I realize that this post is too little too late for the Sephora VIB Rouge sale, BUT 20% off for VIB’s & 15% off for Beauty Insiders begins on November 10th and goes through the 15th, so hopefully this Sephora Green Beauty Gift Guide will help out some of you with your Christmas shopping lists!
Before I share my clean and non-toxic Sephora picks though, I want to include a little disclaimer about Sephora’s clean beauty offerings. Just like anywhere else, it’s important to do your own research as retailers such as Sephora have a tendency to “greenwash”, or advertise certain products and lines as cleaner than they actually are. I haven’t shared anything on this list that I wouldn’t personally use myself, but I always encourage you to take charge of your own choices and double check ingredient lists before purchasing and gifting.
Sephora is a bit behind in the green beauty movement and they don’t have all that many truly clean brands to offer, but I’ve managed to round up my favorites in this post. There is a good mix of small “stocking stuffer” gifts, as well as cute sets that could be gifted to people of all ages, genders, and skin types & tones. I’d also like to note that there are a handful of clean beauty boutiques with online stores, like Be Pure Beauty, who I prefer to support over large retailers like Sephora when possible. BUT, I’m also realistic and realize that many people have a hard time buying high-end cosmetics at the full retail price. The Sephora holiday sale is not only a great time to buy gifts for others, but also to stock up on products for yourself since this is the most significant discount they will offer to those in their VIB Rouge and VIB programs all year! Let me know what’s in your cart in the comments!
One item that has been on my Sephora wish list for an eternity has been a silk Slip pillowcase. Sleeping on silk has many beautifying benefits. It’s a proactive approach to anti-aging, as cotton tends to be rough on delicate facial skin and worsens wrinkles over a life-time. Cotton cases also tangle hair, while silk pillowcases leave it softer and, well, silkier. Not only does this exclusive set have a silk Slip pillowcase, but it also includes a silk Slip eye-mask, making it the perfect gift for providing plenty of long winter’s naps.
The Beauty Chef, a super-food supplement brand, created this “glow” formula to heal skin from the inside out with the philosophy that a healthy digestive system will contribute to visible health and radiance. “GLOW contains skin-protective antioxidants and phytonutrients including vitamin C for collagen formation, normal immune function, and to help protect cells from oxidative stress, as well as zinc to help maintain healthy hair, skin, and nails.”
A reincarnation of those dated plastic shower caps that never really kept your hair dry, the Shhhowercap is not only a useful product to have in between washes, but also a fashion-forward turban. At $43 it is washable and intended for years of use, unlike it’s disposable predecessor. This a useful and fun gift for your eco-friendly friend or anyone you know who is oil-training their hair and/or skips washes on a regular basis.
This is the perfect example of a universal green beauty gift. It features Herbivore’s exfoliating Coco Rose Body Polish, hydrating Rose Hibiscus Face Mist, and moisturizing Coco Rose Lip Balm. Perfect for friends, family, or even yourself, this set includes some of Herbivore’s most coveted products, plus its housed in the cutest little box that’s all ready to be wrapped up.
A super cute stocking stuffer available in several colors, these Invisibobble hair ties are pure magic! They truly provide a traceless hold, eliminating the ring around your tresses that elastics tend to leave. They don’t work in every situation (I trade them in for regular elastics when working out), but they are great tool to preserve your style, which is especially important for those of us who skip washes. They’re also exceptional at creating messy buns with the help of a few bobby pins.
This one is a bit of a splurge, but it’s a great option for anyone you’re hoping to pamper this holiday season. It features three FULL SIZE Tata Harper masks including the Resurfacing Mask, Purifying Mask, and Honey Blossom Resurfacing Mask. This set is not only great introduction to Tata Harper, but also to the technique of multi-masking.
I think many people begin their holistic health journeys first with alternative medicine and functional nutrition, then start switching out their conventional products for cleaner ones. I was the opposite. I was introduced to green beauty in the fall of 2016, and after using cleaner products externally for a couple of months, I decided to wonder if I should take the same natural and holistic approach with my internal ongoing health problems, which included;
A battle with chronic sinusitis I had been fighting for nearly two years, which entailed regular recurring sinus infections even after having an invasive procedure which my ENT doctor told me would correct the problem, and then loaded me up with antibiotics when it didn’t.
