Aveda, Shmaveda.

I think I've used every possible beauty product out there- from makeup to hair care.  Here is what I have concluded... It's all garbage.

And here is a little bit of information some of you may not know.  Unused frozen cord blood from newborns goes into your Estee Lauder skin renewal creams. (and I'm sure some other companies I just don't particularly know which).  It's not widely known and they would like to keep it that way.  I actually just found out for myself a couple of years ago.  But it just goes to show you the integrity of the beauty business is less than remarkable.

I recently watched Chris Rock's documentary "Good Hair" and was baffled by the amount of money women with kinky hair spend on relaxers and weaves.  All this money spent just not to look like yourself.  It just seems so superfluous.  The first time I relaxed my hair I was 15 years old.  Something did not feel right to me when the lady demoing her product said to me "let me know if it starts to burn because we have to wash the product off IMMEDIATELY if not your scalp could blister and scab and your hair could all break off."  WHAT?!?  Chris Rock showed how a can of soda disintegrated into nothing in a matter of hours when left inside a bottle of relaxer mix.  And we're all okay with this.  ?!?

There are SO so so many chemicals in beauty products.  We've been conditioned not to question it or be concerned by it, even when you find out several known carcinogens are in your shampoo.  We've done okay with all of it so far, why bother... right?  I say, "wrong!"

After being in the beauty business for many, many years (a make up artist for MAC at a counter and at fashion shows and a hair dresser for many years as well) I've come to find out what is in conventional beauty products and it ain't pretty.  From crushed beetles, fish gills, highly toxic and abrasive chemicals (not to mention allergenic despite all the hypo-allergenic claims on labels) that could strip your floors, to newborn cord blood it's a wonder how more people are not aware of the exactly what they're putting on their bodies.  But again, we are conditioned to not ask questions.  I used to have a client in a salon I used to work at- she was a BEAUTIFUL, young college girl.  Everything was beautiful about her except her hair.  It was absolutely trashed.  It felt like straw and looked like burnt hay and as much as I suggested she not bleach her hair platinum blonde anymore, she insisted on keeping her hair as light blonde as was humanly possible.  She barely had any hair left on her scalp but whatever was left she wanted it to look like Pam Anderson.  So, I continued to oblige for as long as I could.  This was at the tail end of my career in the beauty business.  I had come to realize that there were people much more willing to damage people's hair/face/skin and put dangerous chemicals on them on a weekly or monthly basis.  My conscience couldn't take it anymore.

Years later when I began to miss the beauty biz, I began looking into working in a more natural salon.  I began doing research on Aveda salons and while Aveda talks a fantastic talk, it's just talk.  The only difference between Aveda and Pantene is that Aveda has cooler packaging and a marketing department that has convinced everyone that it's natural and sustainable.  It's not.  It may possibly donate some of its proceeds to the rainforest here and there as they claim but their ingredients are just as terrible as any conventional product out there.  Their hairsprays are just as much a plastic polymer as any other hairspray out there and their hair color is just as damaging to your scalp.  All-natural Aveda is simply good advertising and a public willing to accept it- no questions asked.

So years after all of these adventures in the beauty business, what is my beauty regimen?  (This is my favorite part!...)

FACE:  I only wear make up on very special occasions (and by makeup I mean mascara, eyeliner and lipstick) and I only buy  products that have a very small ingredient list- all of which I can pronounce and actually know what they are.  I clean my face with Dr. Bronner's Castille soap and tone with rosewater witch hazel.  I moisturize only if I need it with E3Live facial cream- completely free of anything grody.

BODY: I cleanse my body with Dr. Bronner's castille soap and moisturize only when I need it with MSM body lotion, Nubian Heritage's coconut and papaya lotion, coconut oil or PureLife's Monoi Oil.  And I feed myself good, clean, organic food.  For deodorant I use Living Libation's Poetic Pits and more recently Nourish's Fresh Stick deodorant made with ONLY certified organic ingredients that are truly pure and natural.

HAIR:  I shampoo with either Dr. Bronner's castille soap or baking soda and water and I condition with apple cider vinegar (1 tablespoon in 1 cup of water).  That's it!  And my hair is shiny and soft and- when I leave it curly- has beautifully formed curls!

There was a lot of trial and error getting to this beauty regimen.  When I went to change my shampoo and conditioner and tried some products that boasted being 100% natural like Morrocco Method and Nature's Paradise- and although finally and actually 100% natural- they left my hair feeling very oily and/or filmy.  I feel like they were trying too hard to have a glorious cocktail of all-natural ingredients that they missed the mark as well.  For myself, I have found that the simpler the better.

Next time you're in the shower, consider what you are putting on your head and what your skin is ingesting on a daily or weekly basis.  And if you have children, consider what is going into their new little sensitive bodies. Don't get me started on Johnson and Johnson's baby products.  Between them and Proctor & Gamble (which I call "Proctor & Gamble with your life"), I could go on an never-ending diatribe!

Be informed, not fooled!  True beauty is simpler than what society has made it out to be.