Join me on my journey to clean living as I replace my not-so-clean beauty, skin care, hair care, and cleaning products.
I honestly had two preconceived notions before starting this journey – one, I was going to have to sacrifice health for performance and two, this was going to be extremely expensive “but worth it.” Luckily I was wrong on both counts.
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Why Am I Doing This?
Over the years I have become increasingly health conscious. At a young age I was exposed to organic foods, alternative medicine, and the future harm certain additives can have on our health. What I once thought was a crazy way to live eventually became my norm, as I found success in these things both personally and in the world around me. Fast forward many years- at this point I try to eat mostly organic, local, and grass-fed when I can, I abstain from most food additives when possible, and eat primarily a Paleo diet, focused on eating whole, unprocessed foods. While all of that is wonderful for the inside of my body, this year I felt convicted to take control of my health on the outside. Though I am eating clean and using some clean products – for the most part the things I am using on my body and in our house aren’t so great.
The areas I plan to clean up are my beauty, skin care, hair care, and household cleaning products. Since this is no easy task, as it requires replacing 20+ items in our house, I decided to break this mission apart into phases. Below are the three phases I have broken my journey towards a cleaner household into. After two months, I have successfully completed phase one and you can read more about my thoughts on that below.
My Plan – Three Phases to Clean Living:
- All Facial Care Products – Face Wash, Toner, Serum, Face Lotion, Night Cream, Face Mask, and Makeup Remover Wipes
- Makeup – BB Cream only
- Body wash
- Shampoo and Conditioner
- Laundry Detergent
- Spot Cleaner (For clothes and pet stains)
- Dishwasher Detergent
- Rinse Aid for Dishwasher
- **Already replaced, but important to note: Toothpaste
- **Already replaced, but important to note: Feminine Products
- **In a continuous hunt to find a good replacement: Deodorant
- Makeup – Foundation
- Makeup – Concealer
- Makeup – Brow Gel
- Makeup – Mascara
- Shaving Cream
- Dish Soap
- Hand Soap
- All-Purpose Cleaner
- Other Household Cleaners: Glass Cleaner, Floor Cleaner, and Toilet Bowl Cleaner
- Body moisturizer (I am very inconsistent with using lotion, but if you use this daily, I would replace it first due to it covering most of your body)
- Tanning Oil and Sunscreen
- Eye Makeup Remover
- Dry Shampoo
- My Boyfriend’s Products – Hairspray/Hair Balm, Beard Oil, etc.
- Makeup – Bronzer
- Makeup – Highlighter
- Makeup – Eyeliner
- Makeup – Eye shadow
- Makeup – Lipstick
- Air Fresheners
I know, this seems like a really large and expensive feat. However, I am completing the steps primarily when I run out of an item and would be repurchasing it anyways. Just remember, switching ANYTHING you have to a cleaner product is progress. You absolutely do not need to waste your money throwing everything out and purchasing all clean items at once.
I recommend choosing the items you replace in two ways:
- Buy cleaner versions of items you are low on and need to replace soon anyways
- Buy cleaner versions of products you use daily/on the largest portions of your body
How Did I Choose What to Replace?
I chose to replace my facial care items first, because I knew this was going to be my biggest investment and honestly, I was ok with that. I think most people (women especially) spend a lot of time as they get older focusing on facial care products. I had already spent a lot of money over the years investing in Retinols, anti-aging, and acne products that didn’t work well, so this was an area I was already used to spending in. I figured why not give cleaner products a chance to work, since mainstream products (high-end included) were not working for me. Lucky for me, that investment paid off and I have found the first line of products that actually works. Turns out my skin is very appreciative of the fact that I got rid of the unnecessary chemicals and fragrances. I am so happy with the difference I have seen!
Next, I chose to replace my body wash and hair care products because my skin was constantly breaking out and I already was on a desperate hunt to find something to fix it. Similarly to why I chose facial care products first, I had tried so many mainstream products with no success, so I wanted to finally give something truly cleaner a try. I also chose these items because they affect my entire body and are items I use almost daily. Again, while not perfect – I have seen a definite improvement in my skin since switching to these cleaner products and my hair is pretty fabulous too.
Finally, I chose to replace laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, spot cleaner, and rinse aid because those items affect our skin health and internal health since we use clothes and dishes every single day. We were also running out of both of these products anyways, so it was a perfect time to replace them. I can’t really speak for the changes I’ve seen with these since they are going to be mostly internal, however, I can say these products work BETTER than their non-natural alternatives and that was my biggest concern for those products.
How Did I Select Cleaner Products?
I chose items based on their scores on the Environmental Working Group – EWG. This company gives products a score based on their ingredients – looking at how those ingredients affect your body and the environment. Everything has a rating for its level of concern for causing: cancer, asthma and respiratory issues, skin allergies and irritation, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and negative environmental effects. I tried to choose all products that are EWG certified first or with a 1 or 2, or an A or B rating. I have found that this is a very helpful website for you to check current products you are using or products that you are interested in. If something is not in the database, you can also add the ingredients and it will give you a rating for the product. There is one database for cleaners and another database for skin care and makeup products.