Seasonal allergies which had become year-round allergies
10+ years of struggling with acne, even after finally going on the Pill nearly two years prior after I was told at age 15 by my dermatologist that the only other option to clear my skin was to “regulate my hormones” by ingesting synthetic ones
Chronic bloat and fatigue
Recent episodes of crippling anxiety and depression
I made an appointment with Dr. Weber of Carolina Clinic of Natural Medicine in January and was pleasantly surprised when he came up with a plan of action to tackle not only these symptoms, but also to correct and reverse the cause of them. Here are the five lifestyle changes prescribed by my naturopathic doctor; adopting a gluten-free, dairy-free, low-sugar diet, incorporating protein powder regularly to compensate for the lack of meat in my current diet, combating fatigue by nurturing adrenals, eliminating symptoms from chronic conditions such as acne and chronic sinusitis and allergies, and quitting synthetic birth control. Keep reading for a little insight into how these changes were implemented.
Adhering to a Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free/Low-Sugar Diet
When I visited Dr. Weber, many of my symptoms were indicators of intolerances to dairy, gluten & refined sugar, which were very prominent in my diet at the time. Some side effects these ingredients caused in my body included Keratosis Pilaris (chicken skin) on my upper arms, acne, a severe and never-ending battle with Sinusitis, lack of energy & extreme fatigue, and even anxiety and depression. He recommended that I completely remove these three problematic ingredients from my diet to see if these symptoms improved- they did. 10 months later, 95% of the time, I’m still sticking to no dairy or gluten or refined sugar and I’ve never felt better.
Incorporating Protein Powder
Plant-based protein powder is essential for vegans, vegetarians, or anyone looking to cut down on meat consumption (which should be all of us!). Before I visited Dr. Weber, I had all but eliminated meat from my diet, sourcing protein primarily from dairy products. My naturopathic doctor recommended that I regularly rely on a high-quality, plant-based protein powder, like Thorne Medi-Clear SGS. I’ve since used Aloha and Philosophie, too. I try to incorporate these powders into my diet every day, adding them to smoothies, (coconut) yogurt, and oatmeal. I prefer to use them for breakfast, as they’re usually vanilla or chocolate flavored. Even though a plant-based diet can sustain herbivores, protein-powder is a staple, especially if you’re just transitioning to vegetarian or veganism and your body has become accustomed to an abundance of protein.
Balancing Hormones and Nurturing Adrenals to Increase Energy
Although I was working out regularly before visiting Dr. Weber, I was always exhausted. Cutting gluten and dairy played a large part in improving my adrenal fatigue, but I also take some supplements like Omega 3 (since I don’t eat much salmon- a natural source of O3) and Vitamin D (took a large dose for one month to increase the vitamin in my blood levels), which play a huge part in increasing energy. I usually alternate between weight training and yoga at the gym, depending on how I feel. Now, I am usually fully rested after 6 hours of sleep and so long as I maintain blood sugar regulation, I don’t normally experience that dreaded 3 P.M. crash.
Alleviating Symptoms from Chronic Illnesses
The main reason for my visit to Dr. Weber’s office was to find a solution for my chronic sinusitis, a battle I had been fighting for about two years, even after having an invasive surgical procedure that was supposed to fix it. During my long journey of untreated sinus infections, which eventually left me with a case of chronic sinusitis and a cyst in one of my sinus cavities, my primary physician referred me to an allergy doctor. I had always had severe seasonal allergies in the spring, but over the previous couple of years they had extended to continue throughout multiple seasons and allergy immunotherapy was recommended, treatment that I was still receiving prior to my visit with Dr. Weber. He was confident that the diet & lifestyle changes I was making would eliminate my dependance on allergy shots. Now, the sinus infections and chronic allergies that once plagued me are all but obsolete. I do get the occasional sinus infection, but they’re no longer back to back and I now utilize practices such as acupuncture & sinus rinses to alleviate them naturally.
Quitting the Pill
Struggling with acne for practically my entire teenage and adult life, doctors (primary care, dermatologists, and gynecologists) had always told me birth control was the best option to regulate my hormones and clear my skin. I had been on the pill for a couple of years before my visit with Dr. Weber and it was obvious that taking synthetic hormones wasn’t improving my acne at all. And although it didn’t alter the regularity of my periods initially, they became more sporadic and less regular over the course of those two years. Because of my issues with anxiety and depression, and my health history (as ovarian cancer runs in my family), he suggested I stop taking hormonal birth control as soon as possible. I’m happy to say that I quit the Pill almost two months ago and traded it in for a copper IUD that doesn’t compromise the harmony of my endocrine system’s natural functions.
