Spring Clean Your Beauty Routine
With Spring in full swing, it’s the perfect time to refresh your beauty products with greener options (pun intended!).
In a perfect world, all your personal care products should be non-toxic and organic when possible. But most people are in a state of transition, picking up greener products as they finish the products they have. [If you’ve already gone all the way green, you’re a rockstar and should take this as a refresher.] For the rest of the world, I know that attempting a complete overhaul can be overwhelming.
So where do you start? By swapping out the ten biggest offenders listed below. These products carry the heaviest chemical burden because we use them every day or multiple times a day. They're the most important products to swap out when detoxing your beauty routine, and I’ll explain why.
2. Shampoo + Conditioner
3. Face + Body Cleanser
4. Moisturizer + Serum
5. Body Oil + Lotion
8. Lipstick + Lip Balm
10. Nail Polish
Synthetic fragrances are among the top 5 allergens in the world. They expose your skin, nasal and sinus passageways, and lungs to a laundry list of problematic ingredients: solvents, stabilizers, preservatives, dyes, parabens, phthalates and GMOs, to name just some of them.
When you see “fragrance” or “parfum” listed, unexplained, on any cosmetics label, it’s actually a chemical cocktail of any number of some 3,000 potential cosmetic ingredients. Fragrance recipes are considered a “trade secret,” so manufacturers are not required to disclose fragrance chemicals in the list of ingredients. It’s a legal loophole.
Clean fragrances instead use plant-based preservative systems and essential oils, which have the added benefit of aromatherapeutic properties.
2. Shampoo + Conditioner
Not only do you work them into your scalp and end up with them all over your body in the shower, you also inhale the shower steam infused with them. Which is a problem because conventional shampoos and conditioners contain not only fragrances and preservatives, but also surfactants (like Sodium Laureth Sulfate) that are likely contaminated with a carcinogenic chemical called 1,4-Dioxane.
Instead of potentially harmful surfactants, clean hair care formulas use saponified coconut oil and other, milder surfactants and fatty acids that are safer to use and better for your skin and hair. Clean conditioners rely on natural oils and butters as opposed to silicones and plasticizers to soften and moisturize hair.
3. Cleanser (Face + Body)
Just like shampoos, most mainstream cleansers contain harsh detergents like sulfates that leave your skin dry without nourishing it. And they carry the risk of being contaminated with 1,4-Dioxane.
Since I made the switch to sulfate-free cleansers (read about my experience here), I almost never get dry skin anymore. Clean beauty companies approach cleansing from a totally different perspective, using plant oils to slow down bacterial growth and reduce blemishes, remove excess oil, makeup and pollutants, and cleanse without stripping the skin's necessary moisture.
One Love Organics Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil by Elizabeth Dehn
MUN Akwi Purifying Cleanser
The Body Deli facial cleansers [5 different formulas to suit your skin type]
Tracie Martyn Amla Purifying Cleanser
Attitude Natural Body Wash
Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap
4. Serum + Moisturizer
Most serums and moisturizers are full of fillers and ingredients designed to make them “feel” like they’re working. Take silicones and mineral oil, which are in almost every conventional serum.
Silicones make skin feel smoother but do nothing to actually nourish or treat it. The short-term smoothness and slip they offer has long-term negative consequences: their occlusive nature causes breakouts by clogging the pores and accelerates skin aging by interfering with the skin’s natural processes.
Mineral oil is a skin emollient and fragrance ingredient derived from petroleum. There is strong evidence of its toxicity to the immune and respiratory systems.
The new crop of clean serums and moisturizers are just as effective at delivering results, but formulated instead with active organic botanicals and powerful essential oils. They restore moisture, clarity, smoothness, and glow to your skin with naturally-derived anti-inflammatories, phytoceramides, nourishing fatty acids and antioxidants.
Odacite Serum Concentrates
Josh Rosebrook Oculus Formula eye oil
Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum
Province Apothecary Made for You Serum
Odacite Beautiful Day Face Moisturizer
Hynt Beauty Skin Prep Serum Bioctive Marine Complex
5. Body Oil + Lotion
Your skin is your largest organ by far, so you absorb a lot of the ingredients in body products. Covering the majority of your skin with a petroleum-based, preservative-, plasticizer-, and fragrance-infused conventional formula exposes you to everything from serious skin irritants to potential carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and other concerning ingredients.
