By: Emily Geizer, @EMILYGEIZER
You may have heard that some of the ingredients in your beauty products are likely carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, allergens and more. These chemicals are wreaking havoc on our health.
When was the last time you actually read the ingredients on your skin care labels? The products you put on your body can be absorbed through your skin, so, just like you pay attention to the food you eat, paying attention to what you put on your skin matters when it comes to overall health and well-being.
While all women are exposed to toxic chemicals in beauty products, women of color are disproportionately exposed. The skin lighteners and hair straighteners pushed on women of color to meet Western beauty standards are among the most toxic, as they expose women more frequently to mercury, parabens, phthalates, and siloxanes.
Due to a lack of transparency, misleading labels, and lack of regulations, your “gentle” or “natural“ product may not be either. Here’s the thing, making clean swaps will make a significant difference. One study shows how levels of toxic chemicals in people dropped dramatically when they switched to cleaner products for just 3 days.
Deciding to switch to safer products is the first step, and learning how to navigate the clean beauty industry is the rest. I’ll show you how below.
#1 AVOID GREENWASHING
Have you heard of greenwashing? It’s when a company markets their products and practices as “green” and “environmentally friendly” even though they really aren’t. Words like natural, non-toxic, organic, and clean don’t always mean what you think. Greenwashing is deceitful advertising intended to mislead consumers - YOU - who prefer to buy goods and services from environmentally conscious brands. More than 95% of green products are guilty of greenwashing.
To avoid be duped, you need to learn to read labels and understand nuances, like, safety versus sourcing. Just because an ingredient is natural, doesn’t mean it is safe. If you want a shortcut for this step, download my cheat sheet: Misleading Beauty Labels Made Simple.
#2 MAKE A CLEAN SWAP WITH YOUR DAILY PRODUCTS FIRST
Some people learn about the more common, yet toxic ingredients and want to ditch everything immediately. Others take it one product at a time.
Regardless, look at the products you use most often and swap those first (moisturizer, sunscreen, eye cream, foundation, shampoo, soap). Some chemicals, such as endocrine disruptors, are most disruptive when they are absorbed in tiny amounts on a regular basis, so cleaning up the daily products is key.
#3 KNOW YOUR DOLLARS & SENSE
Now that we know we should look for safer products, how do we justify the cost? It’s time to rethink our spending around this. Sadly we have to pay a premium for clean beauty these days, because it’s more expensive for companies to forge their own paths and hire scientists to adequately screen ingredients (research is lacking in this area!).
Other costs such as sustainable packaging (glass instead of plastic, for example) and responsibly sourced ingredients (organic or responsibly sourced mica, for example) cost considerably more than their traditional counterparts. However, I’ve found that while my favorite brand may have a higher price tag upfront, the products last so long that I am saving money!
Clean beauty products are worth it for your health and to invest in companies who are actively trying to create safer products. The more you support companies working to do the right thing (including passing safer beauty legislation) the more you’re investing in the future safety of the industry.
Once you’ve implemented these 3 steps, you’ll find it easiest to align with companies you trust! Navigating the clean beauty industry is confusing and brands are unreliable. My best tip is to pick one company, do your homework on the ingredients they use (and don’t use), on their sourcing standards, and commitment to sustainability or issues you care about.
Emily Geizer is an Integrative Health Coach and Clean Beauty Advocate. She’s obsessed with green living and creating a safer, healthier world for future generations. Emily has worked tirelessly the past decade vetting products and companies for the best, safest options and loves sharing resources. You can learn more on her website: www.emilygeizer.com