Conscious beauty means taking the time to make sure there are no harmful chemicals in your makeup or other beauty products.
It is very difficult to eliminate all possible dangerous compounds from your beauty routine, but just like changing your diet you can start with the easy stuff and then learn more as you go.
When you make a decision about what to use on your hair and skin, take this list of the top 5 worst chemicals that are commonly used in over the counter beauty products and start reading the labels, you will be shocked at the number of products that list these in the ingredients. And the higher up on the list it is, the more the concentrated it will be.
Here are just a few of the worst chemicals that are found in an alarming number of products sold every day.
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Laurel Sulfate
Petrochemicals are used to dissolve heavy grease from car engines, and in cleaners for concrete floors. The damage from repeated exposure to these chemicals over time has been shown to be substantial and there is a long list of possible effects.
Parabens are used in up to 90% of all beauty products. They are a cheap and effective preservative used to prolong the shelf life of a product. There are numerous studies showing a variety of ill effects on the body ranging from aging the skin when exposed to UV light to endocrine disruption. Look out for any ingredient that includes methly/proply/isobutyl/ethyl/butly paraben.
Phthalates are used all over the place, but their main purpose in cosmetics is to hold color and fragrance in place. Most products that contain phthalates don’t even list them on the label as they are a staple ingredient in “fragrance”. These nasties are a pretty potent hormone disruptor, you only need to google “phthalates health effects” and it will make your hair stand on end! So this is essential to try to avoid at all costs.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Laurel Sulfate. You’ve probably heard the hype about these ingredients and it’s easy to start to follow the trend to avoid them but it’s even better to understand why you want to avoid them. These surfactants are used everywhere- shampoo, body wash, mascara, baby washes, and the list goes on.Phthalates make lotions absorb into the skin faster but are classified by the Department of Health and Human Services as a potential carcinogen. Research shows they may be responsible for rashes, irritation of the eyes, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity to name a few. These are readily absorbed by the skin and can have gradual and cumulative effects as they can’t be metabolized by the liver. Even worse is that they are often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane!
1,4-dioxane is a sneaky one. It doesn’t often appear on a label because it’s a byproduct of a process used to reduce the risk of skin irritation for petroleum based ingredients. But, according to the Environmental Working Group, it contaminates up to 46% of personal care products including a high number of baby products. It may be present in products listing PEG, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, and ingredients that end in “eth” and “oxynol”. Basically this known carcinogen should be avoided like the plague!
Research over the past 20 years or so has shown that there is no need to include anything harmful to animals or humans when it comes to the products we want to use in and on our bodies. Manufacturers have come a long way in producing natural safe alternatives to ingredients that should never have been used to begin with.
So where does one start? Just by looking for something labelled “natural” isn’t necessarily going to do the trick. Any company can use the word “natural” regardless of the nature of the ingredients. Same goes for “organic”. Technically there are regulations for the use of this term but you will still see many products with the word “organic” on the label that aren’t actually certified. And if the label says “Made with Organic Ingredients” you might as well put it back on the shelf, since it’s likely that only a very small percentage of the product is organic.
Most importantly – over and above searching for the word “organic” on labels- is to become aware of the ingredients being used, and start eliminating the harmful ones.
Chemical free products enhance your natural beauty and prevent negative effects like irritations and free-radical damage. Your skin will be healthier and free from harmful, toxic chemicals. It may take some time to replace all hair and skin care products you already have with safer, chemical free products, but your skin, your health and the environment- will thank you for it.