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Safe Products for the Uncrunchy Mama

When I got pregnant, I became ultra-paranoid about toxins. (Haven't you heard? Pregnancy is the best time ever to become a paranoid schizophrenic!) At first I was drawn to everything "crunchy," from home organic gardening to no-poo hair care. I actually loved gardening and no-'poo, but they are not as simple or easy as you might be led to believe. Then I realized that all that crunches is not wholesome (there is just as much consumer-swindling, hazardous and unscientific BS in the "crunchy" sphere as in mainstream marketing toward women) and besides, I was too tired to make all my own soaps and cosmetics. And I didn't want to smell like patchouli and vinegar every day, much as I do love those two things. And I like my hair and skin and nails smooth, totally unlike my nut butter.

Fortunately, I found three great brands that offered everything I wanted: convenience, quality, reasonable price, and safety for me and my unborn child. Their products are luxurious, yummy smelling without the "fragrance" cancer cocktail (or at least un-stinky in the case of the nail polish), safe for pregos and babies, AND good for the environment!

In my nesting phase, I took the opportunity to clear out my beauty/hygiene products and start fresh with these brands.

1. Shea Moisture

Shea Moisture products are available in drugstores and supermarkets. The first thing I fell in love with was the Olive & Marula Head-to-Toe Baby Wash with avocado oil and shea butter. Forget that Johnson & Johnson crap. Mamas can bathe in it, too--It has a silky texture, a good lather for shampoo, leaves both skin and hair both squeaky clean and smooth, and smells like honeysuckle and angel breath. It's magic in a bottle, good for mamas AND babies. It's Nux Gallica's favorite bubble bath and gives her eye-rollingly aromatic Fairy Princess Brigitte Bardot Barbie hair--silky, bright, glossy, with smooth and bouncy ringlets. Miraculous. The only downside? The price is much higher than any of those popular Toxic Chemical Bath products you find on a nearby drugstore shelf, but a tiny bit of this stuff goes a long way. I've tried several other Shea Moisture products and loved them all. This line includes great stuff for black women's hair in particular, and the company has an inspiring 100-year history. It was started by a widowed, teenaged mother of four in Africa and is still run by her granddaughters. Ingredients are bought by African farmers at above-market prices, and some of the proceeds support girls' education in Africa. These are all-around feel-good treats!

2. Aveda

Aveda offers eco-friendly, divinely and naturally scented hair and skin care products as well as hair dyes and cosmetics that are clean and safe. This stuff is high-style and high-quality, and there is a huge range of products to suit many skin and hair types and personal tastes. The downside is the price; Aveda is usually only available at trendy salons and costs way more than drugstore stuff. But especially with the hair care products, a teeny bit goes a long way. The formulas are highly concentrated, so it's worth the price for a bottle that will last a very long time.

3. Zoya

Pregnancy was the only time in my life when I have had strong, long, nice-looking nails. I wanted to take advantage of this time (before baby care makes manicures pointless and impossible) to have fun with my nails, but I didn't want to expose myself to nasty compounds and fumes that could be harmful. Then my friend Esperanzita (hands pictured above) introduced me to Zoya. I ordered a bunch of wild colors at and went crazy with them! The price of Zoya polishes is excellent for the great, smooth, long-lasting quality and vibrant colors.

And if you're still chemophobic or think you've found another great product, the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is a great way to see how it checks out.

Crunchy mamas, I love you. You give the best hugs and make the best baby gifts. But less artisanal ladies, know that you don't have to look, feel, or smell "crunchy" to stay clean and healthy during pregnancy or to make ethical consumer choices. Go forth and beautify!


  1. Great article. Just because it says natural on the label doesn't always mean it's good.

    I am in love with Zoya too. But I use a base coat and a top coat and I've been on the lookout for 3-Free or 5-Free base and topcoat that actually last. I read on a blog about a brand called Silky Polish that you order online and it's 5-Free and supposedly works like gangbusters. I'm gonna order some topcoat next paycheck. I'll keep you posted on the quality of it.

    Last month I started using the Shea Moisture brand Shampoo in addition to the natural Kinky Curly products I normally use because my hair has been super dry this winter. It's working really well. The SM conditioner works very nicely by itself but it doesn't get along with my Kinky Curly Curling Custard (my hair starts to mat up when I combine them). But the Shea is no joke. My hair wasn't as smooth as it normally is but dang was it soft and it smelled like heaven. I hear they have a leave in conditioner and I might have to try it.

    1. Thanks, Miss M! You have the most glamorous nails and hair. I think I will also try more Shea Moisture products. Their stuff is delish.

  2. Oh my goodness, thank you for this. It's good to know we don't HAVE to be crunchy. Ugh. I always want to be, but you're right that it's not everything it's cracked up to be either. Always go with what works for you!

    1. So true! "Crunchy style" does not necessarily equate to being healthy, ethical, or even "natural," and what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for others. Marketing ploys are so tiresome. I love it when I find a brand I can trust AND like so I can just ignore everything else and get on with parenting a toddler and stuff.

  3. Hmm, I shall pass this on to my daughter


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