Going Organic

This is a baby-steps challenge of sorts. After reading this post by Vanessa at Green Ness, I’m determined to switch to organic personal care products. Over the past few decades, I’ve tried to buy products that don’t test on animals and that practice fair trade and are good for the environment, but it seems I’ve put my health at the end of the list of these purchasing considerations. Because of a few changes in my overall health picture as I get older, I’m more determined than ever not to buy products that have been linked to cancer.

So this is a baby steps challenge, but I’m giving myself the rest of the year instead of one month. To be honest, I simply can’t afford to replace everything all at once. So I’ll be replacing products as they run out. And let me tell you, some of them are going to be hard to give up. I’m very attached to a few. It’s taken me years to find things that work for me, and I hate the trial-and-error process that’s ahead. It’s bound to yield some waste. But it must be done, so ONWARD!

Here’s the list of what I need to replace:

Shampoo– I use Paul Mitchell, and have for over 20 years. I don’t think it’s easy to find organic shampoo, because the ingredient that makes it suds up is the toxic one.

Sunscreen– I found one I love about fifteen years ago, and it’s going to be tough to give up because it works so well, is non-greasy, and doesn’t show. It’s called Peter Thomas Roth and unfortunately it contains some of the dreaded parabens.

Moisturizer– I use Jergen’s body lotion, Bioelements facial moisturizer, and Clarins hand cream. I’m pretty sure they all have to go.

Makeup– I don’t wear much makeup, just lipstick and sometimes eye shadow and eyeliner. I’ve been using Clinique for decades, but I don’t think they’re organic.

Soap– We use Yardley for every day.

Deodorant– I switched to Tom’s of Maine years ago and it works fine for me. I know it doesn’t for a lot of people, so I guess I’m lucky. This is one item I don’t need to replace.

I used to buy more products from Origins, and I still use some of their facial cleansers and a few other items. I think I’ll see what else I can find there, their prices are pretty reasonable. I’m also going to investigate Aveda, which I’ve flirted with a bit in the past. And I’m really excited about a brand that’s new to me called Weleda. They’ve got a great all-natural philosophy and their products don’t seem to be exorbitantly expensive. But I can’t recommend it until I try it. I’ve also just checked online and learned that L’Occitane is organic, and I’ve always loved their hand cream as a splurge. I especially adore it when it’s a gift, because it’s hardly a frugal purchase.

Do you use organic personal care products? PLEASE share your favorites with us in the Comments section. I could use recommmendations in any of the above areas, and I’m sure we’ll all benefit from each other’s research and experience. I’m particularly interested in finding a good facial sunscreen that’s not greasy, at least 30 SPF. And I’ll report on my progress as I slowly replace my bathroom drawers and cabinets.


  1. A.J. says

    I gave up shampoo at the start of the year, and it's been tricky finding a combination that works for my hair. I used baking soda to wash and an apple cider vinegar rinse for a while. Now I'm using Dr. Bronner's Tea Tree Organic Bar Soap to wash and Yes to Carrots Mud Conditioner and I'm a lot happier with the results so far. I believe that Dr. Bonner's also has a line of lotion and hair products out now, but I haven't tried them.

    For my face wash, lotion and sunscreen I usually just buy what's organic and on sale at the natural food store because I haven't found anything I really love yet. Although I absolutely love Origins Organic Toner.

    Thanks for writing about this, and good luck! :)

  2. Jenni says

    I'll be waiting to see what products you come up with! That's a tough one to make the switch on. I recommend checking out the online handmade collection of stores called Etsy. http://www.etsy.com I've been purchasing my soap there now and it's delightful. I found a great vendor out of Portland, Or..called DennisAnderson. I know you can find make up and other bath and body products, even to the point of the product being 'vegan'. It's amazing what is on there! Good Luck!

  3. t says

    I use Giovanni lotion…it is the absolute best!! It's about $10 at pretty much all drug stores, Target, Whole Foods, etc. They also make body wash/shampoo/hair products, which are fine, but the lotion is amazing. Occasionally, you can find it on sale, especially at Target, so keep an eye out!

