As your body's largest organ, your skin certainly plays an important role in keeping the good things inside (no need to show your heart anywhere other than your sleeve) and the bad things out.
When it comes to our skincare and cosmetics, it's important to consider what we're putting on our skin, since some of that product can end up in you bloodstream: skin absorbs what we put on it.
So how do we make the switch to safer and natural cosmetics and skincare? Here are Living Pretty Naturally's Top 8 things to look for when it comes to cleaning up your beauty routine:
1. The words "natural" and "organic."
I am all for "natural" and "organic." However, I caution those new to natural skincare to be wary of these words on your beauty products.
Labels can be deceiving! Just because there are a certain number of "natural ingredients" added to a product (or synthetic ingredients derived from natural ones), doesn't make it clean and non-toxic, despite what the marketing department might say. Make sure to read your labels and be wary of chemical names. Below you will find some of my top ingredients to avoid.
2. Parabens, PEGs and other yucky ingredients!
With links to cancer and hormone disrupting properties, parabens (synthetic preservatives) are in almost all conventional beauty products. Even products that are labeled as "natural" or "plant based" often contain this dangerous ingredient, so be sure to check your labels!
Other common but nasty ingredients include PEGs, which have been shown to be linked to cancer. PEGs can also increase the look of aging on our skin because they mess with the skin's natural moisture factor. Further, this stuff is also what is found in oven cleaners. We shouldn't need oven cleaner to take off our mascara!
Want to learn about other ingredients you should stay away from? Check out LPN's Ingredients to Avoid.
3. A little leaping bunny.
The number of companies still needlessly testing products and ingredients on animals is shocking. Check labels for the Leaping Bunny logo, or the words "Cruelty Free." These are the companies we should be supporting, not the ones subjecting animals to cruel experiments that aren't necessary to certify safety.
Fragrance is a tricky one. This catchall word was first used to protect a company's scent formulas. We get it, but this is dangerous because it actually provides a loophole for companies not wishing to list all their ingredients.
According to the Skin Deep Database, fragrances are associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system — expectant mothers especially, beware!
When you're looking for a perfume or a sweet smelling moisturizer, check out some of the natural, essential oil-based blends in your health food retailer or online.
There has long been a misconception that if it's natural, it doesn't work. Fortunately, many companies have created some of the best products on the market — sans toxic chemicals!
Head to your local health food store and talk to the shopkeeper running the personal care section. Look at the "most popular" product lists on the online natural beauty shops. Check out some natural beauty blogs that review the latest in natural skincare and cosmetics.
No, I'm not talking about the ones in the sky; I'm talking about the asterisk (*). Look for this little star after the ingredients on your labels. Often they will tell you something interesting. Organic, fair trade and wild crafted are just a few of the words you want to see after the asterisk. The more, the better!
7. Brand values.
When you're first making the switch to natural and you're curious about learning a bit more, I recommend taking a peek at some of the brands' websites. I do this religiously when I'm trying new products. You can read about how the brand sources their ingredients and their philosophy behind what goes into each product and why.
8. When in doubt, check!
Whenever you're in doubt about a product or ingredient, simply head over to the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Guide to Cosmetics (or download their app). You'll find safety ratings of 80,000+ products, plus loads of information on the safety of individual ingredients.
Now you have the tools to start cleaning up and "greening-up" your beauty routine!
What are the first things you look for in natural beauty care?