So we don’t know exactly how much lipstick a woman swallows in a lifetime, but that doesn’t make the fact that most personal care & beauty products are packed with toxins any less alarming.
Just visualise this – that lipstick stain on your Martini glass might mean that you’re devouring traces of lead, lanolin (aka grease from animal fur) & other petrochemicals. Fancy that? Don’t get me wrong, if you’ve been Instagram-stalking me you’d probably know that I’m a makeup & beauty junkie. A pair of perfectly winged eyeliner and lustrously rouge lips make any day a glamorous one. I’ve been battling with this huge dilemma of knowing what I put on my skin might not be good for my body in the long run, but trying to find excuses like ‘okay, I couldn’t be swallowing that much lipstick right?’. Because to me, makeup & skincare goodies are like my brownies & peanut butter. To wear or not to wear was never an option.
From chatting with my BFFs I realised I’m not alone in fighting this battle. We just choose to turn a deaf ear to those horrifying talks of how much toxic chemicals we’re absorbing into our blood stream through our skin. The wakeup call for me was when I got sick earlier this year and had the luxury (yes – I’m overtly positive) to read extensively about natural remedies and non-toxic skincare products. ‘So you meant I could still have my glam lips day & glitter manicure without minus the nasties?’, I heard you just asked. Yes, and thankfully we’re quite spoilt with choices when it comes to beauty & skincare products that are toxin-free, organic, gentle to our bodies and the environment. So there are really no excuses to keep your ears blocked about turning your beauty cabinet green. Non-toxic alternatives are readily available and they’re not necessarily more expensive than the chemicals-filled fancy brands. Most of us are just too stuck to our beauty routine and don’t feel comfortable with venturing into new territories. Here at Lace n Ruffles, I feel it’s part of my blogger’s social responsibilities to spread the spirit of this green revolution. Take this as your beginner’s guide to kick start your non-toxic skincare journey, packed with my curated list and personal opinions on the WHY, WHAT and HOW to be a true green beauty.
WHY should I care about using non-toxic skincare products?
As if you still need more appalling facts about what goes into most synthetic skincare products. Now take a deep breath before you read these:
- Almost any chemical can be used as an ingredient in personal care products
Labels are allowed to be misleading and incomplete – companies don’t have to list all their ingredients.
- Up to 60% of what we put on our skin gets absorbed into the bloodstream. Source here.
- A study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has detected 16 potentially toxic chemicals in blood and urine samples from 20 teen girls. Studies link these chemicals to potential health effects including cancer and hormone disruption. Source here.
- An average woman uses 12 products per day containing over 168 ingredients, absorbing around 2kg of chemicals a year. Source here.
- Products commonly contain penetration enhancers to drive ingredients deeper into the skin, which results in more chemicals absorbed into your blood stream. These chemicals have been scientifically proven to be linked to cancer, endocrine/hormonal disease, thyroid function disruption, learning disabilities, asthma, respiratory disease, skin disease, liver damage, brain damage and development problems, immune system damage, reproductive hormone disfunction and fetal development issues. Source here.
Wow – so it turns out that there lies a mighty beast in what we use to beautify our skin. Does that set off your alarm bell?
WHAT are the main toxic ingredients to avoid?
Here I present the evil Toxic 8 – eight commonly present toxic chemicals that are added to most skincare & beauty products because they’re cheap, readily available and unregulated. The list is by no means exhaustive as there are way too many hidden nasty chemicals that try to sneak their way through to our beauty cabinets.
PARABENS: Disrupt hormone function which is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive fertility. Linked to is early puberty in children (source) and early menopause in women (source).
SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE (SLS): Originally made as a pesticide and a heavy duty chemical cleaner for garage oil stains and in car washes (yuk!). The manufacturing of SLS creates ethoxylation which is contaminated with dioxane, a carcinogen (source).
MINERAL OIL: Petroleum by-product that interferes with skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders. Slow down skin function and cell development, resulting in premature aging. Used in many products such as baby oil which is 100% mineral oil (source).
PROPYLENE GLYCOL: Direct contact can cause brain, liver and kidney abnormalities. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in US requires workers to wear protective gloves, clothing and goggles when working with it. Yet, we’re putting it in our mouths in toothpaste and makeup (source).
DEA/TEA/MEA: Suspected carcinogens used as emulsifiers and foaming agents (source).
TOLUENE: A pregnant woman’s exposure to toluene vapors during pregnancy may impair fetal development. Associated with toxicity to the immune system (source).
OXYBENZONE: Commonly used in chemical sunscreen that is linked to allergies such as hormone disruption and cell damage (source).
FORMALDEHYDE: The National Toxicology Program in USA classified formaldehyde as a carcinogen under conditions with high or prolonged exposure. Commonly used in nail hardeners and hair straightening treatment (source).
