This is a blog post I should have written long ago, but like many, we feel like maybe someone else is doing it better. However, as someone with an autoimmune disease and that has deeply struggled with infertility for almost ten years of my life and marriage, I’ve been through the ringer learning about and identifying ways to reduce toxins in my life to help reduce inflammation in my body. As a beauty blogger, you may think my changes started with personal care. But that was actually the last place I made adjustments. If you’d like to learn how to start living a cleaner lifestyle for beginners, I’ll take you on my journey with easy, practical swaps that shouldn’t cost and arm and a leg.
To be clear, I don’t think anyone who knows me (or meets me) thinks I’m some holier-than-thou, hippie dippy crunchy mom. Not that there’s ANYTHING wrong with that lifestyle, but it’s just not me.
I firmly believe in living an 80/20 lifestyle. 80% of my life I try to live low tox/no tox or cleaner, and 20% is not. The stress some people put on themselves to achieve perfection is not helpful to my cortisol and stress levels, so that’s how I prefer to do things. If that sounds like you, then let’s keep going…
My cleaner lifestyle began with my infertility journey back in 2015/2016. Back then, doctors and my health providers who were helping me try to get pregnant advised me to choose organic meats and produce, when possible. Additionally, if I was using plastic tupperware/food storage, swap out to glass containers.
The reason this is recommended is because of the extra chemicals that are used on produce and in what the animals are fed if not organic. This can affect our hormones and expose us to carcinogens we certainly do not need. As for the plastic vs glass, plastics contain BPA (even if it says BPA free, there are other BPA alternatives they DO contain that are just as toxic as BPA, just not officially published yet…. so try to avoid plastic when possible and stick with stainless steel, food grade silicone or glass). BPA is an estrogen mimicker and thus, can throw off hormones, as well as, has been connected to diabetes, heart disease and other health issues.
As an extra tip with food, not ALL produce needs to be organic. If you bookmark the EWG’s Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen they publish annually, you’ll know what produce to splurge on organic, and where you can save. I follow this to this day.
Organic meats can be daunting in the grocery store lately… the prices are INSANE. Since the beginning of the pandemonium in 2020, we got sick of the shortages in the local grocery stores and decided to use Butcher Box for our meats. This is a meat delivery service and we get it delivered monthly. I get the custom box, so I can change out the meats I get each month, but you can select different options, too. The cost savings is significant. I did a comparison shopping in store vs with Butcher Box and the ONLY comparable retailer to get the quantity of organic/grass fed meats I was getting was COSTCO. But if you don’t live close to a COSTCO that stocks a lot of organic/grass fed meats, then you’ll love Butcher Box. They’re also a B Corporation :).
Food storage was also one we did slowly. Glass containers aren’t cheap so I remember buying a set every month or two until we had enough for our family’s needs. We like these, these, and these from Amazon. I also use the big wide mouth mason jars from Walmart to store any fruits or leftovers (broth, soups, sauces) that need to go in the fridge (like berries… game changer for freshness).
This clean living journey is a work in progress and even in 2023 at the time of this blog post, I still am making changes in my family’s life as I learn. So, pace yourself and know that every safer swap matters and is reducing your exposure to yucky stuff… thus, helping your body function its best.
The next area I swapped was home cleaning products… and this is where I learned about how harmful artificial fragrance/parfums can be. Synthetic/artificial fragrance can literally be an ENTIRE blog post in itself as it’s in so many things and is not just irritating to sensitive skin, but irritating to our internal body, too. We also have pets and I am a mom, so making sure that my pets and children aren’t inhaling or touching toxic fumes/chemicals is important.
But in terms of home cleaning chemicals and fumes… my main goal was to reduce or eliminate cleaners that didn’t actually clean and just left SMELL (think: Fabuloso, Pine Sol… things like that). My favorite nontoxic yet EPA approved disinfectant cleaner used in our home is from Force of Nature. It can be used legitimately on EVERYTHING and will still leave that ‘chlorine’/bleachy smell you may be used to… but by way of salt/vinegar osmosis 🙂 You can re-make fresh bottles as needed, so it’s one of those items that is an ‘investment’ initially, but truly breaks down to be cheaper over time.
