Sustainable beauty is a result of what we eat, drink and think, as well as what we apply to our skin. Just as our food can nourish us from the inside, the skincare, makeup and personal care products we choose can nourish us from the outside. The skin is our largest organ and can absorb much of what we apply to it. Yet many cosmetic ingredients used in the United States have not been tested for safety and have been linked to both health and environmental issues.
As a makeup artist working with fashion, television, advertising and celebrity clients for the past 14 years, I know the importance of products that perform well and provide the results we all desire. As a wellness coach and natural living advocate, I believe those same products should also be safe and healthy for our skin, body and planet.
The good news is we don’t have to compromise the health of our bodies or our environment to look and feel our best. We also don’t have to compromise glamour, luxury or style to live in a more natural and organic way. In this monthly feature, we will explore what’s in our beauty products. Please join me in my quest for the most natural, yet effective cosmetics!
Finding the right products for our unique beauty needs can be hard, so when we find ones that work for us, we stay loyal to them for years. Yet, if you are reading this, you are probably interested in choosing the healthiest cosmetics. But where should you start? Should you change all of your products at once? This may seem like a daunting task, but I am here to tell you, you can take it slow! Start with one product at a time, or wait until you’re finished with what you’re currently using to try something new. I also tell my clients that the best place to begin is with the products you use daily, or most frequently, and over the largest areas of your body. For many of us, this is our skincare.
We often apply skincare 1 to 2 times daily, morning and night, with the purpose of it healing and restoring our skin over several hours. Our skincare regimen may include several different products, such as cleansers, moisturizers, toners and exfoliators. Each of these products contains multiple ingredients, so when you add it all up, we may be applying dozens of chemicals to our bodies through our skincare alone. Commercial products tout benefits such as hydrating, plumping and anti-aging, and yet often use a cocktail of synthetic chemicals that may be harmful to our health and environment.
Let’s begin by looking at just a few of the ingredients to avoid in our skincare (and in all of our cosmetics!):
1) Parabens Found on ingredient labels as methyl/ethyl/butyl/propyl paraben. These are preservatives used in every category of cosmetics to extend their shelf life. Parabens are cheap and effective, but studies have found that they mimic estrogen in the body, which can lead to hormone disruption in both men and women. They have been found in breast cancer tissue and also in our drinking water.
2) Fragrance Found on your ingredient labels as fragrance or parfum. It is widely used in cosmetics simply to make them smell “good!” The scary part is that each “fragrance” may contain hundreds of chemicals, including a chemical compound called phthalates, which are known hormone disruptors and suspected carcinogens. Although essential oils may also be used to scent a product, they will typically be listed out on the label.
3) Petrochemicals Found on ingredient labels as petroleum, petrolatum or mineral oil. Petrolatum has been used for over 100 years, perhaps most notably in skincare, for its ability to lock in moisture. It literally seals off the skin, which does not allow moisture to be absorbed from the atmosphere, a natural function of the skin. Although more research is needed, there has been concern that petrolatum may have carcinogenic by-products. From an environmental perspective, petrochemicals are derived from crude oil, a non-renewable resource.
The good news is that safer, more sustainable skincare is one of the most accessible categories in a green beauty routine! You can now find health and eco-friendly options in your local drugstores, health food stores and online. These natural beauty brands use luxurious, plant-based ingredients to deliver effective, clean skincare. Depending on your needs and budget, there are a plethora of alternatives for your everyday use and enjoyment! Here are a few of my favorites from low to high end:
This is a wonderful product line that you can find at most drugstores and health food stores that is free of parabens, petroleum, phthalates and sodium laurel sulfate (a harsh surfactant used to produce foam), and made with recyclable materials. The products work well, the packaging is cute and it’s super-affordable. Their Fragrance Free Daily Moisturizer SPF 15 retails at $14.99; yestocarrots.com.
Packed with certified organic botanicals, vitamins, essential fatty acids and skin-soothing seed oils, Blissoma is a godsend to healthy skincare. Their formulas are designed to truly nourish and heal all skin types, without the use of any “artificial beauty chemicals.” I’ve been using their products for years now and have experienced great improvements in the quality of my skin. Products are moderately-priced for the high quality- their Smooth A+ Perfecting Serum (great for acne and problem skin) retails for $25.99; blissoma.com.
Kahina Giving Beauty
Perhaps one of the most-coveted products in the natural beauty world is Kahina Giving Beauty’s certified organic argan oil. Known for its high quality and abundant beauty benefits such as glowing, smooth skin and shiny hair, Kahina’s fair trade argan oil is infused in every one of their products. Not only does it work wonders, but the dark glass bottles look beautiful in your bathroom or bedroom. At $90 for a bottle of the Kahina Serum, it’s can be a luxury purchase, however it lasts for months and can replace several less-effective treatments; kahina-givingbeauty.com.
I welcome your comments, questions and feedback! If you have any specific questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.
Connect with Rebecca @RebeccaCasciano