Cosmetics that have worked for us (or not!)
We rarely talk about cosmetics, we also do not have any in our directory, because we are far from considering ourselves experts in this regard. none of us normally uses much make-up, and skincare is mostly limited to bare minimum. But we do use some cosmetics while also trying to stay on their more ethical side. This week, we wish to go through some cosmetics that we have used in the past or maybe we are still using, and report on what we can recommend - and what did not work for us!
I am not a fan of cosmetics! I said it. I shrug when I see make-up commercials, I feel that the mainstream media are bombing us with unrealistic images of both men and women, and I often feel that there is a tendency to literally hide one’s real face behind make-up. I grew up in Denmark, where make-up sneaks into girls’ lives in early teenage years, and I remember my peers experimenting with foundations, concealers (because the bags under the eyes of a 16-year-Old definitely need to be covered!) and… fake eyelashes. No joke.
Maybe it was the fear of getting the plastic eyelash in my eye, maybe it was because I wasn’t as cool as the other girls, or maybe it was my inner voice that brought an end to any make-up experiments. And to be honest, in retrospective, I believe that keeping my skin free of make-up, letting my skin breathe, is one of the reasons why I never struggled with acne or any skin condition on my face. I did have skin problems in other places, eg. backs of my upper arms, and that I did not cure with cosmetics, that was actually a dietary issue! But let’s start from the top.
My hair is straight and “easy” by nature. The only thing I can “struggle” with is lack of volume, but that’s more for styling purposes, and… hair styling just isn’t a part of my daily routine. Basically any hair product that I use will work on my hair, but I must remember to apply conditioner. In the past I have used Ethique products (the solid shampoo for oily hair was great and it took me a while to adjust to using “The Guardian” solid conditioner, as it took me much longer time to apply it evenly to my hair). Recently, I bought a hair-and-body-shampoo from Carina Organics at Slowood in Kennedy Town (Hong Kong), and it did not foam as much as I am used to. This made me use more of the product, which is not financially sustainable in the end. 5 minutes before sitting down to write this piece, I visited Angelo Store Ubud and decided to give one of their shampoos a chance! More report on that soon!
My face loves scrubs! Here, again I call on Ethique and their “Gingersnap”. To wash my face, I often use regular body soap (I would go for natural options), recently from Nadis Herbal or Hong Kong based SoapYummy. What was more important than the cosmetics was actually the sponge that I used! Invest in a Konjac sponge, if you’re anything like me, your face will love you for it! One thing that I started applying on my face while living in Morocco where the climate was very dry, was rose water! It was a natural way to refresh my skin and the mild fragrance was calmly aromatherapeutic.
Body care is a bigger chapter. In Paris this year, I bought several products from Avril Organics, which have served me well (here I can point out their deodorant that worked well and had a very pleasant, not too strong fragrance), but I feel they could introduce more sustainable packaging options! For body soap, lack of plastic packaging is the most important to me, and since I am traveling, solid products are preferred. That’s why, to be completely honest with you, instead of buying an eco-shower gel in a plastic tube, I would rather buy a Dove body soap in a paper box that I can recycle afterwards. I prefer my products to include natural oils and when I lived in Morocco I’d buy locally-made argan oil soaps. If you are looking for similar products in Hong Kong, I suggest you look into Eko Savon!
Beauty starts inside… meaning that more important than what I put ON my body is what I put IN it. In the beginning of my entry I mentioned skin problems. I discovered that those were related to my wheat-intolerance which I wasn’t conscious of, and no matter what amounts of lotions, soothing balms and creams (sometimes I even reached out for pharmaceutically produced ones) I’d apply on my skin, the rashes would not go away. Only when I changed what I ate my body recovered. So if rashes, skin problems or eczema is what you’re struggling with at this point, try looking into your diet, and even into the washing detergent and fabric softener that you use at home, before you purchase yet another balm that might not be going to work either!
When it comes to my skin, I have been struggling with acne for as long as I can remember. When I was a teenager, I was pumped in with antibiotics (one round could take half a year of constant antibiotic intake… brrr when I think about it now I freeze) or hormones. I also went through countless amounts of anti-acne cosmetics, none of which worked. But now, in hindsight, I see how wrong this approach was in from the start. None of my doctors ever asked me about my diet or gave recommendations, never considered natural or minimal treatments. It was not until I discovered that less is actually more when it comes to my skin, when the acne went away. I also hugely benefited from the change of climate - my face apparently hates Asian air, since I was broking out horribly both in Beijing and Hong Kong.
So which cosmetics did I land on? Well, first of all let me tell you what I gave up - I stopped using make-up altogether, which could be unimaginable to those who know me from before, since foundation, mascara and eye-liner had been there day to day before. I switched entirely to cosmetics that are not tested on animals, and those who are on the more natural side of the scale. Of course, there is no entirely “clean” cosmetic unless you make it yourself, but some brands are still way healthier to use than others.
For hair, I recently got back to Kevin Murphy shampoo after going through a bunch of solid shampoos (I tried Lush, Unii, and a bit of Ethique) and sadly none of them worked for me very well. My hair is naturally curly but rather on the thin side, so tangling and frizzing are always an issue. Solid shampoos just wouldn’t let me comb my hair after washing without losing a bunch of them. I also recently invested in a curly hair mask from O Way, and a curly hair finish from Less Is More. So yeah, I have a 3-step hair care, which might seem excessive, but trust me when I tell you - it’s the only way to make my hair look presentable when loose.
On my face, I am actually a Lush person. I know there is a lot of critique out there of this brand as they are not entirely natural and put some artificial perfume in their products, but it has really worked for me. I am using an exfoliant paste cleanser, a tea tree cleansing and toning spray and a moisturising cream. And honestly, this is the only combination that I have ever used that haven’t made me break out in a long time. I always choose their vegan products and recycle the boxes (they give you a free face mask when you bring 5 containers back to the shop!). I use them only on my face, I really have no interest in other colourful bathing and shower products. Fun fact, I gave some of their cream to my mom to use and even though her skin is extremely sensitive and reacts to majority of cosmetics out there, with Lush nothing bad happened. That makes me even more hopeful - if a sensitive skin does not react to it, it must be pretty safe.
Body care - I could not be more basic. A Yope body wash and a never-ending sample of John Masters Organics body lotion (only when I remember, which is rare). I am not really a skin-ritual, self-massaging or dry-scrubbing person, I honestly have no discipline and patience for those things. My only ever-lasting guilt is deodorant. I have tried a number of natural, paste deodorants and the only one that remotely worked for me (meaning, I didn’t smell) was Fine Deodorant, but it’s also quite pricy and that is why I don’t continue to use it, and I have landed on a simple Dove deodorant. And to be honest, I do not predict myself to find motivation anytime soon to keep experimenting with new ones…