Q: I’m reading your book Backwards Beauty and I’ve learned so much about not chasing beauty so much, but like you talk about in the book, I still want to feel pretty. Do you have any favorite products or beauty secrets you could share with me?

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You’re absolutely right! It’s possible to kick beauty-chasing off the throne of our hearts and still have a desire to be beautiful—and that’s okay!

In the book, I talk about the “costs” of beauty—expenses like time, money, energy, toxicity, and even our dignity. Over the past few years, I’ve worked hard to cut down on the costs of my own beauty routine, and I would love to share a few of my favorites with you! Here’s my criteria: it has to work, it has to be cheaper than a mainstream product, and it has to be better for my health (no toxic chemicals, dyes, perfumes, etc.).

#1: Raw Shea Butter

Did you know that your skin is your largest organ? It’s also super absorbent. That’s why it’s crazy important to be careful what you put on it. A few years ago I ditched lotion in favor of raw shea butter. Yes, it’s a bit greasy, and no, it’s not for everyone, but my skin stays soft even in our harsh mountain-air climate. It’s cheaper than the lotion I used to buy, it doesn’t contain any chemicals, and I love how smooth and soft my skin feels. (In more humid climates, coconut oil is a great alternative.) Bonus: If you’re willing to skip the fancy packaging, you can get three pounds of shea butter for around $15 on Amazon.com!

#2: Less ‘Poo

I know, I know! People will tell you that they “tried giving up shampoo” and their hair looked like an offshore oil spill in three days. I WAS THAT GIRL. I washed my hair daily since elementary school; in fact, I was convinced I’d get a headache if I didn’t lather up each morning. (Don’t ask me where I came up with that theory.) But on the advice of a famous hairstylist (which I found while doing research for Backwards Beauty, ironically), I tried giving up shampooing every day. At first I was skeptical. I was nervous. Okay, I was downright scared! What if my head got so oily the grime would never come out?! I’m not gonna lie—it was no picnic at first. It took a couple months for my scalp to adjust, but wouldn’t you know it, this fine, thin hair of mine took to the change, and now I only shampoo my hair once a week. A few other times a week I’ll rinse it and condition the ends. And the results are AMAZING. I save about two hours a week in washing and styling time, plus I use a lot less product ($ in my pocket, less chemicals on my scalp). Booyah.

#3: Oil Cleansing

This is another one that sounds completely ridiculous and counterintuitive and just weird, but I clean my face with oil. Yes, oil. You can do an internet search for “ oil cleansing” to get the how-to, but essentially I use a mix of castor, avacado and grapeseed oils, plus some essential oils, over my entire face (makes a great eye makeup remover too!), then wipe it off with an absorbent cloth soaked in warm water. Clean and fresh without anything harsh. (I’ve also replaced my face moisturizer with three drops of jojoba oil mixed with essential oils. Love!)

#4: Charcoal Paste

Okay, ladies—this is where it gets real. (Like real wonky.) I use a paste of activated charcoal powder and water to whiten up my teeth instead of conventional whitening strips that containing bleaching agents. There’s not a whole lot of research about the long-terms effects of charcoal on teeth, so I only do it occasionally, and I’m sure to let it “soak” on my teeth rather than scrub too much (don’t want to chance damaging the enamel). It’s not like my teeth turn into a Crest commercial, but it is natural and makes just enough difference. Who needs neon white teeth, anyway? If you’re curious about the black smile, a simple internet search for “activated charcoal to whiten teeth” should give you basic instructions (and a bunch of hilarious pictures).

#5: Raw Honey Mask

I’ve found the best way to get clear skin is to eat well (see “10 Tips to Eat Right” for some basics). But sometimes a girl just needs a little help to keep her skin glowing! Raw honey is full of anti-microbial properties that help dry up pimples and may help clear acne too. The key is using raw honey—honey that hasn’t been heated, pasteurized or filtered—so that it contains all the original antioxidants, enzymes and minerals those little bees created. Just take a tablespoon or so, smooth it on your face, and let it sit for as long as you have time for. I usually keep it on for about an hour, while I’m watching a movie or reading a book before bed. Yes, it may drip down your nose or onto your lips (yum!), but it rinses of easily in water.

I never said these tips wouldn’t be just shy of laughable if you’re used to buying from the beauty isle at your local superstore, but I tell you they work! For me at least. You’ll have to do your own experimenting to find out what works best for you, but reducing the beauty costs in your life will be well worth the effort.

Love,

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