A non-toxic beauty blog focusing on botanical ingredients, honest reviews, affordable options, lifestyle musings, and more than a touch of humor.
"I now look back fondly at those being the most constructive years for preparing me for life in the real world...You have to have pretty thick skin and you have to have big shoulders." - Tom Curley

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Why I Broke Up With Green Beauty - Part One: Effectiveness

So... Maybe "broke up" is a bit harsh. I didn't really break up with green beauty, but we are seeing other people, and that's okay! I still use a lot a green beauty products (particularly makeup), but I've expanded my skincare routine to include AB products as well. If you're wondering why, here are some of my thoughts.

This is by far the number one reason I switched from an all green beauty routine full of rainbows and plant oils to an AB routine. 


Simply put, my green beauty products were simply not cutting it in this department. When I was in college, switching to green beauty products and crafting a thoughtful skincare routine made HUGE improvements to my skin, particularly in getting my adolescent acne under control. It also encouraged me to think about makeup in a healthier way -- as something I wanted to wear, something I chose to wear, not something I had to wear. For me, ever since entering the green beauty scene, beauty and skincare has been equivalent to self-care, which is something I desperately need every single damn day. As I entered my late 20s, however, my skin started to go a little wacky and demanded more and more care. I'm sure this is due to a number of different factors, including aging, genetics, stress, and starting hormonal birth control again. Then my nemesis appeared... ADULT ACNE.

Cue horror movie screaming.

While my acne was never exactly severe, blemishes began popping up in new and interesting places where they definitely didn't belong, including raised blackheads on my forehead, congested skin on my temples, and angry, painful cysts on my chin and jawline. The cysts, in particular, I knew were most likely caused by changing hormones. While my green beauty products were able to keep most of my visible blemishes at bay (thank you Juice Beauty, I still love you!), my skin felt rough and bumpy from clogs, painful from under the surface infection, and drier and flakier than it had ever been from all of the anti-acne products I was using. Besides that, my skin tone was uneven and red from healed blemishes. I knew it couldn't continue. 

I'd heard of the wonders of AB before from other bloggers, skincare fanatics, and websites, but I hadn't yet explored it because of my cultivated fear of "chemicals" and "ingredients you can't pronounce," AKA... science. I still believe that many of the ingredients included in conventional products are ineffective and/or dangerous, especially for long-term use. I still support strong regulation of the skincare and beauty industry and thorough examination of the safety of the products that you use. However, I no longer exclude products from my routine simply because their ingredients are unfamiliar or unpronounceable to me. I've done a lot of research on ingredients that many green beauty icons condemn to hellfire and damnation and found that really they're probably fine, kind of like parabens. And some of the ingredients and DIY tricks that green beauty icons love might be kind of bad, like pure lemon juice or baking soda.

One of the major tenants of AB is YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary), which is something that we should all keep in mind for, well, life. An ingredient or product may be great for one person and terrible for another. This works for green beauty, too. Some people love putting coconut oil all over their bodies. For me, it clogs my pores horribly and makes me break out in tiny, painful whiteheads. I adore essential oils, but they can cause skin sensitivity and are unsuitable for some users. Some lab-created ingredients may cause bad reactions on one person's skin and have positive results for others. I've tried very hard to "listen to my skin" and determine which products work for me, not be pulled in by propaganda, greenwashing, and hollow promises. Now I embrace clinical studies as warmly as I embrace botanical ingredients.

Hugging trees is great, hugging science is better!

Asian beauty brands tend to favor botanical ingredients, including popular stuff like aloe, propolis, plant oils, naturally-occurring acids, and hydrosols. They just also favor safe preservatives and scientifically-proven formulations. It's like the best of both worlds!

Really, though, the proof is in the pudding. I can give plenty of excuses as to why I am no longer the crunchiest of hippies, but the fact of the matter is that my skin is in better shape now than it's ever been. It's soft, glowing, and 90% blemish-free. This is not to say that it's perfect, or that I no longer get the occasional breakout, especially when I'm stressed or PMSing, but it's so far beyond where I started after only a few months of usage that I can't imagine going back. 

Now, none of this to say that green beauty was never effective for me, or that it won't be effective for other people, or even that it won't be effective for me in the future! I still use a lot of green beauty products in my routine and I fully support the industry and everything they stand for. I've simply come to the conclusion that my skin needs something different, and that organic and botanical ingredients work best when paired with powerful, scientifically-proven formulations.

I wish I had a "before" photo to show y'all, but honesty, the last thing I want to do when my skin is looking terrible is take selfies. Instead, you can enjoy this "after" photo, proudly presented in all its terrible bathroom selfie glory, with no filters or retouching and just a little bit of makeup:

This is my face on Asian beauty products!

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