Hello from Portland! How’s the morning going? I’m in town for a quick brand meeting and then headed back to Tucson later today. Even though it’s been a quick trip, I’ve still managed to have some fun and I’ll share a recap soon.
The weather has been nice and rainy here, but spring is in full bloom in Tucson, which means lots of spring cleaning. And by “spring cleaning” I mean the never-ending quest of unpacking the Valdosta stuff. We think we’ll probably be in this house for a few years (so weird to be in the same spot for a bit!) so we’re trying to be strategic about what we keep. I was excited to ditch the unpacking and escape for a night. I intended for this post to go live early last week, but it ended up taking way longer than I anticipated. I hope you enjoy this one and can use an idea or two!
Spring is such a great time to turn over a new leaf and use this seasonal burst of motivation to make some healthy changes. I think it’s a bit easier to want to make new fitness and nutrition changes during the spring. The weather is warming up, which makes outdoor runs and al fresco yoga sessions so much more enticing, and all of the spring produce makes smoothies and salads much easier to include. I enjoy a smoothie so much more when I’m not bundled up in a fleece jacket and beanie.
When we think of healthy changes, I feel like skincare and personal products are usually forgotten. I focused on eating clean and working out for years before I decided to investigate the ingredients in the skincare I was using. When I finally did decide to figure out what was in my favorite products, I was shocked. Many of them were filled with harmful ingredients, and I felt overwhelmed with all of the “clean” options. Also, sometimes because a company uses good ingredients doesn’t mean the products work! Some of the worst beauty products have come from my favorite health food stores (like the “all-natural” conditioner that literally turned my hair into a mound of straw.)
For today’s post, I thought I’d share some of the things to keep in mind if you’re looking to spring clean your skincare routine:
(Please keep in mind that I’m not an esthetician. If you’re looking for personalized skincare help, seek out a nearby spa that you trust that uses organic products. In a spa setting, I highly recommend the Eminence Organics line. They’re vegan, cruelty free, use organic ingredients, and plant-derived. While I’m not an esthetician, I am a research machine mama. In this post, I’m sharing some of the things I consider and have found to help when I’m researching products for my own family.)
Here are a few ingredients to keep an eye out for when reading ingredient labels on your skincare products.
1 — Parabens. On ingredient lists, these look like methylparaben, propylparaben and ethylparaben. They are anti-fungal and preservative chemicals, commonly used in cosmetics to prevent bacteria growth. They have been shown to mimic estrogen and act as hormone disruptors, and have even been linked to breast cancer. Most conventional skincare products contain parabens, so switch to a brand (or even make your own) that uses safer ingredients.
2 — Alcohols. Not all alcohols are bad, but you do want to avoid ingredients like ethanol, denatured, isopropyl, methanol or ethyl alcohol. So many skincare products use alcohol, that one would think it’s a healthy, rejuvenating ingredient for your skin. Actually, alcohol is most commonly included to add a weightless quality to otherwise thick lotions and creams, making the product feel more luxurious than it really is. Additionally, alcohol helps the products to better penetrate the skin… by destroying your skin’s barrier. You don’t need that! When you’re reading ingredient labels, look for GOOD alcohols (otherwise known as “fatty” alcohols) that are healthy for your skin and used by more responsible skincare companies. These include cetyl, stearyl, and cetearyl.
3 — Oils. There is a common misconception that putting oil on your skin leads to acne. However, just like with the food you eat, there are good oils and not so good oils. You just need to make sure you’re using the right kind! Our skin requires oil, and creates its own –called sebum— which waterproofs, hydrates and protects our skin from harmful microorganisms. Unfortunately, so many products are designed to rid your skin of oil, which can dry it out. Your skin will then react by overcompensating with too much sebum, and this is what leads to breakouts.
4 — Fragrance. “Fragrance” is an umbrella term that companies can use to hide hundreds of chemicals. Companies are not required to disclose what is labeled as “fragrance.” Exposure could lead to asthma, and fragrance lingers on the skin for hours. You’ll find it in everything: shampoo, sunscreen, baby lotion, diapers, soap, etc. If there’s one tip to take away from this post, I’d say stay away from fragrance.
Use the EWG Healthy Living App. This is one of my all-time favorite resources for choosing products. You can scan the product directly on your phone and it will rate it based on the ingredients. When I first found this app, I went through our bathroom cabinets and it really helped me to scale down the brands we use and purchase. Keep in mind that not all products are listed in the app because companies are not required to disclose their ingredients.
Look out for kids’ products. This one is disheartening to me because you would think that kids’ products would have the safest ingredients and it’s not the case at all. It’s not uncommon to see parabens listed in the ingredients.
More ingredients to avoid in kids’ products:
– Talc. It’s a drying agent that is a lung irritant and could be carcinogenic.
– Propelene Glycol. Despite the fact that it is “generally recognized as safe,” it’s lacking in extensive human-based studies on the effects of this substance.
– Mineral oil. Opt for a gentle plant-based oil, like coconut, jojoba, or sweet almond.
If all of this feels overwhelming – I feel ya! – find a few brands that you know, love, and trust, and stick with those. That’s absolutely what we do and whenever I’m trying something new, I’ll scan it in EWG or do a quick Google search.
All in all, I think it’s just a matter of picking your battles and finding out what changes make sense for you. A whole lifestyle change is overwhelming and not attainable in the short term. Make little changes here and there and then build. For example, switch out your facial cleanser to something safer, and then maybe a month later, try a new night cream. Gradually replace makeup or body products. Try a natural deodorant. If you only change one thing, try a safer body lotion. Our skin is our largest organ and absorbs everything we put onto it. Any change you can make is a positive one and know what products are “worth it” for you. (For example, you can pry Moroccan Oil from my cold, dead hands. It’s loaded with fragrance and weird ingredients but it’s the only thing that controls this mane so far.) It doesn’t have to be black and white, just like fitness or nutrition. Aim for a grand scheme of things approach and you’ll be good to go.
Some of my go-to brands:
– Primally Pure. (<— referral link) The best natural mosquito repellent!
– Schmidt’s deodorant. I LOVE the rose scent and it actually works. I don’t smell stinky, even after tough workouts. All products are free of aluminum, propylene glycol, SLS, PEG, parabens, phthalates, artificial fragrance, artificial flavor, artificial colorants, and artificial sweeteners. They’re also vegan and cruelty-free.
– SheaMoisture. You can find their products at Target. I always use their body wash and love their hair mask. They’re organic, sustainably-produced, and free of many of the harmful ingredients listed above. They use coconut oil in many of their products, which smell beautiful and feel thick and luxurious, even though they’re extremely inexpensive.
– Beautycounter: (<— my site link) free of 1500 toxic ingredients that are banned in the UK but commonly used in the US. I’m happy to work with a company who is fighting for reform in a severely unregulated industry. All products are tested three times for heavy metals and work beautifully. If you need help with suggestions, please let me know! My faves: the Dew Skin, Overnight Peel, Color Intense lipstick, any lipgloss, and the face oil.
– Phlur! (<— referral link) This is the best natural perfume I’ve found that doesn’t use artificial fragrance. They’re transparent with their ingredients and the Améline scent is gorgeous. I also highly recommend their candles!
So tell me, friends: is there anything you actively look for in your health and beauty products? Any new brands you’ve tried and loved??
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