A Look Back On Glamour
What we put in our body has been in the headlines for years and years. Let’s be honest, you can probably still hear your Momma saying, “You are what you eat, so eat your veggies.” But how much have you focused on what you put ON your body?
For me, makeup and personal care products were the final frontier of living a healthy lifestyle. I have been eating organically since I was a child, and I actually like fruits and veggies. So committing to eating clean, wasn’t really challenging for me. It certainly wasn’t foreign, since I was brought up by organic farmers. But as a young adult, I didn’t think about personal care products, as being of much concern. I rarely wear makeup, unless I’m at an event, on camera, or performing. In the past, I didn’t buy cosmetic products very often, and when I did, I certainly didn’t look into the ingredients. I was focused on just buying stuff that worked. It seems silly to even admit that. I can hear all of you that know me gasping, “Zuri, what the hell were you thinking girl??” But hey, honesty is important here. My journey into the safe makeup and clean personal care world, was as jarring as breaking a mirror! It was just as painful as getting an eyelash stuck in the little grooves of my cheap ass eyelash curler. So here is some backstory on my personal care history, and why I even dabble in the decadence of classic red lips, contouring bronzer, “smeyes” lashes and such.
Behind my love of beauty products lay two women who embodied the enchantment of natural beauty. The first was my mom. She is a natural beauty who loves to parade her flawless skin bare, but often puts on makeup to go out. The second was my grandmother Rosalyn. She was also a natural stunner, but wouldn’t answer the door unless she had her “face” on. I remember her talc powdering dish, her lighted makeup mirror, the fluffiness of her dusting powder puff and the way it felt on my cheeks. She had the kind of perfume bottle that you had to squeeze to get a light spritz on the nape of your neck and on the inside of your wrists. Looking back, I can still smell the burnt marshmallow flower and vanilla scent. It was a very glamorous vanity area to a young girl.
My Grandmother really romanced the occasion of putting on her “face.” I idolized her process, and saw it as the sweetest self-pampering practice a woman could perform. It was a beauty ritual that I loved watching because I saw her eye for “glamour.” She was often compared to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and was known in our parts for her beauty. I admired her ability for consistency, because she created her own self-love rituals. The rollers, the lips, the mascara, and the powder were used daily, simply for the love of it. This was where I found my love for dress up, personal pampering, cosmetics and glamour. What my Grandmother didn’t know, is that the products she was putting on, and that I played with, were not safe. I’m glad I only dabbled when she wasn’t looking, and am thankful she kept me out of her vanity, because her talc powder and perfume were some of my deadly favorites.
I remember visiting beauty counters, and traveling down countless beauty aisles as a young glamour lover in training. But, not once, do I remember any shopper reading the ingredient labels. Unless of course, if it was for the proper color to match the look they were going for. To me there’s a romance, a form of bliss, that they must have felt. Just shopping and buying what they wanted, without the concern. The trust they gave to the beauty industry that the products on the shelves were safe.
It’s not the shoppers fault that they didn’t know what was in the products. It was the personal care industries job to inform the consumer, and the regulators job to make sure they did it. Flash forward to present day, and you’ll realize not much has changed. We are ALL STILL in the dark about our beauty products.
One of my safe cosmetic mentors, Stacy Malkan, wrote a book called “Not Just a Pretty Face.” After diving into this book, and working with amazing groups like the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Breast Cancer Fund, I learned so much about my favorite products. I couldn’t believe how much JUNK was in these products. Like, alarming amounts of toxic dump. Ingredients like obesogens, endocrine disruptors, cancer-causing chemicals and synthetics.
My father had approached me several years before this turning point and had me watch a short video called, “The Story Of Cosmetics.” This information floored me, but I was on tour in New York with a face full of makeup, and I wasn’t ready to give up being a glamour girl. But once I started to dig in, I discovered that there was no reason to ignore this information, because safe cosmetics were accessible.
