I recently had the pleasure of reviewing a new enviro-book authored by Julie Gabriel, entitled The Green Beauty Guide. The book is touted as an "essential resource to organic and natural skin care, hair care, makeup and fragrances" and boy, does it deliver.
Julie has done tons of research on the toxicity of women's beauty products and has managed to summarize the information into one very thick, handy reference manual. I read the 350+ pages like a novel and learned a lot of information. However, I think I will find its real value as I refer back to it whenever I'm searching for (or helping my friends find) less toxic beauty products.
The book is laid out very intuitively. Julie begins by discussing the nature of skin and offers a little biology lesson on how this very large organ works. Don't worry though - it's not the heady stuff of biology 101, it's simplified explanations with descriptive analogies. It makes you truly understand how what we put on our skin becomes part of our own bodies.
She then goes on to discuss some of the more toxic and most commonly-found chemicals that are in many of our beauty products. She discusses the specific toxicology of each item and references various studies that have shown the damaging affects of these supposedly benign ingredients.
And just when you're starting to lose hope that you'll ever be able to use any beauty products again, she throws you a lifeline. She teaches you how to read ingredient labels, what to look for and, more importantly - what to avoid. Not just an alphabetical listing, she gives you the knowledge you need to decode the often incomprehensible labels on drugstore beauty products. She then goes through and defines various industry terms such as organic, bio-dynamic, hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, non GMO, fair trade, and natural.
My favorite part of the book is the DIY beauty section. Julie shares with us many secrets about how we can create our own, personalized, 100% natural skin care products - right in our own kitchens. Turns out it's a lot less expensive than buying the fancy green products currently on the market. And it can be a lot of fun too. I've already experimented with a few recipes and am excited to learn that tea tree oil is apparently just what the doctor ordered for my recent outbreaks. Hallelujah, Julie!
The remaining chapters in the book target specific beauty products including cleansers, toners, facials, moisturizers, sun protection, body care, hair care, baby care, makeup, fragrances and finally a beauty detox program. Each chapter discusses the correct use of the product (never knew I was supposed to double-cleanse each night, did you?), what to look for in a good product, some recommended products if you're looking to buy off-the-shelf and some cool recipes if you're thinking about whipping up your own solution.
Julie also includes an extensive list of recommended resources as well as a list of 100 toxic cosmetic ingredients you don't want in your beauty products (and why). It's kind of like having the EWG's Cosmetic Safety Database right in the palm of your hand - and it's portable enough to take to the drugstore with you!
This is a great book. It may not be the enthralling page-turner you want to take with you on your next cruise, but it's definitely a book you'll want to take with you to Walgreens. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is sick of buying beauty products, only to get them home and find out it's all full of toxic crap. The $16.95 you'll pay for the book will more than pay for itself with the time and money you save searching for truly safe alternatives to Suave and Revlon.