A few years ago, my wise friend and acupuncturist, Anne Matthews, opened my eyes up to the importance of my skin. The largest and most absorbent organ of the human body, many of us unwittingly inundate our skin with toxins on a daily basis: due to lax rules in the cosmetic industry. From shampoo, sunscreen and make-up, to baby soap, perfume and anti-aging face serums, there are more cancer-causing and hormone-disrupting ingredients in products on the market than you can ever imagine.
The cosmetics industry is not required to prove an ingredient is safe for human health before it is used in a consumer product. It is shocking, but true. Most people use these products without a second thought: believing that the government is regulating for safety. This is incorrect. The government does not require health studies or pre-market testing for cosmetic products before they are sold. On average, people apply 126 unique ingredients onto their skin daily. These chemicals, whether absorbed through the skin, rinsed down the drain, or flushed down the toilet, are causing serious issues for human health: as well as seriously impacting our wildlife and water systems.
And so I asked myself, how can I make more informed choices for myself and my family? It has often been a confusing and daunting journey but I have been fortunate enough to discover some great resources over the years. I hope that they will be of use to you on your path to health and well-being:
Environmental Working Group: Skin Deep Cosmetics Database
EWG’s Skin Deep database gives you practical solutions to protect yourself and your family from everyday exposures to chemicals. They launched Skin Deep in 2004 to create online profiles for cosmetics and personal care products, highlighting their potential hazards and health concerns. The EWG’s scientific staff compare the ingredients on personal care product labels and websites to information in nearly 60 toxicity and regulatory databases. Now in its eighth year, EWG’s Skin Deep database provides you with easy-to-navigate ratings for a wide range of products and ingredients on the market.
David Suzuki Foundation: Dirty Dozen Cosmetic Chemicals List
U.S. researchers report that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors. Many products include plasticizers (chemicals that keep concrete soft), degreasers (used to get grime off auto parts), and surfactants (they reduce surface tension in water, like in paint and inks). The David Suzuki Foundation provides an accessible list of the “dirty dozen” ingredients to keep an eye out for; they also provide more comprehensive data on these ingredients for those who would like all of the facts.
“There is Lead in Your Lipstick” by Gillian Deacon
As a breast cancer survivor, author Gill Deacon takes the issue of toxins in bodycare products to heart. Her book is a friendly, informative and meticulously researched guide to more considered options for personal care, showing how to navigate misleading labels and greenwash, and ultimately arrive at safer choices, for a healthier family and a healthier world. You can get copy of her free wallet-size toxins guide here.
And now for some of my favourite natural cosmetic products so far…drum roll please…
Routine Natural Deodorant: I have tried LOTS of natural deodorants over the years and most have not worked for me. Routine is the only one that never fails. It smells great and it works all day. Routine Deodorant is free from aluminum zirconium, aluminum chlorohydrate, parabens, triclosan and propylene glycol. My favourite one is “Like a Boss.”
Make-up: I am still exploring the world of natural make-up. So far, I can give two thumbs up to the following products and companies.
- Tartiest lash paint mascara: Most natural mascaras tends to run down my face half way through the day. This product not only gives me great volume but it also lasts really well. Tarte is a leader in healthy, eco-chic beauty, offering cruelty-free cosmetics infused with ingredients like superfruit and plant extracts, vitamins, minerals, essential oils and other naturally-derived ingredients.
- 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Foundation Powder: The powder is lightweight, while providing great coverage. I like the peach bisque colour for my skin tone. This product is natural and 100% cruelty-free, free of artificial colors, artificial fragrances, synthetic chemical preservatives and all other toxins.
- Sappho Cosmetics: Founded by Emmy nominated makeup artist JoAnn Fowler, and developed with experts in the field of green chemistry, Sappho New Paradigm offers formulations created with the finest of certified organic ingredients and infused with phyto nutrients. I have been using their Lisa liquid foundation, as well as their Luv the Cheeks blush and Bronze Goddess bronzer.
- VIVA Organics: I recently discovered the VIVA product line; and I have been really happy with the quality and value for money. I am currently using their Antioxidant Serum, the Facial Toner and the Bio-Brightening C Serum. They are all great.
- Caudalie: For treating sun spot damage, I like to use the Caudalie Radiance Serum; and for the occasional acne break-outs (once a month or so) I apply an Instant Detox Mask.
- REN Clean Skincare: For overall radiance, I like to use the REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask, once a week.
I could type on and on but I will stop here. My enthusiasm for natural products for the home and body is growing by the day. If there is interest, I am happy to write more about soap, shampoo, sunscreen and home cleaning recommendations in a future post.
Tell me – are you paying attention to the products you use on your body? And if so, please share your favourites with me!