I first learned about green beauty shortly after I discovered the benefits of a whole food organic diet. While researching healthy recipes at work one day (yes, sitting at my computer looking up non-work related info was what I consider a “break”, ek), I came across a blog talking about toxins in beauty products and how they can have adverse effects on our health.
Mystified by this new information, I dug deeper and began researching the topic further. The more I learned, the more I started 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 on 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 green beauty revolution.
So what is green beauty?
It’s a movement highlighting clean non-toxic beauty products and provides consumers with the knowledge to make informed decisions about the products they buy and use every single day.
While using safe products should be a no-brainer, I believe the most important part of the clean beauty revolution is knowledge. If people are aware of the health effects caused by harmful ingredients and know that these ingredients live in many of the products they purchase, then REAL change will happen.
So many of us (myself included) take for granted the number of different beauty products that are at our disposal. We also seem to have an unwavering belief that if a product is on store shelves then it must be safe, but 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 and amount of products people use on a daily basis.
According to government regulations — the number and amount of toxic ingredients used in one individual beauty product are so small that it’s unlikely to be harmful to your health. But, what if you use more than one product (I think it’s safe to say that most of us do)? And what if you use these products every-single-day? This combination can lead to an extremely high toxic load! So, 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. These terms mislead consumers to believe that they’re purchasing a product that’s better for their health or the environment. This type of marketing (called greenwashing) has become the norm in consumer advertising. Unfortunately, more often than not, these claims are anything but true and these products 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 ingredients used in industrial floor cleaners (like 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 green 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!”
Trust me, I get it!! I had a hard time tossing my beloved eye cream and the soap I’d been using since infancy. I even kept several products around for a few years after switching to clean options — just in case my new items didn’t “work”. Overall it probably took me a good year 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 will 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 in Cocoa Butter (which has a whopping 8 point score on EWG’s database). I also tossed my conventional deodorant (Dove), and a few of my husband’s items, like his Head & Shoulders Shampoo and Axe body wash… ew!
Sprouted Health’s Clean Beauty Checklist:
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!
- Read the ingredient list
- Make sure the ingredients list is plant-based, not chemical or petroleum based
- Keep the ingredients list short
- If you don’t know what an ingredient is, stay away or do your research and look it up
- Stay away from any product that lists “Fragrance” in the ingredients
- Buy products with certified organic and fair trade ingredients whenever possible
- Check the products score on ewg.org/skindeep — If the product isn’t in the database use the build your own report tool to get a rough score
So where do you buy green beauty products? Great question! You can check out My Favourite Online Green Beauty Shops post for all the details.