So many of us spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year focusing on what we can do better in the next twelve months. This year, I want to take a different approach and think about how to make the world around us a better place not just in 2018, but far into the future.
If you’ve been paying attention to current beauty news, you might have noticed I’m not alone in this line of thinking. There’s a focus on green beauty emerging, and I’m totally in love.
Green beauty is the philosophy that we don’t need to put our health and the environment at risk to have healthy skin and look our personal best. It means using natural, gentle ingredients that nourish your skin, without depleting the planet. It’s about taking a stand against toxic ingredients and unsustainable practices.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
More and more women, and men, are embracing green beauty. According to a recent Green Beauty Barometer survey, 37% of women plan to purchase more green beauty products in the next two years than they have in the past. Plus, across the board, the number of women who feel natural, nontoxic ingredients are important in skin care and beauty products is over 50%, regardless of age.
Green beauty is big, and it’s only going to get bigger. But, it’s unrealistic to subscribe to a philosophy when you don’t have a solid foundational understanding of everything it encompasses. So, let’s get started with a quick crash course.
You might have heard the saying that if you wouldn’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your skin. While I can agree with the principle behind this line of thought, we all know that unless you are making all your skin care products yourself, that it’s nearly impossible to follow that advice.
Being smart about green beauty is educating yourself on the ingredients that can potentially cause the most damage to your health, and the environment. The first step is to start reading labels and learning to identify the worst offenders. Here is a list of the top dirty skin care and cosmetic ingredients.
- Sodium Lauryl or Laureth Sulfate: This is a foaming agent that is also used for cutting grease. It’s important to look for this ingredient in any product that foams, such as shampoo, facial cleanser, body wash and even toothpaste.This is a known irritant that’s rapidly absorbed through the skin and retained in many of the body’s vital organs. To make matters even worse, sodium lauryl sulfate pollutes ground water and the manufacturing process is highly polluting, releasing possible carcinogens into the air.
- Siloxanes or Silicones: Silicones are a common ingredient in anti-aging skin care and cosmetics formulated for more mature skin. Silicones provide a slippery feel and smooth out fine lines by filling them in.
While low levels of silicones are considered safe for skincare, they do produce adverse effects like dehydration and decreased cell renewal. Silicones are also problematic for the environment as detectable levels can be found in fish, soil and plants around the world.
- Chemical Based Microbeads: Polishers, in the form of microbeads are all the rage in skin care. The idea is that they gently exfoliate the skin, while releasing soothing ingredients. The problem with most microbeads is that they are created using less then wholesome ingredients, like polypropylene and polyethylene. Both of these ingredients have been listed as low risk by the EWG, however, they can cause some irritation and allergic reactions in sensitive people. More than that is that they cause significant concern for the environment.
- BHA and BHT: These ingredients are synthetic antioxidants that are commonly used as preservatives. You can find them in a variety of products including moisturizers, lipstick and even diaper creams. Unfortunately, BHA and BHT are also hormone disruptors and possible carcinogens. These ingredients also have the tendency to bioaccumulate and cause mutations in amphibian populations.
- Dibutyl Phthalates: Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard something about the dangers of about phthalates. They have been getting media attention for being one of the most common, toxic ingredients found in personal care products.
They are commonly found in synthetic “fragrance”, nail polish and hair products to prevent them from becoming brittle. Phthalates pose a potential risk to your health, including being a hormone disruptor. Unfortunately, it also accumulates in the environment and is known to cause problems, including mutations, with aquatic life.
- Triclosan: Once touted as the wonder anti-bacterial, Triclosan is far from being a green friendly ingredient. Exposure to Triclosan is thought to be an endocrine disruptor and weaken the immune system.
Children who are regularly exposed to Triclosan are at an increased risk of developing allergic symptom, asthma and eczema. Triclosan also poses a risk to the environment. There is evidence to suggest that it’s linked to increased antibiotic resistance, which no good for any of us. It is also slow to degrade, meaning it stays around plenty long to pollute soil and water sources.
Times are Changing, and It’s a Breath of Fresh Air
The above list only begins to touch on the skin care and cosmetic ingredients that are potentially toxic for your health and the environment. The first step is knowing what to look for, but there’s only so much that you can do alone. You need support from skin care and cosmetic companies, along with a commitment to greener practices from the places that you purchase your products.
Thankfully, more companies are stepping up to the plate. And, even retail giants like Target are taking the commitment to green beauty very seriously by expanding their selection of natural skin care products. Maybe this means we can also start looking forward to the biggest names in the beauty industry taking more responsibility for making sure that their products are as clean and environmentally green as possible.
What You Can Be Doing Today for Greener Tomorrow
Let’s wrap up by talking about a few simple things that you can do to ensure the skin care products you use are as safe for you, and the environment, as possible. First, let me say that green beauty isn’t complicated. Many people let things slip because they think the problem is so much bigger than anything they could solve on their own.
This is absolutely untrue.
Yes, finding great green beauty and skin care products might take a little work and research, but we promise that the effort is worth it. OZNaturals has a great line of green, beautifying skincare products to get you started. That said, here are few minimum effort steps to take for greener beauty starting today.
- I mentioned it earlier, but it’s worth repeating. Read labels, and get familiar with the most common toxic ingredients, along with their green alternatives.
- Do a little research. It isn’t that difficult to find companies that support green practices and ingredients.
- If you’re questioning the need for green skin care, take a toxin break. Set aside your traditional skin care products for six weeks and use green options instead. Keep a daily journal to note any changes. I’m betting that after six weeks, you’ll love what you see.
- Don’t forget about packaging. The packaging your skin care comes in can be just as damaging, of not more so, to the environment than what’s inside. Look for products packaged using recycled materials and that support sustainable practices.
Don’t forget about what’s on the inside. It’s easy to use skin care and cosmetics as an easy fix for not taking care of your body on the inside. Take extra care to keep yourself hydrated, get adequate sleep and nourish your body properly. Great skin is an expression of a healthy body. Nothing that you can apply to it will make up for a lack of self-care.
Don’t be afraid to speak up. If you don’t like what you see on those labels, don’t be afraid to make your voice heard. Contact the company and share your opinions or take to social media and share your concerns. You’re not the only person who feels this way, and there’s always strength in numbers.
Finally, follow through in other areas of your life. We will all benefit from green beauty, but just imagine the exponential power if we apply the same principles to the rest of our lives. It all starts with one small step. Green beauty is here, and with all of us making the commitment together, it can become the new, beautiful standard.
-- Angela Irish, Certified Aesthetician & Co-Founder OZNaturals