Thinking About Switching To All Natural Beauty Products? Read This First

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So, you've decided that you want to live a greener, more eco-friendly life. Awesome — now what? While making the choice to ditch harsh chemicals from your beauty routine is great, it can be a rough transition if you're not sure what you're getting into. The products usually don't have the same consistencies or scents, and the adjustment period varies pretty drastically. Many people wind up getting frustrated with green products, claiming they don't work as well as chemical ones, and ultimately just give up on them.
Because we consider a beauty shift like this to be such a worthwhile endeavor, we went to a few of the eco-savvy pros to get the scoop on what you can expect if you make the switch to natural products.
In this weekly, three-part series, you'll learn the ups, downs, ins, and outs of going au naturel. First up: your skin care routine.
Photo: Via Free People
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According to organic skin care entrepreneur Tata Harper, your skin has the most to gain by going green. "Our skin absorbs the majority of what we put onto it, so making the conscious decision to use healthier products will only lead to healthier skin," she says. "The skin noticeably glows with a really fresh radiance and vitality when you use products that contain only natural ingredients."
That said, Harper notes that it's key to choose high-quality, expertly-developed formulas in order to get the best results. "When they're high quality and of the right molecular weight, natural ingredients are biocompatible, so they cooperate with your skin to make it healthier, stronger, and balanced." She also says that switching to green products can help eradicate irritation and sensitivity, since inflammation in the skin is often caused by the harsh chemicals, soaps, and fragrances in conventional products.
Because they are free of perfumes, you'll notice that many skin care creams are either odorless or have a very subtle scent of the ingredients or natural oils used. In terms of texture differences, this varies by brand — some, like Harper's, have the same consistency as many of the pricey creams and lotions you are used to, while others may be thicker than the products you use now. Also, most natural cleansers will not create a foam, as they lack the surfactants and sulfates that conventional cleansers use to create that lather.
The most common complaint we hear from women who switch to natural? "Oh, that made me break out." Harper says that breaking out is common when you go natural, but it's not the product that's causing it: "If your skin is full of toxins, you may experience breakouts — especially skin prone to oil and general imbalance — but what's happening is that your skin is literally detoxifying its buildup of toxins," she says. "People confuse reactions with this detox adjustment period."
That said, those reactions are actually quite rare, says Harper, and the stage won't last long — she says it takes about 10 days for your skin to adjust, sometimes more or less depending on your skin type. She promises that if you stick with it, your skin will be cleaner and rejuvenated in the long term. "It took my skin about one and a half months to fully adjust to my non-toxic regimen, at which point my complexion's health just bloomed — it was incredible," she says.
For those ready to make a change, Harper says it's better not to switch everything out all at once — start with your milder products, like cleansers, toners, and moisturizers, then work your way up to more intense things like treatments and anti-aging creams. She also says to be sure to look for high-quality, high-performance natural products as they will be easiest for your skin to adjust to and will continue to deliver the results you are looking for. Not sure what the best natural skin lines are? "Use the wonderful world of internet resources for ideas and suggestions," says Harper, who likes the No More Dirty Looks blog, the Skin Deep database, and Spirit Beauty Lounge, "where natural products have been tried and tested and just the best are shared."
Tata Harper Repairative Moisturizer, $100, available at Sephora; Joanna Vargas Skincare Exfoliating Mask, $75, available at Beauty.com; Aesop Amazing Face Cleanser, $47, available at Barneys New York.
Tune in next week to get the scoop on natural cosmetics!
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