Do you want to switch to safer products? In this post, I share ingredients to avoid in your beauty products and why they are important to overall health.
I’ll be honest, my journey to making the switch to safer personal care and beauty products began long after my health journey began. I’ve devoted much of my life to fitness and good nutrition, but it’s only recently that I’ve learned that what I put on my body is just as important as what I put in my body.
Lack of regulation
Unfortunately, unlike the food industry, the beauty industry is highly unregulated. The last major law regulating this multi-billion dollar industry was passed in 1938 – that’s over 80 years ago! Since then, thousands of chemicals have been introduced, and companies can get away with introducing toxic and potentially harmful ingredients into their products. Asbestos in makeup!? Creepy!
My transition to safer products for myself and my family has been slow and steady. I am so thankful that I connected with Beautycounter a few years ago as it has been an immense source of education and resources (not to mention the community aspect and the successful mainstay of my business).
The European Union is a leader in regulating personal care products, banning around 1,400 ingredients; Canada restricts around 600… and the United States a whopping 30! The FDA doesn’t currently have the power to regulate what goes into our products, so it’s really up to us individuals.
Once we know better, we can do better; By purchasing products with safer ingredients, we’re voting with our dollar.
Ingredients to avoid in your beauty products
Parabens are used in products with a high water content, such as shampoos, conditioners, cleansers, and moisturizers. Parabens are an endocrine disruptor, meaning they can affect the delicate balance of our hormones. They mimic estrogen in the body and can alter the expression of our genes. Read more about parabens and why they shouldn’t be in cosmetics here.
These are linked to a variety of health problems including behavioral problems, asthma, breast cancer, ADHD, neurological, behavioral and fertility problems. As with many harmful ingredients in cosmetics and skin care products, the effects can add up.
This is a trade secret in the industry and the term “fragrance” can be used to hide more than 200 chemical ingredients. Companies can easily hide known neurotoxins, carcinogens, allergens and hormone disrupters simply by calling them “fragrances”.
This is a preservative that is a known carcinogen. Like many things, it can have different effects and reactions, but can cause skin irritation, eye irritation, and breathing problems.
Oxybenzone is not only an ingredient that can be harmful to us, but also to the earth and our precious ecosystems. Commonly used in sunscreen, oxybenzone contributes to coral bleaching and damages coral reef DNA. Hawaii was the first country to ban the use of this type of sunscreen.
6. Heavy metals
Makeup often contains heavy metals such as lead, mercury and zinc. They’re used in everything from lipsticks to eyeliners – and they give them that metallic shine.
Risks associated with heavy metals include cancer, endocrine disorders, developmental delays, and neurological disorders.
Good news! Beautycounter tests each batch of their decorative cosmetics 3 times for heavy metals.
Talc, which is commonly found in dusting powders and powder-based makeup like eyeshadow and blush, can give way when it contains asbestos! Safer alternatives include starches made from corn, corn, arrowroot, tapioca, oats, or baking soda.
8. Paraffins and Vaseline
These are long-lived oil refining byproducts used to make gasoline and other petroleum products… and yes, they’re probably hiding in your everyday body lotion. Alternative names include petroleum jelly, paraffin oil or mineral oil – they are often smuggled into lotions for their moisturizing properties. The greatest health risks from paraffins and petrolatum come from improper refining processes, which can leave behind carcinogenic contaminants.
Switch to safer
Once I learned about some of the top culprits and ingredients to stay away from, it became easier to choose everything from shampoo and body lotion to toothpaste, deodorant, and even my makeup. If I’m ever in doubt, I use the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database and Healthy Living app to scan products for their safety ratings.
This is also the reason why I keep choosing beauty counters; I can trust the products as the company has rigorous screening processes, testing, ingredient sourcing and regulation. Beautycounter’s Never List is a growing list of over 1,800 ingredients they exclude from all of their formulations.
As with all aspects of well-being, I do not strive for perfection – but for progress. The small changes really add up over time. I don’t think it’s realistic to completely empty your drawers and cupboards to replace everything in one fell swoop. Instead, I wait until I run out of something and take that opportunity to replace it with a safer option.
If you’re interested in exchanging your products more safely, you can fill out this short form and I’ll email you personalized recommendations.
Cheers to safety!
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