Guacamole face

My experiment with natural beauty products

Check out for a list of 30 dirty chemicals to avoid in personal-care products.

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The directions advised that I leave the moisturizing avocado face mask on for 20 minutes before rinsing off with lukewarm water. Thoroughly grossed out by the smell of mixed avocado, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and egg, and worried about the thick chunks of avocado threatening to drop from my face onto my clothes, I washed the homemade beauty product off after only 10 minutes. As much as I urged myself to hold out and sacrifice for the cause, I just couldn’t take the nastiness any longer!

The “cause” in question is my attempt to switch from using toxic chemical-laden beauty products to natural ones. I began this project back in August after learning about how some chemicals found in personal-care products—such as shampoo and conditioner, face wash, toothpaste, deodorant and makeup—have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and other chronic illnesses and diseases.

Realizing that I used an average of 10 beauty products (fewer than the typical adult woman) and deposited roughly 110 chemicals into my body daily, I freaked out, then replaced my conventional products with $60 worth of natural products. Soon, I encountered a dilemma. When supplies ran out, I did what any semi-lazy, extremely vain person with $15 in her checking account would do and quickly replenished my supplies with the cheapest conventional options available at a nearby grocery store.

But still determined to use natural beauty products while saving money led me to the only possible conclusion: I shall make my own! And last week, I did.

It’s easy, according to The Green Beauty Guide by Julie Gabriel, a book that defines green beauty products as “formulated without harmful toxic chemicals—including paraben and formaldehyde-based preservatives, sulfate-based detergents (sodium laureth/laurel sulfates), synthetic penetration enhancers, and artificial dyes and fragrances.” The author notes how many ingredients needed to create our own batches of personal-care products can be found right in our own kitchens.

My first adventure was all-natural shampoo, for which I mixed 1 ounce of olive oil, one free-range egg (separate the yolk to use in the shampoo, saving the egg white to later use as a tightening mask or facial scrub) and 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. This vinegar is apparently a cure-all for pretty much everything—oily hair, dandruff, acne scars, large pores, you name it. Pour a splash of vinegar into your hair daily for added bounce and shine. The recipe also calls for lemon juice, but I refrained because of its potential to lighten dark hair. And the last thing I want is to be a blond chick!

The shampoo didn’t lather, and if you enjoy the sweet smell of springtime and roses during showers, get over it (for a shampoo that lathers, blend in castile soap; to make the mix smell good, add in eucalyptus essential oil). I wasn’t hyped about being an egghead but figured the worst-case scenario would be that the shampoo would make my hair greasy. But hey, that’s how I go into work most days anyway. My hair dried naturally, and the next morning, I woke up to supercute curls and more shine than usual. For real!

For a deep-steam cleanse, I added 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a pan of boiled water and leaned my face over it to open up pores and remove impurities. Honestly, I didn’t notice any visible change in the surface of my skin; however, once the mixture cooled, I sprayed the solution on my face and it worked great as a toner.

Then came the ill-fated avocado face mask. Because avocados contain monosaturated fats, potassium, and vitamins B and E, this fruit works wonders for nourishing the skin. I mashed one avocado, beat an egg white and mixed it together with 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and 3 teaspoons of olive oil.

So sickened by the odd scent, I almost swore off avocado, guacamole and Mexican food forever, before I happened upon another face mask recipe on the Internet that called simply for a mashed avocado spread over the face—forget all those other ingredients. Now that I can handle.