area of focus per post and today I am choosing clean beauty.
When I first began to detox the body and our home, I started with food. I slowly switched out conventional foods for organic ones and made the added cost of quality, chemical-free foods work for us because it was deemed priority. That was many years ago now. However, one of the last things I did was switch out my makeup for clean, chemical-free (or at the very least, highly reduced) products. And I’m probably not alone in this. Women become particularly attached to their beauty potions and lotions. We have specific brands and products that we’re loyal to and have been using for years. Letting go of that relationship and stepping outside of the comfort zone of knowing what gives you your desired look is a little scary. And, quite honestly, can leave you a little grumpy. I think it took being bombarded with daily messages of clean beauty before I finally uncrossed my arms, rolled my eyes and said, “Fine!"
You’ve probably heard that the skin is our body’s biggest organ. What we put on our body is just as important as what we put in it.
Although I wouldn’t say I wear a lot of makeup, I wear some form of makeup pretty much every day. Even if it’s only a couple of products. I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I’m 33 now. That’s a lot of daily chemical shit storm doses for my biggest organ… (over 5000, actually. I just checked). There are over 1400 chemicals banned or restricted in skincare products by the European Union. In the US, that number is a mere eleven. ELEVEN. My values were clear to me. Health was number one, and I just couldn’t ignore this area of my life any longer because it didn’t align.
And so began the journey of switching out drugstore (and even premium) beauty products for natural ones. These aren’t brands that you see advertised on television or in magazines. They are not in mainstream media. So even knowing where to start was difficult. It took research. I read reviews on blogs, watched YouTube videos, searched Instagram… you name it. I started with one product at a time, which made for a slow transition. But, let’s face it, makeup is expensive. Layer that on top of being reluctant to let go of your favourite products in the first place, and the switch likely isn’t going to happen over night. Between testing multiple brands and multiple products (and yes, this was a financial investment), I would say it took me close to a year before I had created a clean beauty routine that I truly loved.
But I made the switch.
And, today, I really do love my makeup.
With that, I am going to share, without bias or sponsors, products that I have fallen in love with in the world of clean beauty. I do think this is quite a personal journey because, of course, we are all different. Skin types and general makeup preferences differ. But I want to offer up my experience to help others the same way all of those internet reviews helped me when I began the careful selection of what to try next.
I think the easiest way to organize this is by brand. So I am going to start with a Canadian company whose products I adore. I tried out what felt like 25 different mascaras and, for me, Ilia came out on top. It was dark, long lasting, lengthening and included a brush I now can’t live without. I also love their foundation, when paired with an under eye concealer (a trait that was true of all foundations I tested). It’s lightweight but provides decent coverage and lasts all day.
And finally, although I don’t wear a ton of lipstick these days, I always need a bright fuchsia on hand for those rare occasions that require just a little more glam. Ilia provided great colour selection and wearability in this department that packed a punch. Beyond the products themselves, Ilia’s founder and Vancouver native, Sasha Plavsic, boasts a beautiful story of how the company came to be, inspired by her brother’s personal health struggles and her mother’s influence. This is likely a brand that will remain in my collection for many years.
Next in my makeup bag you’ll find Beauty Counter. This is a big (and loud!) player in the world of clean beauty and for good reason. I have tried a number of their products and my favourite one, hands down, is their Dew Skin. As the name suggests, this tinted moisturizer leaves your skin looking fresh and hydrated (with the added benefit of SPF). I am obsessed and use it on the daily, either on its own or under foundation. Most days I simply pair the Dew Skin with an under eye concealer and am set. I actually find when I don’t wear my Dew Skin and simply opt for a foundation, I feel like my skin looks a little dull! My second pick with Beauty counter is their mattifying powder. I use this to set an under eye concealer if I am planning on using mascara on my lower lashes (to prevent transfer) or if I need to ensure overall, long-lasting wear. It’s lightweight, not cakey and doesn’t require much on the brush to get the job done (which is also cost effective). More recently, I have also started using their highlighter. It’s not an everyday item for me, but a great option when I need a little more shimmer in my look! Speaking of highlights, if you have 12 minutes, check out Beauty Counter’s mini biography on mica, one of the key ingredients in any makeup product that gives that shimmery, sparkly look. This company is changing the face of beauty and this video is just one small example of that.
The next brand is one not as well known in Canada, I would suggest (due to accessibility), but it’s one that I simply cannot leave out because I love it THAT MUCH. Han Skincare Cosmetics won my heart when it comes to bronzer and blush. Their products are so pigmented with incredible blendability and I immediately fell in love. At first, I was forced to order from the US and pay international shipping, but can now purchase these two products via Amazon. I legit have about four clean blushes sitting in my makeup drawer right now. And as much I try to rotate them, I just can’t stay away from this one. It works so well with my skin and over my other products that it quickly became my go-to.
Finally, like most moms, I really appreciate a good concealer for nights of broken sleep and resulting under eye circles. Well People has taken care of this for me with their high coverage product. A little goes a long way and I simply apply with my finger to cover up sleepless nights and other imperfections. If you’re looking for a toxic free concealer, I highly recommend this beauty.
I am so happy to say that these products are just a drop in the bucket. The clean beauty movement is alive and happening, and I already have a few other brands on my list that I am dying to try out. This is huge because it means that low-tox living is really starting to build momentum (or maybe we’re actually just going back to how it all started in the first place? I like to think of it that way). People are demanding safer options for themselves and their families and companies are responding. It’s an exciting time in the midst of an era where we are literally exposed to thousands of toxins and chemicals every day. This is just one example of how we’re taking the power back. And that’s a beautiful thing.