Thursday, April 12, 2012

Why Natural & Organic Beauty Products are Important to Me

My story begins at the age of 17.  It was almost summer break during my Junior Year of high school and it was almost time for Senior Pictures and OMG, I had the strangest skin reaction on my lips.  They were swollen, itchy and had fever blisters.  The skin around my mouth looked like it was stained from red kool-aid.  I didn't know what to do.  This had never happened before.  I went to the doctor who asked me what I think I did.  I said, I don't know.  I was out in the sun?  He said, okay then, don't do that and use this prescription for hydra-cortisone.  I had no real answers.  I applied the hydra-cortisone and in time for Senior Picture Day, my lips were less inflamed and I was able to cover up with makeup to look more like myself.
My Senior Pic
During Senior Year of high school, my brother who was 10 years younger than me had been in remission from childhood cancer.  Sadly his rabdomiosarcoma came back in full force.  He was only 7.  I saw him and other children in the pediatric wing of the hospital, so sick, with no known reasons.  Everything I read about childhood cancer said, we don't really know where it comes from.  My logical brain just thought, well how can that be, there must be an answer as to where it came from. I know we will probably never know why or how but this has always been in the back of my mind.  Sadly, my brother passed away in August that summer, just before his 8th birthday.

As time went on, I had more and more of these reactions and they got worse and worse.  I went to a dermatologist who was out of the allergy test for skin reactions so I still had no answers.  I decided to do some tests on my own and finally figured it out...every time I wear a lip balm with SPF in it, my lips swell and have a horrible reaction.  By now I am in my early 20s and did some research on SPF chemicals.  Affordable alternatives were harder to come by back then, at least for a poor college student who lives in the country.  I ended up buying lip balms without SPF and getting Neutrogena's chemical free sunscreen for sensitive skin.

Soon after that, I had a college professor who sent out information packets before taking her course.  She was deathly allergic to "fragrance" and had to send students information about it and what they could and could not wear to her class.  I was able to find some options at that let me get by as needed on Wednesdays when I went to her class.  I noticed that natural products weren't all that bad but they might not have been the right ones for me.  Through her class, I learned a lot about psychology and sexuality (which was the course topic) and also about chemicals in products.  I knew a lot more about "fragrance" and how when it is listed, it can mean so much more than a scent.  Fragrance is an industry term used that can contain many chemicals in one term.

My interest kept growing.  I kept trying out different kinds of makeup and beauty products.  I have always had chronic sinusitis, asthma, sensitive skin, or so I thought. When I went to Grad School, I found a new dermatologist who tested me for skin allergies.  I tested positive for quite a few things and of course, had a horrible reaction to the medical tape that they used to stick the test to my back with.  My poor scratched up back! He gave me information on all the ingredients I reacted to but those ingredients still didn't explain most of my reactions to beauty products and sunscreens.  He declared me to have severe chemical sensitivities.

I eventually saw Bare Escentuals on QVC.  This was in 2001 and finally decided to try it in 2002.  I always wanted to wear makeup but nothing felt right to me.  So many beauty products had sunscreen chemicals in them, even if they didn't have them listed as active sunscreen ingredients.  I grew more and more aware of ingredient lists and what to look for.  I fell in love with mineral makeup as it was a nice light natural form of sunscreen that I could wear on my face. I was so happy when Bare Escentuals removed parabens from their mineral veil and created natural lipsticks and lip glosses. It was right at the time I had decided to go as natural as possible with all of the makeup I wore. Not only that, the acne problem I had developed in my early 20s was gone.  Wow, there is something to this natural stuff.

As time moved on, I grew more and more passionate about going natural and organic.  I learned more and more about what is really in beauty products.  I eventually started a blog all about it.  I started out with a lot of info about Bare Escentuals and other brands like 100% Pure.  I knew most of my readers wore Bare Escentuals since they followed me from forums where I had been a member for a long time.  I also loved their products so I was happy to blog about them.  While their line isn't always 100% natural, the products I use from them are natural or the lower chemical ones in their line and my skin loves them.  I am still quite loyal as they are what really brought me into my love of natural products.  My skin improved, I looked much younger than my age, I felt pretty, I didn't have acne trouble anymore.  Why wouldn't I love it?

