Photo: Adria Vasil helps you choose non-toxic cosmetics

You can avoid harmful chemicals in cosmetics when you shop smarter! (Credit: Lindsay Coulter)

I posed your questions about safer cosmetics to Adria Vasil, bestselling author of the Ecoholic book series and NOW Magazine column.

What's the least toxic deodorant (that works)?

Ones that work don't try to mimic conventional deodorants. Instead, they contain simple ingredients you'd use to make your own — baking soda, coconut oil, cornstarch or arrowroot powder. (Lindsay's recipe.)

Top brands include Consonant Skincare's Dealkalizing Deodorant, KL Skin Naturals (unscented), Purely Great, and Penny Lane. Some leave a white residue. If baking soda irritates your skin, KL Naturals and Sudsatorium (no plastic package, leaves no white residue) make great baking-soda free options.

What's your favourite natural shampoo or conditioner?

It depends on your hair type. I've tried dozens that didn't agree with me, even though other people raved about them. I love John Masters Organics (tough for tighter budgets) and Acure (makes my new favourite face scrub, too).

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What's your favourite natural mascara?

There are many great made-in-Canada brands. Montreal's Zorah Length & Care is 97 per cent natural and 18 per cent organic (Ecocert certified) with sustainably sourced ingredients. (Their palm-derived ingredients are consciously sourced from South America.) Pure Anada is probably the most affordable, about $10. Though not Canadian, 100% Pure is an awesome lengthening mascara. Check out my review of natural mascaras with pictures facing off one eye against another!

What's the least toxic foundation?

I don't wear foundation unless I'm going on TV. And then I always use Canadian-made Sappho. The base is organic aloe and mica. Mica is a mineral pigment. It's often mined with child labour in India but this is mined in the U.S. It's not cheap but performs well, was actually designed for TV actors and a little goes a long way. For more reviews see my foundation guide.

What's the eco-friendliest toothpaste?

Besides making it yourself? (Lindsay's recipe.) Probably Nelson Naturals. It comes in a reusable or recyclable glass jar and uses all-natural ingredients. They make an activated charcoal whitening treatment, too.

What about lip balm?

I like Fable Naturals which comes in a compostable cardboard tube and uses fair trade cocoa butter. (Lindsay's recipe.)

What's your favourite sunscreen?

When I do sunscreen testing, I rope in family and friends of all different skin tones. DeVita's Solar Protective Moisturizer is the biggest crowd pleaser. It feels like a light moisturizer, but it's not water resistant. For hot, sweaty summer days with lots of physical activity, I choose Green Beaver. My regular facial sunscreen is Andalou's CC cream with SPF.

Do you have a favourite product free from the Dirty Dozen? Comment on this blog to enter to win a copy of Ecoholic Body: Your Ultimate Earth-Friendly Guide to Living Healthy and Looking Good. (Contest closes May 19, 2017)

Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

April 24, 2017

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May 21, 2017
6:22 AM

One stop shop is Arbonne — Love the skin care and detox products — kids love the toothpaste (believe it!). Mascara and mineral powder with SPF by far the best i have used and reasonably priced.

May 17, 2017
4:37 PM

Nelson Naturals toothpaste is my favourite too! Amazing stuff.

May 12, 2017
6:33 PM

I like my tarte foundation and mascara:)

May 09, 2017
9:21 PM

I love Carina Organics shampoos and conditioners. I also use their bubble bath for the kids. They are Vancouver based. For makeup I love Pure Anada’s mascara and eye shadow. I’ve just recently tried “Routine De-Odor-Cream” that you can buy off of Pure Anada’s website ( It’s a bit expensive but it’s meant to last 3-6 months. So far I really like it. :)

May 06, 2017
8:50 PM

I’ve been making my own soap with organic coconut oil and olive oil at Karma Suds in Vancouver. To refill shampoos and other household greener products, I bring clean bottles to refill at The Soap Dispensary in Vancouver. Both places sell essential oils and other supplies to DIY. It’s a big adventure to be self-sufficient and to have control of what you put on your skin and in your body!

