I was never one to skimp on quality when it came to beauty or skincare products. I thought effectiveness was all that mattered. If the conditioner strengthened my hair or the moisturizer left me with a dewy glow, then I was a happy girl. Slowly I started to learn that there is a lot of harmful crap in beauty products that I did not want on my skin. This is why I am sharing with you how to check what’s in your products and how to find clean beauty products. Don’t make the same mistakes I did!
Why You Should Care About What Goes on Your Skin
Your skin is your largest organ. You may already know that but this was just something I never thought about when hitting up my local Sephora. Maybe I was day dreaming during that day in Biology class? I honestly thought that my skin was just a barrier and really had no idea that it would absorb what I put on it.
I also used to think that if a product was a major brand or being sold at a major retailer, then it must have gone through a rigorous process to ensure that it was safe. Apparently, that’s not true at all. A cosmetics company does not need FDA approval for their products and ingredients (except for color additives) before they go to market. Unless they are using an ingredient that is already banned, they can really put whatever they want in their products. Seems like the fox guarding the hen house to me and I’m not about it.
Some ingredients that are currently allowed in beauty products can cause cancer, impact your endocrine system, and damage organs. Some of these ingredients are parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), and toluene. This isn’t even an exhaustive list of harmful ingredients. These dangers are known yet, they are still allowed. I figured that if the FDA isn’t going to look out for me, I’m going to have to protect myself with research.
How to Find Clean Beauty Products
Label Checking (Not as Easy as It Sounds)
Label checking on these products is unfortunately not as easy as reading food ingredients. A lot of these ingredients have complicated names. Even something as simple as Vitamin E is labeled as Tocopherol. Luckily, many times the common names for these ingredients are listed in parenthesis next to the scientific name. However, more times than not, there’s going to be some ingredients that you will not recognize.
There are two ways I go about reading labels when I’m shopping for a new product. The first way is that I look up a natural product online in the comfort of my home and look up the ingredients one by one. A lot of these natural claiming products have dangerous chemicals as well so checking the label is still important.
The second way isn’t perfect but it’s realistic. There’s a lot of times I forget that I’m out of something until I’m already in a store. I first look for some products that seem to be natural. Since I don’t want to spend too much time in the store searching for ingredients on my phone, I look at the top few ingredients. Similar to food labels, the ingredients listed are in order of prevalence in the product. The largest ingredient is listed first. This way, I know that at least the majority of the product is safe and I can cut down on time because I’m focusing on the major ingredients.
Environmental Working Group
I’m all about making my life easier. EWG is an amazing organization that can help you look up whether a product such as lotion or foundation is safe for your skin. Their database has over 80,000 products listed. They also have a ton of information about healthy living in general. I search for products I might want to buy on their website to check their safety score. I have also searched for new products that have their “EWG Verified” certificate. By buying based on their certificate, I don’t have to do any research on ingredients.
Although I love the EWG website, it isn’t perfect. Many of the brands that have their certificate are pretty pricey. I also don’t love that they are missing a bunch of major cosmetic products (they are a non-profit organization and not Google so they can’t know all products).
Finding Companies You Trust
I have found companies that have clean beauty products that are safe to use outside of the EWG website. Sometimes it is word of mouth, a local store in town, or some really effective Instagram advertisements. (Anyone else feel like their phone is listening to them?)
Find a company whose values and brand you trust. Then you won’t have to research ingredients. If it is an smaller company, you might not have to pay the premium of an EWG approved company. I’m sure there’s fees that come with their certificate and some great companies are just too small for their radar.
Make Your Own
I know some really craftsy people (I think I missed that gene). They love making their own soaps and lip balms from all-natural products. There’s tons of information on the internet for free on how to do it and many of the ingredients are really cheap. Who knows, if you like it and get good at making them, you might even have a side hustle on your hands.
You Don’t Need to Throw Your Favorites in the Trash Just Yet
I’m going to be honest, I haven’t fully switched all of my favorite beauty products. I also think it is wasteful to throw out products you like before you have finished them. Unless you’re allergic to them, then I’d say the rash on your skin isn’t worth the magic firming potential that jar is claiming.
When I am starting to run low on a product like an eye cream or a soap, I start to look around for safer alternatives. Many stores have a satisfaction guarantee policy which makes it easier to experiment with new products to see which one works. If I run out of my favorite foundation before I have found one that I love enough to replace it, I buy my favorite foundation again.
Luckily, I have been able to replace all of my skincare and hair care products with safer clean beauty alternatives that I actually love. However, I’m still working on replacing all of my makeup. I’m hoping to get there by the end of this year! If you are just starting out, go one product at a time. That way, you will know if you like the new product or not. Happy shopping!