Faux Naturel

Well chickadees, that which I swore would never happen is nigh: I am trying to switch to all natural beauty products. (To experience this post in 4D, please, PLEASE click right here. But don’t get distracted and come back ASAP.)

Because I am vain and superficial, I have been resisting this for a long time. I refused to read or listen to anything that disparaged cosmetics – whether the argument was feminist, environmentalist, or animal welfare-ist (????) in nature, I ignored it completely. After all, my politics are a downer in so many ways ( and by “downer” I mean “I stand up for/against shi*t, even when it makes me and others around me uncomfortable to do so.” And I also mean “I regularly appear on a radio show where my job is to talk about contemporary systems of racism and then try to be totally nice and polite when furious people in Indiana send me hate mail/calls/twitters calling me a “no-fun person who obviously hates white people.” Except “no-fun” is NOT the word they use.) Okay, have we established that for most of my life I have felt it was okay to regularly seek momentary escape in the pleasures of makeup even though 99.9% of makeup ingredients are probably actually secretly poison? But then I started working on this play Unnatural Spaces. Maybe you’ve heard of it? If you haven’t, we are obviously not friends on Facebook but you can find out more by going here.Anyway, it is about urban toxicity and I decided to take one for the team and be the one who looked up cosmetics. And the crap in cosmetics is much worse than I ever imagined! That’s kind of a lie, because I used to make jokes like “ja ja ja. I don’t know what proplyparaben is but I bet it’ll melt my face off eventually…” as I applied and reapplied my lip gloss. And melting your face off is actually much worse than what proplyparaben actually does, which is disrupt endocrine and reproductive systems, so there. Once an exaggerator, always an exaggerator!

But still, I thought, is my vanity worth applying so much toxic crap to my body on a daily (or, in the case of lip gloss, every-ten-minutes) basis? Maybe. Maybe not. I am deeply committed to my vanity. But I decided that instead of just dismissing “natural” beauty products outright, I could give them a more committed try. So here’s how it’s going so far:

1.) Primer, foundation, moisturizer: Great! I switched to Mojo Spa Light Twinkle, which has a jaunty fey name and smells awesome. It does not have a sunscreen built in, so I am still on the lookout for a non-toxic sunscreen that doesn’t look like I am auditioning to be a mime.

2.) Blush: Great! I actually just use lip balm for blush in the summer, and there are loads of great tinted balms out there. And if I’m going to be doing some hard core sweating, I use the Mojo Spa Sweet Cheeks lip/cheek stain.

3.) Eye Products:  I haven’t switched eye products yet, but I’m not passionate about mascara and eye liner so I’m sure whatever will be fine when I get around to it. Any suggestions?

4.) Lip gloss? No surprise, but this is probably going to be the deal breaker. First, I’ve realized that “All-Natural” and “Animal-Free” are not synonymous. So some vegan makeup is full of crap, and some la-la-la “I’m a step up from crushing your own berries” makeup is also full of sheep oil (aka lanolin). I have fallen for this trap one too many times. Note to self: you read the labels on food? Why not lip gloss? What would the psychoanalytic canon say about this? Second, as I’ve mentioned before, I just am not impressed with the shine from all-natural products. So far, I’ve tried Arbonne, Burt’s Bees, plain ole coconut oil, Alba TerraGloss, and Zuzu, and they’re all fine. Not oooh-la-la. Not dazzling. Not “whoa, I gotta grab some sun glasses to look at your lips.” Just fine. But you know what? When it comes to MY lips, FINE IS NOT FINE WITH ME!!!!!!!

Alright. For the moment, my Revlons and MACs and L’Oreals are on the shelf and I’m carrying a variety of balms in my purse. I am also spending a lot of time waffling between two lines of thought. One, what’s the big deal? I eat well, wear 1/2 natural products, and there are way bigger problems in the world than this one. But then again, Two: why do I spend so much time emotionally preparing for the zombie apocalypse but refuse to address the real and present dangers lurking in my makeup case?

Dear readers, precious cupcakes, queridos amigos, I don’t know the answer. I hope one day I will emerge as the glittery proof that you can be fabulous, kind of tacky, and still all natural on a budget. So far, I think this is U-N-likely but you never know. Until then, I will be hiding in my apartment, smearing coconut oil on my lips and trying to clean my bathroom with baking soda. That sounds like a non sequitur, but it isn’t. Because of this book. But I’m warning you: DON’T read it unless you are prepared to FREAK OUT. Consider yourself duly warned.