Book Review: No More Dirty Looks

This book could literally change your life like it did mine

Clean. Happy. Healthy. Eco-friendly. Ethical. Green. Natural. Organic. Cruelty-free. Bio-dynamic. Three-free. Renewable. Paraben-free.

These buzzwords in personal care abound, but how can you know what’s true, what’s green-washing, and what you don’t even need to worry about?

I was once a beauty editor, which means I tried A LOT of products for my job. One fateful day last year, I had just painted my nails with some sweet chunky glitter nail polish as I sat down to read a book recommended to me by many beauty experts: No More Dirty Looks by Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt. As I read my eyes got bigger and bigger until I put the book down and stared at my nails in horror: WHAT DO I DO ABOUT THE NAILS I JUST PAINTED?! Do I remove the offensive polish? With nail polish remover that’s JUST AS BAD?! Do I buy natural stuff tomorrow—but the chemicals will get me tonight!

That night, the book changed my life. I do not want to mainline chemicals into my body, and that’s what I was doing using conventional products! I finished reading No More Dirty Looks in one sitting. Then I proceeded immediately to my bathroom and started throwing out all my beauty products. All. My. Beauty. Products. Despite the job perks, I don’t use a ton to begin with, but I am a girl, and there was a full grocery bag of crap to throw away.

No More Dirty Looks is a zesty, nitty-gritty-detail-filled tome, written in an incredibly straightforward tone. The authors know it’s hard to change an entire industry, but they set out with tons of research to do just that. The book delves immediately into what toxins do what, why they’re in what, and what you need to look for on labels.

What worked best for me, however, was the general attitude the authors take: here’s the info, and it’s up to you to decide how to use it, and what products to use. Some of it is common sense (and witty to boot): “Some general ground rules here, ladies: any beauty product that warns of high flammability should probably not come into contact with that beautiful mug of yours.” (p. 72)

Most of my days consist of a rolling-out-of-bed, splashing-water-on-the-face, rubbing-in-sunscreen routine that may or may not include brushing my hair and putting on mascara, so it wasn’t hard to slowly start replacing my stash with what I deem “happy” cosmetics, that is, ones that are free of harsh chemicals but still work. Sometimes I’m not the strictest about ingredients.

The most important thing is to get informed, read labels, and then decide what you can’t live without and where you can ditch the harmful ingredients.

My Top Three Clean Product Shopping Tips

Your skin is the largest organ in your body. Start with face stuff. Sunscreen, lotion, toner, shaving gel for men, whatever you use, find happy versions of it. 

  • Deodorant will be your biggest challenge. There are a few okay options, but nothing I can unequivocally recommend. Depending on your nose you might just have to stick with Dove (least offensive) until something better comes along.
  • Sunscreen is a non-negotiable item, and it must use physical barriers, be silky smooth on my face, and not show up white. 
  • Cleansers and facial lotions are next on the list, and they’re fairly easy to find with good ingredients. 
  • Here is a Pinterest board of my top picks for face essentials (for men too!)

Your eyes are super sensitive and take in tons of toxins. The most important cosmetics to find are happy eyeliner and mascara, followed by eyeshadow. 

Your hair is dead. Your scalp is not and soaks up lots of toxins. 


Buzzwords can help, but make sure you understand the ingredients you’re looking out for … and reading No More Dirty Looks (they also have a blog here), can definitely help you on your journey!

Got happy product recommendations? By all means, PLEASE help us all out and leave ’em in the comments!

Category: Style


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