an open letter to “green beauty”

whew. okay, i’ve had this written since july 2020 and never pressed “published” out of fear. here it goes.

disclaimer: this is my opinion, not fact. i am not perfect – i am or have been guilty of everything i discuss. this is vulnerability, and i am open to hearing different sides and learning.

dear green beauty –

i’m writing because i love you and care about you… and because i’m disappointed. disappointed not just in you, but in myself. the green beauty community of 10 years ago is nothing like it is now, and i see the good and the bad in that. change and flexibility are important, but i’m disappointed that we’re falling short of what i think we could be.

the good? the sense of community, the push to be educated consumers, the creativity explored, the knowledge shared, the acceptance and vulnerability.

the bad? the fear-mongering, the inaccessibility, the gate-keeping, the misleading and over-the-top marketing tactics.

how did we get here?

from many converging paths, surely. everything from fear-mongering bloggers, like me, to money-grubbing businesses who saw fear-based vulnerability as opportunity.

so let’s lay it out.

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  1. fear-mongering

    let me first say – i did this and i’m not proud. i started this very blog because i bought into the fear-mongering so hard that i actively pushed it out to literally thousands of others. it’s toxic and problematic. once upon a time, i really thought using dove was definitely going to increase my risk for cancer and i needed to stop shampooing my hair. before anyone gets upset or confused – please stop for a second and hear me out. i am not saying no-‘poo is wrong or less-than – i personally don’t use conventional shampoo and don’t see myself ever doing so, but let me be clear that it’s because my scalp does so much better now and i really enjoy herbal-infused products. it doesn’t mean that someone that doesn’t like herbal-infused products is the enemy or is wrong.

    plenty of people see true beneficial results from switching to “green” products, including myself. i personally don’t see myself returning to “conventional” products. but you? keep doing what is working for you and your family! know that “going green” doesn’t work for everyone, and that’s okay. that being said, if anyone ever wants to try out a “crunchy” formula with me, i’ll be here.

    the other side of this is fear-mongering to the point you’re telling consumers untrue things that is putting their health at risk. my biggest complaint with the green beauty industry here is preservatives. preservatives are outright demonized to the point we have businesses formulating without them, resulting in consumers receiving nasty petri dish products. personally, i’ve seen two companies insist that they’ve “preserved” products containing water with *honey*. that’s not only false, it’s dangerous. i get on a soapbox about this topic HERE, if you’re interested.

  2. inaccessibility

    there are so many ways this impacts green beauty. for one, so much emphasis is put on “sexy” and trendy ingredient lists, which ultimately can drive prices sky-high. why has everything become a “luxury” item and experience? sure, luxury has always had a place and always will; that’s fine. but since when is that the standard? second, we have all seen the exorbitant price tags that don’t match sourcing, fair wages, or formulations. yes, there is a really nice-looking shea butter blue balm that’s been claimed as basically an entire life-changing experience, but i promise you it’s not worth $180 for 50 mL. again, luxury has a place, but why are we ignoring everyone we’ve excluded in doing this? this isn’t to shame those that have the privilege of enjoying luxury items – enjoy your products.

    my point here is green beauty has swung so far sideways from its original humble inception that it’s no longer widely accessible to the masses. is that fair? is this acceptable? i personally don’t think so. where are the accessible options? why is this now so exclusionary? speaking of being exclusionary, this tangentially leads me into my next point.

  3. inclusion (lack thereof)

    we can’t ignore the lack of BIPOC presence in the green beauty space. we can’t ignore the deep-rooted colonialism wearing a “unique ingredient” mask (at best). sure, many companies are finally taking action and many people are finally making space for those important voices to be heard, but we have a lot of work to do. green beauty has somehow become white women marketing to white women and we can absolutely do better. we need to do better. if you have no idea where to start, i’ve posted a non-exhaustive list of companies to support here. please add more in the comments and i’ll update as needed.

    another aspect of a lack of inclusion is gate-keeping of knowledge. this is more prolific in the herbalist community, but with so many overlaps between herbalism and green beauty, i thought it important to acknowledge. learning how to formulate and create safely isn’t some top classified secret to be kept. learning which herbs can help for certain things and which to avoid shouldn’t be an opportunity to money gouge and withhold valuable and helpful information. and this doesn’t even touch how this is yet another form of colonization, by the way. while i’ve tried to help by posting all my formulas and reference articles for free with 0 affiliates or sponsors, there’s more work to be done.

  4. problematic marketing

    let’s keep this two-fold for now: one, misleading marketing; two, over-the-top marketing. let me explain.

    misleading marketing has many faces. it can be business owners parading as almighty sources of infinite knowledge and experience, of which in many cases they are not. it can also be businesses telling you that “clean” is better and then shaming you into redirecting your funds to them.

    secondly, the over-the-top marketing that has become the standard needs to go. the product descriptions dripping with superlatives that really mean nothing is, at best, smoke and mirrors. using a face mist can be lovely, sure; but it most certainly will not magically transport you to hawaii and cause you to hear the wind in the palm trees as the ocean laps in the distance. soap is freaking soap; it’s not a divine connection to the spiritual realm worth the price of weekly groceries.

  5. false sense of sustainability

    ok – this one is tricky since it’s intrinsically linked with current technologies, sourcing, climate conditions, etc., but my main issue is that green beauty is not inherently sustainable but it’s marketed as such. take for example that there are herbs that are not sustainable to harvest at the mass-production demand levels we have, like echinacea, chaga, or dragon’s blood resin. but it’s not just herbs – it’s product packaging and shipping, too. what, in my opinion, sucks the most is there are no real “sustainable” alternatives to cosmetic packaging that are widely available or accessible. with technological advances we can hold out confident hope there will be. so what can we and/or businesses do? reduce the impact. choose materials that are recycled and recyclable, for example. it’s not a perfect solution, but it’s better than inaction.

