The question that comes up most frequently from women who want to make healthier and eco-friendly choices is: “Where in the world do I begin?” It’s easy to simply hunt for the perfect new shade of lipstick. But when you stop and think about what is actually in that lipstick, it can be very scary indeed. We all know by now that anything we put on to our skin will ultimately, in some amount, end up in our blood stream affecting our health. If you don’t think this happens, just ask any doctor you know about medicated creams that are all the rage in everything from hormone creams to topical headache roll-ons.

Making the right choices

Making the shift to reading each label and having ingredient awareness is like going to the gym for the first time after a long break. The hardest part is that first step in getting yourself up and going. Once you’re there and getting your body moving, you are ecstatic that you jumped over that first hurdle. That’s because you know it’s good for you! The same scenario rings true for making the leap to reading every label and gaining awareness for the extensive list of ingredients in the beauty and skincare products you buy.
Once you are aware of many ingredients, you will be hard-pressed not to freak out. At first glance, it can feel as if you need to become a bio-chemist to decipher the astoundingly confusing laundry list of ingredients found on a simple box of lip-gloss. However, you do not need to earn a degree in all things toxic to go natural and organic with your cosmetics. With a few easy tools in your (organic) bag, you will be able to stroll into the cosmetics aisle and make a sensible, healthy and fabulous pick.

Cosmetics Database to The Rescue

The Cosmetics Database is an incredible free resource founded by the Environmental Working Group. This diligent group of scientists created the Skin Deep Report, an online safety guide for cosmetics and personal care products based on the combined information from more than 50 toxicity and regulatory databases. At the site you can look up the toxicity rating of beauty products you are already using or products that you are considering purchasing. The database analyzes and rates companies, brands and individual products on a scale of 0–10; 0 being least hazardous, 10 being the most hazardous.

To stay toxic-chemical free, only choose products that earn a rating between 0–3. You can also find a list of companies who have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. This is the pledge not to use ingredients that cause cancer and/or disrupt hormones.

We signed up to the database as it holds lots of information, not only for my personal use, but lots of it crosses over into our industrial practices.

Claire Fownding, Wiseman Clothing – Clothing Manufacturing.

10 Ingredients to Avoid

  • Aluminum— blocks pores, trapping sweat and toxins in the skin; has been linked to lung disease and Alzheimer’s.
  • Artificial Colors — F, D, and C are all derived from coal tar; low-level exposure is linked to cancer, allergic reactions, nausea, fatigue and skin problems.
  • Dibutyl Phthalate — found in all people tested by the Center for Disease Control in 2000; causes birth defects in animal testing.
  • Formaldehydes— used in the medical profession as a preservative; also listed as: Imidazolidinyl, DMDM hydantoin, Quaternium 15, Diazolidinylurea, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1, and 3-diol.
  • Fragrances— this category contains up to 200 undeclared substances (scary!); fragrances are known to cause skin irritation and hyper-pigmentation.
  • Isopropyl Alcohol— is made from petroleum and acts as a drying agent.
  • Parabens– made from petroleum, parabens are thought to play a role in decreased sperm counts and increasing rates of breast cancer; used in 99% of all cosmetics; these petrochemicals are known to be estrogenic, carcinogenic and allergenic.
  • Paraffin– made from petroleum and is used to block pores, trapping toxins in the skin.
  • Phenoxyethanol– is a synthetic ether alcohol preservative; this ingredient can cause contact dermatitis.
  • Talc– an extremely popular ingredient in makeup and baby powders; current research has shown that it can contain asbestos and has been linked to ovarian cancer.