Today I’ll be sharing three reasons to switch to green beauty products. I define “green beauty” as cosmetic and personal care products that are formulated without harmful toxins and synthetic chemicals, and are instead derived primarily from natural sources. It’s been really exciting to watch as so many people are now showing interest in cleaning up their beauty routines! We all have our own personal reasons, but I wanted to share the ones that prompted me to transition to non-toxic and natural.
I think many people begin to transition to green beauty in an effort to safeguard their own (or their children’s) health. As I’ve learned just how much our bodily systems & functions are all connected in the past year, using clean products now seems like a no-brainer. But at first, I wasn’t so sure it was really necessary. A big part of the argument against green beauty is that a lot of the questionable ingredients are only “possible” carcinogens, hormone disruptors, & allergy aggravators (but it’s worth noting that many HAVE been proven to negatively affect your health). My thought process here is this; don’t we have more to be afraid of when we go the conventional route and use chemicals that human-kind has only created in a laboratory within the last few decades? It takes time to definitively prove that these ingredients cause diseases that our country is currently, ironically, being plagued by- such as cancer, and the only ones who can afford to fund studies into their effects on our health are the companies who create these chemicals to formulate their products, which they sell for profit. If we can instead choose products that truly perform and are less likely to harm our body and our planet, then why wouldn’t we go with that option?! Green beauty has come a long way in the last few years and as more people are beginning to question the contents of their medicine cabinets, the market is only going to grow. Working on the retail side of the beauty industry allowed me to try a lot of conventional products and the reason that it was so easy for me to make the switch was because I soon realized that I didn’t have to give up product effectiveness when I transitioned to clean beauty. I love many of my non-toxic products as much or more than my old hazardous holy-grails.
Environmental Concern & Creature Consciousness
Ever seen “squalene” listed on an ingredient list of one of your products??? I bet you’ll never guess from which animal that ingredient has most likely been derived… I’ll give you a hint- it has its own week on Animal Planet. The truth is, the cruelty-free bunny stamp only goes so far in letting you know if a product has really been made “ethically”. And now, with all of the controversies of American and European brands selling in Asia (where in China, animal testing is required by the government which means even if a company has a cruelty-free certification, they allow their products to be tested by a Chinese government organization in order to sell their products in the market), that territory is murkier than the water in which millions of sharks are being slaughtered for our skin-care routines. Unsurprisingly, green beauty goes hand in hand with the protection of the environment. That’s not to say that no company who claims to be “organic and natural” ever implements questionable environmental practices but in general, the green beauty world is much more honest and upfront about whether or not their products are vegan, sustainable, and cruelty-free than the conventional beauty conglomerates. I’ve also noticed that green beauty brands are much more likely to be sensitive to their customers’ allergies and insensitivities, too, leaving out controversial ingredients that many are intolerant to, such as gluten.
Discontinue Support for Dishonest Companies
Much like my rebelling against the American food industry after watching the documentary Food Inc. three years ago, deciding to switch to clean beauty, for me, was less about protecting my own health and more about not wanting to support such a deceitful industry any longer. When I first discovered the truth about the dirty ingredients in every single product I used to use, I felt betrayed. All of those years obsessing over gorgeous packaging and the latest and greatest palettes, I was only looking on the surface and didn’t see the ugly truth- that these chemicals we’re slathering all over our bodies day in and day out affect everything from our skin, our allergies, our hormones, our fertility, and even our risk for developing cancer. Much like how the food industry markets to children by tactics such as plastering the latest cartoon characters on their nutritionally devoid processed crap, I was honestly disgusted at the thought of how many teens and young people are being exposed to these horrible chemicals at such a young age. Cigarettes, by law, must have a health warning on the package and you can’t purchase a pack until you’re 18. Yet a 12 year old can walk into a drugstore and buy a liquid lipstick laden with health-harming chemicals that she’ll inherently be ingesting. I’m sure by now you’re thinking, where the heck is the FDA?! Good question. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) sums up the FDA’s role in the cosmetics industry quite nicely,
“the personal care products industry remains largely unregulated. The FDA does not even require safety testing of ingredients in personal care products before they are used. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has limited authority to regulate cosmetics, our current laws leave them powerless to screen for chemicals that have been linked to cancer, harm to the reproductive system in both men and women, and severe allergies, among other health effects. The federal law designed to ensure that personal care products are safe has remained largely unchanged since 1938.”
Whether you’ve made a commitment to go green or are still discovering natural beauty, I’d love to hear why you have made the switch or why you’re considering it! Leave a comment below sharing your biggest reason to clean up your routine!
P.S. If you’re here for fashion content, read last week’s post where I made a pretty big blog announcement!