Meet Alex, a young teacher trying to make a clean routine work on her teacher’s salary. Sounds like she’s doing awesome. Thanks for this super candid and awesome routine!

Name: Alex

Age: 26

Profession: Teacher (Fourth grade…an awesome age but not easy!)

Weather: Hot, humid Central Florida. We do experience a nice cold front or two in the winter.

Hair: Long, fairly thick, wavy…straight…wavy, depends on the day! Oh, and very oily.  The humidity is not my friend but what can you do?

Skin: Fair and pinkish, on the oily side. I tend to break out occasionally in random areas (usually stress-related). These breakouts have diminished since I’ve cleaned up my routine. I still tend to get your standard tiny blemishes in and around my t-zone and anywhere I consistently touch my face (horrible, very bad, no-good habit!)

Favorite Star: Meryl Streep.  She has such an interesting beauty and way about her!

In the shower…

I start my morning with a nice slathering of raw organic honey on my face. I started using it about six months ago and it has surpassed any store-bought face wash I’ve used! I’ll occasionally mix in a bit of turmeric for some extra anti-bacterial and skin-brightening oomph. I know there are many amazing natural face washes out there but I’m loving the honey a little too much to venture just yet. Whole Foods sells their own awesome organic Wildflower honey for a very reasonable price. I let it sit on my face for a bit and then hop in the shower (if I remember and have a dose of patience, I’ll dry brush as well).  I am currently washing my hair about every other day with Aubrey Organics Blue Chamomile shampoo and Honeysuckle Rose conditioner (conditioner first, then shampoo).  I’m trying to scale it down to once or twice a week but I’m struggling! The grease-ball feeling is holding me back. That and my inability to create a halfway neat-looking updo (any tips for the uncoordinated?)  I’m really wanting to try the Yarok shampoos and conditioners but the price tag is slowing the process…oh, teacher’s salary! I soap up with a Zum Bar…frankincense and myrrh is daydream-inducing but I really enjoy most of their scents.  I’ve yet to try them all. When I shave, I’ll spread some conditioner on my legs. I like coconut oil for shaving but do not love rinsing my razor constantly. If I’m feeling crafty and self-indulgent, I’ll use a homemade coconut oil (virgin and organic) brown sugar, and lemon essential oil scrub. It smells like cake and leaves my skin pretty soft! I love a nice, long shower but do feel guilty about wasting water…such problems I have ;) I usually keep it under ten minutes but I give myself a reprieve on the weekends…ya gotta live!

Outside the shower…

For my face, I moisturize with pure organic rosehip seed oil that I get from a shop back home and a drop or two of essential oil. The rosehip seed oil is great for healing some signs of aging (forehead wrinkles, anyone?) and leaves my skin soft and a little glowy. Depending on my mood, I might use a drop of lavender, pine, rosemary, or tea tree essential oil.  They pretty much all have skin-clearing, anti-bacterial properties so I usually choose based on what I feel like breathing in that morning. Pine should be used very carefully (it needs to be very diluted) as it is very strong. I love the scent, though! It makes me think of living in a charming treehouse in the middle of a redwood forest (my little tree-hugging, hippie fantasy). In fact, I recommend researching any essential oils before they’re used on your skin or taken internally. They can be extremely powerful (I liken them to any topical or ingested medication). Again, if I have the patience, I’ll slather on some coconut oil but I’ve started to look for some clean body lotions that might make that part of my routine more enjoyable. Any suggestions for a truly clean and affordable brand? As you can tell, patience is not a virtue that I’ve yet to possess…I’m hoping a little bit of yoga and meditation might help but I don’t have the patience to start! ;) I’m in the market for a sunscreen…because I don’t use one…because I’m lazy! I want to break the cycle, so all recommendations are welcome. I’m willing to pay a decent price, I just worry about residue and pore-clogging. However, I’m ready to get serious about protection!

Finishing Touches…

About a year ago, I noticed how dependent I was on make-up. I felt so incredibly insecure and unattractive when I didn’t wear it. After some self-reflection, I realized that this was unhealthy and decided to challenge myself to get the heck over it. So, I stopped wearing make-up…sorta. I continued to wear concealer to cover up blemishes and any darkness under my eyes. While I did feel a bit guilty about not fully going for the gold, I knew I was heading in the right direction. Eventually, I ran out of concealer and didn’t buy another! It’s been extremely liberating. I still love make-up but now I use it when I want something a little extra. I love a good cheek stain (I do not know of a clean one) and tinted lip balm! I currently use Burt’s Bees in Red Dahlia for a pop of color or Sprout’s peppermint balm for a bit of shine (it does not have a color). I’m looking forward to trying other tinted balms like Alima’s and Badger’s in the future.  I’ll also get around to purchasing the RMS Living Luminizer (how could I not? You all rave!).  I run a brush through my hair and walk out the door. Right now, I spritz on a bit of Lotus Wei’s Infinite Love before I get to work.  I can’t say I always look put together but I also can’t say that I look too shabby!  My students don’t seem to mind either way so, that’s a plus! It’s taken a while to accept my body and face as they are. Being kind to myself and discovering truly healthy and nurturing food, drink, and beauty care products brings me closer every day. I can’t say that I don’t want to crack my mirror in half on some mornings but, overall, I try to focus on all of the god-given beauty both inside and outside of me. There’s a lot to admire on this big, old planet and there’s nothing more gorgeous than a man, woman, or child who appreciates that with a big smile, a hearty laugh, and a good dose of compassion.

