I started learning about clean beauty shortly after I discovered the benefits of a whole food, organic diet. While researching healthy whole food recipes at work one day (yes, sitting at my computer looking up non-work related info was what I consider a “break”, but we’ll save that for a different blog post). I came across a blog talking about toxic chemicals in beauty products and how they can have adverse effects on our health. Mystified by this new information, I dug deeper and begun researching the topic further. The more I learnt, the more I began to understand that many of the products I was lathering and slathering all over my body, every-single-day, were harmful to my health!
Taking my new obsession to the next level, I started reading the ingredient lists of every product in my bathroom. You might be surprised how many lists you can read in the shower while waiting for your deep conditioner to do its thing. From that day forward, I unknowingly became part of the clean beauty revolution.
So what is clean beauty? It’s a movement highlighting clean, non-toxic beauty products while providing the knowledge needed for consumers to make more informed decisions about the products they buy and use every day.
While using safe non-toxic chemicals in beauty products should be a no-brainer, I think the most important part of the clean beauty revolution is knowledge. If people are aware of the health effects caused by harmful ingredients and the fact that these ingredients live in many of the products they use, then that is when REAL change will happen.
So many of us (myself included) take for granted the number of different beauty products that are at our disposal, and we seem to have an unwavering belief that if a product is on store shelves, then it must be safe. When in reality, this is just not the case.
Canada and the USA are miles behind other developed countries when it comes to the laws and regulations of the beauty product industry. These laws not only allow toxins into our products, but current regulations fail to take into account the combination of products, and how many products people use on a daily basis. According to government regulations — the number and amount of toxic ingredients used in an individual beauty product are so small that they’re unlikely to be harmful to your health. But, if you use a products every-single-day (as many of us do), and in combination with other products containing the same or worse chemicals, the toxic load adds up… a lot! In short, just because a product is on the shelf at the superstore, doesn’t mean it’s safe.
Government regulations are also lacking when it comes to product labelling and advertising. In the beauty industry terms like “natural, organic, green, fragrance-free, or even dermatologist recommended,” are frequently used. This type of marketing, called greenwashing, has become the norm in consumer advertising. These terms mislead consumers to believe that they’re purchasing a product that’s better for the environment or their health. Unfortunately, more often than not, these claims are anything but true and they have the ingredient list to prove it.
Many of these so-called “green” or “natural” products contain a cocktail of toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde, arsenic and even ingredients used in industrial floor cleaners (ie. SLS). And don’t even get me started on fragrance! This one little word can harbour hundreds of chemicals, none of which are legally required to be listed on product packaging. Many of these chemicals are capable of causing cancer, birth defects, nervous system disorders, hormone disruption, skin irritation, respiratory problems, and allergies, to name a few. Needless to say, after finding out the dangers of my conventional beauty routine, I headed straight to my bathroom for a beauty product detox!
If you’re new to the clean beauty movement, you’re probably a little overwhelmed and thinking, “WTF Lindsy, I’m not going to throw out all my hard-earned (and in many cases expensive) beauty products!” Don’t worry, I totally get it! I had a hard time tossing my beloved eye cream, and the soap I’d been using since infancy. All together it took me a good 6 to 8 months to completely detox my beauty product collection.
If you’re planning to start a beauty detox of your own, I suggest starting slow. Buy products as you go, replacing old dirty products with new clean ones, your health and bank account will thank you. I also recommend looking up the products you use every day on EWG’s Skin Deep database and tossing the ones with the highest (worst) rating. Keep in mind, a rating of 3 or 4 might not seem too bad, but if you’re using several products with a rating of 3 or 4 every single day, the toxic load can add up.
That being said, there were a couple of products I tossed right off the bat, including; my long-time go-to body moisturizer — Vaseline Intensive Care, Cocoa Butter (which has a whopping 8 point score on EWG’s database), my deodorant, and my husband (then boyfriend’s) Head & Shoulders Shampoo and Axe body wash, ek!
Below is the checklist I use when shopping for new beauty products. It may seem like a hassle to go through this list before buying a new product, but trust me, it’s worth it in the long run.
Sprouted Health’s Clean Beauty Checklist:
1. Read the ingredient list.
2. Make sure the ingredients list is plant-based, not chemical or petroleum based.
3. Keep the ingredients list short.
4. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, stay away or look it up.
5. Stay away from any product that lists “Fragrance” in the ingredients.
6. Buy products with certified organic and fair trade ingredients whenever possible.
7. Check the products score on ewg.org/skindeep (If the product isn’t in the database I use the build your own report tool to get a rough score.)
Where can I buy clean beauty products?
I buy most of my beauty products online or at my local health food store. While more and more conventional big brands are modifying their ingredient lists to be less toxic (Yay, progress!!), many of the items available in big box stores, drug stores and department stores are still chock-full of toxins.
Online Stores for Clean Beauty:
Below are my favourite online stores for buying clean beauty products. Bonus: All these sites are Canadian; aka. they’re in Canadian dollars; aka. you’re supporting our local economy; all while staying green and clean!