For the past few years I’ve tried to become more aware of the chemicals I use in everyday life, both natural and synthetic, and how prolonged exposure to some of these chemicals isn’t necessarily a good thing. It was easy enough to see how household cleaning products are mostly nasty (I now mostly use vinegar) but it’s only been the last year or less where I’ve started to question my beauty and personal care products.
There’s so much information out there, that it’s hard to wrap one’s head around it all. Not to mention, being a skeptic, I usually like to read both sides of an argument before settling on one that seems stronger (e.g. I didn’t understand at first why the discussion on lead in lipstick was compared to lead in ingested candy). While it’d be nearly impossible to eliminate all “chemicals” (water is a chemical, after all), I’m sure the less exposure to synthetics and suspicious “natural” chemicals, the better.
Here are a few sites that I’ve found to be helpful when reading cosmetic or shampoo labels.
The Breast Cancer Action Montreal group has a great piece on safe cosmetics which links to several resources including a guide to the Toxic Twenty chemicals to avoid (most overlap with the dirty dozen).
Health Canada also maintains a site on cosmetics and personal care under their Consumer Product Safety page. Did you know you can report adverse reactions to Health Canada? Health Canada also maintains a Hotlist of ingredients that are banned or limited.
The EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database contains most mainstream cosmetic brands as well as many lesser-known ones. It scores each product on potential hazard (out of 10) and specifies which safety concerns there are.
Probably the best way to avoid substances that may be dangerous (or just icky) would be to not use any cosmetics, but let’s face it – sometimes it’s nice to put on some make-up! Also, I know plenty of women and men who don’t use make-up but do use moisturizer or other creams, so it’s just as important to read labels for those.
For those who just can’t go au naturel everyday (I do some days) there are products out there that avoid toxins and use safer ingredients.
One way I learn about them is through blogs and such. One of my favourite blogs is No More Dirty Looks. I like their post on “Do you remember your clean beauty a-ha moment”. This blog also inspired me to wash my hair less.
For now, I’ve changed my mascara to one from Noblessence as well as a blush that I use more as a bronzer and two of their eyeshadow pencils (which I actually don’t like much). I’m still working on my other make-up; phasing things out as they get used up but I’m mostly just a mascara-wearer so that was my main focus.
I’m still learning a lot, and I’m still skeptical of claims made by organic or natural cosmetic producers, but I think it’s progress in the clean direction, not just on a personal level either but for general environmental improvement as well.