May 06, 2017
7:47 PM

This is great — I’m always looking for product reviews because there’s so many brands out there that purport to be ‘natural’, ‘organic’, or ‘non-toxic’ but there seems to be some flexibility in how different brands use those terms. We’ve been using Green Beaver products for some years now, but there seems to be a lot more options these days!

May 05, 2017
7:51 PM

My favourite product free of the Dirty Dozen is Nature’s Gate Shampoo.

May 05, 2017
11:51 AM

Thanks for the great recommendations!

May 05, 2017
11:44 AM

The home made recipes are great! I tried the toothpaste one this morning. Thank you.

May 05, 2017
11:12 AM

No Nonsense Natural Products ( recently launched on Earth Day). Made in Canada and replaces all items in your home! Literally everything.

May 05, 2017
9:46 AM

I have been working on eliminating toxins by taking the time to read labels. Recently while visiting and examining labels on product I don’t use myself I was very surprised that SLS is in so many hand soaps and dish soaps. While I have found myself a hand soap I am still on the hunt for a dish soap without SLS. Any suggestions welcome.

May 05, 2017
8:36 AM

I have been trying to find ways to get around exposure to all of the harsh chemicals in makeup but find that I keep ignoring it and keep using whatever I find that fits my budget. I did go a whole 2 weeks bare-faced but then got right back into wearing makeup again. It would be nice to be informed of better, less toxic and more organic choices!

May 05, 2017
7:23 AM

I’m a newbie trying to switch to non-toxic products so this has been super helpful! Petal Purity Exfoliating facial cleanser is amazing and I am definitely going to try some of the products mentioned.

May 05, 2017
5:20 AM

Penny Lane’s shampoo bar is the perfect shampoo, and it is a good zero waste choice as well, since it is packaged only in a cardboard box. I use it similarly to the no poo method — shampooing only once or twice a week. My hair has never been healthier.

May 05, 2017
4:52 AM

Thanks for the recommendations!

May 04, 2017
7:20 PM

My favourite product line for hair, body, skincare, suncare is Arbonne. They follow EU guidelines and go above and beyond to make clean, green, safe products.

May 04, 2017
6:23 PM

I have use Piperwai but now I am not so sure of its naturalness.

May 04, 2017
2:36 PM

Thank you so much for sharing this info on non-toxic cosmetics and recipes to make my own. I’ve been wanting to make my own deodorant. i’ve discovered a local lady who makes amazing skin care products, check out Helena Lane i can’t say enough great things about it.

May 04, 2017
12:59 PM

My favs are in the Arbonne lines. Mascara is awesome and has botanically based ingredients for all lines. Make-up is light and skin care lines are also free of harmful chemicals and ingredients are sourced from sustainable sources. FC5 shampoo, conditioner and body wash is amazingly refreshing!

May 04, 2017
12:38 PM

I look for personal care products without harmful ingredients every time I need something from that group. I recently found aluminum-free deodorant.

May 04, 2017
12:16 PM

Great recommendations! I’ve found someone local who makes deodorant, similar to the recipe. Only natural one I’ve found that I can tolerate, and is effective. She even puts it in small glass jam jars, so it’s plastic-free.

May 04, 2017
12:06 PM

I have started my own company formulateing and reating products that you can literally replace all the commercial ones in your home. I am in love with our teeth paste ( yes we do brush more than one!). If I did not make this myself I would be patting someone else on the back. I also am in loive with my deodorant. It was very hard ( impossible) for me to find one that worked all day, was actually all natural and affordable. Thanks for this list. It was very helpful.

May 04, 2017
6:56 AM

My favourite deodorant is a powdered mixture of 2:1 baking soda to cornstarch, with a few drops of lavender oil mixed in. I then apply a thin layer of olive oil to my underarms and then pat on the baking soda/cornstarch powder. The olive oil (or any oil) acts as a barrier to reduce irritation from the baking soda, as well as helping the powder to stick. The cornstarch also reduces irritation from the baking soda. I find that I don’t get staining on my clothes from this deodorant, unlike the cornstarch/coconut oil/baking soda deodorant mix. It seems to work pretty well, haven’t had any negative comments yet!

