A month or so ago, I broke out in hives. They spread and spread and spread, eventually covering me from head to toe, itching like mad and leaving behind red welts.
I’ve never been allergic to anything in my life, save for a few weeks every spring when flowers around me bloom and I spend a small fortune on Claritin. But this mysterious outbreak wound up being so severe that my throat began closing up and I was prescribed massive doses of steroids just to get the swelling down. A week later it went away, but neither doctor I saw could figure out what caused it, which was actually even scarier.
This terrifying reaction made me think about the stuff I heedlessly put on my body. If the packaging is pretty and the scent is pleasant, I rub, scrub, and lather it up. The glossier the wrapper, the more appealing the concoction. But what’s really inside these beauty products?
So I decided to spend a week using only products with ingredients I could recognize and pronounce. Spoiler alert: They’re tough to find if you want not just purity but luxury and a sense of treating yourself to something special. It’s so much easier to swing through your nearest drugstore or department store makeup counter and scoop up the tried-and-true, regardless of what’s inside. Here’s how my seven-day experiment went down.
My morning routine consisted of just four products
That’s major for this single mom. In general, I keep things pretty simple, so that change wasn’t drastic. In fact, this beauty “detox” forced me to dump a lot of overflow products that I barely used and that didn’t really work for me. Each morning, I showered with one bar soap, then used a shampoo and conditioner, and body balm that I also used on my face.
My skin felt “purer” and looked supple too!
I found that my face felt cleaner and my legs, which are usually dry and itchy, were much more supple and moisturized than when I didn’t use “nontoxic” beauty products. What I noticed most was that the previous lotions I’d slathered on provided only surface relief — meaning they helped for a few minutes. In fact, some of the fragrances actually made things worse. Within three days of using the new regimen of oils and “clean” products, I noticed a difference — less itchiness, more smoothness.
But I did miss the “squeaky” clean feeling of shampoos
Natural products aren’t generally as luxe as their more ingredient-enhanced brethren. I missed that feeling of smoothness and silkiness (especially with shampoos) that you get from products with numerous additives like sulfate and dimethicone that work together to give you fresh, bouncy tresses.
As with all beauty products, please read the ingredients and decide for yourself whether it’s a fit for your skin and its needs. Also, talk to your doctor or dermatologist if you’re dealing with any specific conditions.