Did you know that most women on average use 12 beauty products per day that combined have over 160 unique ingredients? And, men on average use 6 products per day with over 85 unique ingredients. Welcome to the next part of my "Detox Your Life" series, Detox Your Skin. I will dive into clean beauty, what to look for on labels and how to make small shifts in your beauty routine to protect your health.
In 2022, consumers spent $18 billion on cosmetics in the United States alone with a reported $100 billion worldwide. Unfortunately, many cosmetic companies are using harmful ingredients that are not safe for you. These companies use large marketing budgets to promise younger looking skin, fewer wrinkles and fabulous eyelashes. But are these "promises" worth the risk of being exposed to harmful chemicals that can affect your overall health and the health of the environment? I say no.
Unfortunately, many cosmetic companies are using harmful ingredients that are not safe for you.
As consumers, we are becoming pretty savvy when it comes to understanding ingredients in products. We are concerned now more than ever about our own health and the health of the planet. The chemicals and synthetic ingredients most often found in skin care and beauty products have been known to cause many issues such as clogged pores and skin irritations such as eczema and dermatitis. Many of these ingredients have even been linked to hormone disruption, allergies and even cancer. Since our skin absorbs around 60% of what we put on it, examining our beauty line up is definitely something to get serious about.
The chemicals and synthetic ingredients most often found in skin care and beauty products have been known to cause many issues such as clogged pores and skin irritations such as eczema and dermatitis.
Read Your Labels
How can companies get away with these types of ingredients when they are so harmful for us? Well, for one thing, it cuts into the bottom line for massive companies to use organic, safe, healthy ingredients. And, there is little to no regulation in the US for cosmetics-this makes it easy for the big guys to care more about mass producing than care about the ingredients being used. In fact, there are only around 12 ingredients that have been banned by the FDA. Sad deal.
Take time to turn over a product and read the ingredients. Don't be fooled by expensive fancy packaging and marketing on the front of the box or bottle. Start by being curious. Is this healthy for me? Could these ingredients be harmful? Do I understand what I am purchasing? When reading labels, be on the lookout for these top 10 ingredients to avoid.
Top 10 Ingredients to Avoid
Aluminum Most often found in anti-perspirants, aluminum has been known to be directly linked to brain function as well as Alzheimer's and autism.
Hydroquinone This ingredient is commonly found in skin lightening products, hair conditioners and nail polish. It has been linked to cancer and organ system toxicity.
Parabens These are very common preservatives found in beauty care products. They allow the products to have a long shelf life. Some examples of parabens are, methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben. Parabens have been known to be endocrine disruptors.
Petroleum derivatives These are often used in beauty products to make the skin feel silky smooth. In reality, they actually create an unbreathable barrier on the skin which leads to clogged pores. You will often find petroleum in body lotions and skin creams.
Phthalates These icky ingredients are used to make products such hair sprays and lotions more pliable. They have been known to be endocrine disruptors and have been linked to infertility in men.
Retinol Made in a lab, retinol is a synthetic high dose of vitamin A known to fight off wrinkles and blemishes. It has phytosynthesizing effects which are damaging to free radicals in the skin tissue. Retinol can also cause other side effects such as, skin irritation, itchiness and redness.
Triclosan Used as an antibacterial agent, this ingredient is often found in toothpastes and hand soaps. Unfortunately, triclosan is a microbiome disruptor for the skin and the gut. It has been linked to allergies, asthma and eczema in children.
Silicones Most often found in moisturizers and creams, the structure of silicones can trap dirt and debris into pores. This trapping of dirt can lead to breakouts and skin inflammation. Silicones also impair skin cell turnover. Some common ones are, cyclopentasiloxane and dimethicone.
PEGs/PGs Found in skin cleansers and emulsifying agents, these are used to enhance the penetration of products into the skin. These chemicals are known to worsen eczema and trigger allergies. They have been linked to kidney and liver damage.
Phenoxyethanol Used as a preservative, this chemical is often found in products that contain water such as skin cleansers and shampoo. Some side effects are kidney and liver damage as well as dermatitis.
Please note: Oftentimes, there are many more unhealthy chemicals in beauty products, but these are the top 10 to be avoided.