    For my money, I'm content with the couple organic lines of shampoo at drugstores. I forget the name..Organix and ??? $7 each and they frequently seem to be buy one get one at the drugstores. Most stores also have a free rebate attached to the bottle.

    for makeup, try out everydayminerals.com


  4. Kaylen says

    I use Nature Clean body lotion, shampoo and conditioner, Burt's Bees day cream, purifying cleanser and blemish treatment, Badger sunblock, NOW cream deodorant, and kiss my face shaving cream. I buy soap made locally.

    Zinc sunblock is always going to leave some residue, IMO. But it works well.

    They're not all organic, but they all list their ingred

  5. Empire builder says

    Take a look at Brittanie's Thyme. I'll be honest, I'm one of the owners. We are a women-owned company that manufactures USDA certified organic personal care products. Our mission is to broaden the consumer base for organic personal care by maintaining affordable price points while producing effective products using the highest quality ingredients available.

    I think you'll find the prices are fantastic and all of the ingredients are listed (and recognizable). Take a look and let me know what you think: http://www.brittaniesthyme.com
    My email: y.petterson@brittaniesthyme.com

  6. Anonymous says

    I am not sure if you will need to give up Bioelements. It depends on what ingredients you are giving up. They don't contain parabens. You can find all the ingredients in each products on their website.

  7. Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life says

    I think using up what you have is best with beauty products, cleaning supplies and food, and then recycling the containers and making better choices next time. I am not a fan of tossing things into a landfill. That seems just as bad for the environment. It's also a financial waste.

    I recently watched and recommend the documentary, "Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution," which made a very compelling case to buy organic. The cancer rates tied to pesticide use, especially among children, are alarming. One peach grower used 22 different kinds of chemicals, and some farmers won't eat their own food.

  8. Di Hickman says

    Remember suds in shampoo don't clean your hair! Shampoo does not need to foam to clean, total myth. I use Desert Essence

  9. Melonie says

    I use and recommend Badger lip balm, Burt's Bees (I use their baby products for my little guy, but I just saw sunscreen on their website yesterday…they are doing a free lip shimmer or balm with a $25…and you can also order a sample of their new toothpaste – I haven't gotten mine yet obviously since it was only yesterday, but it's an option to consider).

    Check Saffron Rouge (www.saffronrouge.com) for organic products like Weleda and Dr. Hauschka. I placed an order with them a few weeks back and got EXCELLENT customer service. Ordered some Badger lip balms and Dr. Bronner's lotion along with another product… the 3rd item was out of stock and a woman there emailed me right away with the info and suggested alternatives, or the option of just dropping the item. I elected to drop the item, and she updated the order and shipped it out the very next day. They have a discount code going from Organic Spa magazine – drop me a line on my blog if you want it.

  10. Going Green for Mimi says

    My tip is to make sure you check their toxicity rating before buying. Just because they say natural or organic, doesn't mean they are much safer than what you currently use.

    I love Earth Mama Angel Baby products. They have a rating of zero and smell amazing.

  11. Going Green for Mimi says

    One more thing! :) I have EMAB lotion for moms, but honestly, I prefer the baby lotion. I apply the baby lotion daily on myself and my daughter. It smells like a dreamsicle, I love it.

  12. Wanda says

    I recently switched to abba hair care products. They are working very well considering the amount of allergies I have. They are pricey and I can only find them at my hair salon. They do have a website but u cannot order off it.

    Good luck with the rest I use clinique as well and while not organic is the only lotion,make-up I can use without breaking out from allergies.

  13. Diane says

    I discovered L'Occitane when I stayed at a Four Seasons Hotel in Texas. (Fortunately, I was there on business.) It's been my budgeted "splurge" for a few years now. Didn't really know they were organic. Just discovered that they have about a dozen outlet stores scattered around the country. Google it to see if there's one near you. Good luck in your quest!

