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Safe Cosmetics for Frugal Shoppers

Stacy Malkan  |  Earth Day 2014 

moneyHow can I invest in my values and my health by buying safe products from companies I trust, without breaking the bank?

I’ve happily discovered, what’s best for my body and the planet is often best for my budget too. It just takes some holistic accounting; spend money on good food and nontoxic products and offset any extra cost by leaving behind all the unnecessary toxic stuff I don't need made by companies I don't trust. 

In this way, I spend far less money than I used to on products that are better for my health, my conscience and the planet. Here are some tips:

Less is more — Companies spend tons of money trying to make us think we need a different cleaning product for every room in the house, a different lotion for every part of our bodies, and expensive skin creams to make us look years younger. What they don't tell us is that those $100 face creams contain chemicals that are actually toxic to the skin. What?

It’s all hype. Better to buy one high-quality nontoxic product from a company you love. For a list of Safe Cosmetics Champion companies, see or look up your products on the Skin Deep database and choose products in the low toxicity range, with scores of 0-2.

Bye Bye Hair Dye (and other expensive toxic stuff) — Anything that changes the shape and color of hair tends to be toxic chemistry, not to mention messy and expensive. Foregoing hair dye saves hundreds of dollars a year, and most women look better with their natural hair color anyway! For photo evidence, check out my Bye Bye Hair Dye Facebook page. And if you must have straighter or curlier hair, go for heat treatments, which are far less toxic (and less expensive) than chemicals.

Make your own — Coconut oil and sesame oil make great body lotions. Baking soda, vinegar and lemon make excellent nontoxic cleaning agents. Here are some inexpensive green cleaning recipes and ideas for making your own cosmetics. I also love these ideas from the Zero Waste Family lady.

Just say No – to gratuitous products that add unnecessary expense and chemical exposures to our lives: perfumes, body sprays, vaginal sprays, air fresheners, bubble bath, dryer sheets … It feels great to discover how much we actually don’t need! And after taking a break from all these synthetic fragrances, you start to notice how gross they actually smell.

Get political – We can’t just shop our way out of these problems, we need to change the laws to favor safer chemicals. We need to level the playing field for good green companies, or else nontoxic products will be a niche category in expensive stores that only some people can afford. Get involved in efforts to give the chemical industry a makeover, and the beauty industry too.

Together we can build the market conditions, and the political will, for a new green economy that values life and health, while innovating the safer products that people actually want to buy. 

Extra bonus: turn off the TV to save lots of cash! Most shows I like run for free on the Internet with far fewer ads that try to brainwash me that toxic cosmetics made of oil products will make me look like a movie star who really doesn't use those products anyway! 

Want more tips? Sign up for my list here to get my Free Earth Day Gift – 10 Tips to Detox Your Life, Save Money and Change the World. Happy Earth Day everyone! 

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