Years ago, when I was in the earlier stages of my sustainable building career, there weren’t a whole lot of resources for organic and non-toxic beauty products. At the time, I was using Aveda products, believing the marketing that they were natural and somehow made me a good steward of the planet. I never once thought of looking up each and every chemical ingredient to see what they do to my body.
Now my beauty routine is non-toxic and super simplified. Some of my products may cost a bit more than they used to, but because I’m using less, I’m actually saving.
Why is this important? Our skin absorbs 60% of what we put on it. That means whatever nasty chemicals are in our favorite shampoo or skin cream, it goes into our skin, into our organs and stored in our fat.
I don’t want to overwhelm you on everything I’ve removed so I’ve selected my top 4 ingredients to avoid.
- Parabens: Parabens are used in cosmetics and body products as a preservative. Parabens are endocrine disrupting and cause reproductive harm. It’s the continued, daily exposure of not one but multiple products that is the greatest issue. The great news is that your body burden of parabens starts to drop after your stop applying them for a few days. However they may also be bioaccululative in the body over time and so the more you age, the more you accumulate. It’s interesting to note that this ingredient has also been shown to kill coral reefs and is accumulating in fish and other sea life.
- Polyethylene Glycol (PEGs): PEG’s are petroleum-based compounds that are common in personal care products and are used to enhance penetration of the product into the skin. The manufacturing of this product often leads to contamination with measurable amounts of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane. Ethylene oxide is a known carcinogen and 1,4 dioxane is a possible human carcinogen. These contaminants are developmental toxicants and affects the nervous system. Sadly there’s no way for consumers to know which products have been contaminated. Also, because PEGs help to increase penetration into the skin, it also increases penetration of any other toxins that may be in the product.
- Octinoxate (OMC or Octyl methoxycinnamate): This is a sunscreen chemical and can also be found in cosmetics, hair color and shampoo. This is a penetration enhancer like PEG. According to the European Commission on Endocrine Disruption, there is strong evidence showing this is an endocrine disruptor and has been found to show disruption in wildlife. OMC appears to cause reproductive and developmental effects. At a cellular level, it produces excess reactive oxygen species that can interfere with cellular signaling, causing mutations and lead to cell death.
- Fragrances: Sadly fragrances are used to hide a troubling amount of highly toxic chemicals. Companies aren’t required to disclose what those chemicals are. The International Fragrance Association published a list of ingredients that its members reported to use. There are over 3,000 chemicals and many of these are potent and persistent hormone disruptors linked to reproductive system birth defects.
Ok, so now you might be thinking you’d rather just start from scratch rather than read through all of your ingredients. Here’s in a strategy I’d recommend for detoxing your beauty routine.
- Declutter: Start by taking out all of your cosmetics, moisturizers, cleansers, face masks, body soaps and hair products. Toss anything that you haven’t used in the past 6 months. By toss, I mean empty the containers and recycle as appropriate. Look at what you have left. Are these things that you use regularly? If anything doesn’t fit that then empty and recycle those as well.
- Read Labels: For the products that still have labels, read them to see if any of the four ingredients are on those. Take a big red marker and place a big X on those. If you don’t have the ingredients anymore, you can look up your product on Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database. They also have an app you can download onto your phone to make searches easy when you’re out shopping.
- Decide: Make a decision to keep and use up the red X products or to replace them. If you’re planning on replacing them then use the skin deep database to look up the least toxic options for what you’re looking for.
I’ve done quite a bit of investigation myself but my beauty products. I realize that you may have different needs than myself but here are some brands that I like.
- Tata Harper – They make amazing skin care products. I love their resurfacing mask. I love their packaging as well. Most of their products come in glass containers instead of plastic meaning that their products aren’t being contaminated by chemicals used in plastics.
- RMS Beauty – I love their creme based cosmetics that you can use for eyes, lips, cheeks and overall face. Their complete ingredient list is surprisingly small with most of it being either certified organic or wildcrafted. They also have great packaging practices.
- Plaine Products – I just started using their shampoo and conditioner and love them. Though these aren’t certified organic, I was drawn to their packaging. They use metal containers that you ship back to them when they’re empty. Note: I’ve also been experimenting with shampoo bars. Hoping to find one that works for my hair and is organic.
- Organic Argan Oil – You can find this in many grocery stores. Argan oil is great as an every day moisturizer. I put this on my arms and legs after showering. It takes a minute to soak in but less time than using coconut oil.
Detoxing and simplifying your beauty routine doesn’t mean you have to live without or spend a huge amount of money. Remember that less is sometimes more especially when it comes to beauty.
Want to learn more about how to detox your life to regain your vibrant and energetic self? Book a free chat with me today. I’d love to hear from you.
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