Five Simple Steps to a Beautiful New Year

December 31, 2012 Updated: April 8, 2013

 Here are five easy tweaks to your beauty and shopping routines that are sure to make a difference this year.

Look for Pure Ingredients in Your Skin Care

Now it is easy to find natural products that do not contain preservatives, parabens, petrochemicals, and other known irritants or harmful chemicals. Most labels will proudly boast clean and pure ingredients.
If you don’t know what to look for, never fear. There are many websites that can guide you.

The Environmental Working Group has a database of over 78,000 products that are rated according to their safety on the skin. Then there are green beauty mavens who would love to share their hands-on advice and recommendations with you.

One of my favorite websites is the Green Beauty Team for their enthusiasm and wide range of expertise in nutrition, health, and beauty. Educate yourself by reading their toxic ingredient glossary. And don’t miss Stephanie Greenwood’s comprehensive list in the Chemical of the Day section of the Bubble & Bee website.

 Simplify Your Routine

Your skin does not need anything complicated. It does not need products with loads of ingredients that are mostly fillers and cost a lot of money. And you do not need too many products (unless you’re like me and can’t pass up testing out every new product possible!)

So many beauty gurus are raving about pure, raw coconut oil for the skin. And they’re right! It cleans, moisturizes, smoothes hair, and can be used all over the body. Plus it contains healthy fats you can use for cooking and baking. How’s that for a simple, multi-tasking product? To try: Nahla Organic Detoxifying Coconut Cream with 100 percent ultra pure, raw, and unrefined virgin coconut oil as its sole ingredient ($28)

Shop Fair Trade

It is not as hard as it used to be to find companies selling products that are made ethically—as in sweatshop-free, paying fair wages, and providing good working conditions. Sites that are worth checking out: Fair Indigo and Ethical Ocean.

Fair Indigo states its mission on the website: “to offer uniquely beautiful and high-quality styles without the exploitation of workers and the environment that too often goes with the territory.” Ethical Ocean categorizes its products according to the priorities of the consumer: good for the earth, good for people, or good for animals.

These websites also support artisans and craftsmen rather than mass-produced, factory-made conglomerates. Try Etsy the next time you need a knitted hat. Many sellers will even fit the styles to your measurements for a made-to-order product that would cost way more anywhere else. Or better yet—learn to make one yourself!

Respect the Earth

We all share the planet. It is time to treat it and its natural resources with respect and with dignity.  Sometimes this simply means that we buy vintage items—something that celebrities have already made trend-worthy. 

Be conscious and conscientious when disposing of used products. So many can be recycled or reused by someone else.

The Lupus Foundation, Big Brother, Big Sister, and The Salvation Army to name a few will pick up discarded housewares, clothing, toys, and more right from your door. They give would-be garbage extended usage. Then, of course, keep asking yourself if you really need that extra garment before you buy it, regardless of how inexpensive it is. It will probably wind up in the junk pile eventually.

Give Back

Some of the latest ways to shop that have emerged in the last several years are sites that make charitable donations with every purchase.

Toms Shoes was one of the first brands to popularize this concept. And now there are so many more companies jumping on this successful business model.

Personally, I like Novica and My Mela for their direct support of struggling international artisans, giving them jobs and opportunities in a global market place that they would not have otherwise. Even implementing one of these ideas can transform the way you shop this year.  Find out just how far-reaching the effects can be!