It all started with a documentary. I saw the Brave Blue World on TV last year, where celebrities across the globe talked about the biggest environmental crisis is the near future – water. What hit me the most was how much each of us are contributing to making the world’s water reserve toxic and unusable.
So, when I decided that I need to make a switch to greener products, it wasn’t just about a detox for my body, skin and health, but also for every living thing around me. I did not want to add on to the pollutants that were destroying our oceans, the flora around us, and even our own bodies.
I studied ingredients – realising there were good chemicals and pure toxins. There were ingredients that were biodegradable and did wonders for your skin and soul, and some that would kill all plants and even bacteria when it seeps into soil. I learned about cruelty-free products and brands that would use recycled containers.
Come August 2020, I decided to opt for lifestyle choices that would prove to be good for me as well as the environment. Sure, the lifestyle switch came with its own set of challenges, but it was all worth it. I look better & feel better. That’s a big win!
Ingredients to avoid: Parabens, Sulphates, Phthalates, Mercury, Coal tar, Formaldehyde and Lead
Labels to check: Cruelty Free, Greenwashed or Recycled, Alcohol & Toxin Free, Allergy Tested
1. Bath & Body
Challenges: A lot of all-natural brands are expensive, and I couldn’t indulge too much taking my budget constraints into account. Another challenge was finding brands that ticked all my checkpoints, instead of just one or two. Also, I have an oily to combination skin, that made it harder to find products that would suit me.
Solution: I looked first in my kitchen. The perfect skin cleansers turned out to be my grandma’s ubtan recipes – face packs with turmeric, sandalwood, coconut oil and dry fruits. I would crush apricots, add besan to the mix and use it as a scrub. For my hair – I stuck to ‘tried and tested’ yogurt masks.
I still needed a basic shampoo, a natural conditioner, and a body wash. I searched for brands that match my conscience and bought Plum Olive & Macadamia Shampoo, Moroccanoil Treatment Oil, Love Beauty & Planet Murumuru Butter Body Wash.
Challenges: I had exhausted quite a bit of my budget on a luxe hair product (Moroccanoil). I needed nourishing products, but I’ve never had good luck with lotions or moisturizers. I knew that skincare was not all about cosmetics, but beauty from within, so I couldn’t be completely dependent on products.
Solution: Apple Cider Vinegar. I absolutely love St Botanica Apple Cider Vinegar. I mix 2 tbsp of ACV to my first glass of water every morning. It has made a significant change to my skin’s health. I also bought one classic product (instead of many) that nourishes my skin, top to toe – Bio Oil. Best part: I used one bottle for over two and a half months even after daily use.
A weekly regime of mine is to indulge in a homemade fruit mask using yogurt and bananas or strawberries (as available), and sip on a glass of red wine to let the goodness of the ingredients soak deep in.
3. Face Essentials
Challenges: I am prone to acne, blackheads and excess oil. Again, I’ve not had a good experience with creams and lotions before. My pocket limit was further constrained, and I had to buy products that did not exceed the Rs 700 mark.
Solution: I found brands that are within my budget and perfect for my sensitive/oily skin. Over the months, I stocked up on Wow Skincare Vitamin C Face Wash, Dot & Key Water Drenched Moisture Sleeping mask & Serum, and Coco Soul Face Scrub with coconut oil.
I am very lazy and end up skipping everyday skincare rituals. So, my best buy for my face had to be a potted aloe vera plant that detoxes my skin once every week. Also, instead of investing in a separate facial oil, I chose to use Bio Oil on my face as well, and it worked wonders.
Challenges: Not too many brands offer naturally created or completely toxin-free makeup. The ones that are truly good and check off all my boxes are the luxe elite brands like Estée Lauder and Georgio Armani – products that I can’t afford.
Solutions: I don’t use much makeup, just some good old-fashioned kohl and lip colours. I tried DIY-ing it at home, but the ingredients (like beetroots for lip tints) aren’t always available and it’s a lot of hard work to make it again and again.
So, I switched to Body Shop Happy Go Lash Mascara, Paul Penders Botanical Vegan Lipsticks, and SoulTree Ayurvedic Kajal. These are one-time buys that stay with you for months. I have also used Body Shop’s Shea Butter Lip balms since I was a kid and continue using them to this day.
Challenges: Most of my monthly expenses would go into desserts and fancy food. I am also vulnerable to dust allergies and common cold gets to me as frequently as twice a month.
Solution: I stopped ordering desserts (if someone gifts me a bar of chocolate, I treat that as my cheat week). Sugar has absolutely no nutritional value and aids in weight gain and bad cholesterol. I also made sure I stick to simple carbs like multi-fibre, multi-grain wheat. I increased my daily greens and intake of water.
Then, over the months, I started adding some supplements to my routine, with the pandemic scare in mind. I ordered Wellbeing Nutrition Grandma’s Kadha (it’s yum) & Himalayan Organics Vitamin C Capsules for better immunity and intrinsic detox.
I have lost 5 kilos, I look fabulous, my skin glows and I need even lesser makeup than before. My hair quality is better and there’s a lot less hair on my pillows and the floor. I haven’t had a cold throughout the pandemic, and for the first time since I was a kid, I have immense stamina and can exercise for much longer. And the best part of all – I know that my carbon footprint has reduced. The by-products of my cosmetics cause no harm to the environment and I’ve started sending my used bottles to a cool online recycling portal called Raddi Connect in Khar, Mumbai.
As I said before, it feels so good that it’s worth all the extra effort.