I also got familiar with utilizing baking soda and plain white vinegar for a lot of things… as well as, Barkeepers friend in place of Comet.
Caveat: you will still find me using Clorox toilet cleaner and some bleach-based ingredients in my bathroom because… well… sometimes you just need the big guns when you’re dealing with bathrooms and kids and sickness 😉 but every day, and throughout the rest of the home…
*Laundry – I’ve tried SO MANY brands. As a mom of a toddler, some of the cleaner brands like Molly’s Suds just don’t work as well on stains for us. So this is my happy medium right now. It changes occasionally, but I know using this formula is still better than your traditional orange bottle of Tide.
The next area I began to take a look at was personal care… think: body wash, deodorant, skincare, makeup… really, the stuff we use every single day that is in direct contact with our skin – the largest organ of the body and the one that absorbs over 60% of what we put on it.
Some would argue starting here would be the MOST important after food, but I think this is a place many people avoid because they think it’s too hard.
When I discovered how many of my favorite, top recommended personal care products were highly toxic to human health with NO regulation to market in the United States, I was absolutely pissed.
In short, the last time a major federal regulation was passed giving the FDA any sort of ability to manage what is put into our personal care products was 1938. There have been SOME smaller laws passed in the last ten years, but nothing major.
So consumers are left to decipher ingredient labels themselves and even when a brand says it’s ‘clean,’ it is just a marketing term. You need to educate yourself on what ingredients specifically are harmful and why… and make your own decisions.
There are actually PLENTY of brands who may not call themselves ‘clean,’ yet their products are cleaner. So, it’s frustrating for sure.
These apps are not perfect. You still need to use some common sense and research some ingredients yourself. You also may not find everything on these apps, so that’s why you have to be an informed consumer. But they are a helpful guide for newbies!
This is where my journey led me to learn about Beautycounter. I’ve been a brand ambassador with Beautycounter (my story) since 2019 and love that the products don’t just SAY they’re clean… they really mean it. And they’re high performing… as in, their formulas work just as nicely as the traditional stuff on the market, they have active skincare ingredients, etc. They do this all while banning over 2,800 ingredients that are questionable to human health and ALL of the ingredients banned in the EU that the US hasn’t caught up with yet.
Most importantly, Beautycounter is currently the ONLY beauty brand that has ever been asked to speak in front of Congress about the lack of regulation in this industry and the harm is can do to people in terms of fertility, autoimmune issues, cancer and more. Beautycounter advocates and helps lobbyist support real change so future generations don’t have to be ingredient sleuths and people can just buy something from the store without worrying what’s in it.
But I definitely do not ONLY use Beautycounter. That’d be unrealistic 😉 I love trying new beauty and personal care products, so what I try to do is avoid a handful of ingredients in formulas:
Using the apps I mentioned above helps weed out purchasing products with these ingredients, but the easiest tip I can leave you with is avoid products that use synthetic or artificial fragrance. Doing that alone helps SO much.
Start with the products you’re about to finish up first, OR the ones you use daily (body wash, deo, face cleanser, moisturizer, SPF, tinted moisturizer/foundation, lip product). If you need specific recommendations for your skin type, please comment below or shoot me a DM on IG @brighterdarling.
That’s your ‘How To Start Living A Cleaner Lifestyle For Beginners‘ and my first three areas that I started with! Since then, we’ve swapped out cookware and some other home-related products, but I think these are attainable swaps you can make over time that can help you with inflammation in the body and overall be better for our planet, too.
I made these swaps over time and as we ran out of things in our home. A couple items every month makes a difference.
If this was helpful, let me know and I can work on a Part II.