  14. Georgianne says

    I also use Dr. Bronners shampoo. My daughters complain that it doesn't make their hair feel clean, but I like the peppermint one and it's fine with me. My husband uses the Tea Tree scent. I heard they have a conditioner now, but I haven't seen it in any stores yet. A rock crystal does it for the deodorant and Uncle Harry's tooth powder is great. Takes a few brushes to get used to, but I love it. My daughters bought me some moisturizing cream from Merriweathers (www.merriweathers.com), which is heavenly, but although their site says they're all natural I never did check their ingredients out. My daughter and husband have etsy shops (knitting, and pewter buttons & Navajo spindles — sorry, no health care products), so we buy often from other etsy shops. It's a great resource and a wonderful way to support indie artisans.

  15. Eleanor says

    We made this switch over the past couple of years, and here is what we have found we like:
    Bath soap: Publix carries a pure castille soap; the name eludes me. While it is more expensive than commercial body soaps, it is less expensive than other natural organic soaps.
    Facial Cleanser: I have sensitive skin and I really like Avalon Organics facial cleanser. You can buy it online or at Whole Foods.
    Lotion: we use Burt's Bees, and I have found that the hand and body lotion works for my face, as well.
    Lip balm: again, Burt's Bees.
    Cosmetics: for organic and reasonable prices, I use Physician's formula organic (watch the label, not all products are organic.) Their moisturizing foundation also contains sunscreen SPF 15. I can find it at Walgreens and Target. I also order lipstick and mineral eyes shadows and blush from EyesLipsFace.com. Again make sure you are ordering from the organic line.
    The big surprise: Badger sleep balm. (Badgerbalm.com) LOVE the fragrance, and on a lark, I tried putting it around my eye area at night. In less than 30 days, my crow's feet are gone. AMAZING.

  16. Magdalena says

    Weleda and Tom's of Maine are products I have used, still use. Rosemary Gladstar's Family Herbal has recipes for all kinds of good personal care products. I use olive oil for skin, and no sunscreen – I'm very allergic to most of it. Being Plain, I wear a sunbonnet (made by myself in an afternoon. It's easy.)I don't wear make-up. I liked Burt's Bees back when it was still in Guildford Maine and Burt made stuff in his garage. I'm not sure if it is all organic now.

  17. Karen says

    My suggestion for all of the items you named is Melaleuca products. My husband and I have been using nearly the whole line for the past two years and love everything we try! As far as make-up, Melaleuca carries Nicole Miller which avoids the use of harsh chemicals such as formaldehyde in lipstick and other products. I would totally recommend the Renew lotion! It is better than anything we've tried (including Eucerin).

    We love the products so much that we recommend them to everyone we know!

  18. Alana says

    If you can find it, Alaffia (based in Washinton) makes an amazing face wash. So does Suki but they are quite expensive. Another cheap "organic" option is using honey to wash your face – it works well, contains lots of antioxidants and vitamins and is natural anti-bacterial.

    I like Aubrey shampoos and conditioners – no weird chemicals.

    A great resource for finding some small indie natural product makers is the Indie Beauty Network – http://www.indiebeauty.com/

    It is definitely difficult to make the complete switch to all natural and organic products but I think its important to change the stuff that stays on your skin vs. the stuff you wash off.

  19. Marie-Josée says

    I didn't read all the posts, because I am so excited about this topic, so here are my recommendations:

    For cosmetics, consider Dr. Hauschka. We have a local t.v. program here called "La Vie en Vert" that had professional make-up artists test their make-up and they made the A-list hands-up. The mascara is awesome.

    I use Skinceuticals products for my skin. They use nutraceuticals, such as vitamin C and E, hyaluronic acid etc. and I don't think they use any of the no-no's.

    I also use squalane oil from Skinbiology as my evening moisturer. It is made from olive oil and absorbs instantly.

    All the natural zinc based sunscreens leave me looking like a geisha, so I have opted for companies, such as La Roche Ponay that use mexoryl, a less toxic agent.

    Deodorant: I mix a bit of baking soda with water and apply it to my underarms and it works better than any natural deodorant I have ever tried.

    Aubrey's Organic's shampoos and conditioners are amazing. I have fine hair that gets greasy after two days, so I shampoo every second day, and this product leaves my hair shiny and full of body.

