2013 Green Beauty Picks

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I’ve loved makeup since my days of playing dress-up as a kid. The big difference now is that my grown-up choices are more responsible—less toxic, but just as fun. After two friends recently asked about items to buy that are better for you—green, eco, clean, less toxic—and another complimented me on my lip color, I put together some notes on my current favorites. It’s my “what’s in my makeup bag” edition for 2013—with selections by brands taking steps to make products that are safer and less damaging to you and the environment. (Find out more from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database. Also check out The Green Beauty Team for more recommendations from colleagues.) 

FOR EVERYDAY:

RMS Beauty – Lip2Cheek

I wear Illusive on cheeks and also patted on lips. It’s a brownish pink with some plum to it that adds a hint of color when it’s dabbed on—with a bit more, you have a bold but neutral lip. 

RMS Beauty – Lip Shine

Sublime is a bright bubble gum pink that provides a light pink pop when very gently patted on lips. (I blend it with Lip2Cheek in Illusive for a plummy pink.)

Yes to Carrots – Lip Color Balms

I like that it’s moisturizing and has barely-there color without any shimmer.

RMS Beauty – Living Luminzer

Magic in a jar. This is creamy and provides a glow that really does look like it’s coming from your skin. 

Jane Iredale – PurePressed Base Mineral Foundation

For full coverage on my face, I apply this just after moisturizing. Bonus: It’s SPF 20.

RMS Beauty – Un Cover-up

When I don’t wear makeup all over, this is great to pat on sunspots, any red areas, and around the nose.

Alima Pure – Bronzer

Just a brush on the cheekbones and down the nose and you get a faux sun-kissed look.

Vapour Beauty – Illusionist Concealer

Dab it on lightly and it does wonders to conceal dark under-eye circles.

Physician’s Formula Organic Wear – FakeOut Mascara

From the only brand I’ll buy in a drug store, this mascara adds serious length and thickness to lashes.

Vapour Beauty – Mesmerize Eyeliner

It’s easy to apply, has solid staying power, and wakes up my eyes with a clear line across lids or simply dotted on at the lash line.

FOR GOING OUT AND AND GETTING GLAM:

Vapour Beauty – Aura Multi-Use Blush

Spark gives my cheeks a great where-have-you-been? pink flush.

Alima Pure – Satin Matte Eyeliner

When going for drama, I use a wet brush to apply this power eyeliner.

Alima Pure – Luminous Shimmer Eye Shadow

 I like Meringue for a dreamy light eye or Smoke for a sultry look.

Jane Iredale – 24-Karat Gold Dust

This comes out for special occasions—brushed on cheekbones and neck/cheeks/shoulders.

Primitive Natural Makeup – Lip Gloss

Creamy and shiny—and not sticky. I wear Rio alone for a soft red or apply it over red lipstick.

Primitive Natural Makeup – Lipstick

My red of choice is Belize, which has  a touch of berry and feels bold but not severe.

DIY Face Scrub: Another Kind of Coffee Pick-Me-Up

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I like to reuse and repurpose as much as possible, which makes this DIY coffee and honey facial even better. I simply take used coffee grounds and add honey, then gently pat the sticky mixture on my face and let it sit for about five minutes. Over the kitchen sink, I then gently massage with two fingers using a circular motion on my cheeks, chin, and forehead, avoiding the delicate eye area. When washed off, skin is soft and glowy.

Raid Your Kitchen for DIY Hair Care

Originally published (slightly edited version) on the Green Beauty Team website

Many of the same all-natural and good-for-you ingredients in your fridge and pantry are also healthy and effective applications for your hair. When tending to your tresses, here are some DIY hair care products you can make with common ingredients from your kitchen. Good enough to eat? You bet: Ingredients listed in the concoctions below are edible.

