You’re making efforts to live your healthiest life. You’re careful about what you put into your body and focus on eating healthy, wholesome foods. You make the time to exercise. You meditate. And all of these efforts are rewarded with a fuller sense of health and wellbeing.
But are you paying close attention to what you put on your body? After all, most of us use quite a few beauty and body products, and they could be undercutting all your other efforts.
Think about your daily beauty routine, from the body wash you use in the shower to the face cream you apply every night. After all, that lotion is from a “natural” product company and that fresh grapefruit on the label looks mighty convincing!
Unfortunately, many cosmetics are hiding a dirty secret. In fact, hormone disruptors and toxic chemicals are lurking in everything from our shampoo and body lotion to our mascara and foundation makeup. What’s worse, many of these products tout their “natural” ingredients on the front of the label while hiding their not-so-innocent chemicals in fine print on the back.
Thankfully, just as with your diet and exercise, you have a lot of control over the products you choose to apply on your body. That’s why we’re sharing our top 3 tips for cleaning up your beauty routine by recognizing and weeding out harmful toxins in your beauty products.
1. Watch Out For Greenwashing
Let’s talk about our example above: the “natural” face cream with fresh fruit on the front label. It may tout “natural grapefruit extract” and say it’s “paraben free” to sound safe, but if you peek at the ingredients list, you may find a plethora of hard-to-pronounce chemicals listed in fine print. Have you been bamboozled? Certainly. But there’s another name for this deceptive marketing tactic, and it’s called greenwashing.
Greenwashing is when companies market their products as eco-friendly, natural or organic when they are anything but. This type of marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that a company’s products or policies are safe, natural and environmentally friendly. Terms like “organic” and “natural” are not well regulated in body products, and just because a product contains an organic or natural ingredient doesn’t mean it’s free of chemicals.
So don’t take any company at its word. Look beyond the front-of-package hype and dig into the ingredients list.
2. Avoid Endocrine (Hormone) Disruptors
Many common beauty and household products are packed full of chemicals that are known to be hormone disruptors, and this is a serious problem. After all, what good is using an anti-aging cream if it’s making you sick in the long run?
These hormone disruptors interfere with the endocrine system and can cause major issues in the body. Some of them are even known to cause cancer, immune problems and neurological disorders.
So how do you spot one of these toxins in your beauty products? Look for the following chemicals hiding in the ingredients list:
Look for words ending with “paraben” such as butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, and isobutylparaben. Parabens can even cause reproductive problems, which is why many pregnant women are cautioned against using paraben-based products.
These toxins are tricky because they can cause problems when applied to your body as well as when breathed in through the air. Phthalates are found in a number of popular air freshener plug-ins, candles and sprays as well as all sorts of body products and cosmetics. While there are more than 20 types of phthalates, the most common to see on a label is diethylhexyl phthalate DEHP/DOP. Avoid this, or look for a product that is phthalate-free.
Avoid anything labeled as “fragrance” or “parfum”. Some 95% of the chemicals used in synthetic fragrances come from crude oil production and contain carcinogenic and hormone disrupting compounds.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Also labeled as SLS, it’s found in everything from shampoo to engine degreasers. SLS has been linked to endocrine disruption as well as neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin allergies and cancer.
This widely-used antimicrobial chemical can be found in toothpaste, antibacterial soaps, and deodorants. It’s a known endocrine disruptor and can especially affect thyroid and reproductive hormones.
3. Use Technology to Your Advantage
It used to be easy for companies to pull the wool over our eyes, but these days, investigating a product is as easy as a few taps on your phone.
Download the Think Dirty app on your phone, and you’ll be able to scan or search products to find easy-to-understand info on their ingredients. The handy rating system lets you know where a product falls on a scale of safe to harmful.
Similarly, the cosmetics database at Skin Deep offers ingredient details, safety ratings, and product recommendations for a variety of body and beauty products.
With these few simple steps, you’ll take back control of your beauty regime in no time, and you’ll be healthier for it!