The ‘Toxic’ Beauty Products That Are OK to Keep

perfume candle

Every time I opened my makeup drawer, I’d catch just a glimpse of it: A little glass pot with a golden lid shoved up into the dark back corner.

A pang of guilt struck me whenever I remembered that it still existed, even though it was practically camouflaged in a sea of clean, natural beauty products. When I started making the transition to all-natural, clean and non-toxic beauty products a few years ago, I tossed out 80 percent of the products in my vanity. Goodbye, toxic lipstick. See yah, drugstore mascara. Later, highly-fragranced deodorant.

But the pricier things on the shelf were harder to part with. I looked at the half-full bottle of designer perfume I’d worked so hard to save up for a few years ago and remembered how just getting a whiff of the scent instantly boosted my confidence and reminded me of my early twenties. Behind the ornate glass bottle was that expensive wrinkle cream that seemed to magically erase any signs of aging the instant it was massaged into my cheeks and forehead — how could I possibly throw it in the garbage, especially knowing that just an ounce of the stuff cost more than what I’d be comfortable spending on a fancy dinner?


And finally, we come to that little glass pot that still rattles around in my makeup bag, long after the perfume has run dry and the wrinkle cream has been used up and replaced with a slightly less miraculous (but certainly more healthful) organic formula. It’s concealer and even though I only use it a couple times a year, I can’t let go.

Although I know it has the worst rating possible on the EWG’s Skin Deep database and that there’s probably not a natural ingredient (other than H2O, which still might be lab-crafted) in the formula, I still keep this concealer around in case of serious emergencies. Truthfully, there’s nothing like it available in the organics market. The texture, the opacity, the efficacy — it just can’t be matched by some coconut-matcha-lavender-broccoli seed product, as much as I wish it could.

But here’s the thing: I’m doing my best.

And really, that’s the point of all this, isn’t it? We’re not choosing natural over conventional products for aesthetics or because it’s “cool.” (Quite the opposite, really!) Most women opt to switch to non-toxic formulas because ditching the chemicals can improve overall health and wellbeing. The act elevates your quality of life.

And really, that’s the point of all this, isn’t it?

You know what doesn’t? Stressing out over that annoying pimple that randomly cropped up the day before the biggest presentation of your career … or worrying that if you don’t “detox” every product in your beauty routine right this instant, then you’re doing something wrong.

Take your time, if you want. Slowly replace your products as you see fit. And you know, if there’s one “toxic” formula that you just can’t quit — don’t.

Are there “toxic” beauty products you can’t live without? How do you find a balance?

Images via Monica Friese

Michelle is a certified health coach and holistic nutritionist. When she’s not creating content, you can find her outside running the trails of the Santa Monica Mountains, practicing sustainable living, or eating guacamole. Follow her for tips on how to live a chic sustainable life on Instagram.

  • Chloe July 17, 2017

    So enjoyed this! I feel like this mentality could be applied to many different aspects of our lives. Thank you for sharing!

  • Shauna July 12, 2017

    Finding a good natural deodorant was the biggest issue for me! I kept my dove around but mostly, and to my friends dismay, went un-deodorized out of product guilt. I ordered schmidts a few months ago and it’s perfect. The little trial pack allows you to throw one in all your bags, at work, wherever. It works really(!) well and smells good. I can’t believe it.

    Davines is my go to for hair (plus their authentic balm is an awesome makeup remover). They may not be 100% natural but they use safe, natural ingredients and their entire company mission is about sustainability and local sourcing which is great. Plus they work beautifully.

    Now I just need a great natural mascara… 🙂

    • Sasha July 12, 2017

      It’s been a search for me but have you tried Lily Lolo? Decent price point, is volumizing, doesn’t flake off or smudge, even in humid heat ?

    • Kama July 13, 2017

      Shauna, SAME. Until I found Spruce!
      Try Spruce Naturals! It’s actually amazing! It lasts!
      The site is:

  • Sasha July 11, 2017

    Love this topic! My mom and I went natural and clean and green as much as possible years ago. It helped my cystic acne and her rosacea and exzema but we know that what works for her and I doesn’t work for everyone. It’s amazing how often people feel the need to justify their choices, though.

    Skincare and personal health and spending habits for that matter is so personal and the shame and guilt like Michelle describes isn’t right. I’m all for making informed decisions but the choice is always up to you and no one should be judging you for it.

  • Tiffany July 11, 2017

    I too have been slowly making the switch to all organic or all natural beauty products. However, I find it hard to part with my dove deodorant and conditioner! I can’t seem to find a good all natural conditioner that detangles my long thick hair.

    • Rachel July 11, 2017

      Schmidts deodorant is the first I’ve used that works really well! And I’ve used them all over the years. John Masters Organics Conditioners and a wet brush for your hair! It takes a lot of trial and error. I tried all the hair stuff at Whole foods and would return what didn’t work until I found what did.

      • Veronica July 12, 2017

        I use Pit Paste for deodorant, and I must say it took about two weeks for my body to adjust to baking soda based deodorant (extra sweat and some itchiness, which is normal), but once it did, I have been extremely happy with how it works for me! I would love an all natural perfume or fragrance, but have been unsuccessful finding one that I can test in person instead of ordering blind. If anyone has any advice, please send along!

  • Eliza July 11, 2017

    You’re reducing your exposure which is really important. Apply fragrance to your clothes, vs directly to skin to make it a little safer still. There are more great, safe products coming out all the time so I keep looking for the best options to replace the products I use, but yes, it’s a balancing act. Deodorant has been the toughest by far to give up – I still have my Dove for emergencies!

  • You raise up a really good point. I think as long as we make small steps each day and try our best, there’s really nothing to be ashamed about. 🙂

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