HOW do I go green?
Congrats! If you’re still reading on that means you’re quite sold about the green beauty revolution! Here are some of my personally tested tricks and tips to help you get started:
♥ Always read the labels carefully before buying and only choose to buy products without the nasties.
♥ Most of us aren’t chemists but luckily there’re a few brilliant mobile apps that make identifying toxins in personal care products on the go as easy as A-B-C. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep database app (iOS and Android) provides information and safety assessments for more than 72,000 personal care products, 2,500 brands and 9,000 ingredients, culled from product labels and from their scientific research. Simply scan a product’s bar code, and the app spits out a safety rating from zero (super safe) to 10 (extremely toxic). There’re also Think Dirty app (iOS only) that comes with smaller database than EWG but with an added feature to track your progress towards a greener skincare routine. I check products on both apps before buying.
♥ If a product isn’t covered in any of the above database, I look for the seal of various certification bodies on the packages or on their websites. In Australia, look for the ACO (Australian Certified Organic) or OFC (Organic Food Chain) seals.
♥ Pick brands that are open about the origins and effects of their ingredients as well as their manufacturing process. If you’re uncertain, email or message the brand on social media. In most cases, those who are happy to chat means they have less to hide!
♥ Similarly, if you feel disappointed with the nasty chemicals present in your products, take it to the public space and contact the brand on social media for explanation. Don’t ever underestimate your consumer’s power – every single voice makes a difference for a greener skincare industry in the long run.
Feel a bit overwhelmed and wonder where to start? I did an inspection of all my skincare products and threw away a couple that are clearly marked as containing highly toxic ingrendents such as parabens. Replacing those that are most toxic with organic products were my priority. My first tackle list included toners, hairspray and nail polish. I’m still working my way down the toxic scale and replacing other stuffs in my beauty cabinets as I finish using them one by one.
TOXIN-FREE PRODUCTS I’m loving right now:
Still need a kick to hop onto this revolution? Rejoice, my fellow gorgeous, as I had the honour to research, trial and review some babely non-toxic skincare products out there! The very first brand I got introduced to in my quest for ‘greener’ skin was the Australian brand La Mav. Their Rose Hydrating Mist got me obsessed. It feels gentle, has no nasty smell of alcohol, and calms my post-yoga skin redness quickly for a dash of Taylor Swift’s post workout glam. 🙂 I currently keep one in my yoga bag and one on my work desk. What to love about the brand? Their products are 100% natural, certified organic, free from artificial colours and fragrances. La Mav is very transparent about ingredients and production methods, and if you’re unsure you can tweet them your questions using #asklamav – genius, right? I also love how you can purchase samples online with them to trial before committing to buying full-sized products for that extra peace of mind.
The beauties at La Mav has generously sent in this prize pack of their newly launched Body Collection Range for one lucky reader of Lace n Ruffles.
The pack includes:
1. Coffee Bean Body Scrub 200g:
It combines the goodness from ground coffea arabica, coconut oil, camellia oil and macadamia oil to soften skin, promote cell generation, improves skin tone and the appearance of cellulite. Recommended for all skin types and is ideal for dry and senstivei skin that lacks nutrients.
2. Nourish Body Moisturiser 200ml:
Aloe vera leaf juice, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, macadamia oil, shea butter and natural vitamin E work to deeply hydrate and nourish, improve skin tone and elasticity. Recommended for all skin types and is ideal for dehydrated and sensitive skin.
3. Nourish Hand Cream 50ml:
Co enzyme Q10, natural vitamin E, aloe vera leaf juice, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, macadamia oil and shea butter work to maintain and restore the moisture barrier of the skin. Recommended for all skin types and is ideal for dry skin that is prone to rough patches.
Giveaway ends on 3rd November 2014 and is open to Australian residents only – bon chance!
I have to confess though that it’s difficult to bid farewell to some of my fancy skincare products that I’ve loved and used for years! And I’m guilty of still holding onto some the them. So tell me fellow lovelies, do you have a similar story to share? Do you check what goes into the tube of your favourite skincare product? I need you all to help me stay firm on switching to a greener beauty routine so please share any knowledge, tips and tricks that work! I’ll also continue trialing and reviewing several other toxin-free products in the coming weeks on Lace n Ruffles so jump onto my mailing list to follow my journey.
Until next time, stay beautiful inside & out!
Disclaimer: I was gifted by La Mav while all opinions are genuinely my own. I can’t guarantee that all products I recommend will suit you. I only use products I personally think are good having tried them on myself while everyone’s skin is different and it’s possible to be allergic to anything. Wherever possible, test products out on yourself before purchasing.