Since then, I have discovered so many brands of wonderful natural and organic products.  I love to test them out, get information, and introduce myself.  I love getting to talk to people who work with these products, who share the same passion as me.  I love to learn all about it.  

When it all comes down to it, I do not have sensitive skin, I have sensitive skin when it is exposed to chemicals.  When I use natural and organic beauty products, my skin is considered "normal." I never thought I would hear my skin described that way.  I am about to turn 35 in a few weeks and I feel like I look and feel better than I have since my teens.  I am wearing all natural and organic makeup, using only natural & organic skincare and bath & body products.  If I get a pimple or irritated skin now, I know it is likely due to hormones, stress or a food or environmental reaction and not because of the products I am using on my skin.  I know that my body is free of many chemicals that it was once full of.  I have removed the cause and stopped putting junky chemicals on my body and my health is all the better for it.

Natural and organic products are gaining more and more popularity and I am so excited to see it.  I have discovered so many wonderful products and wonderful people out there who I have learned from.  I don't feel it is my place to try to tell others what to do with their bodies so I don't frown upon those who don't use natural and organic products.  I don't feel the need to lecture and protest.  I simply feel like I am living this lifestyle and want to share with others about it.  I want to help educate people so they may know a little more than they would have before reading what I shared.  I want to help make people think when they pick up that drugstore product full of chemicals.

Though I know, not all products who call themselves natural are truly natural, you can educate yourself enough to be able to read ingredient lists.  You can read books like No More Dirty Looks. You can find great natural brands that are open and honest that you trust and stick with them.  Be your own beauty advocate!

My passion about going all natural and organic is really fueled by the knowledge of how chemicals affect people.  Where do things like severe allergies and sensitivities come from?  Where do things like cancer come from?  I don't want to just accept that these things happen.  I want to do the most to try to prevent these things.  Going all natural is fabulous but going organic is that extra step.  A product might be natural but how do you know if the product was grown without chemicals, was it treated with something or exposed to chemicals somehow?  Going organic can help assure you are exposing yourself to only the highest quality of natural ingredients.  I don't go organic with everything but I try to do organic as much as possible.  I am an earthy Taurus, what can I say?  I love my ingredients from the earth, from nature. When I put natural ingredients on my skin, nails and hair, I glow!

I am not affiliated with this company. I purchased these products myself for personal use unless otherwise noted. My opinion is completely honest no matter how I received any items mentioned on this blog.

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  1. I think it's great that you like to use products that are natural and organic. they're so much better for your skin. I like to use products that are natural, but my reason is that i really try to use them if they haven't been tested on animals. This way I feel good about using a product that's good for me but it's ethical. Love your blog and will strat to follow it!

  2. I have always been intrigued with natural cosmetics but afraid to waste my money on a product that doesn't work well. Looking forward to learning more through your blog :)

  3. Hi Heather. So sorry to hear about your brother. It must have been so hard for you, but I can't even imagine how your parents must have felt.

    But, I can relate to all that "unknown cause for a disease" thing. I have some health problems and all the doctors say that the cause of it is unknown and that is why there is no cure for it yet. I am now trying my best to eat and use only natural and organic foods and products.

    The only problem is that you can't really know if a specific product is organic or not. How do yo know how that farmer grew his tomatoes? Maybe he says he used only natural fertilizer, but then again, people often lie.

    The only way you can be sure of it is if you grow it yourself. In your own garden. And if you're living somewhere in the middle of nowhere, or on Everest, then you can also be sure there is no pollution in the air. :)

    maybe we can't eliminate chemicals from our lives completely, but the more we try, the better. Your blog is a good resource for finding this products, so don't stop what you're doing.

    Wish you a great day!


  4. I decided to use natural organic beauty products at a young age. Like you, I have very sensitive skin. Fortunately, I found this out earlier. Organic beauty products don't irritate my skin and I think they're even more effective than the ones with more chemicals.

  5. I totally agree with you. I often avoid the most popular commercialized brand because I think it's the most chemically-treated amongst all products. I try to use those with natural and organic labels but I guess it is not entirely true. Making homemade products is what I resort into sometimes but it requires time to make them. chicago airbrush


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