When I first started my blog back in 2010, I created a page dedicated to how I went green with my beauty products. And although it was full of some good information, I haven’t updated it since then…sorry, greenies! So now’s the time. I’m combining some of the old pages with some new info, links, and of course, an updated list of the products I’m using right now. So let’s get this cosmetics party started…
Not too long ago, I had no clue what was lurking in the products I used to daily to primp my hair, moisturize my skin, and give my lips that perfect glossy shine. I figured if I could buy it on the store shelf, then someone, somewhere, must have tested and approved it to be safe for me to use. Well, now I know of some of the scary truths lurking behind some of those bottles, creams, and potions…and trust me- it’s anything but pretty!
The best way for me to tell you about the dangers of cosmetics is to first tell you about the skin, the skin is our largest organ, and it serves as the gatekeeper to our muscles, bones, organs, and cells. Now, although we may think we have “tough skin”, our skin can actually absorb a lot…think about it- how do nicotine and birth control patches work? Their medication is absorbed through our skin!!!! So if the skin can absorb those medications, what else is it absorbing? Could it be absorbing the parabens and phtalates in your lotion, or maybe the lead in your lipstick? You bet it is!
Here are just a few of the chemicals you should look out for in your cosmetics:
1- Parabens- These little guys are known hormone disruptors. Basically meaning that they mimic our natural hormones, which disrupts our bodies natural hormone production. This shift or alteration in hormone levels has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive problems in women and decreased sperm count, prostate and testicular cancer in men. Even scarier, a study even found parabens still intact in breast cancer tumours. I don’t know about you, but I want my hormones left alone!!
2- Phtalates- (pronounced THAL-ates) A toxic petroleum-derivative that has been associated with cancer, disorders of sexual maturation in girls, and birth defects of the penis and demasculinization in boys (when exposed to phtlates while in the womb). Also cause asthma, liver and kidney damage. Not to mention fertility problems in men. Phtlates are often hidden under the sneaky and harmless-sounding name “fragrance” in personal care products. Unfortunately, they are not only are found in cosmetics but also in products around your home because they help make plastics flexible and soft (seen in PVC, shower curtains, rubber duckies, baby bath time books), and they are even found in some air fresheners.
3- Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS)- This is what makes your toothpaste, shampoo, and body wash so nice and foamy. Unfortunately, those soap bubbles aren’t so innocent. SLS can cause skin irritation, strips your skin of important oils, could affect eyesight, and possibly cause cancer. SLS has industrial uses too as engine degreasers…and you want me to put it in my hair or mouth, no way!
4- Lead- You would think that no level of lead is safe in the human body, which is why most people are so concerned about lead in old paint. But did you ever stop and think that there might be lead in your lipstick? Unfortunately, in studies done on popular brands of lipstick, nearly all tested for some level of lead in their product. Now, although the amounts may seem small (so small that apparently to the FDA wants to do nothing about it), it is a fact that lead builds up in the body over time, so day after day, year after year…you are increasing the “lead load” in your body with each application of lipstick. In fact, it said that women might ingest 7 pounds of lipstick in their lifetime! Yikes! Lead has been linked to neurological problems such as language, learning, and behaviour problems. On top of this, it can pass through the placenta when a woman is pregnant, thus harming her unborn child. Ick…let’s stay away from this!
Need some more proof these toxins are nasty? Check out this video,
“The Story about Cosmetics” (it’s about 8 minutes long)…
Well, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “The last thing I want to do right now is play cosmetic detective and try to find healthy products and spend a couple of a hundred bucks replacing all my cosmetics!” But, hold up there- just like any other change I made to my lifestyle, I took this one step at a time and made my swaps. I swapped out the old and toxic for the new and healthy. Now I’m sure there’s some that aren’t the “greenest of green,” but we’re all doing the best we can, with what we have, where we are, so do what works for you. Here’s the list of the “green” beauty products that I’m using right now, most of which you can find at Wal-Mart, Whole Foods (or Nature’s Pantry for those in the KC area), or online.
