Once I started learning about all the crazy shit in our beauty and personal care products, it was really hard to turn a blind eye going forward.
The industry is self-regulated, meaning that aside from the 11 egregiously harmful ingredients legally banned, the industry itself, gets to decide what’s safe. That’s never a good situation. Self-policing doesn’t usually go too well. And this ‘self-regulation’ essentially means that the industry is not, in fact, regulated at all.
The European Union, in contrast to the U.S.’s 11 banned ingredients, has banned over 1,300. These ingredients have been nixed because of their known ties to human health disruption, mostly cancer, endocrine disruption (your hormones) skin sensitivities and allergens.
So why are we still using them here in the U.S.? And why, as consumers, aren’t we more pissed off about it? Why are we paying money to use these products that could be harming us?
Regardless of the answers to those questions, if you’re interested in making better choices, I’d like to share today what I’ve been doing to avoid using harmful products, a few tips for making better choices. These come directly from The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website, which I’ve found, along with EWG and Beautycounter, to be extremely informative and helpful.
Tip #1. Simplify
I took a look at all the beauty products I was using and asked myself if they were really necessary. Deodorant? Well, yes, you’re welcome world. Foundation? Yes (I don’t have awesome skin). Shampoo? Yes, although I’ve experimented with not actually washing my hair, didn’t go too well. Conditioner? No. Eyeshadow? No. Hair dye? Hell no, even though I have some grays. The list of essentials will be different for all of us.
I took inventory of everything though, to see what I could eliminate. The goal was to start by just using fewer products to begin with. That way, I’m reducing my overall exposure.
Tip #2. DIY
A teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of olive oil combined in your hands makes a effective, safe, facial scrub to get rid of dry skin. Coconut oil works well fresh out of the shower as a full-body moisturizer. Manuka honey feels awesome as a face mask once in a while. And although I’ve never tried it, I’ve heard of people just mashing up some avocado and rubbing it on their faces. Oh and oil cleansing instead of face wash works well too. Basically, if you can eat it, consider it safe. Find some creative ways to use what you already have at home and avoid a bunch of bullshit.
Tip #3. Research Products Yourself
As I said, the industry is largely unregulated. It’s up to us to educate ourselves. A good place to start is EWG website, and Beautycounter’s Never List (which you can grab below, just enter your email and we’ll send it to you). Look up some of your products and start to educate yourself.
Also, please, please, please understand that there are virtually no legal standards for terms like “natural”, “pure” or “organic” when it comes to personal care. Those are just marketing tactics. Unfortunately, you just have to do the work to learn about safety.
What I’ve found to be the easiest, is to just find a few companies doing all the work for you and only buy from them going forward. Our favorites: Beautycounter, S.W. Basics & W3LL PEOPLE. When more of us start doing this, voting with our dollars, it will drive positive change in the industry.
Tip #4. Use Safe Cosmetics Apps
I went to Target one afternoon to do some research. I just walked around scanning everything. And I found that even a lot of the Burt’s Bees products weren’t up to snuff. I did find that the baby products aisle had far more safe products to offer, which makes sense I guess. I actually bought Aveeno Baby Shampoo to try out. It worked alright, and was inexpensive. But then I finally tried Beautycounter’s shampoo and found it to be amazing. So now I’ll just let Joel use up the baby shampoo since he literally could not care less what he washes his hair with.
Tip #5. Get Involved
Buy safer products. It means you’re supporting companies trying to do better by consumers. Stay informed. Educate yourself on the laws and support the 2015 proposed legislation that would update the mere two pages of federal law governing this $71 billion dollar industry (those two pages have only been updated once in 76 years, which is absurd). And join the movement to spread the message to your friends and family.
This situation is only going to change if we decide it’s important enough.
For more information and to grab Beautycounter’s NEVER LIST, pop your email in below and we’ll send it to you.
Also published on Medium.