Beyonce is right ‘Pretty Hurts.’ The meaning of the blockbuster lyrics focuses on the societal emphasis on outward beauty, which of course, requires women to invest money and time in products that promise to deliver a radiant cosmetic veneer. It matters what’s in your head because you need to be smart about pretty: choose safe makeup and personal care products.
Sadly, the cosmetic and personal care products that reside in your bins, baskets, and caddies not only fail to provide instant beauty, but they contaminate our bodies with harmful chemicals.
As with any toxic relationship, you need put on your tough girl face, break-up with your favorite bubblegum pink lip gloss, and give it the boot. Deconstruct all of the Fifth Avenue marketing wizardry that convinced you to purchase makeup like pearlescent eyeshadow concocted by the magic wand of a cosmetic chemist.Deconstruct all of the Fifth Avenue marketing wizardry that convinced you to purchase makeup like pearlescent eyeshadow concocted by the magic wand of a cosmetic chemist. Click To Tweet
Unpack every compartment of that cute monogrammed carry-all of yours and purge the hazardous and poisonous make-up and personal care products. Replace them with clean, safe cosmetics.
It is our responsibility to care for our bodies in every way possible.
Tips on Safe Makeup and Personal Care Products
Find the Fake (and I’m not referring to lashes)
Fluffing up your lashes or brushing on that matte taupe powder may give you that runway look, but what are those products doing to your endocrine system? Before you swipe your debit card and pay big bucks for that vanilla eyeliner remember this:
“the law does not require cosmetic products and ingredients, other than color additives, to have FDA approval before they go on the market.” Yikes! “Neither the law nor the FDA regulations require specific tests to demonstrate the safety of individual products or ingredients. The law does not require cosmetic companies to share their safety information with the FDA.”
It’s More Than a Surface Level Relationship
So What’s Really in Your glittery glosses, suede musk fragrance, and coconut scented shaving gel?
Toilet bowl cleaner and makeup contain the same chemical preservative. Research from the David Suzuki Foundation reveals that “formaldehyde-releasing agents are used as preservatives in a wide range of cosmetics. Other industrial applications of formaldehyde include production of resins used in wood products, vinyl flooring and other plastics, permanent-press fabric, and toilet bowl cleaners. While formaldehyde occurs naturally in the environment at low levels, worldwide industrial production tops 21 million tons per year.
Another group of chemicals like Parabens are known as endocrine disruptors. An endocrine disruptor plays tricks on our body by:
increasing production of certain hormones; decreasing production of others; imitating hormones; turning one hormone into another; interfering with hormone signaling; telling cells to die prematurely; competing with essential nutrients; binding to essential hormones; accumulating in organs that produce hormones.
For years, I’ve scrutinized food labels looking for ingredients posing as food imposters. My diagnosis of Lyme Disease forces me now to examine make-up and personal care products with the same zeal as I do food labels.
However tempting the promises of topical creams that supposedly plump the skin enough to conceal the bluish dark circles that pool beneath my lower lashes (a.k.a. the stamp of midlife), oh joy, the ingredient risk factors outweigh the temporary fading of panda-eyes.
Be Smart About Pretty Tip#1: Add Pizzazz to Your Pucker Minus the Poison
The toxic contents, carcinogenic in some cases, in conventional make-up products could weaken my at-risk immune system or disrupt my endocrine system. Even without a pre-existing health risk, you still want to part ways with the harmful contaminants in your favorite tawny foundation.
Here is a short list of the dirty cosmetic chemicals to avoid:
- BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) nicknames: benzoic and benzyl
- DMDM hydantoin preservative that releases formaldehyde (yes, the same liquid you used in high school biology class)
- Parabens (alkyl-p-hydroxybenzoates) a major endocrine disruptor
- Phthalates Family and the Phthalate cousins: DEP (diethyl phthalate), DBP (dibutyl phthalates), DEHP (diethylhexyl phthalates).
- Sodium Laurel Sulfate
Be Smart About Pretty Solution #2: Do Your Investigating
- Read the ingredients. Sounds simple but not really. 80 percent of the cosmetic cost is gobbled up by marketing. Using celebrities like Rhianna to endorse a lipstick requires a fat wallet. The remaining 20 percent of the cost is manufacturing a predominantly chemically based product which is largely untested for safety.
- Download the free mobile apps: Skin Deep, Think Dirty, Detoxme
- Frequent the Environmental Working Group and the Environmental Defense Fund
- Visit the David Suzuki Foundation website- I don’t necessarily agree with every philosophy that this site promotes, but the site does a fantastic job informing consumers about products that harm the body and the environment.
