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British expat Samantha Howe has transitioned into her California life with ease. She first caught our attention when she was blogging about renovating her first home in Marin County, while continuing to live under the (tarp!) roof with her husband and young son. Her blog is currently on hold, but she has been busy adding two more children to the mix and putting the final design touches on their now stylish abode. Her latest project is as the Head of Influencer and Social Marketing for Grove Collaborative, a go-to shop for green, natural and non-toxic products for you and your home. Through her work, Samantha has had the opportunity to test hundreds of products and find her favorites and has graciously gathered this list below so you can get started on greening your beauty routine ASAP. Think of this as your green goddess cheat sheet. You’re welcome.

As busy mamas, it’s almost instinctive that we put everyone else’s health and well-being above our own. We make sure our kids eat organic food, they wear natural diapers, and I don’t know about you, but I spend hours researching safe sunscreen products for them. But when it comes to my beauty routine – all I cared about was that a product worked, especially if it made me look a LOT less tired and hopefully a little bit younger! I was a superficial skin care junkie who NEVER bothered to read an ingredient label.

About two years ago, California announced it was banning Plastic Microbeads. Intrigued, I dug a little deeper into the issue. What I discovered shocked me. Mostly used in “scrub products”, microbeads flush down the drains and are too small to be caught in nets, flowing into the ocean where the fish ingest them and as a result end up in our food chain. That night I read my first ingredient label. The “highly rated” facial scrub that I loved dearly, was full of plastic microbeads. Although, the sale of products with these beads has since been banned by former President Obama, I realized a little too late that I had unwittingly been polluting the environment and my body for years. I vowed to make a change.

A year later, I joined Grove Collaborative, to head up their Influencer and Social Marketing. The company’s social mission spoke to me – I love that Grove is committed to offering the best in affordable green and skin-safe products and, for all the busy moms out there, we make them easily accessible by shipping them to your doorstep.

Through my new role, I learned all kinds of interesting facts and discovered many new products. Did you know that in Europe, there are over 1400 ingredients that have been banned or restricted from use in personal care products, but in the US this number is just 30? It’s shocking just how unregulated the US cosmetics industry is.

The “natural” category is so popular now that it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to start, and not all labels are created equal. “Natural” isn’t a regulated term, so products claiming to be green are not always good! To combat this, companies like Beauty Counter and Grove have developed dirty ingredients lists so that consumers can begin to educate themselves on what’s in their products.

But what should you look out for? Here’s a basic cheat sheet of what to look out for:

  • Parabens: These are a group of preservatives used in cosmetics to prevent the growth of bacteria (Look for methyl-, butyl-, and propyl-paraben in the ingredients). However, Parabens mimic estrogen and can act as potential endocrine disruptors.


  • Phthalates: A group of chemicals often used in cosmetics to keep materials pliable, or for fragrance. Noted again as potential endocrine disrupters, they have been suspected of causing reproductive harm.


  • Sulfates: These are harder to avoid as they are in many personal care products acting as the “foaming agent” in soaps and shampoos, but they are derived from petroleum which is a non-renewable product, so avoiding them is better for the earth. They can irritate skin and strip your hair color too, so as a start, look for sulfate-free hair products where possible.

Not all products will be free of all 3, but reducing your exposure to as many as possible is a good start.

The good news is that I’ve spent the last 2 years testing all kind of personal care products, so I’ve created a list of my favorites. Although my routine isn’t 100% perfect, it’s a good “green” place to start.


These were the products I swapped out first because they were the ones I used the most frequently. It was easier to test new ones and find my favorites.

HAIR: After much trial and error, I landed on using Acure Organics Shampoo and Conditioner for my hair, and I mix it up with an ACV rinse from dpHue once a week which helps to keep my locks shiny and doesn’t affect my color. To smooth any strands out I use Ouai Hair Oil, which is paraben-free and seals my split ends like a charm!

BODY: I LOVE the coconut body wash by Jason as it’s rich and moisturizing, and I pair it with my Preserve razor for super close shaving. This 5-blade razor is made with recycled Yogurt cups and is amazing! Post shower, I spray with Acure’s Marula Oil Body Spray. This stuff is so hydrating for dry summer skin and it’s not greasy at all.

