Wednesday, January 16

Small Steps: Dropping Mary Kay

Sunday I introduced my new blog category Small Steps. Although it happened last summer/fall, I decided that my decision to drop Mary Kay needed to be included in this category because it is was a catalyst for several Small Steps I've taken already.

Three years ago, in a time of serious stress and transition in my life, I was introduced to the “Mary Kay Opportunity”. Despite niggling concerns I couldn't really pin down, I decided to become a consultant, primarily because I desperately needed something that would let me set my own schedule without requiring costly or time consuming training to get started in. So I began both selling and using MK cosmetics.

This past summer/fall, however, I officially ended that period of my life. There were lots of reasons that I won't get into here (though if you are approached about the “MK Opportunity” I strongly encourage you to check out first). In keeping with the Small Steps theme, however, I'm going to focus here on the discord between the kind of life I want to be leading and selling/using MK.

Mary Kay, for all their advertising, is not a “green” company. The products are not cheap, and there's an endless push to buy lots of them (to the point that new formulas often don't work if not used in conjunction with the corresponding products). You have to dig to find the ingredient lists, and the products uniformly receive unflattering safety reports from Skin Deep. The company isn't honest with its consultants, and engages in business practices I do not want my money going to support. This was an area in my life that needed a change. 

So I resolved to use up my remaining product (because I hate to be wasteful), and started asking myself questions. 

What do I want in skin care/cosmetics?
What kinds of ingredients are safe, sustainable and healthy?
Do I have to be beholden to a company for this stuff? If people made their own cosmetics for centuries before modern companies took over the market, why can't I?

Since you can't take Small Steps without the right information, I'd like to share some of facts:
  • Although cosmetics are a regulated industry, many skin care and cosmetic products contain dangerous or unhealthy ingredients. (Check out Skin Deep for product assessments and industry info.)

  • Many products have all natural substitutes that are easy and inexpensive to make yourself or that can be purchased online from ethical, independent small businesses. (The sugar scrub I posted recently is a great example of this – why pay a spa or mall store big bucks for something you can do safer and more cheaply yourself?)

  • Quality matters. Toxins that seep through our skin from cosmetic and skin care products can be just as toxic and bad for us as eating food that's full of junk. Whether you make your own products or buy them, it's important to pay attention to the ingredients.

  • Finally, both personal experience and reading other people's experiences suggests that one of the biggest hurdles in switching skin care or cosmetic products is warped expectations! We are all so used to the consistencies, claims and containers of modern companies that initial forays into alternatives can feel odd just because they're so different. If you want to explore changes in this area of your life, go into with an open mind and make sure you're assessing products on their efficacy and “fit” rather than on how they compare to what you've used in the past.
This got long, so I'll end here, but stay tuned for info on the great alternatives I've found so far!

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