7 Ethical Beauty & Wellness Products

brown sliced soaps - Ethical Beauty Wellness Products
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Ethical Beauty & Wellness Products

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Today I want to talk about my favorite wellness products, the little things that help me take care of both my body and my spirit. I didn’t always value ritual, but I’m increasingly grateful for the time I get to spend sipping hot tea or slathering on lotion, especially during the dark, winter months (I have mild seasonal affective disorder). It adds a lot of value to my life.

Though I’ve made great strides in my ethical clothing journey, I still struggle when it comes to finding beauty and wellness brands that prioritize fair labor, consumer health, and environmental impact. For that reason, much of what I use can be considered better than average, but not perfect.

The fact of the matter is that it’s very difficult for skincare companies in particular to track their ingredients to the original source, so even if care is taken to ensure that factory workers are treated well, we have little information on the miners and growers.

This is changing – and larger brands have better resources to track their supply chains – but we still have a long way to go.

The other issue is that we expect our skincare and wellness products to work! What use is fair labor if your lotion makes you break out?

What good is an “all natural” designation if you have an allergic reaction? This is an area where progress over perfection is a really important thing to remember.

My Favorite Beauty and Wellness Products

1. Freedom Soap Company Bar Soap

Palm oil free, all natural, simple ingredients: these are my priorities when buying soap. Since my skin is sensitive, I need to stay away from synthetic fragrances and anything too heavy (like olive oil) and I’ve found Freedom Soap Company to be the best soap for my needs.

The scents are refreshing (from what I can tell, I’ve tried Lemon & Grapefruit and Oatmeal as Odds and Ends)¬†and you can purchase¬†Odds and Ends pieces for only $2.00 a piece. That’s a great bargain!

2. The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil Skin Clearing Toner

Made with fair trade tea tree oil, this toner has managed to clear up my acne without the side effects brought on by harsher chemicals like benzoyl peroxide. It’s a bit drying, but I don’t experience redness or pain like I did with other chemical acne products.

Plus, I really like the pungent, herbal smell of tea tree oil. I use it after I wash my face in the evenings. Shop it here.

The Body Shop recently re-committed itself to its original focus on providing fair trade and sustainable products, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the company improves its ingredients and process in the next few years.

3. Whole Foods’ 365 Gentle Skin Cleanser

Fragrance free and gentler than Cetaphil, Whole Foods’ skin cleanser is the only cleanser I’ve tried that my face will tolerate long term. I use this morning and night.

If my face needs a bit of exfoliating, I just apply a bit of the cleanser to my damp face and gently rub a wet washcloth in circular motions over my skin for about a minute. Whole Foods’ products must meet their guidelines for personal safety and environmental impact, though not all products they carry are created equal.

Find a local Whole Foods here.

4. Thistle Farms Body Butter in Citrus Vanilla

I was introduced to Thistle Farms after founder, Becca Stevens, gave a talk at my church last fall (read my article about it here). They set up a booth in our parish hall and we all went wild smelling things and buying gifts.

I meant to buy this body butter in a different scent, but I’m glad I ended up with Citrus Vanilla. The essential oils are a mood booster, particularly during this time of year. I apply a generous amount of body butter to my hands and feet every night before bed and I’ve seen a clear improvement in the health of my skin this winter. Shop it here.

Thistle Farms is an extension of Magdalene House, a long term care facility and resource center for trafficked, abused, and marginalized women in Nashville, TN.

They’re committed to using natural and fairly sourced ingredients, and proceeds benefit the women of the Magdalene and Thistle Farms communities.

5. Burt’s Bees Peppermint Lip Balm

Do you remember when you could only find Burt’s Bees in specialty shops? One time in middle school, my uncle gave me – of all things – a Cracker Barrel gift card for my birthday and I bought myself a tin of Burt’s Bees Peppermint Lip Balm.

I’ve been hooked on it ever since. The ingredients are all natural and nourishing (beeswax, coconut oil, and peppermint are the primary ingredients) and I hardly ever suffer from chapped lips as a result. Shop it here.

6. Thistle Farms Candle

I smelled this candle at my church’s event, but I wasn’t quite ready to commit. Fortunately, Latitudes Fair Trade in nearby Staunton, VA has an entire wall dedicated to Thistle Farms’ products, so I picked one up about a month ago. Daniel likes this fruity-earthy scent, too, and we burn it often. Shop it here.

Thistle Farms’ candles are made of soy with cotton wicks, so they’re vegan, earth friendly, and clean burning.

7. Thistle Farms Moringa Blend Tea

I love this stuff! High quality black tea mixed with fairly harvested Moringa leaves and lemongrass, this blend is a great pick-me-up when I get home from work. I prefer to drink it black – no sugar or milk needed. Shop it here.

Moringa is a plant native to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan that has lots of (yet unproven) medicinal benefits. It is vitamin and mineral rich and, as an antioxidant, may help prevent cell damage.

More in Skin

Leah Wise

Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.

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  1. Love this post! I absolutely love Burt's Bees lip products. I especially love the ones with a touch of color! It's more nourishing than lipstick :)Cassandra from http://www.chicforgood.com

  2. I don't use a whole lot of beauty products, but I'm very loyal to the ones I do. I love Lush's shampoo bars. I've found one that's perfect for my hair. I don't even need to use conditioner anymore. I know Lush isn't 100% natural, but it's close enough for me, and I value the total lack of packaging and the extensive work they do on their many animal rights campaigns. My other favorite product is my I Love My Muff fissure soap. I know, the name is totally silly, but seriously, it's so much nicer to wash that part of me with a completely natural soap that's formulated for that area. Plus, it's made in Canada so I know at least the people working in that end of it were treated well.

  3. Besma | Curiously Conscious

    Hi Leah,Love the round-up, and finding out that The Body Shop are going back to championing fair-trade and sustainable products too! Besma | Curiously Conscious

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