Just like we talked about the difference that eating organic actually makes, the same is true of our cosmetics and beauty routine.
What you put on your skin goes into your body.
Yes, your skin does provide a barrier to the rest of the world, but there are still three ways that toxins in the products you apply to your skin can get into your body: “Chemicals can penetrate the skin by passing directly through cells via permeation (intracellular), weaving their way between cells (intercellular), or by sneaking in through appendages like hair follicles or sweat ducts (transappendageal) (source).”
Harmful chemicals from beauty products can also be inhaled, which is the case for phthalates which are common in most perfumes. Others can be ingested, such as lead, commonly found in lipstick.
What kinds of chemicals are we talking about?
The toxins in makeup and skincare products can be categorized as carcinogens (may cause cancer), endocrine disruptors (affect the hormone system) or obesogens (chemicals that interfere with metabolic function).
Major ones to avoid commonly found in beauty products:
- coal tar
- polyethylene glycol
- sodium laureth sulfate
This is really just the tip of the iceberg. To learn more about what kind of chemicals are in your personal products and why they’re harmful, you can go to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database.
I’m still in the process of greening my beauty routine. It takes time to find alternative products that work for you. It can also be overwhelming and expensive.
So, I’m a huge fan of starting slow and doing what you can. ANYTHING you do to minimize your exposure is a step in the right direction, so don’t feel like you need to toss everything at once and switch to products you don’t find effective.
Step One: Any time you finish a product, check out its ingredients to see if it should be reordered.
Step Two: If not, buy something else when you go to replace it. The Skin Deep Database can be a good source of information when choosing alternative products.
Tips for making the switch + favorite products
Deoderant: It takes time to find one that works. Every one’s body chemistry is different. I’ve finally landed on Herban Cowboy women’s deoderant in “Blossom”. It works pretty well for me and most of my clients have found a transition to this deoderant to be fairly easy as well. As with any ‘natural’ deoderant, you may find that you need to reapply more often then the old stuff. And you may want to keep some of whatever you’re using now on hand for special occasions.
Hair care: This is the one I have the hardest time with and I still use a lot of ‘conventional’ haircare products. These days it is easier to find shampoos made without the sodium laureth sulfate at least – many of the combined products don’t use it. I use the Wen Sweet Almond Mint Cleansing Conditioner or Loreal EverPure Cleansing Balm. They’re not the absolute best toxin-wise but they’re better than a lot of other products on the market and I’m happy with the results.
Main image credit: Photober