The Filthy Fifteen: Baddies of the Beauty World

Let’s call this Day One of my Journey to Better Beauty, as I’m calling it. Diving right in!

First, let’s get one thing straight: chemical-free beauty isn’t possible. Beauty products are, by definition, made up of chemicals. I mean, water is technically a chemical. The trick is just figuring out which chemicals don’t need to ever be rubbed into your face/eyes/skin/etc. So the first step toward cleaning up my beauty regimen is figuring out exactly which beauty ingredients are kinda shady.

Little did I know (well, that’s not entirely true — I totally did know) how hard it would be to define those ingredients. While there are some ingredients that everyone pretty much agrees should be totally avoided (aluminum and parabens always make the list, for example), there are ingredients that appear on some “AVOID” and “Dirty Dozen” lists, but not on others.

I tried to sift through the complete and utter information overload and pick the ingredients that I’ll personally be trying to eliminate. This list might change over time, but it’s my starting point. Your personal list might look different, and that’s TOTALLY okay. I also don’t want to go into the science behind each why I’m avoiding each ingredient because I am most certainly not qualified to do that, and other sources can tell you much more than I can. I recommend starting with this article. It’s super comprehensive and service-y. Basically, all the ingredients I’m avoiding are carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, pesticides, reproductive toxins, or some combination thereof.

Okay, let’s not start freaking out yet. Your lipstick isn’t straight up giving you cancer. But for someone like me, who uses a ton of products and uses them often, it makes sense to eliminate unsafe ingredients as thoroughly as possible. I fully understand this will take some time, and I’m not about to throw out all my products and spend a ton of money on new ones all at once. I’m just vowing to be much more mindful of my product choices going forward.

So to make things easier, I put together a little graphic to use as a cheat sheet! I’m pretty sure I’ll need to refer to it every time I make a beauty purchase from now on since some of the ingredient names aren’t exactly easy to remember. So here it is… the Filthy Fifteen, the baddies of the beauty world (from what I can tell).

Alright, so we have a starting point! We have a Day One! We have a long road in front of us, but at least now, we have a map. My task over the next couple days will be going through all my beauty products and trying to figure out which ones meet my new criteria. I have a feeling it… won’t be very many (if any).

Oh, and this video pretty much seems to be a requisite for understanding the history of the beauty industry and how it came to be as sketchy as it is today.

And here are a couple more resources when it comes to researching safer beauty:

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database

Let me know what you think of all this! And if you’ve already started your journey to better beauty, I’m curious: where did you start?


Someone I know who lives out here in the Bay once joked that he wanted to start a company called Pivot and whenever anyone asked what they did, he’d say “I’ll tell you tomorrow.”

I figured now that I’m in the land of startups, what better word to use to describe what I’m about to do with my blog?

I’m about to get all share-y, so sit tight.

I miss blogging, and I miss being a blogger. But I don’t know if continuing to write about health, fitness, and nutrition is really something that interests me. I guess part of it is that I feel like I’ve said all I can say on the subject. I know that’s not literally true, but I feel like everything I could say now would be a regurgitation of things I’ve already said, just said in a different way. Kind of like every women’s magazine ever written. Different headline, same story.

But like I said, I miss blogging. I feel like at my core, I’m a blogger. It’s just what I do.

When I first launched this blog as Your Nutritionista back in 2008, I started it because I had an epiphany while I was driving to my office one day. The name literally came to me in a flash of inspiration and as soon as I got back to my office (funnily enough, I had a tumblr called officed at the time), I immediately created Your Nutritionista. Content came naturally to me because I was excited and passionate about the subject of food and nutrition — a straight-talking kind of nutrition, for real people. Or at least, that’s the way I saw it.

I was taking a shower not more than 15 minutes ago when I had a very similar epiphany, so striking that I had to sit down and write this post RIGHTTHISMINUTE even though it’s almost 11pm here, which is decisively past my bedtime.

A little back story: Over the past few months, I’ve started a full-blown relationship with beauty products of all kinds (hair care, makeup, etc.). I’ve ditched my healthy living blogs for beauty blogs, and I’ve ditched former mecca Trader Joe’s for Sephora and Ulta (okay, let’s keep it real, I still love TJs, but you get the point). But, over the past week or two, I’ve started to take a serious look at my beauty products. Just like the revelation I had about my diet many years ago, I realized all my beauty stuff was filled with weird chemicals we have no idea about.

And I realized it was time to clean up my beauty products, just like I cleaned up my diet. The problem was, when I tried to find a resource for effective, chemical-free beauty, I couldn’t find much. At least, compared to how much info is out there about conventional beauty products. So what I’d like to do is invite you guys to join me on a journey to clean up my beauty products. “Journey” sounds cheesy, but I think that’s what it will be.

What I’m thinking is that I’ll try new stuff (including DIY stuff like this), write reviews, and post general thoughts about things like my struggle to find an effective natural deodorant (the struggle is REAL, you guys, the struggle is SO REAL). I’m new to the chemical-free beauty game, and I’m no beauty guru, but I AM a girl who hears birds sing when she walks into an Ulta. So I think I can do this for you guys. And for me. Because what’s the point of avoiding food with extra junk when you’re just slathering that same junk all over your face?!

I promise not to get too weird with it either. Tell me if I am, okay? And I’ll try to do this blog in a way that doesn’t come off as preachy, because like I said, I’m new to this. I’m literally starting from square one when it comes to chemical-free beauty. If you have ideas for me, I’m all ears (email me!). I’d love to know what you’d love to know.

And finally, THANK YOU for coming along with me for the ride. Even if you decide my new subject matter isn’t for you, that’s okay. I appreciate every single one of you.

I know this was a stupidly long post and I apologize. The next one will be shorter.

Wedding #1: Courthouse Ceremony

My tale of three weddings begins in February 2013.

Who: Leah and Adrian

What: Legal ceremony


Where: Courthouse in the city where Adrian lived

When: February 14, 2013

Officiant: The mayor of the city

Guests: Leah’s parents, Adrian’s parents via Skype



Reception: My parents took us to dinner at Beans & Cornbread after the ceremony.

Wedding-y Details: The dress was a simple short dress from White House Black Market. I got a turquoise sweater from Target the same day. The colors turquoise/teal and tangerine/orange carried throughout all three weddings. Adrian wore whatever suit he had that wasn’t already packed. I also wore the same turquoise earrings from KTCollection and shoes from Sofft for all three weddings.

Why: Adrian was setting off for a startup accelerator program in San Francisco on February 15th. We wanted to tie the knot before he left (mostly for insurance purposes, but also so that we’d actually be legally married before our second wedding). Valentine’s Day seemed like a cheesy choice for our legal wedding, but all in all, a fitting one.


Memories: Getting ready in the bathroom at my office with a coworker/friend snapping pics. Smiling a lot. Everything feeling surreal. My mom crying a lot. Me not crying as much as I thought I would.


I highly recommend courthouse weddings, by the way. They’re simple and really romantic in a lot of ways.

Stay tuned for weddings #2 and #3!

Hello? Is this thing on?


It’s me, Your Healthista. Deadbeat blogger. Also known as Leah.

I’m coming off of a five month hiatus. I’ve never gone that long without blogging! But it was for a good reason, I promise. I got married (twice — no, three times — to the same dude) and moved across the country. I’m living in a new city and have to deal with lots of health… challenges, shall we say.

If anyone is still out there, tell me: Want to hear about it?