When natural products don't work

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You’ve read all the articles and books. You know you should avoid parabens. You know commercial brands of bath and body products contain carcinogens that put your health in danger and damage the environment. You’ve heard it all.

And yet, you still find yourself struggling to switch to more natural products. You might have a half-used natural deodorant stick in your medicine cabinet. An oil-based moisturizer behind it. And a box full of natural lip balms, body oils and shampoo bars under the sink. You’ve tried them all – once, twice, a dozen times – and ultimately went back to your tried and true paraben-laden favorites.

Why? You didn’t get the result you wanted. You’ve heard other people say they are using these products – but you secretly wonder if they’re telling the truth. Or maybe you think they have lower standards for themselves. Or…you might worry that they are just, somehow, naturally more beautiful, more glowing, less sweaty, less smelly, than you.

I have good news for you – there are only two reasons why natural products don’t work. (And neither of them is because of any shortcomings your body may possess.) Let’s get down to it:

You have unrealistic expectations.

I’m sorry to say this, but you’ve been spoiled. Today’s typical beauty products are specifically designed to be consistent and to give us consistent results (which is not always possible since our bodies change so much from day to day, even if our products don’t). And on that parenthetical note, these products are designed to combat what our bodies naturally do. Change is normal. Our hair isn’t supposed to look the same every day. We are supposed to sweat. Skin is supposed to produce more (or less) oil in response to changes throughout the day.

So if you want to use natural products with any degree of success, you’re going to have to embrace your natural body. You’ll have to become comfortable with the constant changes in your body and learn not to judge them as imperfections and flaws. Admittedly, that is not easy for some people.

Secondly, you might be using the wrong products.

If your issue isn’t unrealistic expectations, then it may simply be that you’re using the wrong products for your body. Natural products can be very enticing and almost magical. Lavender for your hair and rose for your face! It’s like twirling about in a meadow full of fairies and unicorns!

Okay, but seriously, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and pick things because they sound cool or smell good. The truth is natural products can react very strongly with the body. We tend to think of natural products as being “weak” or, at the very least, “gentle,” but think about it – plants gave us the basis for allopathic medicine. Nature can pack a whallop!

So make sure you aren’t using something that’s actually causing you problems instead of helping your body. Allergic reactions are very common among people switching to natural products and they aren’t always immediately recognized. They may show up as irritation or inflammation. Or you may simply be experiencing other reactions to a particular ingredient. Listen to your body and do your research.

What can you do to make natural products more effective for you?

{1} Keep it simple. Find products with the simplest, gentlest ingredients in them and start from there. Listen to your body and adjust as needed.

{2} Keep it real. You’re a real body, not a magazine centerfold. It’s okay to sweat. It’s okay to have a bad hair day. It’s okay to be a little oily one day and a little dry the next. Don’t expect the same consistency from natural products that you expect from traditional, commercial products.

{3} If it doesn’t work, don’t give up on natural products. It’s a lifelong experiment – keep trying new things, until you find what works for you.

{4} Don’t compare yourself to others. Each person has a wildly different body and wildly different reactions to products. What works for your friends may not work for you. That’s okay, and indeed, that’s a good thing. If a natural product worked the same for everyone, it wouldn’t be natural!

{5} Give yourself permission to do what you need to do. You may be one of those women who likes to make dramatic changes. Perhaps you dream of throwing away all your traditional products and going full-on natural. And yet, you may find that your fantasy does not feel so good in reality. Give yourself permission to make the changes that work for you and see how things evolve. There’s no such thing as perfection and there’s certainly no need to go 100% natural if that doesn’t feel right for you.

What kinds of issues have you encountered when using natural products?