Before we discuss green beauty products, let’s edit your beauty routine and reevaluate your beauty habits. Take a close look at the products you already own.
What is in your morning bathroom routine? Most likely, you take a shower with a zesty, invigorating shower gel; you shampoo and condition your hair; you wash and maybe scrub your face with a foaming fresh-smelling cleanser; if you are a man, you also shave. You splash your skin with a toner or an astringent, top it with a moisturizer with (hopefully) some sunscreen in it, followed by makeup (again, optional), rub some antiperspirant under your arms, and add a spritz of a fragrance to seal the deal. Within fifteen minutes, you have exposed yourself to a whopping amount of chemicals—and you haven’t even left home yet!
Julie Gabriel from the Green Beauty Guide summarizes:
After a quick count of ingredients contained in a typical cleanser, toner, moisturizer, eye cream, facial scrub, body wash, body lotion, and sunscreen, I came up with more than two hundred different chemicals that we diligently apply to our skin daily. This is not counting hundreds of synthetic fragrance ingredients in your favourite eau de toilette!
In 2006, a consumer advocacy group, Environmental Working Group, with the support of the Breast Cancer Fund, Breast Cancer Action, and the National Environmental Trust, released a study of the listed ingredients for 7,500 bestselling beauty products. Here are some of the findings: About 90 percent of cosmetic ingredients have never been analyzed for health impacts by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board, a panel that oversees cosmetic safety. More than seventy popular hair dye products contain ingredients derived from coal tar, a known carcinogen. Nearly 55 percent of products contain “penetration enhancers” that increase the ability of chemicals to enter the bloodstream. About 90 percent of cosmetic ingredients have never been analyzed for health impacts.
Read the labels. Spot unwanted chemicals. Check expiration dates and get rid of everything that contains one or more toxic ingredients. You don’t have to throw out everything right away. Some “holy grail” beauty products are almost impossible to let go of.
Can’t part with that caviar-based moisturizer that is loaded with paraben preservatives? Don’t use it as a hand cream. You may keep a miracle hair balm if it does wonders for your hair and doesn’t cause back or neck irritation. However, I strongly suggest that you double-check all questionable products that sit on your skin for longer periods, such as toners, moisturizers, and serums. Replace them with nontoxic versions as soon as possible. Synthetic cleansers can be the last to get the boot. I don’t expect you to instantly discard all your time-tested beauty treasures. If your heart bleeds, put them in a box and try switching to green, natural skin care for just one month. Give it a try. After one month, if you still feel like it, you can always go back to your chemical skin care. But something tells me you won’t want to.
The solution? The general rule of thumb is to avoid products with unpronounceable ingredients. To avoid 1,4-Dioxane, the Organic Consumers Association urges consumers to search ingredient lists for indications of ethoxylation, including: myreth, oleth, laureth, ceteareth, and any other “eth,” PEG, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, or oxynol in ingredient names.
Watch out for “eths” and PEGS, and your health will thank you.
Read more about it on www.safecosmetics.org
Be consistent in your quest for green beauty. This means that each product should be natural and contain no synthetic dyes, fragrances, preservatives, or detergents.
No matter how you mix and match your cleansers, toners, sunscreens, and anti-ageing serums stick to a routine. Cleanse your face every morning and evening, boost the effectiveness of your moisturizers by spraying or padding on some toner, and always put on a moisturizer with sunscreen when you leave home.
At night, cleanse your skin and dab a little lightweight oil or serum to nourish, not suffocate, your skin when it needs oxygen more than ever.
Not ready for a big green leap? Take one step at a time. One natural product won’t mean much of a difference, but it’s a nice start.
Switch from a foaming cleanser containing several sulfate-based cleanser detergents to a mild olive oil soap or African Black Soap.
Replace your alcohol-based toner with witch hazel or rose water and dot a few drops of jojoba oil instead of heavy night cream.
Just keep in mind that several natural products used consistently will produce noticeable results within a few weeks. One product is not a cure-all. Regular use of green beauty products will give you a natural healthy looking skin.
Watch out for our next blog on cleaning out your beauty routine.
To read more about the chemicals you should avoid in your beauty products click here.