May 02, 2017
5:57 PM

I’ve tried many organic moisturisers for my super dry skin and the best by far is AnneMarie Borlind ZZ Sensitive regenerative night cream. I also recommend their Natural Beauty foundation compact (cream to powder type).

May 01, 2017
2:34 PM

Check out for great deodorant, sunscreen and skincare. Made in Nelson, BC

May 01, 2017
12:33 PM

Love ❤️ my Beautycounter products. Safe and effective products. Not just a company who wants to get safe products in the hands of everyone but part of a movement lobby to government to change the cosmetic industry to make changes to the regulations. Educate people on what to look out for, these ingredients gave so many effectives on out bodies. Canada has only Band just under 600 ingredients the EU 1400 USA 30 and Beautycounter 1500 ingredients

May 01, 2017
6:59 AM

My favourite deodorant is Dr Mist. Been using it for years and it never fails!

May 01, 2017
12:17 AM

I’m a huge fan of Smith Farm skin care products. They are as much as possible organic, locally sourced ingredients and made on their farm in Quebec.

Apr 30, 2017
7:04 PM

I’m very interested in trying natural deodorants. So far, Tom’s and Penny Lane haven’t cut it. I’ve ordered Primal Pit Paste from the U.S. which lasts about half a day effectively for me. It smells great but I’d rather buy Canadian. I’m looking for something that smells great, is long lasting, won’t stain clothing and won’t break the bank. Suggestions?

Apr 30, 2017
6:51 PM

I’m a big fan of Rocky Mountain Soap Co. Deodorant, Eminence Coconut Age Corrective Moisturizer, 100% Pure pressed powder and powder blush and Pacifica Sea Foam facewash. Always looking to try new products that contain no harmful ingredients to swap out my not so great makeup/personal care brands.

Apr 28, 2017
6:34 AM

Great info :) I love Routine’s Cream Deodorant, comes is lots of scents

Apr 26, 2017
10:23 AM

The natural mascara I’ve been using for a couple of years is from Coastal Classic Creations. I’ll never use anything else….it’s that good! Price wise it’s mid range ($29 usd) but lasts me around a year. I’d love to hear what others think of it. I too tried Pure Anada masa area, but it didn’t work well for me. I do like their shadows and blushes though, totally wonderful :)

Apr 25, 2017
10:03 PM

I love Nezza Naturals -organic, often refillable, fabulous quality. Their shampoo and conditioner are my fave. Dom’s is my fave natural deodorant. Smell so good and works so well. I love Jane Iredale makeup…best foundation and mascara. Good Planet Store makes the best lip balm…Pina Colada! I too love the Green Beaver sunscreen. :) Still searching for the best toothpaste to be honest…will check out the suggestions!

Apr 25, 2017
8:36 PM

Love Cocoon Apothecary products and the hand cream from Matter.

Apr 25, 2017
8:12 PM

My favourites are Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild Soap and for made in Canada, The Unscented Company Soap Bar.

Apr 25, 2017
7:53 PM

I’m a big fan of Rocky Mountain Soap Company products! Especially their shampoo, sunscreen, and baby care line. I’d be an even bigger fan though if they pursued verified third party certifications to back up their eco-friendly and not tested on animal claims :)

Apr 25, 2017
5:14 PM

A little bit of coconut oil is good enough for me as a sunscreen ( note: the SPF value is in the lower 5 — 10 ). Citric Acid with water is a very good working and natural deodorant.

Apr 24, 2017
7:58 PM

I find baking soda on its own is great for a deodorant. It’s also easy to come by if you ever forget it on a trip. :)

Apr 24, 2017
4:06 PM

I love the DeVita sunscreen after trying it on Adria’s recommendation a few years back! My favourite mascara is from Canadian company Rocia Naturals. No smudging!!

Apr 24, 2017
3:46 PM

Thanks for the great tips! It can be hard to sort through all of the products out there. Are DeVitas lotion and Green Beaver safe for children too?

Apr 24, 2017
2:53 PM

Great post! My favourite shampoo/conditioner is North American Hemp Co. (I have thick curly hair). I’ve turned a bunch of people onto it too!

Apr 24, 2017
2:52 PM

I love this! A few new ideas for the products I don’t make myself

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