The “Green” Beauty Products I’m Using Right Now…
1. Lotion– this is the most important swap for you to make first because you cover your body with this stuff, which means more of your skin is absorbing this product than nearly anything else that you use (basically more surface area=more exposure). By switching this one out, you’re saving your body from having to come in contact with tons of chemicals on a daily basis. I use this brand called: Dessert Essence Organics Hand and Body Lotion in “Fragrance-Free”. Cost $7-8 online or health food store.
Dessert Essence Organics
Hand and Body Lotion
2. Lip Gloss/Lip Stick- You’ll want to make this the next priority on your list because even though we said the skin could absorb a lot of toxins, think about your lips…how much of that lip gloss or lipstick do you think you ingest? Actually, you probably don’t want to know because it’s disgusting, and even worse are the chemicals that are lurking in your lip products, and the worst offender is lead, as I stated before! So please switch this one out ASAP! I use Burt’s Bees Super Shiny Natural Lip Gloss in Nectar Nude. Cost: $6-7 at Wal-Mart even!
Burt’s Bees Super Shiny Natural Lip Gloss
3. Self-Tanner- Boohoo, this was a tough one for me. I’d been tanning since high school and was perfectly content with my vacation-like glow year-round, but before I got pregnant with Avery, I really reexamined the health pros and cons of tanning, and in combination with the chemicals lurking in the lotions I used pre-tan, I gradually phased this one out. The only thing that got me through it was my swap… It was a sunless tanner.
Okay, not just any orange-paint, toxic-smelling self-tanner…I found the mecca of all sunless tanners, as recommended by Sophie Uliano in the book Gorgeously Green, and it’s by Lavera. They have this rocking self-tanner that is easy, healthy, and looks great! I apply it like lotion every morning after I get out of the shower to give me a little glow, and although I’m nowhere near as tan as I used to be, I know it’s a better health swap for me! I use Lavera Sunless Tanning Lotion. Cost: $27.50 on Lavera’s website, sometimes I’ve been able to find it at Target too.
Lavera Sunless Tanning Lotion
4. Body Wash/Hand Soap- My go-to for all things soap is Dr Bronner’s Castile Soap. It’s plant-based, all-natural, organic, and it has no additives or foaming agents. Even better, Dr Bronner’s has 18 different uses! In order to make body wash, I fill about 1/3 to 1/2 of an empty 16 oz. Bottle with Dr Bronner’s Baby Mild Castile Soap, and then I fill the rest with water. Another use I have for castile soap is for dish soap. Click here to read how I make that with the peppermint castile soap. Other scents they have are citrus, lavender, almond, and rose—cost: $6 for an 8 oz. bottle at local health food stores or even Target. I typically get the 32 oz. Bottle for $13-14 (and with diluting it, it will last several months).
Dr Bronner’s Baby Mild Castile Soap
5. Mascara- These next few products were the little swaps I did as I gradually ran out of each product. A great affordable and healthy option I use for my mascara is “Organic Wear” by Physician’s Formula. Their mascara is free of harsh chemicals, synthetic preservatives, and parabens. Cost: $8-10 at Wal-Mart or online.
Organic Wear Mascara by Physician’s Formula
6. Eye Liner- I so loved my old eyeliners of the past, but when it was time to go green, I found Lavera’s Organic Soft Eyeliner in Brown, and it’s really done its job well. Now, if only I could find a good eye pencil sharpener…anyone has recommendations? This one also doubles as a great eyebrow pencil from time to time. Cost: $14.50 online, $9 at Target.
Lavera Organics Soft Eyeliner
7. Eye Shadow: I use Larenim Eye Shadow in “Bewitched Beige”. Cost: about $12 (good thing this will last for many months) at most health food stores or online.