DEODORANT: This was a hard one for me and I tried EVERY natural deodorant on the market. Nothing worked for me until I discovered Schmidt’s Naturals. This stuff is simply amazing and it’s free of aluminum, propylene glycol, parabens and phthlatates. I am so passionate about this product that I even converted my triathlon running husband to use this!

TEETH: I jumped on board the coconut oil pulling craze, and I’ll admit it — once you get used to it, it does work! But you still need to brush, so I use Dr Bronners Peppermint. The taste is amazing with a light minty flavor, and it contains no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Plus, the packaging is pretty.


Landing on these favorites took a while. As a self-confessed Sephora junkie, I had a drawer full of expensive creams and serums that I was still diligently working my way through. I adopted a one-at-a-time approach – as I finished a product I would replace it with a better, greener choice to make this transition less stressful.

CLEANSE: For a daily cleanse, I LOVE the Regenerating cleanser from Tata Harper, as it makes my skin glow after every use! For a deeper, once-a week cleanse, I use the Acure facial scrub which is made with organic sea kelp & lemon peel. This scrub removes dead skin cells and leaves skin glowing.

TONE: I love how refreshing this Cocokind rosewater spray is on my skin. It’s Certified USDA Organic and it’s great for soothing your skin and helping to restore its PH.

SERUM: I’m obsessed with anti-aging products, and one of the best I’ve found to help with this is the C-Firma Day Serum from Drunk Elephant. This brand identified and removed 6 “suspicious” ingredients, including Silicones and SLS, that it believes are at the root of all skin problems. It’s also fragrance-free, which is a bonus for those with sensitive skin.

MOISTURIZE: During the day, I use Tata Harper’s Reparative Moisturizer. This light formulation is perfect on my California sun-exposed skin. At night, I load up on Drunk Elephant’s Virgin Marula Oiltopped with a thin layer of Acure’s Magical Wonder Fluff (yes, it’s really called that!) as a super-hydrating sleeping mask.


Honestly, this was the hardest thing for me to change. Although I don’t wear a lot of make-up, I still had my favorites, but an allergic reaction to my regular mascara helped me make the change! There’s nothing like red itchy eyes to encourage you to follow through on a resolution.

EYES & BROWS: This petroleum, aluminum and paraben-free W3llPeople Expressionist Mascara works beautifully on lashes. The brush delivers the perfect amount of product without being clumpy, and doesn’t irritate my sensitive eyes. I typically thread my brows for shape, but daily I’ll brush my brows with a regular brush and pencil in any desired shape with the Alima Pure Eyebrow Pencil. Being fairer toned, the light color is perfect for my brows.

FOUNDATION: I prefer to use a lightly tinted moisturizer rather than a full-coverage foundation, and the Amore Pacific Tinted Moisturizer one offers SPF 15 protection. Its formulated without parabens, phthalates and sulfates, and uses green tea and red ginseng extract for extra potency! As a busy mom of 3, I’m all about using multi-tasking products wherever possible.

CONCEALER: Again, I prefer to lightly cover up rather than fully hide imperfections, so this RMS “Un”Cover up is the perfect product to conceal and moisturize at the same time.

LIP & CHEEK STAIN: The first green make-up product I ever bought was the Tata Harper Volumizing Lip & Cheek Tint. The color and multi-use made it an indispensable product to me, and I like that it gives you that flushed cheek look. For deeper color, especially on nights out, I love the Burts Bees Lip Crayon. Its super easy to use, affordable, and it gives me a precise application which is useful as I’m terrible at applying lip color!

HIGHLIGHTER:  I’m all about creating an ethereal glow with my make-up so a highlighter is a must. The RMS Magic Luminizer is a cult fave amongst makeup artists because it melts into your skin but stays dewy looking. It’s also easy to use – just apply with your fingertips to the main key areas to highlight.

Making these changes to your routine won’t happen overnight, but by committing to swapping out one product at a time and paying more attention to product labels, you will find the process more manageable and less overwhelming.

Green Beauty is a trendy topic right now but it isn’t going away anytime soon – Target, Sephora and Ulta Beauty now stock small selections of green products. There are even specialty stores like Credo and Detox Market focused on higher end products, and my company Grove Collaborative is dedicated to offering all the essentials for daily green living. Make the switch today — I promise you won’t regret it!

For heymama members wanting to make a switch to a greener routine and give Grove Collaborative a try, we are offering $20 off your first order of $40 or more when you sign up through www.grove.co/heymama!


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