This post was supposed to be about common skincare ingredients to avoid.
You know the culprits … parabens, formaledhyde, SLS, BHA, triclosan …and especially our beloved fragrance!
But as I tried to narrow down the list, to a few highly-memorable ingredients, I got stuck.
Is probable endocrine disruptor worse than may be contaminated with known carcinogens? What about skin sensitivities and allergens, if they don’t affect everyone? What about developmental disruptors which are clearly bad… but mainly of concern to pregnant women?
And then even with my list, I started digging into the research. Oh my. Overwhelming. Aside from sorting through the science, you have to figure out if the researchers might have a bias (funding by a large cosmetics company, anyone?)
It’s no wonder a normal person (who isn’t as interested in this stuff as I am) might feel overwhelmed and confused.
It IS confusing. There is a ton of conflicting information about the safety of cosmetic ingredients, and a lot of marketing to distract us. Plus, no one has really studied the cumulative effect of exposure to all these chemicals … so there is a lot we just don’t know.
I stopped in frustration. But while making myself a cup of tea (chamomile & peppermint!) I realized, it doesn’t have to be this complicated.
In fact, I avoid most of this ingredient confusion in my own life by following these three tips. Give them a try. We could all use a little simple, healthier living.
Three simple tips for choosing healthier skincare products
1) Use fewer products.
One major gray area in questionable cosmetic ingredients is about cumulative exposure. While the amount of parabens in your moisturizer might be minimal, what about the total amount you’re exposed to everyday from your shower gel, shampoo, moisturizer, shaving cream, conditioner, and makeup? What happens when you get that cumulative exposure, almost daily, for several years? We just don’t know.
The simple solution is to reduce your exposure, by reducing the amount of products you use.
Do you really need a body scrub and a cellulite cream and a shaving cream and a self-tanner and a foot cream and a body moisturizer? Could you get by with a loofah for exfoliating (or a body brush!) and one good quality moisturizer? Or better yet, use a body oil (like some sweet almond oil with essential oils) in place of your moisturizer altogether?
What about your makeup routine? What about your haircare routine? Where can you simplify and streamline your products?
There are so many benefits to using fewer products:
- less clutter! fewer products taking space on your bathroom shelves, cupboards and counters!
- save time getting ready in the morning, by just using a few key products.
- save time choosing, buying and replacing products.
- save money by buying fewer, better quality products.
2) Use a few simple and effective DIY substitutions.
I love DIY beauty, but I realize not everyone has the time, or the interest, in making their own beauty products.
However, there are a few simple substitutions you can use to cut back on the amount of products you buy.
- Use sweet almond oil on a cotton ball as eyemakeup remover.
- Learn to love coconut oil! Some readers use it as makeup remover, face cleanser, moisturizer, to smooth hair frizzies, in the best DIY deodorant … and of course eating and cooking!
- Use a handmade soap (which you can buy) instead of shower gel. Worried about dry skin? Try one which includes shea or cocoa butter. Or just use Dr. Bronners Castille Soap in the shower.
- Make your own body oil using sweet almond oil or grapeseed oil, and a few drops of your favorite essential oils. This takes 2 minutes to make, and a bottle will last for months! You can also use this blend as bath oil.
- Cleanse your face with the Oil Cleansing Method. Again it takes a couple minutes to mix up (just pour the ingredients in a bottle) and it lasts for months!
- Use honey as a face mask. (No recipe needed, just apply the honey, wait a few minutes, and rinse!)
- Use pure rosewater or witch hazel extract as a facial toner. Or make your own facial toner blend.
- Use a body brush or exfoliating glove instead of a body scrub. Or make your own body scrub.
Here is a list of some of my favorite DIY beauty recipes, if you’re ready to try making your own!
3) Avoid fragrance.
I’m sorry I had to include this one. Because I know how much we all love perfume, and how we love scented products!
(In fact, I was a huge Bath & Body Works addict while living in the USA … but alas, they’re just filled with artificial chemical scents!)
I’m not talking about all-natural perfumes. Please support all-natural perfume makers, and indulge in these delicious scents.
I’m talking about the chemical ingredient labeled fragrance on cosmetic bottles. Because that one little word, fragrance, hides a multitude of potential dangers. (source)
Cosmetic companies claim that the formulation of their fragrance is their intellectual property – so therefore they can’t list the individual ingredients on the label.
That means, we don’t know what chemicals make up the fragrance in our products!
One Environmental Working Group study showed that fragrance includes an average of 14 chemicals, including hormone distruptors and allergens. (source)
Tips for avoiding fragrance:
- Look for products labeled fragrance-free (as ‘unscented’ might mean the product contains fragrance-masking chemicals).
- Choose products made with essential oils, which will be included in the ingredients list.
- Buy all natural perfumes instead of synthetic.
- Give yourself time to adjust. After a few weeks of fewer artificial fragrances, your nose will get very sensitive to noticing smells – and you may even find that some of your previous favorite scents seem to strong to you!
Now I’d like to hear from you. Which of these tips are you going to try this week? What product can you give up, or find a healthier replacement for? Let us know in the comments!