Clean Beauty Routine | Common Chemicals to Avoid - By Stephanie Wilson
Posted on July 23 2015
It wasn't that long ago that I realized that many of my favorite beauty and personal care were filled with harmful chemicals. My move to toxin-free beauty started off slowly: first, I noticed that my skin was constantly irritated, even though I was using products made for dry, sensitive skin or for eczema.
But when I researched the ingredients in my beauty products, I decided to make the switch to safer options. When I realized that my soap, shampoo, lotion and even my makeup contained harmful ingredients, I was converted.
But what are these ingredients, and why are they so harmful? Some of the common ones you may have heard of are SLS and Sulfates, Parabens, and Phthlates. The debate about the inclusion of these chemicals ranges on, with some folks touting their harmful effects, and others insisting that at low concentrations they're just fine to toss into your shampoo.
So let's explore the facts:
Sodium Laureth Sulfate
It's true that not all chemicals are created equal. After all, water is a chemical and it does more good than harm when included in beauty products.
However, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (or SLES for short) is a detergent. And like most detergents, it can irritate skin and eyes.
Also, much of the SLES used by the cosmetics industry can be contaminated with 1,4-Dioxane: another irritant that can cause damage to liver, kidney, and nervous system.
SLES is one of the most common ways to get soaps and shampoos to foam. But a cleaning agent doesn't have to lather in order to clean! Many clean beauty products such as Yarok's Feed Your Moisture Shampoo use saponified coconut to achieve a subtle lather that won't strip your hair of its natural moisture.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALS) are the two other sulfates most commonly found in personal care and beauty products. These other sulfates are known to cause increased hair fallout, leading to thin hair. And that's the opposite of the lustrous, thick locks that I'm looking for! Sulfates also strip your hair of its natural oils, leading to frizz, itchy scalp and even dandruff.
If you want to avoid damaging your mane, it's best to opt for a natural products that doesn't contain the sulfates that create synthetic suds. A great natural clarifying shampoo that was recently named one of the best natural beauty products of 2015 by Elle Magazine is the 100% Pure Kelp & Mint Volumizing Shampoo. It also contains saponified coconut rather than sulfates to create suds, and can help clear away all of the damaging chemicals from conventional shampoos.
Parabens have become a contentious issue for many people interested in natural, organic and clean beauty. Some companies would have you believe that the research is inconclusive when it comes to the link between use of products containing parabens and cancers. However, parabens have been found within breast cancer tumors.
That's why I'd prefer to err on the side of caution. Instead of the paraben-laden leg makeup Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs, try the natural and safe Prtty Peaushun instead!
And there's no reason to go without body scrubs just because some of them contain harmful parabens. This Bioactive Berry White Peat Exfoliant by Red Flower, for instance, is completely safe and natural!
Phthalates are another set of chemicals that are increasingly linked to breast cancer. Phthalates also change the way reproductive and thyroid hormones work in our bodies.
And thyroid and other hormones can affect the way we look. From hair texture to weight changes and skin texture, it's best to choose products that don't contain phthalates, and so won't throw your natural beauty off-kilter.
Shockingly, there are plenty of well-known nail polishes that contain Dibutyl Phthalates. Sally Hansen polishes still contain this highly toxic ingredient. Thankfully, there are 4-, 5-, and even 10-free varieties that don't have phthalates in them. 100% Pure's 10-free collection comes in a rainbow of colours and even includes glittery polishes!
Finding Safe Options
I'm always on the lookout for great online shops that sell safe, toxin-free beauty and personal care products. It's all about giving you the best options out there and making clean beauty as accessible as possible.
Recently, I discovered another shop: Safe & Chic. While many shops I've discovered focus on eco-friendly products that also happens to be non-toxic, Safe & Chic have used resources such as Think Dirty, the Good Guide, and the EWG Skin Deep app to find safe products so that you don't have to. And they've just become a member of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics business network. So you can be sure that favorites like W3ll People, Vapour Beauty and Indie Lee will enhance your natural beauty and not mess with your health.
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