When it comes to beauty and skincare, what we put on our skin is as important as what we put in our bodies. Skin is our largest organ and anything we put on our skin ends up being absorbed in our bodies. The beauty industry is notoriously unregulated. Companies are able to slap on greenwashing claims without any real consequences. So when you see labels such as "green", "all natural" and "eco-friendly", I encourage you to take a closer look at the ingredients.
Ingredients to run from if you see on the label:
- Benzoyl Peroxide - highly irritable to skin, can cause an allergic and asthma-like reactions
- BHA + BHT - both known to be carcinogenic and hormone-disrupting
- Coal Tar Dyes - commonly used in hair dyes and lipsticks, they are known carcinogens that have small amounts of heavy metal in them such as aluminum which over time and build-up in your body can lead to brain damage and actually has the potential to speed up Alzheimers!
- DEET - highly toxic as it usually affects the central nervous system when high amounts are applied to skin in a product such as insect repellent
- Lanolin - in its purest form, there is nothing wrong with lanolin as it comes from the sebaceous glands of sheep and is commonly used as in beauty products to add and retain moisture. However, with the pull away from organic feed for animals and the push for mass production, lanolin has the potential to be treated with chemicals and pesticides (if even just in the food that the sheep eat), and it can also contain harmful bleaches and preservatives
- Mineral Oil - often used as a moisturizer, mineral oil is not a sustainable ingredient for our planet, and it is often laden with carcinogenic chemicals
- Parabens - these are highly irritable to skin, often causing allergic reactions and dry, itchy, red skin. Parabens are also known to be hormone disruptors as they mimic estrogen in the body and are associated with certain types of breast cancers
- Petrolatum - known carcinogen that has be known to cause some types of cancers. It is also the cause of many skin allergies and irritations.
- Phthalates - these are a family of industrial chemicals used to soften plastics in cosmetics and skincare. When absorbed into our bodies they can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system.
- Silicone - in its purest form silicone isn't necessarily dangerous. It is silicone based products (you'll often see siloxane on the label) are known toxins that have the potential to be cancerous
- Sodium Laurel Sulfate - can irritate the skin, eyes and lungs with prolonged use. Known to strip the skin of its natural oils, leaving it dry, irritated, red and itchy.
- Talc - a mineral used to keep skin dry and looking smooth, repeated inhalation of the powder has detrimental effects on the lungs. It can lead to asthma, bronchitis or talcosis which is an inflammation of the lungs that can lead to stiffening or scarring of the lungs.
- Triclosan - interferes with the bodies thyroid hormone metabolism and it is a hormone disruptor. Overall, triclosan is harmful to our immune system
The good news is that over the past few years there has been great progress in green beauty. There are now beautiful products that are made with quality, natural, and organic ingredients that look and smell good, and they actually work! Fortunately for you, there is tons of information online about some amazing brands. Some of my favourites include: Province Apothecary, Love Fresh, Graydon, Smith Farms and Wyld.
Overall as consumers we have to be very picking about what we are putting on our bodies and think about how it will ultimately affect our bodies, our wallets and our planet!