Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Book Review: The Green Beauty Guide

This book review comes to us from JessTrev, aka Olive S. Oyl, aka MamaBird, who blogs over at The Green Phone Booth. Jess has x-ray eye sight when it comes to toxins and can spot them in virtually everything. Even she, though, learned a few things from this gem!

This handy reference guide by Julie Gabriel's been making the rounds of some blogs I love. The funniest thing about the reviews? Take note that none of the bloggers are coughing up their review copies. That's as good a sign as any that a book has some gravitas.

Here's your basic lowdown on Gabriel: she's not a doctor, she's a beauty and fashion editor who saw the (organic, non-toxic) green light when she had a baby. I can empathize with that! But what she's got that I don't (besides perfect skin and years of swag bags containing all the latest in skincare to review) is an almost-encyclopedic grasp of potential toxins. While she refers us all to EWG's Skin Deep database (which I have great fondness for as well), I have to say that I think Gabriel's info is more accessible. In addition to in-depth information about specific toxins (not just synthetics but also organic ingredients of concern), she created a master list called "100 Toxic Ingredients You Don't Want In Your Beauty Products." I am so totally copying this and keeping it in my back pocket when I go to the grocery store. Pshaw! You have room for a 4 page document in your purse. Hey, maybe you already vigilantly access Skin Deep on your PDA so you don't need the hot list. Personally, I used to buy products with no parabens and then hold my breath. No more!!

Anyhoo, in addition to the toxins info which is more thorough and balanced than I have seen anywhere else (including a red flag for my personal least fave in many organic and crunchy products, those troublesome tea tree and lavender oils, the Guide also provides numerous recipes for homemade beauty products. These are beyond fun, and there's a wide range of options for different skin types. Finally, she does include some specific product recommendations for those times when you can't whip up some cucumber puree on the fly. I appreciate that she provides lower-cost yet safe(r) options as well as higher-end perfect options.

If you live in my neighborhood, I'd be happy to loan you the book! This one really is a keeper. Kind of like a Shop-Vac...you really want to have access to one but it could really be in a local lending library...I have the same sense about this book. Once my initial rush of beauty-product making subsides I'm really going to want to use this like a reference guide.

Until then? I'll be in the supermarket picking up fresh and delicious products to slather on my body's largest organ, courtesy of Julie Gabriel. Check out her website at for more recipes and tips.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommended for: anyone trying to figure out safer and healthier personal care consumption choices.


Kale for Sale said...

But I love tea tree oil! You got me with the shop vac metaphor - too funny. But what really intrigues me are the homemade beauty solutions. I'll check it out. Thank you.

Going Crunchy said...

Agggg......I'm the least likely to give up my eyeliner. Lavender makes me itchy and tea tree oil makes me burn.

Come to think of it, I'm probably one that should be reading this........Shan

JessTrev said...

@kale for sale

the tea tree study is totally unproven, very small sample, just precautionary principle for me...

@Going Crunchy

but you don't *need* to give up your eyeliner! no way would Julie Gabriel say so either. This is totally *not* a hairshirt green beauty book.

Unknown said...

Filled with shocking facts about the personal care product industry, The Green Beauty Guide doesn’t just tell readers to go green, it tells us why. For example, a sidebar states that as many as 90% of personal care product ingredients have never been tested for safety. Another mentions that baby products are often more toxic than their adult counterparts. We cannot rest easy on the idea that personal care product manufacturers have our best interests at heart.
word of mouth marketing

Anonymous said...

Does she say anything about hair removal? I'm a wax fan and have heard about salons who save the old wax to make amber-like jewelry, but none local to my area.

Also, are there brands that are totally trustworthy? So if I'm rushed and need shampoo, lotion, and lip gloss I can just grab one line's stuff?

Self-righteous said...

I noticed that Stacy Malkan recommends The Green Beauty Guide. Have you read Ms. Malkan's book, Not Just a Pretty Face, the Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry? What an eye-opener!

Your review certainly piqued my interest and I will find myself a copy of this enlightening book.

Also, were you aware of the company Intelligent Nutrients, founded by Horst Rechelbacher (who created Aveda)? Horst is another one who believes that cosmetics should be safe enough to eat. (Since he sold Aveda to Estée Lauder, the products are no longer the user-friendly compounds they once were.)