I then started thinking about the millions of people buying this toxic stuff. All the pubescent teens, the young adults, soccer moms and graceful grannies navigating the aisles of drug stores across America, trying on toxic lipstick filled with lead. My mind went to the little girls wanting their nails done with mommy and I couldn’t pull myself away from the issue. I had to DIG in and go hard. So, let’s pause and watch this video for a second if you haven’t already watched it, so you too can take in the initial understanding:
Next was what I’d like to call, the toxic cosmetic exodus from my life! I came home from the East Coast and opened my vanity drawers. I picked up one item after another. I read a few ingredient labels, I decided to throw all of it in the trash. Literally, all of it! I pulled the drawer out and dumped it straight into the garbage. The $40 red devil lipstick, the newer $25 mascara, the $62 eye shadow palette, the lip liner, the lip plumper, the matching red nail polish- shall I go on? I didn’t hesitate, because I knew too much at this point. Even if I only used these products once in a while, I couldn’t make an exception because it went deeper for me. I had to walk my talk of living a clean and healthy life and help change this system.
The next step was finding replacements, and fast. I had a red carpet event coming up and didn’t want to end up on the red carpet without my “face.” (My Grandmother’s influence still obviously in full swing.) Truthfully, after my favorite products were in the trash outside on the curb, I had some regret. They were familiar to me. I nearly went out to the curb and dug those familiar friends out. Luckily, I had a go-to makeup artist that loved clean beauty. She tried a bunch of products that were safe and still sexy. When we ordered these safe products, I was in SHOCK. They weren’t any more expensive than what I had been used to purchasing. At that point, my mind said, “Wait, what? Why on Earth are people paying MORE money for products full of junk. Why aren’t people using these safe products?” So this led me to dig into regulations, ingredients, and really understand the marketing and sales process behind the cosmetics industry. It wasn’t too different from the problems I’ve been fighting in the food industry for most of my life.
Here are some factoids to consider:
Now that we know better, there are literally thousands of safe products and alternatives to the chemical-laden junk. There’s mobile apps dedicated to distinguishing how to avoid these toxins, and websites that sell safe products without the cancer-causing chemicals. There are a MILLION reasons why you want to remove toxic chemicals from your beauty bag and replace those must-have favorites with safe products. I mean, why not? Good for you, good for the environment, good for future generations, good for beauty sales workers, and good for those on the production line! Don’t forget, supply always meets demand. So ultimately, good for everyone!
So if any of those facts above are new to you, you’re probably freaking out. Right? Insert vomit emoji here.
BUT wait, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered with these amazing resources:
Think Dirty is a mobile-first, social commerce platform that empowers ingredient-conscious beauty shoppers to shop safe products.
EWG’s Skin Deep database gives you practical solutions to protect yourself and your family from everyday exposures to chemicals. The database has 60,630 products and 2,131 brands available on desktop and mobile.
A source of information on the health, environmental, and social impacts, of the products in your home.
Safe & Chic is a beauty site dedicated to providing you safe organic cosmetics and skincare products free of dangerous chemicals, parabens and animal testing.
Products you use daily, like shampoo, lipstick and cologne, might contain ingredients linked to health problems. Help us give the cosmetics industry a makeover!
Made Safe is a human health certification to cross consumer product categories. Consumers can find items that are made without known toxic chemicals across store aisles, from baby and household products to personal care and cosmetics.
Detox Me, a new mobile app from the nonprofit Silent Spring Institute, helps users limit their exposure to toxic substances by recommending which products to buy and which to walk away from.
Cosmetic Cachet is made up of a group of glamour girls, dedicated to pulling together a collection of products that we give our seal of approval to. We highlight new products that meets our clean and safe requirements. We aim to support the companies that support your health and beauty, while also supporting the health and beauty of Mama Earth.
You can also educate yourself and learn about the ingredients to avoid, using this printable PDF guide: Beauty Doesn’t Have To Be Toxic.
If you’d like to share a clean personal care product and want to be a part of my recommendations and featured on cosmetic cachet, please leave a comment or contact us. I’m always looking for great products that people love, and that are making our love of glamour a healthy and safe experience.
Don’t forget to share this post and share these resources! We’re all in this fabulous experience together. Want to know what I use? Take a peek at my post: “What’s in my Beauty Bag” if you want a behind the scenes peek at my daily cosmetic goodies.