Now that we know what ingredients we should avoid, what products should we be purchasing that are safe for us? I believe that simple is best. Opt for products that have ingredients that are plant and/or flower based. Organic ingredients are preferred so you limit your exposure to herbicides and pesticides. Think of ingredients like "food for your skin." Would you eat the ingredients? Probably not if you don't know what they are!
Opt for products that have ingredients that are plant and/or flower based. Organic ingredients are preferred so you limit your exposure to herbicides and pesticides.
Many companies are beginning to take a closer look at ingredients used because consumers are becoming more curious about formulations. This increased demand is causing the clean beauty, also known as the "non-toxic beauty," movement which is exciting to see! So what's up with all the buzz words associated with clean beauty? Here's a list of words often used in the clean beauty world.
Cruelty Free Not tested on animals.
Vegan The product does not contain anything derived from animals.
Organic Ingredients are not treated with pesticides, herbicides or growth hormones.
Green beauty Made using plant based ingredients and meets specific eco-friendly sustainability standards.
Sustainable beauty All aspects of formulation and packaging adhere to specific sustainability standards.
Even if a company claims to be associated with "clean beauty," you will still want to take a look at the ingredients used. This claim to be clean may still not be as "clean" as you think. If the ingredient lists for products are hard to locate, this is generally a sign that they may be hiding something from you. When shopping online for products, I have found many skin care companies often only list around 3 ingredients. You may eventually discover a "view full ingredient list" at the bottom of the page (or in a very inconvenient location) making it challenging to determine if the product is the right fit for you and your health. You will want to start at the end of the ingredient list as this is often where many harmful ingredients are listed.
You will want to start at the end of the ingredient list as this is often where many harmful ingredients are listed.
Make Your Own
A fun idea to play around with is making your own products at home. Just like cooking as discussed in Detox Your Nutrition, you would be in control of all ingredients used. There are many DIY recipes out there and most ingredients used are often found in your kitchen.
Clean Living Inventory
On a scale of 1-5, rate the statements with 1 being "strongly disagree" and 5 being "strongly agree." The goal is not to score a perfect 50 in each section, but knowing that it is just a guide to help you prioritize which areas you would like to work on moving forward.
Beauty (rate each statement from 1-5 and see where you land)
1. My beauty approach energizes me and makes me feel good.
2. I consider ingredient safety when purchasing beauty and body care products.
3. I feel confident in my natural beauty.
4. I'm familiar with the term greenwashing, and it influences my beauty and body care purchases.
5. I consider the environmental impact of my fashion choices.
6. I feel confident navigating labels on beauty products.
7. I feel confident that my beauty approach is healthy.
8. I appreciate the inner beauty of others.
9. I appreciate my own inner beauty.
10. I regularly revisit my beauty habits and consider new ways to detox.
After going over each statement, add up where you landed and begin creating a plan to dive deeper into these areas, one step at a time. Remember, it is about making small shifts that are sustainable over time. As you start to run out of what you are currently using, replace that product with a clean beauty option. Or, start with a product that stays on your skin for a longer period of time such as a body cream, body lotion or facial moisturizer. From here, you can work on your facial cleanser, shampoo and conditioner. It can be expensive to make the switch all at once but some people like doing that once they really dive into the labels and see how frightening it is to learn about the chemical load. Do what feels right for you and your wallet. Remember, you are doing a detox, so give your skin time to adjust. Your skin may experience some breakouts with the new change. Be patient as this may take 4-6 weeks for your skin to get used to the new product.
Remember, it is about making small shifts that are sustainable over time. As you start to run out of what you are currently using, replace that product with a clean beauty option.
Celebrate Your Natural, Inner Beauty
Clean beauty is more than just the products we use. It is about celebrating and honoring your natural, authentic beauty and cultivating self love. What is a feature that you love about yourself? Eye color? Skin tone? Hair color? For more on self love, listen to my podcast episode here or take a look at my newest product, Self Love Mantra Cards to help support the practice of self compassion.
Continue to honor yourself and slowly begin simplifying your beauty routine. Look for products that support your health and wellbeing and that support your natural beauty. Once you begin looking at your beauty line up, any surprises? What did you find? Share below! Next up in the series, Detox Your Home.