What Did I Try and What Did I Think?
Facial Care – Beautycounter:
Beautycounter – Oh my gosh is it amazing! The hype is real people! My skin is so much better than it’s ever been in the last 15 years. So many skin issues that I have had for half of my life have disappeared or lessened greatly in only TWO MONTHS!! I can’t speak of these products highly enough! Everything I’ve tried so far from this company has been amazing! I am currently using the Countermatch collection, along with the cleansing balm, overnight resurfacing peel, charcoal mask, and brightening oil. I also am using Dew Skin as my BB cream replacement and am really enjoying it. Do you need to buy all of this all at once? Absolutely not, I just felt that if I was going to go for it and see if it truly worked that I was going to GO. FOR. IT. You could easily just purchase a Beautycounter face wash and moisturizer since most people use that daily or for an amazing addition to your current regimen, I would recommend the overnight resurfacing peel and the charcoal face mask. (If you are interested, you can read my more in-depth reviews on the peel and face mask)
I decided to try Puracy for my body wash and hair care replacement because I honestly don’t spend much money currently in either of these areas, so I thought I would start with the lower price point and work my way up. So far, I am really liking these products! After using the shampoo and conditioner, my hair feels extremely clean, light, and soft and it looks great. I also had a dermatitis issue on my scalp for roughly 6 years that has gone away since using this product! I honestly was not expecting that to happen since I have tried all sorts of products and formulas made specifically for those issues and they never worked, so it is incredible to see something that is cleaner clear my stubborn skin issue up! The only negative I will say is my hair is slightly harder to brush right out of the shower. To combat this, I just wait for it to dry (or you could blow dry) and then it brushes out fine. I am guessing this is due to there not being additional additives in it, which I will take as a good thing. I have also noticed my hair stays cleaner much longer and does not get greasy like it did before so I can actually go closer to 4 days without washing it now, as opposed to the 2 days I previously could go. Overall, I am really enjoying using this cleaner alternative to shampoo and conditioner and I definitely plan to continue to use it!
I really like Puracy’s body wash as well; my skin is clearer than it was, the body wash lathers great with a little going a long way, and it smells very good as well. I still have some breakouts, but they are definitely less frequent than they were before. I do know citrus oil can occasionally still be an issue for people with extremely sensitive skin so I will probably try other products in this category just to see, but I am definitely a fan of the Puracy body wash! Also as an added bonus, my boyfriend and I can use the same products, which saves money – previously we had our own body washes and hair care which was way more expensive. If you want to try the body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion (this is the lotion I will be trying first) – Amazon is selling all four as a kit for $39.99 right now, which is a great deal!
Laundry Detergent and Stain Remover – Puracy
I decided to use the Puracy brand again for this and I have been really happy with it so far. A little goes a long way for the detergent which is nice; it takes only two pumps to do laundry VS an entire cup full, so I think this detergent will last us a long time. There is no scent, which doesn’t really bother me, but if I could find something with a natural scent, I would be open to trying it. I also may try a drop of an essential oil in the Puracy detergent, since it works really well and I am liking it a lot. Overall, both the laundry detergent and stain remover work great and have done an excellent job getting our clothes clean without all the extra junk. The stain remover actually works better than Shout, which truly shocked me. The only downside is, I found out afterwards that though Puracy as a brand has very good ratings on EWG (as does their laundry detergent), the stain remover did not have as good of ratings as I hoped. I will probably search for a product with a higher rating (as I am trying to stick to mostly A rated products), but I do highly recommend this as a product that is better for you than Shout (which has an F rating) and still works amazingly well.
Dishwasher Detergent and Rinse Aid – Seventh Generation Powerful Clean 0% Powder and White Vinegar
I decided to use the Seventh Generation Powerful Clean 0% Powder. We don’t use the packs in our dishwasher because we’ve heard they aren’t great for your dishwasher (though I probably would have bought these if I could have) and the gel had a C rating instead of an A, so I opted for the powder instead. Though less convenient, you also get a lot more product with powder than with packs for a much cheaper price. I used this powder as the detergent along with regular white vinegar as the rinse agent. I did a little test with these products and left a lot of food caked on before putting the dishes in the dishwasher. I was shocked when I saw that literally everything came off! Out of all my dishes, only one baking pan was left with a tiny bit of brownie in the corners (which came out very easily with a brush), and everything else was SPOTLESS! I also did a little comparison between our regular Cascade soap and Finish Jet Dry rinse aid and the Seventh Generation powder and vinegar rinse aid. It was unbelievable the difference we saw! Our mainstream washed items had water spots all over them and frankly looked awful and our cleaner alternative washed items had zero spots on them. I left two knives out for my boyfriend to see the difference and he thought I polished the one knife because it was so clean! I highly recommend this dishwasher detergent in combination with regular white vinegar. I am very pleased with how well it cleaned, our dishes have never looked better! If you like the dishwasher packs, I would recommend these – they have an A rating on EWG and should work the same as the powder.
