There are many things our society feels go hand-in-hand with expressing one’s womanhood. One of the most common, whether we like it or not, is cosmetics. From those who enjoy skilled contouring and daily blowouts, to those of us who rely on tinted moisturizer and dry shampoo, many of us have certain beauty products we feel we just can’t go without. In a perfect world, we would all feel confident leaving the house bare-skinned and fresh-faced, but sadly, that’s just not always the reality. Whichever routine you choose each day, the quality and content of your products and how they affect your health should be something to consider.
With such an interest in health, I am an avid label-checker before I eat anything. But recently, I have had a small epiphany: shouldn’t what I put on my body be just as healthy as what I put in it? After coming to this realization, I have been obsessed with doing online product reviews, checking ingredients, and constantly asking advice from my nine best girlfriends via group chat (where the best insight usually comes from). If extensive research isn’t your forte, hopefully this article will provide you with just a few tips or considerations for your health before you purchase cosmetics or other beauty products. There are also some helpful websites out there to be sure what you’re using is safe, such as GoodGuide.
Unfortunately, a lot cosmetics contain chemicals that most of us are probably unfamiliar with. And products that claim to be “100% natural” or “organic” either still contain some foreign chemicals or can be very expensive. There are a few substances that you should try and avoid at all costs, though. This list was pulled from an article from Mark’s Daily Apple, which does a full review of these chemicals, if you’re interested in learning more. The first chemical components to be aware of are parabens. These are used as a preservative in hair care products and many types of make-up. Research so far has not supported parabens causing things like cancer or other cell damage (as often claimed), but they are readily absorbed by the skin and have been shown to cause aging, hormone disruption, and possible allergic reactions. Another potentially harmful chemical commonly found in cosmetics is phthalate. Phthalates have been shown to increase women’s risk for diabetes and disrupt certain hormones in the body (i.e., the thyroid). Many other chemicals found in common cosmetics are proven to disrupt the endocrine system, or have an effect on one’s hormones. The names of some of these are siloxane, triclosan, and BHA/BHT. Always make sure your product doesn’t contain harmful substances like lead, mercury, or formaldehyde. Also, take time to do some research to figure out if your cosmetics are not only harming you, but others (i.e. animal testing, the environment, exploited workers).
Although there is not much evidence to prove these substances cause significant physical harm at a fast rate, the fact that we use them usually on a daily basis at least, should be cause for concern. Bottom line, anything you will be using that often on or in your body should be as safe as possible. Here are some products or companies that are safe and minimize their use of chemicals, and also are relatively affordable.
- Burt’s Bees is a popular company that has a wide variety of products from make-up to shampoo. The majority of the ingredients they use are natural (found in nature) and their products don’t contain any harsh chemicals like parabens or sulfates. They have what is called a “Natural Bar” on every product for you to see what percentage of their ingredients are natural, and they are very honest about their ingredients on every label. Also Burt’s Bees doesn’t test on animals, is relatively affordable, and as an added bonus, purchasing products containing bee’s wax can benefit efforts to stimulate bee pollination and repopulation.
- Another good company for safe cosmetics is RMS Beauty. This brand is a little more expensive, but doesn’t use any ingredient that has been deodorized, refined, or bleached. Their products have rave reviews and their ingredients are all natural, with the main ingredient in most products being coconut oil. RMS also doesn’t test on animals and their ingredients list is readily available.
- Dr. Bronner’s, an all-natural and organic-ingredient company, sells products from shampoos to toothpastes. Dr. Bronner’s uses substances produced from sustainable farms around the world without using pesticides or unnatural fertilizers. They also do a lot of great work in their Fair Trade efforts to ensure good working conditions and fair living wages for their farmers. Read more about Dr. Bronner’s Ethical Sourcing. TIP: These are great products to use while camping (or bathing outdoors at any time) to ensure the safety of the environment
The easiest way to narrow down safe products to use is to determine what’s really important to you when it comes to cosmetics. For example, I am more concerned with environmentally friendly, charity-driven efforts than with the use of preservatives in products, so I choose brands like Lush. But if you’re more interested in purchasing quality, organic-only products, you may choose a company like those mentioned above. Whichever your preference, we can all benefit from being a little more educated about where our daily products come from, and what they consist of.