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The Green Beauty Guide

If you like beauty products but are made nervous by applying products containing gunk like formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane to your skin, you (or your lady friend, for those of the male persuasion) will be very interested in Julie Gabriel‘s comprehensive encyclopedia of DIY and commercially available nontoxic creams, perfumes, nostrums, and make-up. My friend KJG shared a copy the other day. It’s called simply The Green Beauty Guide.

This woman has compiled an incredible amount of research on synthetic, “natural,” and “organic” ingredients in make-up, body, hair, and aromatherapeutic products of all kinds. The book is largely free of the kind of gullible credulity that you find in much of this sort of thinking—Gabriel is not shy about cluing readers to the risks inherent to the many “green” products out there, just as she is frank about the industrial ingredients that render many drugstore and department-store products toxic.

I would add one caveat, though: Gabriel seems to be very fond of Bare Escentuals products. You should be aware that the line does contain bismuth oxychloride, as do most mineral powder make-ups. If you are at all sensitive to this chemical, it can cause severe redness, itching, and long-term irritation to your skin. Check the ingredients of all beauty products; just because they’re labeled “organic” or “natural” does not mean they’re free of potentially unpleasant ingredients.

The fun aspect of this book, though, is its wonderful collection of make-it-yourself beauty nostrums, from nail creams to acne nostrums. Did you know you can make your own self-tanning oil, right in your kitchen? You can whip up your own shampoo, conditioner, lip balm, face creams, depilatory wax, and even hair coloring. Lots and lots of things to experiment with here, some of them very simple to make!  Try, for example, this enhanced version of olive oil as cleanser, something Funny reported on some time back.

To two ounces of organic extra-virgin olive oil, add 1 ampoule of vitamin E and one drop of essential oil of chamomile. Shake well. You can dispense this from a pump bottle, where it will keep for a long time in a cool, dry place.

The other very positive aspect of this guide is that Gabriel names names. In discussing commercially made green products, she gives brand names and in many cases critiques products. She also tells you specifically what’s wrong with which conventional products, and she provides an appendix listing common ingredients in over-the-counter beauty products and cleansers explaining what those ingredients will do to you. Another appendix provides online resources for less-toxic beauty products.

You can have a lot of fun with the many recipes Gabriel provides for beauty nostrums of all varieties. Or, if you prefer to buy your products instead of making your own, her advice on which low-toxicity products to buy can help you feel more comfortable about what you put on your face, hair, and body.

Highly recommended!

Also check out these pages at FaM:

Olive Oil: The Ultimate Hair Conditioner
Olive Oil: The Miracle Skin Cleanser
Sunscreens: Be Scared, Be Very Scared
Frugal Cosmetics: Lemons for Your Beauty Routine
Lemon and Vinegar Highlight Your Hair

2 thoughts on “The Green Beauty Guide”

  1. I am more skeptical about “green” products than many and I think many overreact to “synthetic” products, including preservatives found in most “green products.” But you are right on about the olive oil–or most any oil.

  2. @ frugalscholar: Yeah, there’s an awful lot of woo-woo out there. Click your heels three times and say the words “natural and organic,” and POOF! You’re in the Land of Woo-Woo.

    On the other hand, I do suspect it’s true some products — “natural” as well as industrial — contain some infelicitous ingredients. In any event, it’s a hoot to be able to make your own beauty products…especially if they work.

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