Heavy-Duty Conditioner: When you know you’ll be hanging around the house for an hour or two, try a homemade conditioning treatment using coconut oil or olive oil as a conditioner. Simply fill your palms with oil and apply to dry hair, section by section. Pull back into a ponytail or braid and let soak. If you feel the need to cover your hair, try a hot towel or a reusable shower cap, but try to avoid wasteful plastic wrap. If coconut oil is your elixir of choice, you can leave it in when you’re going out. I simply slick my hair back into a low, sleek and slick ponytail. Regardless of which oil you use, you’ll want to shampoo well to rinse out the oil. Be sure to use a gentle shampoo free of astringent ingredients, so you don’t unwittingly dry out your hair all over again.
Quick Conditioner: If you’re short on time, but desperately need a moisture boost, apply a small amount of olive oil on a comb to wet or dry hair and leave it in. Another quick conditioning pick-up: “Tip one back” in the shower and try the age-old trick of rinsing beer through just-shampooed hair.
Conditioning Hair Mask: Avocados, mayonnaise, and eggs are well-known conditioners. Mash up a mixture of any combination of these emollient ingredients and massage into dry hair for 30 minutes, then wash out. It’s messy, but you can contain it all with a towel or shower cap.
Beach Hair Spray: For DIY beach hair spray, blend distilled water, coconut oil, and sea salt in a spray bottle. Feel free to eyeball the proportions.  I use a ½ cup of water, 1 teaspoon coconut oil, and 1-2 tablespoons of sea salt. Shake well before spraying to dry or wet hair. Then, scrunch and twirl away for more body. (I boil Brita-filtered water to make my own distilled water.)
Sexy Bed-Head Hair: The trouble with the bed-head look is that no one really wants to show off greasy roots. The best way around this is to apply coconut oil to the middle and ends of your hair, staying away from the scalp. To get this look with squeaky clean hair, apply a small amount of coconut oil, twist and scrunch hair until messed up to your liking.
Greasy Roots Controller: We’ve all had those days between shampooing when our hair maintains good form but our roots look a little too oily. So many of the dry shampoos on supermarket shelves contain artificial and toxic ingredients worth avoiding, even if the idea is a good one. Try making your own dry shampoo to use on greasy roots with corn starch, which soaks up the oil. That’s right — just corn starch. Apply with fingertips to your scalp and rub or comb through until the powder disappears.
Flyaway Controller: Rub palms with the barest amount of coconut or olive oil, and gently smooth those out-of-control hairs into submission.
Dry Ends Controller: Apply a small amount of coconut oil or olive oil to the ends of dried-out hair, wet or dry.
Lifeless Hair and Dandruff: To remove product build-up or treat a flaky scalp, rinse hair with apple cider vinegar. To breathe life into your tresses, apply to hair only. To control flaking, start at the scalp working your way through to the ends. (Don’t worry — the vinegar smell doesn’t linger.)

Safe Fake Bake

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I came back from a week’s vacation that included a lot of quality beach time. Like I always do, I lathered up with sunscreen and wore hats to keep my face protected. But when a coworker commented on my tan, I delighted in telling her it was “faux.” My sunny complexion comes from using Alima Pure’s bronzer in Maracaibo, with a touch of Vapour Beauty’s Aura Multi-Use Blush in Spark on the apples of my cheeks. Easy, non-toxic, and “naturally” glowy.

Better Together: Pink Lips

It’s Spring! My girlie-girl way to embrace the season is with a pick-me-up pink from combining two Jane Iredale lip products: LipColour in Sabrina and PureGloss in Sugar Plum (just a dab of gloss for an extra punch and hint of shine). Bonus: the brand is trusted for creating non-toxic beauty products and the lipstick is made with SPF 18.

Better Red Lips for the Red Carpet (or Right Now)

Watching the red carpet arrivals for the Oscars tonight, a friend commented on the red lips of an actress, wondering aloud about the chemicals in her lipstick. I was quick to point out that there are plenty of red lip products available that are safer to wear — those made without ingredients that are harmful to you (because, come on, you know you end up eating a lot of that lip color….). My favorite green beauty choice for red lips is RMS Beauty’s Lip2Cheek in Rapture — good as a barely-there light stain or for a full-on deep and dramatic red. Either way, it can be perked up when topped with a tiny bit of Jane Iredale’s PureGloss in tourmaline (it looks pink in the tube but goes on clear with a bit of shimmer). If I want a full red lip that’s softer and on the tomato side of the spectrum, I go with Jane Iredale’s LipColour (lipstick) in Nicole, which is super-moist and made with SPF 18. Best of all, these products are from companies committed to making makeup more responsibly — better for you and the environment. (For more on these products and others, check EWG’s Skin Deep for ingredients and safety ratings.)

The Right Pink

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but you probably know that already. You’ve seen the pink ribbons on products and on apparel. If you watch NFL football, you’ve even seen players wearing pink shoes, gloves, and caps. Hoorah for pink! I will cheer from the sidelines with pink pom-poms at efforts to raise awareness and research funds for a dreadful disease that affects far too many.

But here’s where I draw the line. So many of cosmetics being sold to women with pink ribbons stamped on the packaging contain toxic ingredients on the inside — and some of them are carcinogens. I want to applaud Avon, Revlon, Estee Lauder and other companies for what they are doing to raise awareness — and millions of dollars for research to find a cure for this disease — but not nearly as much as I want to sit their executives down in a room and ask, “What the f#$%?” Or, maybe I would hold it together and take a more calm approach: “Why are you selling products with harmful toxins, including carcinogens, when you know you can make safer products — when, in fact, so many other cosmetic companies are already making high-quality products without the toxins?”

That’s right. The good news in this rant is that there are companies making personal care products and cosmetics with safer ingredients. I use them. I don’t miss the makeup I previously used, before finding out about the dangers hidden in those tubes, bottles, jars, and compacts. I don’t feel like I’m compromising by using the better-for-you choices. You can also look up individual products to see how they rank for safety at the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.

And the practice of the other companies fooling consumers into thinking a product with a pink ribbon stamped on it is a good one? It’s know as “pink-washing” and it’s disheartening (more on that here, from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics). But we all make choices with our wallets. Here is one: Would rather buy a lip gloss from a company that knowingly uses harmful ingredients (including known or suspected carcinogens) to make its products or from a company making lip gloss with safer ingredients? I always like to support the good guys (and girls).

Added: Support the Safe Cosmetics Act.