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What’s in a Number?

Being earth friendly can take many forms. Obviously here at Barefoot Eco Outfitters we deal with eco-friendly apparel (and shipping products too when we fulfill orders!). I’m sure many of us do things every day to minimize environmental impact in our daily lives, like using energy-saving light bulbs and shower heads, reusable shopping bags and even driving electric cars. The food we eat also has a direct affect on our health, and choosing organic, locally produced food, going more plant based, eating less sugar (ooh, that one’s hard!) have a positive impact on both us and the environment. I just wanted to touch on another subject that hit close to home for me, and that will hopefully prove helpful to others – beauty products.

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Tracy Strandness

When I reached my mid-forties (and for the sake of defining my period of naivete, I’ll be real and say that I’m now 58), I became more conscious of some wrinkles starting to set in. I’ve never been one to wear a lot of makeup (though I definitely feel I benefit from a little blusher, mascara and lip color!), or to fixate on this a lot, but I definitely noticed some things changing. The anti-aging commercials on TV and ads in the magazines all heralded the wonders of name-brand wrinkle busting creams, serums and masks. This was just on the cusp of the perils of beauty ingredients being outed, and I didn’t know enough to question the ingredients. I’m embarrassed to say that because they were respected and long-standing brands in the beauty industry, I felt a certain trust in their claims. They wouldn’t/couldn’t intentionally lead us astray could they? If there was something harmful in those products, we’d know, right? I was about to find out the hard way.

I started using several different highly advertised products and at first there was no real harm done, but there definitely wasn’t really any noticeable improvement. Then suddenly my face developed red blotches and started to peel. And peel and peel. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, and I became embarrassed to go out in public. No amount of lotion could keep my face from peeling and itching. Finally, I made an appointment with a dermatologist who prescribed a very expensive, high-powered cream that actually made it worse. She never asked what products I was using on my skin, and she seemed confused and unable to determine what was causing my outbreak. Frustrated, I made an appointment with another dermatologist.

That doctor also failed to make a connection between (or showed much interest in) what beauty products I was using, and went headlong into extreme diagnosis and remedy. He wanted to start me on what was essentially a high power chemotherapy drug, and wanted me to do requisite preliminary blood testing. I bolted. Still suffering, and now desperate, I finally thought to make an appointment with a specialist an hour and a half away, who took one look at my skin, prescribed a simple $8 low-dose cortisone cream, and I cleared up in 3 days! I was incredulous! All that fear and time and money wasted! He was the first to connect those anti-aging products to my outbreak, and recommended a basic Vitamin C serum to use on my face. My skin began to change and look better than ever. Thus began my journey into going back to simplicity and a side benefit of healthier, younger-looking skin.

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Simple is better! Nature holds a lot of wisdom!

What I learned is that the mainstream products touted for turning back the clock are chock full of irritants and ingredients that actually have the opposite effect! Not only that, many of the most popular products are tested on animals, or use animal ingredients, something I cannot abide. I researched and researched and tried different products to find what my now more sensitive skin responded best to. For what it’s worth, here is what I learned for myself.

Although that last dermatologist set me on the right path with the Vitamin C serum, the one he recommended was very expensive. I found that a company called Mad Hippie made a Vitamin C serum that was a third of the cost, and had much better results – when does that happen?! ( I call that product my silver bullet, and I believe that it has had the most astonishing results for my skin. I pair that with Mad Hippie’s Antioxidant Facial Oil (, and for me it’s a winning combination. Since my skin tends to the dry side, I needed a moisturizer too, but it was hard to find one that was natural with no animal testing that wouldn’t irritate my skin. I was still pretty sensitive to moisturizers due to added fragrance, even if natural. Then I found Andalou Naturals Probiotic + C Renewal  Cream ( Finally! a regimen my skin loved, that felt and smelled good, and that was natural and cruelty-free. The final frontier was cleansers, and that took some trial and error, but Gabriel Cosmetics came to the rescue with their gluten-free, cruelty-free, and vegan line of beauty products! Not only do they have what I think is the best natural cleanser on the market, but they also have a whole line of beautiful cosmetics that will keep you healthier, and also indulge your love of makeup. Start with their Red Seaweed Purifying Gel Cleanser ( and then use their Red Seaweed Exfoliator ( – your skin will never feel cleaner or softer!

I am not a representative for any of these companies, nor do I gain from sharing this information. I just hate to think of other women buying into the prevailing narrative on women’s beauty products and not realizing their skins full, natural potential. Expensive does not mean better. Mainstream with airbrushed photos does not mean better or healthier. You deserve to let yourself shine in the healthiest, way possible, and I hope my personal experience can help with that! Please note that even natural fragrances can sometimes irritate some people, so you may have to do a little researching on your own, if even some natural products are problematic for your skin. There are some moisturizers made by reputable, natural, organic skin care companies, but the fragrance is too much for my skin. Don’t give up – you’re worth it, and it’s such a relief to find that maybe you didn’t need all those magic potions after all – your skin looks better than ever without them!

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I’ve never seen my age as anything more than a number. I honestly feel like I’m 25, and I live my life accordingly! Nearing 60? It’s hard for me to believe! But I’m grateful for all that the years have taught me! Our bodies respond best to the gifts of the earth, be it fruits, vegetables nuts, seeds, berries, products made from natural ingredients, lots of water, and something I’m trying to get better at – sleep! As I’ve made these changes over the years, (I’m vegan, which has also turned back the clock for me and restored my health), I’ve never felt better or more energetic! What we put on our skin is equally important, and was kind of the final piece to the puzzle for me. I know all of this can seem overwhelming, but if this resonates with you at all, maybe it will help, or save you some work in researching.

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Tracy Strandness

My life has been a journey on many levels! It has taken me some time to figure out that 1) it’s okay to value what I value even though others may not share my passions, and 2) when I’m true to myself, everything else falls into place. Aging happens, but honestly we probably hasten that process by buying into false notions of what that means based on our birth year, and society’s opinions at large. I don’t subscribe to any set of behaviors that may be expected of someone my age, and I don’t simply accept the products and remedies that we are pressured to feel we need. I have one life to live, and I live it on my terms, in the way that brings me the most joy. I personally feel so much better knowing that my daily choices reflect the things I am most passionate about – that I can live in a way that feels authentic to me and that is better for the long-term health of the planet. Sure, gaining in, ahem, maturity for sure allows us to be more confident in forging our own path, but don’t put it off too long – there are mountains to hike and oceans to sail! Hey, I hear 60 is the new 20! 😉

Happy Trails!

Tracy Strandness, Owner/Founder


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