3 Green Products You Never Knew Existed

I've been using green and natural products for most of my adult life, but there are still moments when a new discovery truly makes me sit up and take notice.  That WOW feeling is the inspiration for this post, wherein I want to highlight greener options that you may or may not have heard of before -- both in the beauty realm and beyond.  Today's picks combine three things I never thought I'd pair together: birth control, hair dryers, and air freshener.

Low-EMF Hair Dryers
All electronic devices emit electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) when plugged in and in an increasingly electronic world, there's little doubt that most of us are constantly being bombarded with some level of this low-grade radiation.  According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there's no clear evidence to show whether or not EMF exposure increases cancer risk or other health problems, but, since the strength of electromagnetic fields fade with distance from the source, they recommend limiting time spent around a source and increasing the distance from a source to reduce exposure.  Obviously increasing the distance from your hair dryer is not a feasible option when drying your hair, but you can opt for a low-EMF model that emits significantly less radiation.  Interestingly, it's not crunchy companies leading the charge on this one either, but rather pro brands like Chi, that promise both less EMF's and faster hair drying times.  

ContraGel Green Gel
Birth control methods are classified as medical devices in North America, so bringing new and greener options to the market is often much more difficult and cost prohibitive than with other kinds of products.  It's an area where I really think healthier options are often lacking, but that's a whole other topic of conversation.  

Let's talk about barrier contraceptives for a minute.  For those looking for hormone free birth control, barrier methods like the diaphragm are often touted as one of the best choices.  However, many of these methods are not fully effective unless used in combination with spermicide or contraceptive gel.  And -- I'm sure you know where I'm going here -- the ingredients in conventional spermicides are far from ideal.  Regular use of Nonoxynol 9, the primary chemical used in spermicides, is linked to irritation, rashes, and even an increased risk of contracting HIV.  Crazy, right?  Not to mention all the other gross filler ingredients and preservatives in there.  ContraGel, on the other hand, has only five natural ingredients and relies on lactic acid to immobilize sperm.  It's also condom-compatible, vegan, cruelty-free, and free of dairy and gluten.  
[[Note: Like spermicide, ContraGel does not protect against STDs/STIs.  It's also not recommended as your sole method to prevent pregnancy, but if you're someone using (or looking to use) spermicides or a diaphragm, it's a great healthy replacement to look into.]]
Plug-In Air Fresheners
Essential oils and naturally scented candles are great home fragrance options, but I've met several people -- usually those newly transitioning to natural products -- looking for an easy one-to-one swap for something like a Glade Plugin.  And I finally stumbled onto one the other day!  Aura Cacia's Electric Aromatherapy Air Freshener is an essential oil air freshener that functions the same as conventional plug-ins, just with much cleaner ingredients.  You purchase the Electric Air Freshener itself the first time and then you can just buy the replacement refills from that point on.    

Of course, if you've already got the essential oils, a plug-in Scent Ball or Room Diffuser is an even better option that allows you to fully customize your scents!

Have you made any great green + natural discoveries lately?

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TellurideGlow Alpine Pure Oil: Intense Skin Hydration

Created to hydrate and protect skin in Telluride, Colorado's dry mountain climate, TellurideGlow's Alpine Pure Oil* ($45 for 2 ounces) is a rich oil comprised of high quality cold-pressed and unrefined plant oils.  It's almost entirely organic and is completely vegan, cruelty free, free of GMO's, made in the USA, and both packaged and shipped using recycled and recyclable materials.

Photo Credit
The oil launched earlier this year and I've been testing it out over the last couple months.  It couldn't have come at a better time, as colder temperatures are just starting to roll in here, bringing with them drier autumn skin needs.  The culmination of more than 2 years research, formulating, and product testing, Alpine Pure Oil is a blend of 24 potent botanicals: a mix of rich plant carrier oils and fragrant essential oils.  Several of my favorite moisturizing oils are included: jojoba, rosehip, argan, sea buckthorn berry, tamanu, and watermelon seed oils, to mention just a few.  These aren't just cheap filler oils, but rather potent, antioxidant- and nutrient-rich ingredients to deeply nourish and feed the skin.

Alpine Pure Oil is multi-functional (check out all the suggested uses here) and formulated for "face, hands, body and soul," however the first ingredient is coconut oil, which I know my face doesn't love, so I've predominantly used it as a body oil.  It glides on smoothly -- on both wet and dry skin -- and sinks in quickly, moisturizing and protecting the skin without any kind of heavy oil residue.  A hint of mica also leaves skin with a pretty radiance.  Nothing overtly sparkly or shimmery, just a nice subtle glow.  I've also used the oil in my hair, running a few drops through the ends to moisturize and tame frizz, and it works great for that purpose too.

