Often times, when people think about living a clean, and healthy lifestyle, they immediately turn to the foods they’re eating. While this is an incredibly crucial part of living a clean lifestyle, it is by no means everything.
When approaching health from a holistic perspective, it’s not just what we eat that matters, but what we put on our bodies as well. With our skin being our largest organ, everything we apply transdermally has a major effect on our wellbeing.
What Can We Do?
When thinking of finding swaps for each of your self-care products, the task can seem daunting…because it is! However, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and I’m going to show you how to break down the process into bite size pieces.
First, we will go over a list of some of the most common toxic ingredients in self-care products. After this, we will discuss some tips and tools for quickly testing the safety of a personal care product. Lastly, I will provide you with some clean brands we trust and love for easy reference. Let’s get started!
Toxic Chemicals to Avoid
Hands down, this is one of the most common ingredients you will find on a self-care product’s ingredient label. So, why is it so dangerous? It’s dangerous because we truly don’t know what this means! In an effort to protect secret ingredients, this vague label leaves us vulnerable to placing an unknown plethora of chemicals onto our skin, and into our bodies. If a company can’t be transparent about what this entails, it’s poses major health risks when used as a part of your daily routine.
Companies often use this as a preservative, but ignore the fact that parabens mimic estrogen, and can greatly disturb hormone regularity. Parabens have been studied for their role in breast cancer, and run large health risks.
This is another endocrine disrupter, and is often added to perfumes, lotions, and hairsprays. This has been linked to breast cancer, as well as other hormonally related health issues.
This is a carcinogen that is banned in many countries, yet not America. It’s also a respiratory irritant, and can cause eye irritation.
This is an antimicrobial agent, and yet another endocrine disruptor. It particularly effects the thyroid, and reproductive health.
BHA and BHT
Butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene are both synthetic antioxidants, and are endocrine disruptors, and skin irritants.
This acts as an emulsifier to make products foam, and achieve a creamy texture. However, it’s been studied to cause possible organ system toxicity, and can contribute to skin irritation.
This is used as a preservative in self care products and cosmetics, and has been linked to possibly neurotoxicity.
Synthetic Colors or Artificial Dyes
Our world is incredibly colorful, and many products (including food) use their bright colors as a sales tactics to attract consumers. However, these colors come at a price, and are filled with harmful chemicals and dyes to achieve their potency.
As a general rule, products with dull colors tend to be more natural, but natural concentrates and extracts from veggies and fruits can achieve pretty shocking colors as well. All in all, don’t immediately count these out, but ask questions before buying.
Often found in sunscreens, fragrances, nail polish, and more. Another endocrine disruptor, oxybenzone is used as a stabilizer, and UV absorber. This chemical has been found in high concentrations in most people’s urine, and has been linked to reproductive issues, and other hormone disruptions.
Although there are many more toxic chemicals found in our self-care products, these are just some major ones to look out for. For references, and a more extensive lists, you can check out this article from EWG, or this one from Healthline.
Resources, Tips, & Tricks
Swap Items As You Run Out
Instead of throwing out all your products at once, and bringing unneeded stress into your life, simply swap each product as you were going to restock anyways! An overabundance of stress is one of the most unhealthy things you can bring into your life, and there’s no rush when taking on such a big task. Take it one day, and one product at a time, and soon, you’ll be completely switched over!
Look For Short Ingredient Lists + Names You Can Read
I know you’ve heard this before, but it’s a tried and true trick! If the ingredient list is 3 miles long, and filled with 20 letter words, chances are, it’s not a clean product. On the other hand, if the ingredient list includes familiar ingredients (better yet, consumable ingredients), then you’re on the right track.
Think Dirty is actually an app! It allows you to scan the barcodes of over 850,000 cosmetic and personal care products in most U.S. and Canadian stores, providing you with an immediate toxicity rating. This makes identifying toxic products on the go quicker, and much easier.
Reference the EWG
EWG.org provides research based articles, and individualized toxicity ratings on products, using their own rating scale. I love this site, because it breaks down each ingredient individually, explaining health concerns for each, as well as toxicity ratings for each ingredient. This site tells you the “why” behind a rating, instead of simply providing you with a number.
4 Top Personal Care Products + Brands
As promised, the last part of this article will provide you with clean brands that we trust the most for easy reference. Although these brands are much safer than conventional brands, I am not stating that they are all perfect. Often, switching to a clean lifestyle involves making better choices, instead of requiring perfection in each area.
