Self-care is an essential part of any wellness regime, and it should include the entire body. That’s why when it comes to taking good care of ourselves, we need to be mindful of the personal care and beauty products we use. You may have heard that what we put onto our bodies is just as important as what we put into them, and I fully believe that to be true! Our skin is our largest organ so our body absorbs whatever we are putting on it. And then there are lip balm and lipstick—they go right onto our mouth so of course, we end up consuming them!
This is both good and bad news. Good news first: There are many products out there with tremendous healing benefits derived from plants that are absorbed through our skin and can help with all sorts of ailments. Bad news: There are many self-care products out there that are ridden with toxic ingredients that can wreak havoc on our endocrine, nervous, reproductive systems and our critical gut microbiome. Even beyond what we put onto our skin, it makes sense that since our environments have an impact on us (mold, smoke, etc,) the things we add to our personal environments do as well (think about the fumes from that designer hairspray or your nail polish, for example).
There has been extensive research on the effects of these toxins, and even though some of the evidence might appear inconclusive, two things are certain. The FDA does not regulate beauty products and some ingredients that are allowed in products in the U.S. are banned in Europe and other countries. I’d say that’s a good enough reason to question their safety and become your own advocate when it comes to the products you and your family use.
I personally became immersed in the world of natural beauty about 10 years ago after doing mega-research on all-things natural healing, in hopes of avoiding medication and addressing some endocrine issues I was having. Through my inquiry, I discovered that toxins in products could be to blame for part of my health concerns and then some. Now, I have always been drawn to all-natural everything but I the more I learned, the more products I started throwing away!
Down the road, I gave a presentation at the advertising agency I was working at, based on the fact that companies could lie about ingredients, which drove me to become further in touch with data from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The EWG reinforced my beliefs that there are in fact harmful ingredients in self-care products, and that not enough people were doing anything about it. Since the FDA does not regulate these products, companies can say things like “natural fragrances” and not have to disclose what that entails whatsoever! To further my concerns, not only are the toxic ingredients used in many of these products bad for us, but they are bad for the environment as well. Soaps and shampoos end up in our lakes and water systems affecting our drinking water and aquatic life.
Thankfully, it’s ten years later and clean beauty is everywhere! This new wave of clean beauty companies is revolutionizing the beauty industry. That doesn’t mean there are not still tons of toxic products out there, but that we definitely have more options and the clean beauty movement is forcing big brands like L’oreal and Maybelline to start cleaning up their act as well. Start being the operative word. We now luckily have many options of products that are not only free from toxic ingredients and good for the environment but that actually work!
If you haven’t yet intentionally integrated clean beauty into your life, it can feel a little overwhelming at first, especially because the products list is extensive. For starters, here are some common types of beauty products that are often ridden with toxic chemicals:
- Shampoo/ Conditioner
To simplify the process of building awareness and integrating clean beauty into your and your family’s life, I wanted to share the following 3 pillars:
Just as with food, read the labels and ingredients! It might seem obvious but the fewer ingredients the better, and be cautious of companies using buzz words like “all-natural” and “organic” as marketing tools. (That’s legal!)
Here are some helpful tools to help you navigate:
- The Think Dirty App: You can simply scan a product barcode and it will give you easy-to-understand info on the product, its ingredients, and potential cleaner options!
- The EWG is a huge resource, specifically the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.
- Here is a comprehensive list of undesirable ingredients that I recently saw on osea.com, a clean beauty company that has been around since 1996. https://oseamalibu.com/pages/whats-not-in-our-products/
- Credo Beauty is another trusted clean beauty resource.
Don’t Stress and Start Small
Yes, putting toxins directly on our skin should be concerning, however overhauling every single product you have may seem daunting enough that you don’t do anything at all. So if you are new to this, attempt switching up even just one product. My personal suggestion would be a facial moisturizer or body lotion. As mentioned, there are many great clean beauty products out there, and we at UWC especially love and trust AnnMarie Skincare.
Also, look for reviews to make sure you are buying products that work! You don’t want to try one natural beauty product and have it not live up to your expectations and then give up on clean beauty altogether.
Requesting certain products at your local grocery/drug store and writing to companies that are using toxic ingredients can have a bigger impact than we might think. The EWG is often involved in safer product campaigns so if you subscribe to their updates you will stay in the loop! And of course, you make an impact by voting with your wallet.
It’s important to remember that a lot of clean products not only have eliminated toxins but are full of amazing plant-derived ingredients that are healing and uplifting. I hope these tools and tips are helpful for you to integrate more clean beauty into your life for a healthier you and healthier world.