A clean formula, on the other hand, infuses your skin with all the benefits of its active botanical ingredients: antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and nourishing oils.
Osmia Organics Body Oils
Province Apothecary Radiant Body Oil
Prtty Peaushun Skin Tight Body Lotion [comes in 5 shades, from clear to deep dark]
Sangre de Fruta Botanical Body Creams
Tata Harper Revitalizing Body Oil
The active ingredients in sunscreens are either chemical or mineral filters. Most sunscreens on the market contain chemical filters usually made up of 2-6 potentially harmful ingredients, the most concerning of which are:
- Oxybenzone - acts like estrogen in the body, alters sperm production in animal studies, and is associated with endometriosis in women;
- Octinoxate - has hormone-like activity, causing reproductive system, thyroid and behavioral alterations in animal studies; and
- Homosalate - disrupts estrogen, androgen and progesterone.
To avoid these chemicals, make sure you use a mineral sunscreen. It relies instead on inert minerals - either zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or a combination of the two - that block both UVA and UVB rays. For more detail, see my post on sunscreen here.
My fave non-toxic, mineral based sunscreens provide broad-spectrum protection while at the same time acting as both a moisturizer and a primer.
Hynt Beauty Sun Prep SPF30
Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream SPF30 [also comes in a tinted formula]
MD SolarSciences Mineral Tinted Crème SPF 30
MD SolarSciences Crème Mineral Beauty Balm SPF 50
MD SolarSciences Quick Dry Body Spray SPF40
Antiperspirants and deodorants come into direct contact with your underarms, where lymph nodes and sweat glands are concentrated. Conventional deodorants/antipersperants contain aluminum-based ingredients and a host of other potentially harmful ingredients, many of them unlisted, hidden within the ingredient “fragrance”.
I’ve tried more clean deodorants than I can count (with some embarrassing fails along the way) and narrowed them down to these faves below.
8. Lip Color + Balm
Most conventional lipsticks and glosses contain heavy metals like lead, cadmium, and aluminum, plus dyes that aren’t even allowed in food, petroleum, plasticizers and optical brighteners. Not to mention the usual preservatives and “fragrance”.
Since the average woman applies lipstick 2 to 14 times a day, we end up ingesting or absorbing as much as 87mg of product a day. So make sure your lip products contain safe ingredients that you don’t mind ingesting.
Axiology Natural Organic Lipsticks + Lip Crayons
Bite Beauty lip products
Da lish Cosmetics Lipsticks, Lip Glosses + Lip/Cheek Balms
Ilia Beauty lip products
Most conventional lip balms are made primarily of petroleum jelly, with potentially toxic fragrance, flavors, and texturizers added in. As we consume most of what we put on our lips, the ingredients in clean lip balms - like shea butter, olive oil, and grapefruit oil - are the healthier option. Bonus: they’re also more effective.
Most conventional mascaras are made with a petroleum-combustion byproduct called coal tar, plus lots of synthetic preservatives and plasticizers.
Green beauty brands have improved their formulas and launched products that give mainstream mascaras a run for their money. High-tech innovations with botanical ingredients like pine resin make clean mascaras at least as good as conventional ones. Try this fresh crop of high-performing natural mascaras, and you won’t bat an eye at your not-so-clean formulas ever again.
10. Nail Polish
Our nails may be hard but they're also porous. When we paint them with nail polish, the chemical molecules of the polish enter our bloodstream and get metabolized in our body. This is a problem because conventional nail polishes contain ingredients that have been proven to harm and affect hormone regulation, metabolism, reproduction and development. The “Big 8” chemicals you want to avoid are: triphenyl phosphate (TPHP); formaldehyde; formaldehyde resin; toluene; dibutyl phthalate (DBP); camphor; xylene; and ethyl tosylamide.
Luckily, it’s easier than ever to find 8-free polishes (i.e., polishes that are free of these “Big 8” chemicals). If you can’t get your hands on 8-free polishes then opt for 7-free or at least 5-free. And don’t forget about your polish remover. Acetone-based nail polish removers are SO yesterday (check out my post here for the deets).
Remember that the goal is progress, not perfection. As long as you keep moving in a greener direction you’re doing just fine. And whenever you hit a road bump along the way, I'm always here to help!