In a previous post, I talked about eating clean. Hopefully you were able to put a few of those tips into practice, even if just washing your fruits and veggies just a little longer, to get dirt, bacteria, and especially pesticides off!
Now let’s talk about something that you may not have thought about—how to have a cleaner beauty routine.
I like to shop at Marshall’s and I can spend a LOT of time there. But hang on– it’s not what you think—what I spend a lot of time on is actually trying to find lotions, shampoos and skin products without fragrance or phthalates. It’s frustrating because I often walk out empty-handed, wooed by the label that says “natural” only to find fragrance or phthalates listed at the end of the very fine print label.
It’s ironic that in an effort to pursue softer skin, get smoother hair or less body odor, we are actually flooding our body with chemicals that could shorten our life and impact future generations. Sounds pretty drastic right? Unfortunately, it’s true.
What Can You Do?
Luckily new companies and old are stepping up and being transparent about what’s in their products. So, bring your reading glasses to the store and start asking more questions about what’s in your beauty products!
When choosing products, look out for these ingredients:
You’ll find fragrance in nearly every consumer product in your home—from your shampoo to your foundation to your detergent. The problem with the word “fragrance” is that the specific ingredients are not disclosed, which makes it impossible to avoid the ones that are carcinogenic or endocrine disrupting. Instead you can look for products that are fragrance-free or scented with essential oils or herbs like peppermint or lavender.
Parabens: (Especially Probyl-, Isopropyl-, Butuyl- and Isobutyl- parabens)
Parabens mimic estrogen in the body and are widely used in cosmetics. The CDC has found parabens in virtually everyone tested in the US. These endocrine disruptors could cause reproductive and developmental disorders, according to the European Commission’s Scientific Committee. Read more about Parabens and breast cancer.
Phthalates, notably found in most everything with fragrance—meaning pretty much everything in your cosmetic drawer—has been shown to cause malformations of the reproductive tract in animal studies. In 2000, when the Centers for Disease Control looked at exposure data, they found that women of childbearing age, who could expose their fetuses to phthalates in the womb, had the highest exposure to the chemicals. You can find that full report from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
Many chemicals found in cosmetics and other beauty products may also be carcinogenic. You can find a list of chemicals linked to breast cancer at Breast Cancer Prevention Partners.
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole)
BHA has been listed by the National Toxicology Program as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” It’s used in food, food packaging as well as personal care products.
Boric Acid/Sodium Borate:
These chemicals have been shown to disrupt hormones and harm the male reproductive system. Most notable is products with these chemicals should not be used on infants or on damaged skin. Both the European Union and Canada restrict boric acid use in certain products. Unfortunately, some US diaper creams still contain boric acid, which according to the Mayo Clinic “can be toxic for babies.”
If you regularly get manicures, especially in a busy salon, you are exposing yourself to a regular dose of toluene, a petrochemical solvent and potential neural toxicant. Exposure to these vapors while pregnant could impair fetal development. Nail polish also contains DBP—dibutyl phthalate and formaldehyde—other known carcinogens. But don’t worry-you don’t have to go polish-free—just choose a better polish. Honeybee Gardens, Suncoat, Piggy Paint (also kid-friendly and other healthy beauty products) are all odor free. Honeybee Gardens polish can be taken off with rubbing alcohol or even vodka!! LVX claims to be a luxury polish that is cruelty-free and vegan.
“Beauty is only skin deep”, goes the popular quote. Unfortunately, products we use on our skin go way past skin deep and could damage our future. Get informed today.
For more information:
- Skin Deep Database from the Environmental Working Group—search the database of more than 73,000 products and look for EWG verified products.
- Campaign for Safe Cosmetics-find more chemicals of concern, and the science behind what to avoid.
- Think Dirty App: Scan a beauty product’s bar code and find out about it’s ingredients.
Some more of my blog posts on the topic of clean beauty:
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Other articles you may be interested in:
- Part One: Eating Clean by Bridget Swinney, MS RD
- Healthy Hydration: It’s More than Just Water by Bridget Swinney, MS RD
- Eating Your Way to a Healthy Brain by Jaime Cobb
- Could Artificial Sweeteners Be Causing Your Health Problems? by Dr. Mary Ann Block