bright green leaves

Do natural products work?

“Someone said it was good, but I think they also haven’t used regular products in a long time and maybe forgot how it was supposed to work.”

“Can I try some? I want to see what this is all about.”

“Cool! How long will it keep?”

“Does it actually work?”

“Do you notice a difference?”

“I sprayed almost half the bottle on it, but it still didn’t come clean.”

“Yes! It works just as well as regular detergent. It’s great.”

Are these questions that you’ve pondered or asked someone else? Success stories and failures come up frequently in my conversations about natural products. Personally, I’ve tried enough to know that everything isn’t what it’s promised to be. So, what does work?

Many don’t – enter this blog

I’ll be honest, I’ve been disappointed with many natural products. There was the shower cleaner that couldn’t remove any of the pink mildew, the deodorant that didn’t withstand exercise, the dish soap that couldn’t cut grease, the face cream that didn’t clear my skin, etc. However, there are many that DO work. That’s one of the reasons for this blog – to weed out the non-performers and save everyone time and frustration.

Step one is to think about what problem you are trying to solve. Not the superficial symptom but the reason why the problem occurred in the first place. For example, if you are trying to clean something, what is making it dirty? (Read my post about cleaning products here). If you are trying to heal something, what is making you sick? Trends in the media don’t necessarily have the answer. It’s best to listen to your own body and observe small changes.

Many aren’t that healthy – simple is often better

Despite the green-colored themes and packaging with muted, earthy colors, many purported “natural” products still contain questionable ingredients. As a rule of thumb, if I can’t immediately recognize the ingredients in something, I don’t buy it. I occasionally look up scientific names and less-common additives to learn more about them. This nonprofit organization maintains an entire database of products, ingredients, and brands for personal care items, cleaning, and foods.

In general, simple is better. The idea behind living naturally is that most of what we need is right at our fingertips. It’s not in special concoctions or intensive manufacturing processes. Plants are complex in themselves and offer an array of nutrients and benefits. Remember, if you can’t put it in you, then you shouldn’t put it on you.

Beware of promises  – the best healer is your own body, not expensive products.

Going green is becoming trendy, which also means that it’s becoming a target for the mammoth cosmetic and food industries. From corporations all the way down to consumers, it’s the next big thing. This also means that businesses are going to aggressively target going green as a revenue stream, not just as a public relations statement.

It’s common to believe that the more money we pay for something, the more valuable it is. Many of these new natural products, kits, and subscription services command a premium price and come with promises about personal results or their environmental mission. I put my dollars where they matter, which often means not spending them at all. Many of the products that I mention on this blog do not have a strong brand name or could easily be interchanged with another brand. That is the point. It’s about simple and pure elements from nature.

Marketing campaigns have latched onto buzzwords like “aloe,” “argan oil,” and “shea.” These miracle ingredients are supposed to make products do all kinds of things from moisturizing to soothing to healing. I would argue that these ingredients DO have these properties, but not in small quantities mixed with many unhealthy chemicals.

Advertisements and salespeople can be very influential, especially when we feel like nothing has worked and we are willing to try anything. I know I’ve been upsold before. As much as I wanted these artisan and niche products to work, I never felt like it was money well spent. I was determined to go back to the basics.

I’ve learned that the best healer is my own body, not expensive products. Even natural products are just a tool – a means to an end or perhaps just a way to lessen the toxic load to let my body do its own thing and to get out of its way. What you put in you is probably more important than what you put on you. Eating healthy and low on the food chain should be the first step for any sort of positive change. This is where it all starts. Skin, gut, and health issues are complex, and they will never go away with just a pill or cream. Any product that sounds too good to be true probably is.

What next

That being said, living with less plastics, less chemicals, and more nature is worth the effort! Natural products DO work, as part of the larger picture of living happy and healthy. Subscribe to this blog and continue reading to learn more about the trials and errors of going green – the simple and practical way.