Larenim Eye Shadow
I’ve even tried to “green” my make-up tools with this brush set from EcoTools…
8. Deodorant- Okay, so now I’m getting into those real personal care products we can’t live without, and trust me, I’m not telling you to drop your deodorant and stop shaving, but there is something scary in deodorant/antiperspirants…it’s aluminium. Aluminium has been linked to breast cancer, seizures, and Alzheimer’s, to name a few. So what’s a girl to do? Start some swaps! Although it took a few tries of other brands, I finally found my favourite deodorant: Tom’s of Maine 24 Hour Long Lasting Odor Protection Aluminum-Free Deodorant Stick in “Unscented”. It’s great, no smell, great coverage, keeps me dry and aluminium-free! Cost: $6-7 at health food stores or online.
9. Shave Gel – Wow, it’s hard to believe, but I used to use a very, very toxic product: Veet, a depilatory cream occasionally instead of shaving. I guess I never managed to read the “Caution”, “Poison”, “Warning!” labels on the back or even think twice as I smelled the toxic smell as I let the product sit for several minutes on my skin. Hello idiot, it’s toxic!
After my awakening with this product, I vowed to shave like a normal person…but then it got me thinking about what was in my shave gel, and as you can imagine, it wasn’t much better. I researched and found things like petroleum-derived chemicals, parabens, phthalates, and triclosan. So out with that too! Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to go that “green” and avoid shaving altogether, so luckily, I found an amazing product called Dr Bronner’s Organic Fair Trade Shaving Soap Gel in Baby Unscented. It’s definitely not shaving cream…it comes out as a brown liquid, and it feels like thick sugar, but when you later it up with some water, it works just as good as traditional shaving cream. Cost: $8-9 at health food stores, $7-8 at Target, or online.
Dr Bronner’s Organic Fair Trade Shaving
9. Hair Products- This is a tricky one for me too, because as I’m sure other women can relate…when we find a product that works, we stick with it for years. That’s the way I was, and since I’ve got thick, curly (need I say frizz-prone) hair, I was not very willing to give up the hair products that had worked so well for me for so long. But what got through it and interested in a green swap? The idea of finding a “better” product! So instead of seeing it as dropping my favourite products to have not-so-cute hair, I saw it as a chance to maybe have better-than-ever hair that was also “green”.
Now, although I wouldn’t say my hair has drastically changed since going green with my hair products, I do feel much better using them and knowing they are clean and green. So here’s what I use: Giovanni Organics Smooth As Silk Shampoo and Conditioner. Cost: $8 at health food stores and even Wal-Mart.
Giovanni Smooth As Silk
Shampoo & Conditioner
When it comes to styling these curls, I use one product and one product only: Beautiful Curls Shea Butter Curl Defining Gel. Especially now that Avery is around, I love knowing that she’s not breathing in added fragrances, chemicals, or who knows what else from my hair products during our snuggle time. Cost: $12 at local health food stores or online. Anyone else has a favourite “green” curl styling cream/gel? I’m always interested in trying new brands out!
Beautiful Curls Shea Butter Curl Defining Gel
10. Concealer- This was one of the last products I gave up because I felt the current concealer I had matched my skin perfectly, and it flawlessly covered up the occasional blemish or bags under my eyes. But with all my other healthy and organic products, I began feeling the pressure to kick it to the curb. So I finally did to a concealer with a new eco-friendly brand, MyChelle. I use MyChelle Concealer in Solar. Cost: $12 at a health food store or online.
I hope this helps to give you some ideas when it comes to “greening” your beauty products. If you have any questions about the products I use, I’d be happy to answer them.
Also, if you want some more information about this topic or to see how your personal care products rank check out: The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database, on this awesome website, you can enter a personal care product in the “Search” box and then it will rank it for you on a scale of 1-10. One being groovy and healthy, and a ten being super toxic. It will also break down each ingredient and let you know how toxic it is on the ranking of 1-10. Very educational and easy and to understand. ( :
Do you have any favourite “green” beauty products that you’re using right now? Share below!