While some of you could care less what models use on their skin—they’re just genetic jackpot winners, right?—I actually think these women have a lot of insight on the subject.

Models are the ultimate guinea pigs: Day in and out, products of all stripes are piled onto their hair and faces. This means several things: They get to test everything out; they have access to experts; and they actually have to work harder than most of us to try to maintain some kind of balance when they’re not shooting and strutting.

So I was not surprised to see that several of the models in a post from Elle about Model Skin Secrets sited naturals and oils as the ultimate in skincare.

Plant oils seem especially popular among this set. Are you a plant-oil convert yet? And if  so, which do you use: argan, coconut, jojoba? See any other products you love here?

Without further ado, the natural picks of these natural-born beauties…

“I like Dr. Hauschka’s Rose Day Cream because it’s chemical-free—I think using clean, organic ingredients on your skin really helps it. The Cleansing Milk and Cleansing Cream are also very good. I’m a huge Dr. Hauschka fan; I’ve been using their products for a couple years

Lakshmi Menon

“I actually just discovered Suki—it’s an organic line that you can buy at Whole Foods and health stores. I use their soap and moisturizing oil—facial oil is my new thing!” Ginta Lapina

“I got really lucky with my skin—I don’t have to do a lot with it. But Caudalie has this Beauty Elixir—it’s just water with some essential oils mixed in—and it’s so nice.”

Arizona Muse

“I like argan oil—when you put it on before you go to bed, you wake up with baby skin! Really soft baby skin.” —Anais Pouliot

“During Fashion Week I use the Carrot Butter Cleanser from Organic Pharmacy to remove my makeup. It’s moisturizing and takes off everything, even waterproof mascara—it cleanses really deep.”

Josephine Skriver

“For removing my mascara, I like using coconut oil. As a moisturizer, I like Dr. Alkaites’ cream or Bulgarian rose oil—you know, things that are organic and natural for the skin, and won’t just sit on it.” —Karolina Kurkova

Spoken like true clean girls! Do you share any favorites with these ladies?


The other day we announced an open call to help beef up our Morning Routines…Exposed! series and, well… Ask and you shall receive, I guess! We got so many responses that we created a special folder for all of them, and we invite you to keep them coming (especially if you are a guy, since we know naturals has a bit of a boy problem,* and we’ve only gotten one of those so far). Now, without further ado, meet M.

Name: M (I’m male)
Age
: 32
Current weather
: Cold and rainy Toronto
Hair
: Short
Skin
: Acne-prone, but oily and dehydrated

Before the shower….
I shave with an electric corded razor (no battery = no harm to the environment when disposing) and I use an organic cornstarch-based powder from Hugo Naturals before shaving. The powder dries whiskers down so the electric razor can do its thing. Humidity + electric razor usually equals razor burn and missed patches. Most commercial powders sold for this purpose are talc (yuck) and fragranced-filled (double yuck) so I gave the Hugo Naturals powder a try and I like it. Works great and washes right off in the shower. Once or twice a week I also use a body brush to exfoliate.
In the shower…
I like Vanicream Cleansing Bar or A-Derma Soap-free Dermatological Bar w/ Oat Milk.  I have very hard water, so real soap tends to not foam and turn into scum here. If I’m somewhere with nice soft water, I prefer to use Whole Foods 365 brand fragrance-free glycerin soap or any other pure clear fragrance-free glycerin soap (a Canadian company called The Soap Works does a nice one from vegetable glycerin). I only wash my hair a few times a week and use a Rx dandruff shampoo for that, but mostly go water only.
Outside the shower…

I use alcohol-free witch hazel (Garden of Wisdom brand, which is online only, or the more ubiquitous Thayers Fragrance-Free Alcohol-free Witch Hazel). The key elements for me are a) no alcohol and b) no fragrance. I also use organic grapeseed oil mixed together in palm of my hand and applied with both hands.  For sunscreen, I like BurnOut Clean & Clear SPF 32 (zinc oxide only). I try to use this most days.

Finishing touches…
I mostly don’t wear cologne, but I like Pacifica’s Mediterranean Fig, which is pretty gender neutral. On my hair I use Kiss My Face Upper Management Styling Gel when I’m off to work…but most days a bit of grapeseed oil will keep it in place nicely.

Now weigh in, people. Have you used any of the products M uses? Any other recommendations for him? I’ll say I was intrigued by the powder before shaving thing. I didn’t know people did that!

Image of Richard Burton getting his hair combed by Elizabeth Taylor via

* We promise that at some point soon the boysturizer reviews will come.

25

How Big Can This Natural Beauty Thing Get?

