My Journey to Clean Living

By Estelle Hayes

While pregnant, I became hyper aware, as many women do, of everything I was putting into my body. Whether it was choosing organic apples I craved so intensely or creams free from parabens, I was starting a journey that would impact my lifestyle and my role as a consumer forever. I didn’t realize that those small steps to protect myself and my growing baby would ignite a passion so strong I would launch a blog devoted to finding clean alternatives to virtually every conventional product I use daily. But here I am. Doing just that. Earlier in the week, I announced my Personal Environmental Movement over on Huffington Post. Check it out and let me know if you’re on board. Here’s an update on how I got to this point in my clean living journey.

I’ve taken baby steps, missteps and fallen into some savvy marketing traps. I’m not ashamed because I’m convinced that real and lasting change doesn’t happen overnight. It happens when you realize your daughter is frolicking in synthetic “cherry” scented bubbles and sitting in a puddle of 1,4-dioxane because you were lulled into the allure of her favorite cartoon character’s charm. It happens when you realize more of your girlfriends than not have taken a formaldehyde bath in exchange for a few months of shiny and straight hair. I had a few of those “ah ha” or “uh oh” moments and I knew I could not go back to living with blinders.

Little by little, I’ve been detoxing my life and replacing mainstream cleaning and personal care products with non-toxic and in some cases homemade versions. I have a long way to go, but here’s where I stand today. I hope this helps you to make a few positive changes yourself. Join me in leading your own Personal Environmental Movement. Also, be sure and download our Pocket Guide to Clean Cosmetics and learn how to read labels while your shopping for personal care products.

Shampoo and conditioner: John Masters, Acure and Say Yes Unscented Shampoo/Soap for my daughter.

I used to get a partial highlight every eight weeks. I stopped in December of 2010. I’ve embraced the ombre trend…for now. I’m guessing I’ll return to highlights at some point but until then I’ll look for a less toxic option, I’ll ask for foils and dyes not to touch my scalp and I’ll limit them to once a quarter or twice a year.

Shave cream: My husband uses BullFrog.
Facial Cleaners: 100% Pure
Moisturizer: 100% Pure and Argan Oil
Eye Cream: 100% Pure
Lotion: Alba
Bar soap: various handmade bars found at Whole Foods – I’m constantly experimenting here.
Toothpaste: Tom’s of Maine, Spearmint for mom and dad, strawberry flouride-free for kids
Sunscreen: Alba, California Baby, Badger, Suntegrity

Make Up
Mascara: 100% Pure
Lip gloss: 100% Pure
Eye shadow: Mineral Fusion
Eye liner: Mineral Fusion
Chapstick: Badger

Baby Products
Bubble bath: California Baby
Wipes: 7th Generation
Diapers: 7th Generation, 365 Everyday

Cleaning Products
Surfaces: 7th Generation Surface Cleaner
Sink: Method
Toilets: Method
Dish liquid: 7th Generation
Dishwashing liquid: 7th Generation
Laundry detergent: 7th Generation Uncented
Fabric softener sheets:
Floors: White vinegar

Full disclosure: I’m still using (until I run out) a mainstream tinted moisturizer, bronzer and I’m looking for a better eye liner option. It was painful to use up the last of my highly toxic shampoo and conditioner. I miss painting my nails on a whim. But I don’t feel great about using even the 4-free polish brands available now. I treat myself to a quarterly pedicure, but at least I know the bottle I bring with me is the cleanest option I can find. Honestly, aside for the mani/pedi indulgence, I don’t feel lacking for luxury or quality brand experiences. I also feel good knowing that I’m raising my daughter to read labels and understand the importance of good things in and on her body. She may only be four years-old, but she happily points out the offending bubble bath and says “that is not good for my body.”

And finally, not all of the products listed above are perfect. Method does not disclose it’s entire ingredient list, although they have a very public commitment to improving the planet. Many Say Yes products include “fragrance” which in most cases is code for “it’s a trade secret and may include some synthetic nastiness”. Tom’s of Maine still includes sodium lauryl sulfate. This is disappointing. But overall, I believe their products to be better options than the competitors I grew up with so I accept the good with the not-so-good and continue to seek out alternatives.

Photo credit: Estelle Hayes 


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  • Torrie @ a place to share…

    ahh, i’ve been waiting for *this exact post.  i will save it and use it as a guide when making future products swaps and purchases. huge kudos to you for taking a desire to action.  i remember when you wrote that post a while back about how you were ready to make the change… and you did!

  • Erin//Suchsmallsteps

    I think what you’re doing with this site is awesome. Many of us want to make the change to a cleaner lifestyle but need a push or guidance. I’ve read raves about the Elta MD line and never realized it was green! I use a lot of Mrs. Meyers cleaning products. I have had terrible luck with healthy shampoo and conditioner but did give up the Brazilian blowouts (tried it once and it did feel quite toxic).

  • Megan browne

    Thanks, I just love all this information.  So helpful for all of us to know about!

  • Lemonayde

    Yay Estelle, good on you for making a change. I have only just started replacing products as I go. I am too becoming more aware of what I am consuming, reading labels etc. There are so many benefits  and taking baby steps is the best way. My children are becoming more aware and beginning to tell others about their wrong doings, oops! Great work. Love your blog, new fan. 

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