#1: Dr. Bronners
This brand is known for their castile soaps, and offer straight to the point, transparent ingredient lists. If you search them up on EWG.org, you will find that their products score low on the toxicity scale, and all fall between an A and B for safety (lowest concern, and low concern).
Top Picks from Dr Bronners:
Pure Castile Liquid Soap in Rose: This body wash smells amazing, and lathers well. Due to it’s high concentration, you only need a little, and this bottle lasts me around 2 months.
All-One Toothpaste – This toothpaste includes minimal ingredients, yet is highly effective! Both cinnamon and peppermint are great flavors, and offer the same freshness as any conventional brand.
Organic Hair Crème – This hair creme doubles as a leave-in conditioner, and styling cream. This will bring out any natural curl you may have, and keep your hair silky, and shiny!
#2: 100% Pure
100% Pure is a well-known, and leading brand in the clean cosmetics industry. They are known for incredibly pure makeup ingredients that actually work! With this brand, you never have to sacrifice quality for health. You can find all of their products here!
Top Picks from 100% Pure:
Fruit Pigmented 2nd Skin Concealer: This concealer goes on smooth, and stays put all day! With high coverage, and no caking or creasing, this has been my go-to concealer for the past couple of years!
Vitamin C Serum: This serum leaves your face feeling moisturized, without any residue or sticky film. I love how it helps to firm and strengthen my skin, while giving me a bright, and even glow!
Fruit Pigmented Cocoa Butter Matte Lipstick: This lipstick offers 24 high pigment colors to choose from, and truly stays all day! The trick to all day wear is to apply the lipstick, then blot with tissue to remove excess, and leave the color. My favorite colors are “agave” and “mirage.”
Native was founded in only 2015, and has already made a huge name for themselves in the natural deodorant industry. So what sets them apart? Their staying power, and amazing scents! The biggest complaint for those switching over to natural deodorants has always been the fact that most are just simply ineffective. Native fights wetness by using baking soda as a key ingredient, and their scents somehow stay strong all day long!
*Due to FDA recommendations, Native uses the term “fragrance” to refer to the blend of oils used to make up their scents. However, they also offer unscented products.
Most of Native’s products score very low on the EWG scale, and are a great alternative to traditional deodorant/antiperspirant.
Top Pick from Native:
Native Deodorant – Natural Deodorant for Women and Men – 3 Pack Seasonal: I love this pack, because you can trial a few different scents before deciding on your favorite. And yes, Native is for both men, and women! However, the “Coconut Vanilla” scent is my personal favorite.
Alaffia is one of the most minimalistic companies I have ever discovered, and I’m absolutely obsessed with their products! Their labels are incredibly short, and they offer a wide variety of products, and scents to choose from. After reading their clean ingredients, and comparing their large sizes, and affordable prices, I was immediately sold! Narrowing down my top picks is going to be difficult!
Top Picks from Alaffia:
EveryDay Shea Body Wash, Passion Fruit: This body wash lathers easily, smells great, and comes in a huge bottle (32 oz). I love how thick this formula is, and the fact that it lasts be 2+ months. It’s truly a deal, and is one I keep coming back to.
Everyday Coconut Shampoo: This shampoo is much like the texture of the body wash, but is extra hydrating for your hair! When using this shampoo, I’ve noticed I can go longer without washing my hair (up to 3 days), while it remains shiny, and healthy.
Everyday Shea Authentic Shea Butter: When addressing clean personal care items, I’ve always thought switching to a clean lotion is one of, if not the most important swap you can make. Why? While other products seep into your skin due to skin being so absorbent, lotion is specifically formulated for this purpose! So if you’re looking for a clean swap, Alaffia’s Shea Butter will not disappoint!
Transitioning to a toxin-free lifestyle will be a lifelong journey, and is not one you should put pressure on yourself to achieve all at once. As you swap one item out at a time, it’s likely you’ll begin seeing huge improvements in your overall health. From increased energy, to fewer autoimmune symptoms (if you are autoimmune), to better skin, the results will be addictive!
I hope these tips and tricks help you on your journey to a cleaner lifestyle, and that you find so much healing through the transition. If you have any tips, tricks, or favorite brands, let us know! We would love to hear!