As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been dealing with some health issues and am hoping that switching over to natural products in my daily routine wherever possible will help. Now, I'm not an extreme green convert who believes conventional lipstick will kill you and there are some regular cosmetics I just can't quit. That being said, I figure if I can green up the skincare and grooming products I use daily, I can still decrease my exposure to endocrine-disrupting ingredients and lessen the overall chemical load on my body's natural detoxification systems (liver, kidneys, digestion, lymph nodes, etc.). Every little bit helps, right?
Over the last couple of months, I've been learning more about conventional vs. natural beauty products and purging my beauty stash of samples that contain ingredients I'm not comfortable with. I've also been testing out natural beauty goodies, including the ones I'm spotlighting today from Alberta-based Rocky Mountain Soap Co. and French skincare label Caudalie (available at BeautyMark). These travel-size deluxe samples contained more than enough product to give me 2-3 weeks' worth of testing pleasure.
One thing I've learned in my journey towards greener beauty is that there are some swaps that are so easy they're a no-brainer. For example, natural lip balms, creams, and body lotions hydrate just as well if not better than their conventional counterparts. Natural cleansing oils are just as effective as sulfate-laden conventional cleansers and makeup removers.
Cleansing oils require a slight learning curve if you're not used to them. You apply them on dry skin, not damp. There are no suds. You gently massage the oil onto your face and neck and let it slowly dissolve makeup, unclog pores, and lift away dirt and oil. Then you rinse the oil off with warm water (at which point it emulsifies into a milky, gunky liquid), or you can do what I like to do, which is wipe off and rinse three times with a hot, damp cloth. The process takes a bit of patience because oil's not as fast-acting a surfactant as sulfates, but it feels so luxuriant. And best of all for dry, sensitive or winter-parched skin, cleansing oils are gentle and don't strip away moisture.
Skeptical that a cleansing oil will get off all your makeup and effectively cleanse? Try doing a double cleanse. Actually, you should be double-cleansing anyway if you really want to avoid clogged pores and get a deep clean! I've been using Caudalie Makeup Removing Cleansing Oil ($31 for full size at BeautyMark) as the first step in a double-cleanse regimen on the days I wear makeup. The clear formula—a blend of sunflower seed oil, plant-based glycerins, castor seed oil, sweet almond oil, grape seed oil, tocopherol, and natural fragrance—has plenty of slip and effectively melts away foundation, concealer, blush, bronzer, and highlighter. Since I wear light makeup, one generous pump is all it takes for my whole face; for long-lasting formulas and primers, try using the recommended 3 pumps and massaging the product on skin for longer. After using the Caudalie oil, my skin is soft, smooth, and even-toned. All traces of makeup are gone with no uncomfortable tightness or dryness.
Next, I follow up with the Rocky Mountain Soap Co. Transformative Cleansing Oil ($41 for full size). This oil is suitable for all skin types with its blend of anti-inflammatory arnica, restorative chamomile, balancing rosemary, hydrating Jojoba, and nourishing rose oils. It's slightly thicker and has less slip than the Caudalie cleansing oil, and it has a slight orange tint and a distinctly herbal smell thanks to all the essential oils in the formula. Like the Caudalie oil though, it cleanses effectively without stripping skin.
Toner is one of those polarizing products that beauty lovers either swear by or skip entirely. I was firmly in the latter camp until trying Rocky Mountain Soap Co. Hydrating Toner ($13 for travel size, $26 for full size). On the mornings and evenings I used it, my skin looked more even-toned and felt more hydrated even before applying serum, oil, or moisturizer. The formula is lightweight and quick-absorbing and contains aloe and frankincense; it smells herbal and refreshing without being floral or fruity. (Good news if you're not into sweet scents!) I love, love, love the spray nozzle too. Using cotton balls or pads with drip-bottle toners seems wasteful, while the spray nozzle ones I've tried always seem to dispense too much or too little product in one concentrated spurt. The spray nozzle on the Rocky Mountain Soap Co. Hydrating Toner is pretty much perfect, producing an ultra-fine mist that covers the entire face/neck area when held about 10-15 cm away.