i can honestly say that i’m not sure my mom used conditioner until i asked her to buy me some when i was in the third or fourth grade. even then, she kept calling it cream rinse like we were living in the late 1950s. she has really course hair. how did she survive for 40 years? idk, maybe this is a false memory, but it leads us to my point. while i was always taught to be clean and hygienic, my education on personal care pretty much stopped there. i never talked with my mom about suitable makeup colors or leg shaving or how my hair texture required a certain type of care. i pretty much had to figure all that stuff out on my own, and that is totally fine. my mother had six children. the fact that we were all bathed, clothed, fed, and felt loved was a huge success.


like most nineties kids, i started as your regular grocery store kind of gal. store brands, bright colors, fun fragrances, glitter, and loads of artificial ingredients. i was young, i was alive, bath and body works was my favorite store! i was smelling and looking like frizzy haired, shimmering, tropical vacation in middle school. i didn’t have a clue what to do with my curly hair. next came high school. i used makeup from target, or borrowed clinique from my friends when i had the chance. everyone in gym class had the same purple body spray from victoria’s secret for freshening up. garnier fructis came out with a product that finally helped me tame my curls. shakira and i were looking like she wolves and it felt good. by the end of college i had mostly given up drugstore makeup and hair care, but for what? the department store and salon brands worked well and i was mostly happy. i had fully embraced my curly hair by giving up my straight iron. but i could never stick with any product or regimen for very long. my skin was worse than it had been during puberty and my hair was healthy but only because i never styled it with heat. were the ingredients in these products still not agreeing with me despite the high price tags and missing sulfates?


so, here i am now in my late 20s and i’ve made a few questionable personal care choices. we all have. over the last few years i’ve been transitioning to a more natural self care ritual. that’s pretty much a crock though. here’s why: finding natural beauty products that work long term and don’t break the bank is the worst. good intentions turn into frustrations then to anger and eventually i’m running back to my regular conventional products. here is the perfect example. i have bought like 12 different types of natural deodorant in the last year and a half and thrown out 11 of them. just tossed good money out the window, which honestly isn’t what bothers me the most. its all those times i was so hopeful and excited to try something new and then spent the next three weeks suffering from horrible body odor in the unrelenting las vegas heat that piss me off. deodorant is not something to be taken lightly during the summer months in the mojave desert.


i was pretty much ready to give up. i was wasting money, my husband thought i was a fool. i didn’t feel like i was seeing any fruits of my good intentioned labors. my whole life i had used conventional products and while i wasn’t always pleased with the results, nothing horrible had ever happened. i was just fine. all of my siblings were pretty much just fine. did i stick with what was working or break free of the mold? online there are many bloggers who have made the ‘natural’, ‘clean’, or ‘sustainable’ switch in a huge way. like kind of scary, using dirt to brush their teeth, the family in the movie captain fantastic kind of way.


it may not seem like a big deal, but i was once again felling a little bit defeated. i felt like onlookers from both sides of the line were seeing me like i was a crazy person or a failure. i’d imagine them saying, ‘haha, she tried that crazy hippy stuff, but of course it didn’t work out. i knew it was all snake oil.’ or ‘she was never fully committed. she was a fraud with the wrong intentions from the beginning.’ i realize these thoughts say more about my own mental state than anyone in my life. after all i was the one that actually thought them. but i think it is a really good illustration of how so many things in my life never seem to fall on one side or the other of a distinct line. i live a life of compromises while the people around me seem to fit squarely into perfectly packaged categories. (again, i know they probably don’t, they just seem to.) are there more people out there like me or are most people so passionately and unchangingly one singular way?


ok. what, if any, is the resolution then? well i’m happy to report that i have found some middle ground. i did stumble upon a few natural and organic personal products that i really freaking love! i’ll write about those another day for sure (and yes, toothpaste made with dirt is one of them). there are still some conventional products that i haven’t been able to give up, and for now i have accepted that. no need to beat myself up. i see the merit in both using cleaner products and saving my money and sanity. it’s a compromise that i’m willing to make, and hey, as long as my hair isn’t as frizzy as my middle school years, it is definitely an improvement.


many nationally branded chain stores are starting to carry clean/natural products. are there any you use that you’d like to share with me?


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