Yes, you can look fabulous with green eyeshadow! Or green lipstick, mascara, and even blush! No, not the color green, but rather green as in environmentally friendly and nontoxic cosmetics.
It is astounding how many chemicals we slather on our faces daily to achieve that feeling of “pretty,” or for me these days, “passable.” While I’d love to be confident enough to bare my dark under eye circles proudly sans makeup, I am sadly not. But I also don’t want to jeopardize my health for vanity knowing that so many of the ingredients in my makeup and personal care routine have been linked to cancer or can negatively affect unborn children.
Recently, I went on a mission to green up my makeup, skin and hair care and have for the most part been able to successfully replace toxic cosmetics with nontoxic cosmetics. Here’s how and, more importantly, why, you should too.
The Science: Why Use Nontoxic Cosmetics?
Ok, this part is a little scary. Personal care products contain thousands of chemicals and one in eight of them are hazardous. Moreover, companies don’t even have to list many of the hazardous chemicals on the ingredient list. The term “Fragrance” or “parfum” can hide a myriad of sins because its formula is considered a trade secret. Companies don’t have to disclose the ingredients that go into trade secrets.Personal care products contain thousands of chemicals and one in eight of them are hazardous. Click To Tweet
One particularly worrisome group of chemicals that can make up a “fragrance” are phthalates. Phthalates are particularly problematic for women who are or may become pregnant as they cross the placenta. They’ve been linked to attention and mental capacity problems.
Phthalates aren’t the only problem though. Other common hazardous chemicals are parabens (endocrine disrupters possibly associated with breast cancer), DEA (diethanolamine) and its compounds and BHA and BHT (all possible carcinogens and highly toxic to aquatic life – think applying chemical sunscreen and then snorkeling…and slowly killing all those beautiful fish).
The Collective Evolution website has a handy list of 17 chemicals to avoid. SafeCosmetics.org allows you to filter by product type to see what chemicals to watch out for. I’ve also found The Environmental Working Group’s’s cosmetics database extremely helpful when looking up particular ingredients.
Check Your Beauty Products for Toxicity
After reading all of the frightening links between beauty products and cancer, I was ready to review my own products to see how dangerous they were. I was fairly confident that most of my products would be okay. I usually opt for unscented or products labeled “natural.” I was sadly mistaken. Apparently fragrance can still be an ingredient in an “unscented” product and “natural” has no real meaning.
I used the Think Dirty app to scan my current products. Think Dirty spits out a toxicity rating as well as information on what particular ingredients were troublesome in that product. This is a UK-based app and the info is crowd-sourced so I found some of my products were not contained in the database. Hopefully that will improve as more U.S.-based users input product information.
For the products it did have information on, the app is awesome. It lets you track what’s on your bathroom shelf and offers alternative product suggestions for “dirty” products.
As you may guess, replacing all of your products with green alternatives is a spendy proposition. But poor health is also a spendy problem. I decided that as I ran out of a product I would replace it with a green alternative. This also alleviated the need to endlessly research options for all of my products. I could take my time and try things out one at a time.
Nontoxic Cosmetics Recommendations
It’s pretty amazing how many more nontoxic cosmetics there are readily available these days. Many of them work just as well as conventional cosmetics. Of course, as with any new makeup, there is a trial and error period. Many of these products are only available online so you can’t try before you buy. I highly recommend buying from sources that will let you return products for store credit if you don’t like them.
First up for replacement was my tinted moisturizer. This would prove to be my most difficult switch but I think I’ve finally lucked onto a solution. I was using and loving Dr. Jart+ BB Cream which Sephora states does not contain phthalates, but it does have parabens and other toxic chemicals in its ingredient list. Boo.
So I turned to Sarah James of Whoorl.com fame who has blogged extensively about green beauty products for some alternatives. I chose to try 100% Pure Tinted Moisturizer from her list of recommendations because it has an SPF of 20. Unfortunately, it did not work for me. The coverage was way too light and it felt watery. I wanted something nearer to a foundation but not all the way there, like a BB cream. Luckily I could return it less shipping.
Next up was bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream which isn’t nontoxic but is less toxic (no parabens!). But it also was too sheer which I should have known from the name really.
Finally I decided to try Honest Beauty which launched around this time. It’s a beauty subscription service that will send you a bundle of three products for $50 every few months. You can also buy items individually.
Honest Beauty is transparent about its ingredients and does not use “questionable ingredients” such as parabens, phthalates, or fragrances. I opted for a bundle and tried the Everything Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 in oil free, the The Depuffed Eye Gel (my husband loooves this), and Beyond Protected Daily Beauty Fluid SPF 30 also in oil free.
First off, I should have chosen the regular options instead of oil free. The oil free products were so stiff I felt I needed a putty knife to apply them. However, Honest Beauty was great about exchanging them for free for the regular versions. Honest Beauty’s regular tinted moisturizer is still a bit stiff, but has great coverage so I’m going to stick with it.
The only product I didn’t like was the Beauty Fluid (basically just a daily sunscreen) because it had a funny smell. It was also hard to get out of the bottle because it came with a tiny little spout. But my husband “broke” it when he was using it and pulled that little spout right off, making it far easier to use.
Honest Beauty’s Depuffed Eye Gel is fabulous. It does just as good of a job as the paraben-tastic Garnier Anti-Puff Eye Roller we were using. You may have to steal it back from your husband though once he realizes it can make him look awake after a long night up with the baby.
I love my new nontoxic Vapour Organic Eyeliner in Truffle. It goes on smoothly and blends well.
I was really hopefully that my new Eyes Right Mascara By Lush would work out because I love the company and how natural their products are. Unfortunately it smudged right away and left me with the dreaded raccoon eyes. Lush will take products back if you live near a store. Unfortunately I ordered online because I’m far from a store so my only option was to ship it back to them in Canada for a refund. The cost and annoyance of shipping wasn’t worth the refund.
Nontoxic Hygiene Products
Whenever I run out of my Costco-pack of Dove antiperspirant, I plan on replacing it with either an activated charcoal product or this deodorant crystal. These will likely work best in the cooler months than in the 110 degree summer days we have where I live, but we’ll see. Honest’s toothpaste tasted great and made my teeth feel clean, but it is fluoride-free. I switched back to Colgate because I have isues with tooth decay and our water is not fluoridated. But if you’re on the no-fluoride train, it’s a great option.
Lush has these cool Dirty Toothy Tabs which are little pills you chew up and then brush with. They’re both nontoxic and have environmentally friendly packaging which is super cool. They come in fun flavors too like wasabi!
The science is clear that many of the chemicals in conventional beauty products are harmful to you and the environment. Luckily, conscientious companies and apps like Think Dirty are bringing far more transparency to the ingredient lists. There are so many great nontoxic cosmetics on the market now that it’s relatively easy to green up your routine. Just take it slow and replace one item at a time. It may take a few tries to find one that works for you. Your health is worth it!There are so many great nontoxic cosmetics now that it's relatively easy to green up your routine.Click To Tweet
How about you? What green beauty products have you tried? Any hits or misses? Let me know in the comments!
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P.S. For nontoxic baby skincare products, check out Arbonne! I did a review of their baby line for Pregnancy Magazine. Arbonne sent me their products for free in exchange for my honest review.
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