The “Skinny” on Natural and Effective Beauty Products

Beauty products without dangerous chemicals can be effective, but it helps to have a guide to what works and what to buy.

We spoke with Kim Barnouin, author of the New York Times bestseller “Skinny Bitch,” to discuss her latest book, “Skinny Bitch: Home, Beauty & Style: A No-Nonsense Guide to Cutting the Crap Out of Your Life for a Better Body and a Kinder World.” (Running Press, 2011)

We couldn’t wait to pick her brain about her proactive, healthy lifestyle approach to beauty.

What inspired you to write “Skinny Bitch: Home, Beauty & Style?”

I learned so much about chemicals and preservatives in our food. Then when I was researching “Skinny Bitch Bun in the Oven” I was also pregnant and came across tons of information about chemicals and preservatives in our household cleaning and beauty products. I was shocked and upset that most people don’t know what’s in products they use everyday, especially on our kids. I knew I needed to spread the word again!

What is the first step you can take to introduce healthier beauty into your life?
I would recommend reading ingredients carefully. Try to stick to products that are plant based and get their scents from essential oils. If the ingredient list is one I can understand or at least recognize, then it’s good in my book. I started to check out ingredients on the website safecosmetics.org, which lists all the unsafe chemicals.

I love the “How to Nail a Label” chapter of the book. In this section, you describe commonly used ingredients to beware of, which are found in many popular over-the-counter products.

In regard to skin care, do products without chemicals achieve the same benefits? Are there products out there that are healthy AND effective?
Absolutely! Luckily for women there are lots of responsible and truly natural companies out there who are making terrific products from cosmetics to anti-aging. I think we are finding out more often that sticking to cleaner, more natural products brings the best benefits. I personally feel better knowing there aren’t harsh chemicals in my makeup or creams, and because of that I have great skin.

Why should we avoid sulfates in our hair products?

Sulfates are what make shampoo foamy, but this shampoo ingredient strips away our scalp protection, opening it up to a slew of chemicals that are in our shampoo, giving them easier access into our system. Many shampoos are sulfate-free now, and they are just as effective. They just don’t foam up as much, but they clean your hair like a charm.

If we looked in your makeup bag, what would we find? What are your go-to beauty products?

I love Osea Malibu products. They have the best body scrubs and cleansing lotion. Also, Josie Maran Argan Oil, Jurlique Finishing Powder and John Masters Organics Anti-Aging Serum.

Do you have any favorite stores or websites where readers can find your favorite beauty products?
My website Healthybitchdaily.com is full of clean beauty and household products. I also like ecostiletto.com, bellafloria.com, eccobella.com and josiemarancosmetics.com.

What do you want readers to take away from this book?
I want people to educate themselves about what they are putting on their bodies and what they are cleaning their homes with. I want people to know that there are unsafe ingredients in our everyday products and that it’s not okay. We shouldn’t be allowing this to be the norm.

What’s next for “Skinny Bitch?”
More books on healthy eating and healthy living!