From the moment we wake up in the morning to the time we hop back into bed, we are using countless products, many of them toxic, on our skin. We are absorbing up to 5 pounds of toxic chemicals accumulate via our skin every year and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reveals that more than 25% of women use at least 15 products daily that could contain toxins and carcinogens. This amounts to 515 different chemicals on our bodies every single day.
The skin, being the largest organ of the body, absorbs close to 60% of the products that we are putting on it. Whilst you may think ‘well it is only a small amount’ of chemicals that end up in the body, using three or four products with phthalates or parabens in it will add up. What also could be happening is the ‘cocktail effect’ of different synthetic chemicals mixing, and that combination has led researchers to say that we may be significantly underestimating the effect of endocrine disrupting chemicals. Auto-immune disease, infertility, allergies, metabolic disorders and even in birth defects in our newborn can be attributed to the products that we are using on a daily basis.
What makes this more of a problem is that in Australia there is no pre-market regulation requiring that chemicals being used in cosmetic products are being tested for health and safety prior to their manufacture and sale.
Whilst it is easy to be overwhelmed by what seems to be a colossal task of “detoxing your skincare regime”, there are a few easy steps that will ensure you are choosing clean beauty products every time.
1. Knowledge is Key
The best way to discover what you are putting on your skin is to look at the ingredients list of the products you are using. Whilst lists may become overwhelming there are a few handy resources which allow you to quickly check the toxicity of ingredients you may be suspect. The Environmental Working Group has a great database of products called Skin Deep, where you can plug in tens of thousands of ingredients and even products themselves and find out how harmful or clean they really are.
2. Scan All Ingredients
Whilst it may take some time to do at first this will become much easier as you get more familiar with ingredients. Take the time to scan your products. You will generally find petrochemicals and sulphates on the top of the list whilst the bottom of your list will contain preservatives as well as fragrances. Scan for any paraben ingredients or other nasties.
3. Know the Avoid List
Awareness of "avoid" ingredients is a key first step to creating a toxin-free beauty routine. In general, it is best to avoid the following ingredients:
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) / Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and other sulfate-based detergents
- Propylene glycol, polyethylene glycol and various ingredients formulated with PEGs and PGs
- Parabens (methyl, butyl, ethyl, propyl)
- Phthalates (DBP, DEP, DEHP, and DMP)
- Synthetic (FD&C and other) dyes and colourants
- Benzyl Peroxide
- DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine) and TEA (Triethanolamine)
4. Discover Your Options
Being aware of suitable alternatives to toxic ingredients is empowering and provides you with options to equip you with everything you need to practice a pure and highly effective beauty routine. There are many clean beauty online stores that have selected products that are safe and truly natural. Read reviews on these sites to determine whether a product sounds right for your skin. You can also ask companies to provide samples of skincare and makeup for you to try before you spend money on new products. Become familiar with makeup artists and green beauty experts that have done the research for you and are skilled at recommending fantastic products. Depths of Beauty, Liv Lundelius, Cathy Tolpigin and Nourished Life are all fantastic resources that you can rely on.
5. Detox Your Beauty Collection
Take a look at your beauty cabinet and start with replacing products that you are using frequently and on large parts of your body. This may be your cleanser, body lotion and your makeup. You do not need to overhaul all products in one go but as you run out of them you can replace them with more clean and green alternatives.
6. Consider Your Household Cleaning Products.
Whilst cleaning up your beauty routine is a first and very important step in reducing your toxin load, the next step is considering your household cleaning products which also have endocrine disrupting chemicals lurking within them. Take the same approach as you have used in finding alternatives to your skincare and makeup.
7. Beware of "Green Washing"
Many companies try to market their products to be natural or organic and use misleading terms to make you think that their products are natural, when really they are not at all. You can avoid this trap by knowing your ingredients, looking for trustworthy certifications or buying from stores that you trust.
8. Enjoy the Rewards!
If you are able to slowly work through the above steps you will not only be keeping yourself and your family protected from harmful toxins, you will also be preserving our environment, marine life and ecosystem. And you will reap the wonderful rewards of a healthy, radiant and vital complexion!