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so, my dear green beauty. i’ll leave this here. i’m keeping my butter balms and tinctures, but i’m walking away from the smoke and mirrors.

XO, ALEXRAYE

green beauty q&a VLOG

hey crunchies!

it’s been two years since i’ve attempted vlogging, but i’m back! please let me know how i can improve. and as always, feel free to ask anything and share your own stories below 🙂

love you!

 

topics discussed in video:

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is green beauty the land of minimalism or consumerism?

my personal journey into the green beauty world began about 5 years ago. i was a grad student with little money and not a whole lot of people i cared to impress. getting the government to approve my human experiment for my thesis and having my cats around was about the extent of what i cared about. the appeal of the crunchy community, to me, at the time, was reversing consumerism trends and getting to the most basic and most healthy alternatives you could. i had $20 to stretch and days between classes to purposefully not wash my hair or adjust to not wearing deodorant.

looking around 5 years later, i’m not sure i’m living in the same green beauty land.

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i remember searching far and wide for a low-poo product that was up to my super snubby ingredient requirements (btw – those strict requirements are still in effect today and i have no shame). back then i felt fortunate to have 3 ‘poos to choose from. today,  i almost feel bombarded with the sheer amount of organic and “clean” and “green” low-poos, amongst other products, we can choose from.

i try to stay true to my love of d.i.y. green beauty and multi-use ingredients, but if i stop to look around my bathroom, there is a growing stockpile of “buys” versus “d.i.y’s.”
then my brain gets going and starts adding up the costs… four different face oils, three different face masks, three different balms… for what? when did my minimalistic green beauty lifestyle become so engrossed in consumerism? and why? has this community puffed up quickly, only to be left oversaturated?

i say all of this with a confused heart. there are many companies i have fallen in love with. their purpose, their impact on their communities, their beautiful products made with hard work and love, and their ever-growing reach into the larger beauty market… it’s all awesome in the true sense of the word. the excitement i feel for them having a place in the “mainstream” beauty market and for more people to have access to better and healthier choices is unreal. what better way to support them than to purchase their products?

what if these two ideals are simply coexisting? can you call it that? maybe that’s what i’ve embraced. i buy what i know i can’t make, and i make what i know i can. my saving grace is all the time and research i’ve put into learning about this world over the last few years, and i rely on it every day. by reading an ingredient label i can tell you if i’d put it on my body and/or use my hard-earned dollars on it. you sure won’t find me ever spending $20 for a small pot of sugar lip scrub – you are out of your mind. go grab some sugar from your kitchen and i’ll show you a kick-ass recipe for a fraction of the cost. that $100 pot of fancy face mask with the virgin angel tears though… you might be better off buying it, but you know i’ll still help you make a mean dupe if you want.

it all seems to come back to balance, back to doing whatever is best for you, your body, and your family. for example, i buy conditioner and perfume, but i d.i.y. moisturizers and masks. it works for me, but maybe that doesn’t work for someone else.

maybe what’s important is that we can all take a step back every once in awhile and evaluate what works for us and how we can make a better impact. 

whatever you do, whatever position you take on the green beauty spectrum, i support you. i support you because you’re out there doing the leg work and putting money into making healthier choices in a world that praises “cheap” and “fast”.

thank you, green beauty community.

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think pink with this gently exfoliating face mask

a little while back, i shared a picture of my pink face mask with you on IG and you guys said you wanted the recipe. hopefully you love it as much as i do!

this face mask is gently exfoliating yet non-drying, and completely edible, although i wouldn’t suggest tasting it.

it’ll be great at sloughing off dead skin, combating excess oil, getting the grime out of your pores, and soothing your skin. this mask is best suited for those skin types that are not dry, and it’s also good for blemish-prone skin. if you have dry skin, refer to the 2nd recipe.

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Continue reading think pink with this gently exfoliating face mask

catch-up #9

happy monday tuesday, crunchies!

it’s been quite some time since we had a catch-up post. i can’t call them weekly now, can i? haha!

today’s post is gonna feature some products i’ve been testing out to share with you – a facial oil, body balm, lip tints, and eye cream. if you want more details on any of these, please ask! and as always, please share your experiences with us below!

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Continue reading catch-up #9

weekly catch-up #7

happy monday, crunchies!

i hope everyone had a great weekend!

the highlight of my weekend was floating down a river with some friends, however, i got quite the sunburn. what did you do this weekend?

rose

ROSE HYDROSOL. as we all know, i love rose anything! i purchased a spray bottle of organic rose water and i have to say – i’m in love. i have the brand inflora botanica, purchased here (not an affiliate link). rose water can be used as a toner, humectant, anti-inflammatory, spray to help with oily and blemished skin, lightly scented body or hair spray, and a spray to help with fine lines and wrinkles. this refreshing floral  hydrosol is also high in vitamin c and antioxidants, so spray away! the brand i have is a tad expensive, but the quality is superior. it smells heavenly! what are your favorite hydrosol uses? Continue reading weekly catch-up #7

weekly catch-up #6

2021 edit: i no longer subscribe to or support the “all-natural” label.

happy monday, crunchies!

this past weekend i got to go home and see my family, pups, and freakin amazing best friend. there’s nothing better than time with these people and pets!

how was your weekend??

we have a product review-based catch-up today! don’t forget to leave your feedback on these products below!

SHEA MOISTURE MINI HAUL. i purchased a handful of items from the BOGO last week – coconut hibiscus shampoo, coconut hibiscus lotion, and coconut hibiscus moisture mist. i’m not one for lotions or shampoos, but i figure i should try more of their products if i’m going to continue to list some of their products as ‘safe’ swaps for conventional ones. Continue reading weekly catch-up #6