    I really understand your qualms about the process of finding products that work for you. What a hassle! Hope your search will be quick and not too expensive!

  20. Angela says

    Thank you all so much for your brilliant suggestions! I am going to make a list and start the trial and error right away.

    I really count your recommnedations like those of a good friend. I knew I could count on my readers!

  21. Katie in PA says

    Hi, I'm late to this thread. For sunscreen, consider plain old zinc oxide. It's considered a "physical" sunscreen, instead of a chemical one–it's the basis for the old white smear on lifeguards' noses. You can get zinc oxide in a tube at a pharmacy. I get mine from Paula's Choice.
    For shampoo, Liggett's makes a bar shampoo, so you don't have to throw away plastic containers afterward.

  22. Lomagirl says

    I switched to Tom's of Maine deodorant after reading your post a few weeks ago, and having long worried about the aluminum in regular deodorants. So far, so good.
    I also bought a huge bottle of organic moisterizer, but it just ain't working. My hands are a wreck.

  23. Ellen says

    In experimenting with the compact, I've tried a rock crystal deoderant. Didn't notice much difference, either positive or negative.

    Also bought three different-scented gallons of Dr. Bronner's to use for multiple purposes. The lavender seems great for cleaning, but too strong as a shampoo scent. The eucalyptus has become my staple shampoo, though I find that a good vinegar rinse is required to get it all out. And while I'm using up what I bought, I probably won't buy more, as it doesn't seem better than my old shampoo, and comes out to be just about as expensive. But the eucalyptus fragrance is a great one to wake up to in the morning–refreshing and awakening.

    I haven't gotten any further in evaluating my products. You're inspiring me to do that!

  24. Anonymous says

    Kiss My Face makes nice organic products; I especially like their shampoo and conditioner.

    For cosmetics I liked Body Shop, but the Anita Roddick sold out to a regular cosmetics company, and I'm not sure I will purchase from them again.

  25. Rachel says

    I've been using Alba Botanica sunscreens for a year or two (thank you freebie days at the ski hill!) and I think they are very good… but you do have to carefully apply, or you end up with white streaks.

    Others have mentioned Burt's Bees product line – I have sensitive skin and have never had a problem with any of their products.

    Check the label on organic shampoos… I made the mistake of buying shampoo containing organic corn syrup – completely weighs down and make hair look greasy!

  26. RobbieKay says

    I have actually just begun going down this path myself. Finally checked out the cosmetics database site about a few week ago. Like you, I am just going to replace as I use up. Right now I need SPF moisturizer and eye cream. Got a list of recommendations from the website, but unfortunately haven't been able to find any of the products at either Whole Foods or Fred Meyer's health section (would prefer not to have to order online).

    I have significantly reduced my shampoo usage. A few years ago I realized that my complexion was worse when I used facial cleansers that contained SLSs, so I figure it's probably not great for my scalp, either. I have been able to go as long as 10 weeks without shampoo, just massaging my scalp under the showerhead and occasionally using conditioner. I only know of one deodorant that I don't react to, but I recently tried spraying rubbing alcohol on my pits and it worked just as well. Have been thinking of trying baking soda, too.

    I've been curious if making the change to less toxic products will reduce all my skin sensitivities and breakouts. Your post even got me to toying with the idea of activating my Google blog to chronicle the process as I try to balance low toxicity with effectiveness, budget and earthy-friendly packaging. I have an analytical personality and writing helps me think, so it may be useful for me (especially since I tend to forget which things I've tried and which things I haven't!).

  27. Elizabeth says

    Jason Natural products are great and they're 70 per cent organic – whatever that means. They're inexpensive and their moisturizers really work.

  28. alissa says

    I've been using organic facial skincare products for a long time now, but I'm only just getting into natural deodorants and hair care.

    I would definitely recommend that you look at the ingredients labels on products, as you might find that some brands that say they are organic have only 1% organic ingredients (it's a crime, really), like L'Occitane whose products are really still quite chemical, not natural.

    I love Dr Hauschka, Jurlique, Weleda, 2Nature and I love pure French Green Clay mixed with rose water as a mask…

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