When you’re low on budget and need cosmetics… The drug store brands call to you. We get it. It’s easy to buy the cheapest product; less stressful to just pick out the first lotion that says it “purifies the skin.” You may have heard whispers of “toxic ingredients” in them, but it wouldn’t be approved by the government if it was that bad for you, right?
We hate to burst your bubble, but hundreds of US-approved chemicals and ingredients are banned in European cosmetics. How many are actually banned here in the US?
Before you start packing your bags for a move to France, there are ways you can still be safe with your cosmetics and remain a US citizen.
Check Your Labels
Is reading the labels of everything you buy exhausting? It can be, because it can be completely eye opening, too.
For example, if you see “lead” as one of the ingredients in your new lipstick from a big name brand, your eyes may pop out of your head. However, it’s considered within FDA regulations for lipstick to contain some, so 61% of lipsticks on our market have lead.
Their reasoning? Because everything we ingest has a miniscule amount of lead, a small amount is considered "safe" in the cosmetic products we use—yet there are no studies whatsoever to back that any amount of lead should be deemed “safe”.
As such, the only way to truly be aware of your products’ safety is to research and read your labels. Consider using an app like Think Dirty to see how your products rate.
And worst case scenario, the saying “don’t trust anything you don’t recognize” can absolutely hold true.
If It’s Been a Few Months… Throw it Out
If you’ve bought a brand new clean cosmetic and it hasn’t been used in months... Or you purchased a cheaper, brand name one that promises a shelf life of a year or more… Chances are, you’re going to want to throw it out.
In terms of the cheaper products, there is no doubt that there are preservatives within those cosmetics that may cause more harm than it’s worth. Many of these preservatives are formaldehydes, which are linked to cancer.
The cleaner the skincare, the more likelihood there is that it’ll expire in a short time… Which is a good thing.
Just like when you buy fresh produce, the vitamins and nutrients they contain will be more beneficial if you consume them quickly.
The same goes for clean skincare: if you’re using a fresh face mask, or a sustainable brand that boasts of all natural ingredients (like ours…just saying), you're getting more wholesome benefits... within a time frame.
But we’ll take that over harmful preservatives any day.
Lay Off the Scents
We know. We love the scent of Vanilla Caramel Cake as much as you do.
But in this case, if you want to smell it… It may just be better to actually bake a vanilla caramel cake.
Many brands that claim they to use “natural fragrances”, aren’t actually very natural at all. In fact, these scents are usually made up of many different chemicals to imitate a smell of “fresh bed sheets” or “a rainy day in the city.” These fragrance chemicals are linked to cancer and respiratory problems.
Worse yet: because companies can claim the fragrance formula is a “trade secret,” they don’t even have to list ingredients—like benzyl chloride—on the label.
(Ever got a bottle of shampoo that lists “natural fragrance” as an ingredient? Yeah. That’s why.)
The best way to avoid this issue altogether is to buy products that are either listed as “unscented” or are scented with pure essential oils (like our body refresher!).
Buy Environmentally Friendly Products
We wouldn’t be who we were if we didn’t advise you to go green for the sake of the environment.
When the ingredients are truly all natural, it means less toxic plastic packaging in our landfills. It means less chemicals that will end up being dumped back into our waters.
Which means not having to risk these same chemicals going back into our bodies through drinking water.
When you go environmentally friendly, you’re not just doing a service to our planet, you’re doing a service to yourself!
Without the synthetic ingredients that are potentially harmful, you’re back to relying on ingredients from the earth (aloe vera, lemon juice, olive oil— oh my!) that humans have been beautifying themselves with for centuries.
There’s a lot of research that goes into finding good cosmetics without any of the bad stuff.
And reading label after label, strange ingredient after strange ingredient while you’re trying to make a quick trip to a local drug store can leave you frustrated and tired.
We get it. Because so are we.
That’s why it’s so important to make the change to clean beauty. We are trying to make a statement for not only cleaner skin, but a cleaner world! Big companies’ entire sales rely solely on the consumers’ preferences, and if those sales are affected because we reject unrecognizable ingredients in their products: you bet they’ll change.
You can also help by writing to your local congressman in support of the Personal Care Products Safety Act, which will look at five potentially toxic ingredients each year and will review and ban them if deemed unsafe. Five a year may not seem like enough… But it’s a start.
There are organizations like Environmental Working Group that provides guides on how “natural” common brand products are so that you can make informed decisions about what you purchase.
So… Yes. Maybe it’s easier to just buy the cheap drug store cosmetics that you’ve been buying for years, but think about this: is it worth the harmful ingredients that are being onto your body?
We think you know the answer to that one.