Why I Switched From Toxic Skincare to Natural Beauty

My divergence from traditional beauty products started when I was eighteen. It was provoked by a cream that claimed to smooth cellulite, which I had stumbled upon while browsing the  cosmetics aisle at CVS. I could scarcely believe fate had shone upon me so graciously. There I was, headed to the beach for Senior Week, and suddenly possessed, within this $36 plastic tub, an insurmountable power, greater than that of even genetics. I was pretty much God.

Unfortunately, I soon learned the only difference between cellulite cream and moisturizer is that consumers are  willing to pay a much heftier price for a moisturizer they think will give them Candice Swanepoel's bum.

My miracle cream left me with nothing more than a revolting rash and a bitter cynicism towards all cosmetics. I delved into research that summer, both through an internship assignment and to feed my personal vendetta, and became increasingly incredulous at the lack of transparency and accountability in the beauty industry. Brands, I discovered, can make promises about  smoothing wrinkles, brightening eyes, healing split ends, or rejuvenating complexions because they don't have to keep them; the FDA is not regulating their products or pre-approving their formulas. This means that consumers spend several billion dollars annually on skin care, hair care, and makeup boasting impossible results and laden with potentially (and often proven to be) dangerous carcinogenic chemicals.

I am admittedly still obsessed with skin and hair care, but my beauty regime has since ventured into "alternative" territory. I will mull over the purchase of a new face wash with a degree of scrutiny I imagine rivals that of a real grown-up deliberating life insurance policies. However, my shopping list is now substantially natural ingredient oriented. After years of trial and error, I have replaced nearly every one of my daily products with 100% natural substitutes, void of carcinogens, allergens, and irritants. My bathroom vanity is teeming with vitamin E oil for cuticles and lips, brown sugar and jojoba oil as a body scrub, coconut oil for every possible beauty woe; it's also proven to be an advantageous space-saver for my cramped kitchen. This all matters because there are so few sources women can trust to dispense honest information about the products we are applying to our skin, which total about 12 per day on average.

Corporations are profit driven, obviously, and are free to make any claim about their brand that may result in higher sales. Magazines (and now some bloggers) are motivated by advertisers. Unbiased information is not readily available, and the beauty industry thrives on our blind trust in their promises. Cellulite is caused by fat deposits and hormones. There is no conclusive long-term fix. But the average woman isn't going to know that false advertising is basically legal in the beauty industry, let alone that a main ingredient in anti-cellulite creams is Hydroxyethyl Acrylate, a volatile organic compound known to cause chemical burns when inhaled, ingested in large quantities, or applied to the thighs of a break-out prone eighteen year old girl. As I always say, nothing like a festering chemical burn to make you take stock of your  priorities and re-evaluate the toxins to which you are exposing your body.

Looking to make the switch to natural beauty? Start your journey with Modavanti's sustainable cosmetic brands. 

By Bryn Terrell

Jesse Ayala

New York, New York, USA

Developing social good and value-adding products, Ayala seeks to enhance culture and behavior through experiences that address both macro- and micro-level problems. This mantra has led Ayala down an non-traditional career path, linking fashion, technology, performance art, media, education, community building, and design. Ayala has been honored by the Huffington Post and InStyle magazine for innovation and style in the digital new economy. Ayala is the co-founder and Creative Director of Modavanti.com.