The scent is a mix of seven essential oils: geranium, lavender, ylang ylang, neroli, frankincense, roman chamomile, and sweet orange.  Geranium is definitely the strongest note and although I'm not typically the hugest geranium fan, I've been enjoying the oil nonetheless.  The scent isn't overpowering or heavy and the intense florals are nicely balanced with the earthier frankincense and the fresh zippy orange.  

Photo Credit

The Bottom Line
A lovely oil that doesn't scrimp on quality ingredients.  It offers intense hydration and I enjoy using it as both a body and hair oil.  If your skin tolerates coconut oil better than mine, I expect it would make a great face oil too.

Deal Alert: US shoppers will receive a free travel size oil with any order placed on the TellurideGlow website in October.  International shipping is available on Amazon.

*Press sample

Andalou Naturals Get Started Age Defying Kit

Andalou Naturals is one of my very favorite budget-friendly skincare brands.  The company is committed to complete label transparency and was the first personal care line to achieve 100% Non-GMO Project Verification in 2011.  I've dabbled with products from almost all of Andalou's skincare ranges and recently decided to give the anti-aging Age Defying line -- also recommended for dry and sensitive skin -- a more dedicated try with the Get Started Age Defying Kit.  The Age Defy line features fruit stem cells as well as Andalou's BioActive 8 Berry Complex, a blend of organic superfruit antioxidants, and the kit includes trial sizes of the core products in the range: a cleanser, toner, mask, and two moisturizers.  I'd already used two of the five products before and was happy to try them again, along with three new-to-me items.   

Apricot Probiotic Cleansing Milk
I used a full bottle of this cleanser a couple years ago and it's something I always planned to go back to.  More of a thick cream consistency than a true milk, it's a super gentle, soap-free cleanser that's boosted with probiotic microflora to calm irritation and stimulate cell turnover.  I also love how it smells -- like sweet and creamy peach/apricot yogurt.  This cleanser is as good as I remember and is something I'll definitely rebuy in the future.  

Blossom + Leaf Toning Refresher
The toner, on the other hand, is the one product in the kit that I didn't enjoy at all.  I've never used one of Andalou's toners before and I barely made it through a sixth of the small bottle before calling it quits on this one.  It felt quite harsh and drying on my skin and, more than anything, seemed very out of place in the Age Defying range which is otherwise such a gentle line.  I also wasn't a fan of the toner's strong herbal scent.

Bioactive 8 Berry Fruit Enzyme Mask
I don't generally think of Andalou skincare products as being super "active" or intense, so to be completely honest, I wasn't expecting much from the Fruit Enzyme Mask, but it ended up surprising me.  The mask feels a little warm on the face initially and does an excellent job brightening and gently exfoliating the skin without ever feeling harsh or TOO strong.  It has the consistency of thin jelly (and smells kind of like one too!) and leaves skin feeling baby soft.  I'm not sure I'd commit to a full size immediately, simply because of how many masks I currently have, but, at a minimum, I'd pick it up in one of the Beauty2Go pods at some point.

Super Goji Peptide Perfecting Cream
The Goji Perfecting Cream is the second product in the kit that I'd previously used.  Made with goji glycopeptides, it's advertised to boost collagen and elastin production in the skin, thereby improving skin texture and minimizing fine lines and wrinkles.   I used a full jar of this some time last year and while I can't say I noticed any significant difference in my fine lines, it's a good everyday moisturizer.  The berry scent is sweet and fruity but not overpowering.  

Resveratrol Q10 Night Repair Cream
The Peptide Cream's slightly heavier counterpart, the Resveratrol Q10 Cream is recommended for nighttime use.  The ingredients feature CoQ10, resveratrol and other antioxidants, and Andalou's product description again highlights anti-aging benefits including increased cell renewal, improved skin texture, and diminished fine lines and wrinkles.  Again, I found it to be a good basic moisturizer, but it didn't blow me away.    

The Bottom Line
Andalou's trial kits are a great way to get a feel for the company's skincare products without a big cost investment.  The sizes are great for travel and are also substantial enough to get a decent feel for each product.  I didn't love everything in the Age Defying Kit, but it sparked my love for the Apricot Probiotic Cleansing Milk again and reconfirmed my positive opinion of Andalou's moisturizers on the whole.  I'm very happy to have discovered the Fruit Enzyme Mask too!

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