- Collect comprehensive resources like Super Natural Home: Improve Your Health, Home, and Planet–One Room at a Time, The Wellness Project: How I Learned to Do Right by My Body, Without Giving Up My Life, and 101 Easy Homemade Products for Your Skin, Health & Home: A Nerdy Farm Wife’s All-Natural DIY Projects Using Commonly Found Herbs, Flowers & Other Plants
Be Smart About Pretty Solution #3: Be Suspicious of the Word “Natural.”
The food industry attaches the word “natural” to chicken nuggets and Cheetohs which are anything but natural. Considering the FDA does not regulate the make-up and personal body care products industry, which includes the misleading use of the term “natural” your safest strategy is to:
- look for the USDA Organic seal, which guarantees that 95 percent of the ingredients are certified organic or
- the National Products Association (NPA) seal which certifies that 95 percent of the ingredients are derived from sources found in nature but “do not contain ingredients with suspected human health risks.”
- Even with these certifications, read the fine print on the product. If a fourth grader can’t pronounce a suspicious ingredient, then do your homework and investigate.
- Use the apps suggested above
Be Smart About Pretty Solution #4: Be Fiscally Prudent
To be blunt, I don’t make enough money from this blog to buy cosmetics from the more trustworthy companies. Whenever I visit Whole Foods, I meander to the whole body section and park my cart in front of the Dr. Hauschka make-up shelves and stare and dream about buying the Dr. Hauschka eye balm (remember the pool of dark circles under my eyes, right). I allow myself 15 minutes of this daydreaming state then I slap myself back to reality, grab the free tester and dab my eyes.
Make Your Own
Before you click me away into virtual oblivion, hear me out. I know I ask much of you. Not too long ago, I encouraged you to mill your flour; then I suggested that you craft your vanilla extract and no-fuss mayo. I have a life outside of my kitchen, trust me.
We are gifted one body so be mindful of what you put in, and on the only body, you will ever get. Yes, I am going to propose that you select two but no more than three cosmetic or body care products to assemble at home. My favorite resources are Jan Berry, author/ blogger, thenerdyfarmwife.com and author/blogger Katie Wells, wellnessmama.
Jan uses simple ingredients like flowers, herbs, and oils that nourish the skin. The recipes are easy to follow and require basic kitchen or household equipment.
My goal is to copycat that coveted eye balm from Whole Foods and when I do, you can be sure that I will share it here (for free).
Be Smart About Pretty Solution #5: Establish a Green Beauty Budget
My Lyme diagnosis required a medicine cabinet conversion. During my recovery from the disease, the supplements and treatments cost more than my monthly food budget and mortgage combined. Knowing that my health depended upon a consistent protocol, perhaps for the rest of my life, my husband and I created a wellness budget.
Once I fed my gut foods that nourished my body, the next logical step to wellness responsibility took me to my makeup bag and shower stall. If I expended time and energy selecting, growing, buying, and making real foods that contributed to my healing and health then why would I recontaminate my system with toxic makeup and personal care products?
My motto, “On a bad day, there is always lipstick” even if it looks as though I applied my shade of warm tangerine with a fidget spinner (epic bad mom day). And when I finally crack a smile during a bad day, at least the lip color that sneakily rests on my choppers is due to user error and not for lack of isododecane or dimethicone (chemicals used in lipstick to prevent smudging).
Begin your green beauty journey by taking inventory of your beauty products and start by replacing one toxic makeup and personal care product with a nontoxic brand. Be intentional and prudent about your cosmetic cleanup.
Safe Makeup and Personal Care Products (but check the EWG website periodically for current assessments of safety):
- Aubrey Organics
- Dr. Bronner’s
- Avril Cosmetics
- Gabriel Cosmetics
- Maia’s Mineral Galaxy Cosmetics
- Mineral Fusion Liquid Foundation
- Mineral Hygienics
- Rejuva Minerals Cosmetics
- Young Living Savvy Mineral Makeup
Being mindful of the cosmetics and personal body care products that you purchase is a simple way to exercise self-care. Make this the year you are intentional about self-care. Leave behind habits and hang-ups that defy and prevent acts of self-care. In a letter to Mary Willis Shelburne, C. S. Lewis shared, “There are better things ahead than any we leave behind. Venture over to Kindred Mom and explore the myriad of self-care opportunities that await you this year. Join the self-care conversation!