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Drugstore cowgirl: Green products in all places

Don't want to wander far for great, organic products? TODAY GreenDAY columnist Marisa Belger explains how to easily incorporate eco-consciousness into your life — by starting with your beauty regimen.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

Having trouble keeping up with our increasingly organic, eco-friendly world? Let me be your guide! From all-natural makeup to the best in eco-conscious jeans, I will test and review the products and treatments that are best for you and the planet.

In my book, you have at least until the end of March to reboot any New Year’s resolutions that may have been pushed aside. When was the last time you took a good look at March, anyway? It's wishy-washy, end-of-winter grayness is just begging for some inspiration.

As April creeps closer, with promises of flowers and hints of the summer to come, the last week of the third month is your time to check back in with your personal goals, be they to learn Lithuanian, spend more time with your dog or train for a triathlon. And while I’d love you to quit smoking and lose those last 10 pounds, I’m here to remind you — and myself — that in addition to focusing on your long-term health and wellness, this is also the year to transform your eco-curiosity into eco-consciousness. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to do both (at the same time!).

It comes down to my favorite hyphenated word: “user-friendly." Whether I’m connecting the DVD player to the receiver, the TV and the surround-sound speakers; building another piece of IKEA furniture; or transferring from a PC to a Mac, I long for the experience to be thoroughly user-friendly. The same goes for living a greener life. I want to consider the safety of the planet while maintaining — and perhaps even improving — the way I already live. And my beauty regimen is a great place to start.

I’ve discovered that whether your thing is tingly shampoo, fragrant soaps or the frostiest tube of minty toothpaste, taking the time to think about what you put on your body is the first step to living a more natural and eco-savvy existence. When the ingredients in your shaving cream (or moisturizer or under-eye concealer) are unpronounceable, synthetic and possibly linked to an array of allergies, conditions and serious diseases, they: 1) pose a direct threat to you when placed on your skin; 2) pose a direct threat to the environment when they go down your drain.

Yes, you can seek out your local health food store and stroll past the pesticide-free apples and fruit, push past the bins of granola and boxes of rice milk in search of all-natural and organic deodorant and body wash, but it doesn’t have to be that hard. While I encourage everyone to find such a natural emporium, I also understand that health food stores can be intimidating places full of strange odors (most likely the scent of wheatgrass shots combined with vegetarian lentil soup from the salad bar) and even stranger sights (vegan chocolate-chip cookies tend to look like lead Frisbees).

So, in the spirit of late-March resolution recharging, I encourage you to tap into the growing collection of healthy beauty products currently available in the most user-friendly of places: your drugstore. As more and more of us come to understand that the skin is the biggest organ of the body and susceptible to any and all toxins placed upon it, several manufacturers of natural and organic personal care products are featuring their goods in mainstream outlets. Here are some of the most readily available (note: Not every product will be found at your local drugstore. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, take the online route and visit

One of the quickest ways for a natural and/or organic product to make it out of the health food store and into the drugstore is for the brand to be acquired by a bigger conglomerate. The beeswax-based Burt’s was recently purchased by The Clorox Company, a move that may have seemed initially disturbing to loyal Burt’s fans clinging to the image of Burt himself toiling away in an apiary in Maine — but for now the good seems to outweigh the bad.

Greater funding by a big company allows for greater distribution, which brings the Burt’s Bees line of natural skin, body and lip care to your town. Look for the company’s new Replenishing Lip Balm with Pomegranate Oil and my longtime favorite: mint-flavored Lip Shimmers.

Tom’s natural toothpaste has been a staple in drugstores for quite some time now. Colgate-Palmolive’s purchase of the company in 2006 only guarantees that the line will continue to be readily available outside of the health food store circuit. Look for uniquely flavored toothpastes (cinnamon-clove and wintermint are standouts) as well as mouthwash, floss and soap.

This drugstore favorite has recently added an organic line to its collection of cosmetics for eyes, lips and face. Free from synthetic preservatives and made from organic ingredients, Organic Wear features a compact made from paper and a blush brush made from goat hair (both eco-pluses). The cosmetics line also boasts an “EcoCert” certification, which according to its Web site, is a European Union “control and certification organization.”

Marisa Belger is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience covering health and wellness. She was a founding editor of, a multiplatform media company specializing in health, wellness and sustainable living. Marisa also collaborated with Josh Dorfman on “The Lazy Environmentalist” (Stewart, Tabori, and Chang), a comprehensive guide to easy, stylish green living.

Please note: Neither Marisa Belger nor has been compensated by the manufacturers or their representatives for her comments or selection of products reviewed in this column.