Hi there, I hope you guys are well. Today I am thrilled to announce that my elder sister Nataliya is guest-posting on my blog on the latest hot topic: a cleaner lifestyle!
Nataliya is my inspiring sister who is 2.5 years older than me. She lives in Seattle with her daughter and husband. For many years now, she has been making a transition towards a more natural lifestyle. I decided to invite her to live on my Instagram and also asked her to guest post for me so you guys can get the details from our conversation for future reference. Let’s hear it from her:
Picture Credits: Sumaira
How I got interested in a natural lifestyle
It goes back to 2010 when I found out I was pregnant and discovered that certain chemicals can actually be really harmful to your fetus, even leading to birth defects etc. I found out about nail colours initially since I loved using the cheap nail colours I had collected over the years.
During this same time, I realized that the fragrance plug-ins I loved using in my home full of synthetic fragrance might not be all that harmless too. This was my first awareness about toxins in our daily use products and I made a few lifestyle changes.
In 2012 when Papa passed away is when I started getting more interested in this because I don’t know it just felt like there had to be a connection between all the toxins we were surrounded with cancer on some level.
That’s when I started getting interested in this a lot, especially since now we had a little toddler in our home too who would inhale the chemicals I brought into our home. It was very overwhelming initially since when you start going into details, there are ingredients to avoid and there are too many! I am a bigger picture person so it was too overwhelming for me.
I found two apps that helped a lot. Good Guide and EWG which you can scan products in and find more natural less toxic options! Also looked for brands as a whole which were more responsible with their ingredients.
Making the shift
I’m at 8ish years into this shift
What we eat has been as important and it actually calls for a whole separate post as there’s too much to cover. Generally, I have been preferring more natural foods. Trying to eat as many fresh organic fruits and vegetables as possible. I also try to avoid:
- Artificial flavours
- Artificial colours
I choose whole-wheat/more natural options whenever possible. What you’re having daily should be a major concern. I don’t usually worry too much about something if I only have it once in a blue moon.
Initially, I wrongly believed that buying higher quality (more expensive makeup) would be better than the drugstore brands I loved buying. But soon discovered that that was totally not the case. It was hard to find them at that time (there are so many more options now).
I found out a few lines at Whole Foods and basically started sticking to a few brands:
My policy during this change has been that instead of throwing everything out, I just decided to use up what I had and when I run out, to do more research and move to better alternatives.
Coconut oil was making the rounds all over too during this time so I got into that too. Loved it instantly because it tends to stay ‘hard’ with our climate which is perfect to use it as a moisturizer. It’s been years now that I only use that as a moisturizer after a shower for myself and for Anya too. Used baby food jars/ jam jars for that and just keep them in the bathroom.
I also use it as a makeup remover with cotton buds and it’s perfect for everything. I absolutely love it. Recently it is part of my nightly routine too for the face. I do buy a fragrance-free body lotion from any brand that I trust and use that for other hands and feet etc since I know coconut oil can make you feel ‘too oily’ sometimes.
Making the switch to natural deodorant It took me a while to do something about all the talk about the harmful effects of antiperspirant deos and started researching options for that. Tried quite a few brands TOMS & a packaged version of Phitkari too. I was not convinced entirely since it requires a little bit of un-learning on the feeling of clean that we have gotten used to thanks to the antiperspirants.
You have to detox your body from using the antiperspirant ones and that it takes a while to figure out what works best for you with natural deos. I learned so much about my own body during this time, to be conscious of the fact that certain foods can make you smell, that your sweat can smell more depending on where you are at in your cycle.
I have moved between different options and have realized that you need to use it more often, make sure to shower daily or even if you don’t, to wash your armpit area daily.
It is one ingredient which can hide a lot of toxins in itself, but I love my perfumes even though I have bought Pacifica’s essential oil perfumes for Anya. But while I have a hard time trying to replace that for myself, I try to remember that a little goes a lot, so basically being more mindful of the usage and going with little instead of more.
I also try to use perfumes on top of clothes instead of skin now.
Home + Cleaning Products
Meanwhile, I stopped bringing home the toxic cleaning products I was so used to using. This was a little harder too because, without the sharp chemicals, the cleaning solutions required more elbow grit and effort to do the same work. Of course, during this time, I still kept the chemicals I thought I couldn’t do without but was more conscious of when I used them, e.g. made sure to open windows and not use them on a daily basis at least.
A few cleaning product companies that have become favourites during these years: Method / Seventh Generation. But as I searched for cleaner brands I also started noticing alternatives around me, eg: In Anya’s preschool that I would volunteer at, they would only use white small towels + bleach solutions for cleaning and I loved that. My sister Nadiya also makes her own cleaner and I also try to make at least one bottle of either a bleach/vinegar solution to use for everyday kitchen cleanups.
I think initially the biggest shift was mental, to kind of realize that this all cleaned smell I love is basically full of toxins, and spending more money won’t mean that the product is BETTER.
During my pregnancy, the smell of most candles was hell to me. Over the years I found out that the not just the fragrance in candles can be harmful but also the wax, soy or Beeswax candles made with essential oils are better alternatives. Candles are my weakness and I have a hard time completely cleaning them out from our lives. I try to buy ones with essentials oils instead of synthetic fragrance and ones with either soy, beeswax, coconut wax instead. Now I limit candle usage and don’t have them on all the time like I previously used to.
My Favourite Products
Sharing a few of the brands that I have used during this time:
Almost 90% of the makeup products I try to buy are from brands I trust now.
- Jane Iredale (foundation, bb creme, lipstick),
- Honest Beauty (one of my favourite brands, I’ve used their foundations/mascara/blush/brow filler)
- Zuzu cosmetic/ Gabriel beauty (love their lipsticks, also using their mascara),
- Bite Beauty (I love their lipsticks),
- Bare Minerals (powder foundation).
When I can’t find something eg: Highlighter recently, I try to find a product that has a better rating comparable on the apps that I use.
Personal Care products (shampoos, body lotions, deo)
My basic philosophy right now
- Our life is in Allah’s hands and maybe things that have to happen will happen. However, just like I make sure I feed my family healthy, well-balanced foods, I feel responsible for making sure that the products that are a part of our daily life are not harming my family.
- I also aim for simplicity in our lives now and totally avoid buying too many products for anything. Fewer products, less exposure to any chemicals that aren’t good for us. This in itself was a huge shift as I was also one of those people who loved trying out random products! But honestly, I feel like this just simplifies my life so much since I don’t feel the need anymore!
- With products I find hard to replace right now, eg perfumes/candles I try to remember that a little goes a lot, so basically being more mindful of the usage.
How to start your shift to a cleaner lifestyle
- Start small. You don’t have to change everything right now!
- In every area, pick products you use most frequently or on a daily basis.
- If you’re worried about organic products being more expensive, just simplify your routines (My husband and Anya both use a hair + body wash so basically one product instead of two), lesser products means you’re overall spending less.
- Instead of buying products, switch to homemade options first since you can start doing that right now.
- If you can’t change your products right now, remember a little goes a long way and you don’t have to use too much product. Open windows or turn on the exhaust to minimize harmful effects.
Why make the switch?
Following are a few references to motivate you:
I would like to thank Nataliya for her time and effort in publishing this guest post. I would also like to thank each one of you for taking out the time to read this. I hope it helped. We would love to hear from you:
- Have you ever thought of choosing a more natural/cleaner lifestyle?
- What are the things you learned on your journey to protect yourself from all the chemicals around?