Green Beauty 101

My previous post, 3 Essentials for Your Summer Beauty Regime, featured products exclusively from Beautycounter. These are products that I use daily from a company that I trust. I sampled their skincare line for about a month before jumping in head first not only as a dedicated product user, but as an independent consultant. They are my dream company, not only as a consumer, but as a working professional.

I have had an obsession with all things green, environmentally-conscious, sustainable, natural, etc. for years. I have done a TON of research on what ingredients are safe and effective so that I could depend on my knowledge alone and not on the advertisements and reviews that are widely available in the world of beauty. Lemme tell you, the road from generic drugstore to green & clean was not easy. When I started this journey, the only easily accesible green products were Burt’s Bees, and even then it was just lip balms and lotions. Now you can stroll into any Target and there is a whole aisle devoted to natural & organic products! A whole aisle! Which means, it’s as simple as just grabbing anything labeled “green” and “natural”, right? Wrong. Cosmetics companies have smartened up, and they know consumers are leaning towards safer products now. Throw the words “vegan” or “cruelty-free” and you’re even more likely to want that product. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it. But you have to do your own, independent research before just picking anything out of the natural/organic section in the drugstore.

Building your medicine cabinet, shower caddy, and makeup bag from scratch can be pretty daunting. I want it to be an exciting experience for you so here are some tips to follow when picking out your new personal care products.

1. Read the ingredients – it’s as simple as that! Safe and effective products can be found anywhere so you don’t neccesarily need to visit a health food store or Sephora to find something. Then familiarize yourself with common ingredients – this is the fun part. You will probably have to start by Googling just about everything on the list, but after a couple products, you’ll feel like a pro.

2. Chemicals don’t equal bad. I always laugh when I read “chemical-free” on products. Water is a chemical! Scary sounding names like sodium hyaluronate make people think a product isn’t natural and safe. But this awesome ingredient is found naturally in your body and is a wonderful humectant, perfect for just about all your moisturizing needs.

3. Natural doesn’t equal good. I mentioned in an earlier post the wonders of lemon juice. Lemon juice is great for internal use, but the high acidity is no bueno on your skin. Keep the lemon juice (not to be confused with lemon oil) in your water and out of your homemade face mask.

4. Ask yourself “is it safe to use while pregnant?” There is a huge list of topical products to not use when you are pregnant. Some are proven to interfere with reproduction and development and some have not been tested even to know whether they are safe or not. The rule of thumb is to just stay away from these products. So why not stay away from these ingredients even when you are not pregnant or planning to become pregnant? My pregnancy motivated me to clear out all of my unhealthy, potentially unsafe products once and for all.

5. Use The Never List. I’ve linked the Never List to be your handy-dandy guide while shopping for safe products. You can also print out the Always With You Never List for yourself, your friends, and family. Parabens, phthalates, BPA, and triclosan are all pretty widely known as unsafe, but are you still using products with mineral oil or retinol? And the ingredient that always stands in my way when I want to buy a product – fragrance. Your perfume could be made up of any number of allergen-inducing chemicals that are not required to be disclosed on the ingredient list because they are protected as a trade secret. Animal musk and acetone (yes, the stuff used to remove nail polish) could be what you are inhaling when you sniff a scented candle or slather on some sunscreen.

Short cut – Download the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database app and let it do the research! The EWG provides the world’s largest safety reference tool for personal care products. Search for your product by name or scan the barcode, and the product’s safety ratings and ingredient breakdown are at your finger tips.

Don’t settle for somewhat safe. Trust that the safest, more effective product for your needs is out there! It is really easy to turn back to your tried and true products when you get a huge blemish or you want volumous lashes. I’m not going to say you will find a safe product that works just as quickly, but you will find a product that works better in the long term.

Benzoyl peroxide was my go-to for acne, and I used it for years until learning it can cause hyperpigmentation (nothing is more heartbreaking than getting rid of a blemish and being left with a permanent mark). It dried up my blemishes so quickly, but it also encouraged premature aging along with increased sebum production aka more acne. So in the short time, I was quickly getting rid of a big blemish, but in the long time I was getting larger pores, acne scars, and more acne….benzoyl peroxide is not the way to go.

There is a WHOLE WORLD of natural brands and products out there just waiting for you to try them. And the best part is knowing you are pampering yourself with something safe. I will do my best to provide you with resources and suggestions, but if you are jumping up and down like “Lauren, I need to know more about what I should be using!”, leave a comment, email me, or reach out to me on a social media platform. I would love to be a part of your journey towards using safer products!

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