When I was in Texas last month for SXSW Eco, I did all kinds of fun things: I ate tacos, visited our friends at W3LL People, met up with writer friends, stayed up way too late then woke early to attend some really interesting (and dismaying) discussions about our burning planet…

Being the natural beauty dork I am, though, another highlight was my impromptu visit to Whole Foods’ 80,000 square foot flagship near downtown Austin. This is not just a love letter to Whole Foods, though. Hear me out…

Anyone who’s read the book or the blog will know we love Whole Body, sure. We admire their tough organic standards, and how widely available they’ve made safe, high-quality beauty choices. We like their team, and their scale. But because Whole Bodys differ from region to region, and store to store, you sort of never know what you’re going to find when you visit one. Here in New York, the WB section at Columbus Circle, for instance, is gorgeously laid out, and there’s a nice selection of makeup to play with. At Union Square, my go-to because I tend to work out and play in the lower quadrants of the city, the makeup is crammed in hallway. I still love it, don’t get me wrong, but the shopping experience matters. And if we want to bring organic beauty out of the hippie fringes, nice-looking stores—like Evolue in Los Angeles, and the Apothecary at ABC Home here in New York—are a must.

Of course, small shops devoted to natural beauty are few and far between—and understandably. They’re expensive and the demand for organic beauty products in this kind of setting needs to catch up with the supply. We know that anyone who switches to natural beauty sees their life and their skin and their hair transform. It happened to us, and our friends, our moms and our boyfriends. And we get letters from people all the time telling us as much. Of course, spreading the message is hard—and changing people’s buying habits even harder.

There’s still so much the average American shampoo-buyer doesn’t know about her products—and it’s going to be hard for her to learn if her only options are the confusing, greenwashed aisles of pharmacies.

That’s why we think everyone should read our book, or books like it. And it’s also why we want to see natural beauty scaled way, way up.

When we were writing the book, we had fantasies about curating Sephora’s naturals section: How great would it be, we thought, if you could go in to any Sephora and know with confidence that the products with a green leaf on it (or whatever) had actually been vetted by people informed and passionate about ingredient safety—and effectiveness?

Of course we like the little guys best. We want to support small retailers, several of which are online, and are our favorites—there’s Spirit Beauty Lounge, Nubonau, Nature of Beauty and others. We will continue to support them first and foremost, but if this natural beauty thing is going to get really big, exposure is key. Call me pie-in-the-sky, but we want to see safe, effective and appealing options made available, at reasonable prices, to women and men all over the country, too.

Which bring me to Austin. What blew my mind, and I texted Alexandra as much when I was there, is that I finally saw in person the potential for this whole natural beauty thing—at scale. Here is a giant store (really, it’s almost obscenely big) with a zillion kinds of kale chips and organic quinoa and chickens who lived better lives than we do, and front and center—not as an afterthought, and not shoved in a corner—was a gigantic section, beautifully laid out, well lit with samples galore, teeming with natural and organic beauty products we can feel good about.

I’m not saying Whole Foods is the answer, though it’s certainly part of it. It showed me what was possible.

Now we’d like to hear from you. What do you think natural beauty movement needs in order to grow? More stores? More education? And if the latter, how do you propose we all go about it?

Image via

When my sister finds a hair product she loves she’s the type to seriously stockpile—I’m talking supplies for months! She’s no hoarder, though: As fellow curlies can attest, there’s just nothing worse than running out of your formula. It’s a habit that’s only intensified since she went clean, given that certain products aren’t easily found up in Canada. Knowing this, and also that we would be sharing a bathroom on a recent visit to our parents’ house, I opted to travel sans hair product.

I was surprised—but also excited—to see that she’d recently taken up with the new Harmonic Conditioner from Intelligent Nutrients. I was also surprised—but excited—when I read the ingredients label: The phenoxyethanol is gone! (The old formula is still out there though, so be sure to doublecheck when purchasing… That’s the update.)

See, we’d steered clear of this line at first because it contained the ever-controversial phenoxyethanol. We have nothing but the highest regard for Horst Rechelbacher—founder of Aveda, current head honcho at Intelligent Nutrients, and all-around genius; the man practically starred in our book! So we figured he had his reasons for going with phenoxyethanol and that we’d just have to live without this line…

Alas, good news for everyone: it’s out! I’m not entirely sure when they reformulated but phenoxyethanol wasn’t listed on my sister’s bottle, nor is it on their site. What’s more is that I absolutely loved the conditioner: It was just the right thickness for my taste, smelled great, and detangled brilliantly. At $24 it’s not exactly a steal, but it’s a big bottle and I think it will complement my more expensive but still beloved Rare Elements. I’ve copped to an expensive conditioner habit in the past—being that it’s pretty much my only hair product most days.

For the same reason (dirty hair) I also cannot report on the shampoo. We’ll have to get Siobhan to try it, but in the meantime: have any of you given it a whirl? What about the conditioner? Or were you, too, holding back on this?

If you’re wanting to try the line, you can often find Intelligent Nutrients products at Whole Foods (also know as our Sephora) and it’s available at NuboNau as well—regular partners in our Friday Deal bonanzas. Both NuboNau and the IN store also ship to Canada, just in case you’re wondering. :)

Image via Intelligent Nutrients