Quick backstory: Since working in the wellness industry, I've been slowly starting to overhaul my daily routine to be greener. From learning how to be more sustainable to trying more natural remedies, I've been on a personal mission to reduce as many unnecessary ingredients in the essentials I use on a daily basis. So when I came across Adina Diaz, a skincare guru who has over 10+ years of experience and recently opened her own green spa in Los Angeles, I was curious to pick her brain on what products I should (and shouldn't be) putting on and inside my body. Suffice to say I was a bit disappointed to hear that many of the common items that have had a permanent home in my medicine cabinet for my entire life were on Adina's do-not-use list.
After explaining that while, in an ideal world, I'd love to go completely natural, I am in my mid-20s living in one of the most expensive cities in the country (aka, I'm on a major budget and don't exactly have the cash flow to accommodate this), she quickly reassured me that many of the items she recommends are just as inexpensive as the ones I'm already using. After letting her know that now she officially had my attention, we began to discuss all the simple swaps anyone can make if they're looking to live more green—without necessarily breaking the bank. Keep reading for her suggestions.
Growing up, cocoa butter and Vaseline were staples in my household to smooth and moisturize the skin. But Adina suggests nixing these both from your routine, due to their use of parabens and dimethicone. "The cocoa butter we commonly see has both, which can cause bumps we often see on our arms and legs, due to clogging. Dimethicone is a manmade silicon oil that spreads onto the surface of the skin. It’s FDA-approved because it goes on top and is not entering into your body, but just as nothing is going in, nothing is going out." Instead, use an item you probably already have in your pantry: coconut oil.
Deodorant Containing Aluminum
The struggle to find a natural deodorant that works is real. But Adina advises that the search is worth the struggle. "As a rule of thumb, don’t put aluminum on your skin. It’s not safe," she says. "Additionally, many household names still use parabens and artificial fragrance. If it’s unnatural fragrance, it can be carrying a host of other toxic ingredients that the manufacturer doesn’t even have to list! And all of this is being applied extremely close to your most sensitive tissues. The idea that these unnatural deodorants can cause cancer is not a boogeyman concept; it’s real."
Many makeup removers contain chemicals that can be harsh and irritating, "especially to sensitive areas such as around the eyes," Adina warns. A gentler swap? Micellar water—but only if you choose a clean brand. She recommends Plain Jane Micellar Water. It contains no toxic chemicals or synthetic colors and it's cruelty-free.
When Adina asked about my skincare routine, I told her that, like many, I used a drugstore brand that was recommended by my dermatologist: Cetaphil. Adina's face immediately darkened, clueing me in that this popular brand was a huge no-no: "Cetaphil can be very stripping and irritating due to alcohol, PEGs, and parabens. Alcohols and PEGs are used to clean; however, they can over-clean, which causes stripping and removal of natural, moisture-producing oils on our skin. Parabens can extend shelf life, but they can also be absorbed into the body." Instead, she recommends Acure cleansing cream as an alternative, which is similar in price.
Exfoliating is important for the skin, but Adina admits that most drugstore brands "often do much more ripping and stripping of your skin instead of gently exfoliating!" Try something a bit more gentle that uses natural ingredients (like cardamom) to remove dead skin cells.
There's been significant debate over whether sunscreens with higher SPF actually do much, so Adina recommends focusing on choosing a non-toxic suncare product instead, like one that is sulfate-free.
Hydrocortisone is often a staple in most medicine cabinets for treating itchiness and redness. But Adina warns that use of this product can cause users to develop sensitivities. She suggests this alternative: Lotus Moon Cherry Blossom Healing Soothe. It's a bit pricier but is "amazing for rosacea, psoriasis, eczema, burns, and more!"
Face Masks Containing Alcohol
"With face masks, we look for hydration yet often end up stripping our skin with masks that have alcohol in them!" No, thank you. Opt for a face mask sans-alcohol, that is gentle and, if possible, bio-degradable.
Perfume-Free Feminine Products
Adina tells us that perfumes and products that utilize plastic can cause infections and chafing. Plus, these additions are completely unnecessary. What's more, these products don't need to be expensive, either. (These are some of our favorite period products to grab from Amazon.)