Toothpaste – Uncle Harry’s Tooth Powder:
Though I did not technically replace this during phase one, it must be mentioned. I have used Uncle Harry’s for about 8 years at this point and will never go back! Back in 2012, I found out that I had receding gum lines and was losing a lot of enamel on my teeth that I was told would never come back. (FYI – The dentist and periodontist told me that this was most likely due to hormonal birth control, despite the doctors who prescribed me having never mentioned this as a side effect. It was in their pamphlet on gum disease and everything. Truly shocking.) Anyways, I had to get scaling done for a deep clean and was on the verge of needing surgery to replace part of my gum line. I was desperate at that point to do anything I could to reverse this or help it in anyway. I ended up stumbling across Uncle Harry’s on Amazon and it had amazing reviews with incredible pictures – I was sold! Let me tell you – IT ACTUALLY WORKED! I no longer have gum disease and my gums have remained healthy during the last 8 years. It also helped rebuild enamel onto my teeth in areas that were both extremely sensitive and translucent. I so regret not taking before and after pictures, but I have truly seen an incredible difference from this toothpaste. My teeth are also much whiter from this toothpaste and I haven’t used whitening strips since high school. I have used both their clay toothpaste and recently, their tooth powder, personally I like the tooth powder better, it works just as well, without the very aggressive taste. Warning: this will not taste or feel like normal toothpaste, it was an adjustment and honestly I tried to switch to other cleaner brands like Native instead multiple times in the last 8 years because I didn’t love the taste. However, not a single brand I tried worked as well. Everytime I switched away from Uncle Harry’s I began having sensitivity issues again and my teeth would become discolored and translucent. I HIGHLY recommend this brand to anyone, but especially those with any kind of dental issues – it is truly life changing. I am in love.
So far the best natural deodorant I have found is Native and the cucumber mint is the scent that works best for me. I have also tried Tom’s, Jason’s, Schmidt’s, and mainstream brands without aluminum like Dove and Secret (as well as other brands I am sure I have forgotten). Sadly, none of them worked for me. Schmidt’s worked the best at keeping me dry, but made me break out, so I had to stop using it. Native works best without me breaking out, but is still not quite what I am looking for. A lot of people love Native, so that is currently the best I can suggest; however, I cannot currently recommend it as my favorite deodorant because I will not recommend something I don’t love. I plan on trying Primally Pure next and will report back. Any other suggestions are highly appreciated. 🙂
I have used and liked Seventh Generation Free and Clear, Rael, Honest Brand, and Cora. Primarily you just want to look for something that is made only from organic cotton, free of chemicals (especially those that are hormone disruptors), perfumes, dyes, and bleach. Plant-based/biodegradable applicators are a plus. Most brands are beginning to wake up and have started creating cleaner versions of their products, like Tampax for example sells a free and clear version. I do recommend the brands listed above, but don’t think you really can go wrong here as long as you are avoiding chemicals, fragrances, and bleach.
I honestly had two preconceived notions before starting this journey – one, I was going to have to sacrifice health for performance and two, this was going to be extremely expensive “but worth it.”
Luckily, I actually found the opposite to be true on both ends. The products I have tried from Beautycounter and Puracy both have actually worked better for me than other skin care and hair care products I have tried in the past. The amount of skin issues that have cleared up for me in only one-two months alone is so worth this switch! The cleaning products I’ve tried so far also work better than their chemical-filled alternatives.
I have also found that this isn’t nearly as expensive as I thought for two reasons – one, most of the products actually cost almost the same amount as what I was using before and two, these products have less fillers in them so they actually last way longer. I have had my Beautycounter line for two months now and am only 1/4-1/3 of the way through each product, which means that they will most likely last me 6-8 months. That is much longer than any other product has ever lasted me. Same for the body wash and hair care products – both my boyfriend and I have used them for two months now and they still have about 1/2 left in each bottle. I am also convinced our laundry detergent might last us forever – it does 96 loads a bottle because you only use 2 pumps of this stuff! We have used maybe 1/16 of the bottle in two months.
Overall, I am truly shocked by the difference these small changes have made in my life already. Having severe skin issues cleared up in two months from switching to cleaner products is amazing and also slightly terrifying. This journey has left me to wonder why other companies add so many fillers into their products. I am beginning to believe that many of the issues I was having were actually caused by the ingredients in products I was using. The worst part is – I thought most of them were clean because they said natural on them – oh did I fall for a trap. These past two months have left me so excited and FIRED UP to make all of these cleaner changes in my life! If I can see a physical difference after two months, I can only imagine the difference it is making on the inside and that is SO exciting! Look for my next update on phase two of my journey to cleaner living!
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