In their witty book and blog, No More Dirty Looks, bicoastal BFFs Siobhan O'Connor and Alexandra Spunt get to the bottom of what's toxic and what's not in your shower and makeup bag, and offer tips on how to green your routine. You can trust them to find the freakiest DIY techniques (who knew beets make a great lip and cheek stain?) and road-test the latest skin, hair, and makeup products on the eco-scene. Below, the dynamic duo shares their story (and some tricks of the trade) with UO. -Eviana
Why did you become crusaders for clean beauty products?
Alexandra: Siobhan was visiting and we thought it would be a great idea to get Brazilian Blowouts for a party we were going to. Of course, it turned out to be a terrible idea! We now know (thanks to lab studies) that the treatment we got contained extremely high levels of formaldehyde—a recognized carcinogen—which explains why we were given goggles for our burning eyes. But we're also grateful for the BB because it was our big a-ha moment.
Siobahn: From there we just basically tore through our apartments and starting reading the tiny print on all our beauty products. We became total ingredient junkies and figured if we didn't know about this stuff, other women probably didn't either. So we wrote the book and started the website we wished existed, but didn't.
Are you 'crunchy'?
A: We made a promise to each other when we started writing the book that we wouldn't turn into crunchy hippies, because that's not what this is about—it's still about feeling glamorous and pretty, just without harmful chemicals. That said, I think Siobhan has done better at keeping the promise! I have my crunchy moments.
S: She does! I am definitely crunchy in other ways—I can get pretty airy-fairy—but I don't really look that way. I like beautiful and aesthetically pleasing products. I'm way less DIY than Alexandra.
What are some of the things that surprise people the most about how toxic most beauty products are?
S: We get a lot of "whoa, whoa, whoa!" when we tell people there may be lead in their lipstick, mercury in their mascara, or formaldehyde in their salon treatment—and all of those things are true! But what's worse, to us, is the stuff that's in your shampoo, your face cleanser—the things you use every day. People are also usually pretty shocked when they learn that because of trade-secret laws, the ingredients in all synthetic fragrances (which are in everything!) do not have to be listed on labels. Finally, the simple fact that the FDA has banned fewer than 10 ingredients for use in cosmetics—when Europe has banned more than 1,000—tends to be a holy-shit moment.
What are your five favorite beauty products and why?
A: That's like asking us to choose between our children! Not that we have children. I mix it up, but you'll usually see RMS makeup in my arsenal, because it feels good and is really easy to apply on the go. I've also stayed loyal to Rare Elements conditioner, despite its high price (I rotate it with cheaper brands), because it smells like heaven and is even thicker than my old Pantene for curls.
S: I don't mind playing favorites—though mine tend to change, too! I'm currently obsessed Tammy Fender's Intensive Repair Balm, which I'm not using to really repair anything, but I find it calms redness and has improved the overall look of my skin. I also love the newly reformulated cleanser from Kahina Giving Beauty, Ilia lipsticks in bright coral and pink, and I won't leave the house without Lotus Wei's Infinite Love perfume, which smells lovely but also has mood-enhancing benefits that seems to rub off on whoever I'm around! (See? Airy fairy.)
Any new lines or that you're excited about?
S: I'm digging La Bella Figura. I'm not sure how new the line is, to be honest, but it's great.
A: Like Siobhan said: Ilia! It's an amazing newer line of clean lipsticks and creamy blushes that feels hydrating, has lasting power, and comes in really playful colors.
Anything you've tried that seemed weird but is surprisingly effective?
A: Not washing my hair.
S: Putting pure plant oils all over my body, hair and face. People who haven't tried it will think you are totally bananas for doing this, but it doesn't break out even my totally sensitive skin. It's cheap, too.
What are some of your wackiest DIY rituals?
S: I like mixing my own body scrub with brown sugar and tons of vanilla and olive oil, but that's about it. Oh, and I use honey on minor cuts and blemishes as a wound ointment, like you might use Polysporin. That's pretty weird, but it works!
A: Washing my face with honey, though that seems perfectly normal now. (See? Kinda crunchy.)