7 Steps Toward Sustainable Hair And Body Care Products

It has become widely known that many of our beauty care products are loaded with synthetic chemicals and toxins that are considered potentially harmful not only to our hair and skin but to our environment. Commonly used and well stocked in our homes are shampoos, conditioners, soaps, deodorant, toothpaste, lip-gloss, nail polish, shaving products, tanning creams and sunscreens, just to name a few. I have learned that many of us resist the process or even the thought of replacing our old products with new, healthier alternatives because we're used to our beauty routines and attached to our $75.00 eye creams. Chances are, you're not consciously thinking about eco-friendly hair and skin care solutions, or you may just be simply overwhelmed with where to begin. Here are some helpful suggestions to inspire you.

Step 1: Think one at a time. Make it a point to replace one old grooming product with a newer more natural plant- or mineral-based product. Check the labels and ingredients first; by chance you may have already scored a great product in which you are replacing existing product with the company's newer, better version. Remember to consider 2- or 4-in-one type products such as lip-cheek-eye stains and shimmers or shampoo-bath-body-shave products and save money, time, and exposure to multiple products.

Step 2: Scout around and get feedback online or from your family, friends, and community. Firsthand word-of-mouth recommendations can be golden not to mention time and financial savers. Inquire with the experts at your local healthy stops and neighborhood farmers markets as they're usually informed and passionate and can easily provide applicable recommendations. This is exactly how I found soy-based nail polish and remover.

Step 3: Do more heavy-duty research. Find 3-5 clean and positive things about your new healthier alternative product, information about the company that makes it, and the company's recycling and community-donation policies. Origins, M.A.C., and The Body Shop are just a few choices that are readily available in malls and online. Labels are often tricky to decipher, so take note. Many products state that they are "natural organic formulas." Some are, while others are not. Look for those with healthier preservatives such as vitamin E and essential oils (not parabens). And the packaging should at least be biodegradable or reusable. And check for a cruelty free logo or statement, too.

Step 4: Learn from your trial and error period. Perhaps right away either the scent, the general feel, or result is all wrong. Most of the time I give a product 2 weeks to the life of the product before I jump ship to another. Especially with facial cleansers and shampoos the lather is barely there, if at all. The results are great, but it's hard to believe that suds don't equal clean. I think it's an acquired feel, smell, and result with many products, so you may need to go through six to twelve applications (see instructions) before forming an opinion.

Step 5: Stop and switch. Use energy-efficient lighting and styling tools and start conserving water when it comes to your beautification routine. At least replace the bulbs in your bathroom, try air drying your hair 90% of the way, and then polishing off your style by round brushing the ends. This cuts the blow dry time down to a minimum, it's better for your hair, and it saves energy. Always unplug flat irons and tools--it's so easy to forget and leave them on all day! Turn off the water whenever possible or use your half-empty water bottles that are lying around to manage the small stuff like rinsing your mouth or toothbrush. Cut your shower time down by 2-3 minutes and be conscious of how much time you spend in the bathroom.

Step 6: Go full gonzo! Do you have the reduce-reuse-recycle bug? If so, then you're completely getting rid of all your old beauty products, being mindful to swap, drop, or dispose of them with purpose. Replacing your whole regime and grooming arsenal with a newfound passion and consciousness for healthy, natural, and eco-friendly products will probably encourage you and others to think on every level of new ways to be sustainable. Who knows? Perhaps your kitchen, closet, and garage are next in line.

Step 7: Pass it on. Enjoy your new products and continue to grow by making more mindful conscious decisions to incorporate sustainable eco-friendly hair and body care products into your grooming practice. Maybe you might even throw an eco-sexy hair and nail potluck party with your girlfriends or try a weekend away at an eco-friendly sustainable resort with your favorite friend.

Nicole Cothrun Venables is a Hollywood stylist with two dozen films and television shows to her credit. Her interviews and beauty articles have appeared in Elle, InStyle, Women's World and Los Angeles. For more tricks of the trade, read her blog on Red Room.