How well do you know you products that you use each day? Sure you may know they seem to do a decent job, but it’s time we start digging deeper. I’m specifically talking about the ingredients here – you know, all those items that are impossible to pronounce. Especially here in the US, we trust a lot that the people overseeing the “things” are keeping us safe. But the fact is, that this probably isn’t the case all the time, so arming yourself and your family with naturally based products is a must.
Unfortunately not all entities fully have our best interests at heart, which perhaps is becoming clearer each day. I think the most staggering statistic I’ve ever read is that the US bans 30 ingredients from being used in products. But my friends, the EU bans OVER 1300! No, I didn’t mistype that. Yes, you can Google it too and see the 30 products that are banned by the US, and the EU is WAY beyond that.
I’ll give you a moment to wrap your brain around this fact, because it’s pretty unbelievable.
From what I can gather, it’s because Congress hasn’t given the FDA the ability to regulate cosmetics. They haven’t even updated their policies on what the FDA regulates since 1938!! So yeah 80 years of technology and science and chemicals means they can exist in our cosmetics and no one is even looking for them. Is it any wonder that cancer and skin reactions and other issues in our society are everywhere?
That means that when we think we’re using safe products, we’re actually not necessarily doing so. So it’s time that we all start paying attention. I’m not writing this to scare you, but to empower you.
I’ve been insanely aware of the products I use since I read The Honest Life by Jessica Alba in January 2014. I’ve talked about this book a lot over the years, because it really opened my eyes to the need for safe food, household products, and cosmetics.
And ever since, I’ve been an ingredient reading girl. I’ll often put a product back if the ingredients don’t stack up. It’s not convenient or perfect, because of course there will be times you don’t know what’s in the products you use. For example, a public restroom’s soap is something I will use but have zero clue what the product is.
And you’re probably thinking, that’s great Kelli, but this sounds like a lot of work. Perhaps the thought is overwhelming, but I’ve got you! I’m walking through my 5 tips to help you swap your stuff to Naturally Based Products with ease. And just remember your health and well being along with that of your family and friends is worth the effort. Plus it’s really not that hard, because I’ve done it for many years.
5 Tips to Get You Started Using Naturally Based Products
Where to Start
This is probably the most important thing to discuss, so let’s dive in. Let’s start switching to Naturally Based Products with the items that come in direct contact with your skin. Here’s where I started:
- Makeup & Skincare
- Lotions & Moisturizers
- Soaps (hand and dish soap)
- Hair Products
Think about it this way: Your skin is your largest organ, and it then absorbs what it comes in contact with. If you use products with potentially harmful chemicals, then your body absorbs them.
The good news is that there are SO many options out there, and more companies are using Naturally Based Products and ingredients every day. So your options grow constantly. I’ll get to my go-to brands I trust in this post, so keep reading!
Know Your Ingredients
Okay there’s no way I can cover all 1328 banned chemicals from the EU, so let’s hit the most important ones. First off, I’m linking to an article by Dr. Trevor Cates, whose book I shared with you a while back. Her list of ingredients to avoid is one that I have referenced a lot. Here are the highlights, so check out that article for a more in depth breakdown:
- Fragrance – This ingredient is incredibly vague, and also can encompass tons of different chemicals. Potential risks are allergic reactions and hormone disruption, so avoid!
- Formaldehyde – Yes, you read that right that there could be freaking cancer-causing formaldehyde in your products. A few specific ingredients to look out for here are quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, bronopol, or imidazolidinyl urea, so there you go!
- Mineral Oil & Petroleum – Mineral Oil not only can cause acne and blackheads, but petroleum products have been linked to cancer. So beware of ingredients like petrolatum, petroleum jelly, and paraffin oil.
- Parabens – Basically these ingredients start with propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl-, and isobutyl and end in paraben, and they’re used as preservatives. They’re linked to growing some breast cancer cells even in tiny doses, so yikes!
- Ethanolamines (diethanolamine [DEA], monoethanolamine [MEA], and triethanolamine [TEA] – Another cancer causing ingredient that is linked to respiratory and organ toxins, so definitely steer clear!
- Oxybenzone (benzophenone), octinoxate, and homosalate – Watch out for this in products with SPF. These ingredients are easily absorbed into your skin and can cause hormone issues and hormone related cancers, so yikes!
- Hydroquinone (or tocopheryl acetate) – This ingredient relates to skin lightening, and science links it to skin cancer, so avoid this bad boy!
- Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) – You’ll especially find this in lipstick and eyeshadows and is another endocrine/hormone disrupter. Looks like BHA disrupts testosterone and sperm levels, so definitely not great for men.
- Triclosan and triclocarban – You’ll especially find these in soaps, and they’re another endocrine disrupter which affects SO many parts of our bodies. And remember that antibacterial soaps aren’t necessarily any better than regular soap, so we need to forget that belief we’ve had for ages.
- Coal tar ingredients (including aminophenol, diaminobenzene, and phenylenediamine) – You’ll find these in dandruff shampoos, creams, ointments, and soaps and are another cancer causing toxin.
- Toluene – Nail products often contain this ingredient which is a neurotoxin and can impair your breathing and cause nausea. It’s also linked to causing cancers.
- Mica, silica (crystalline), talc (unless asbestos free), and nanoparticled titanium dioxide (TiO2) – If you find these in powders or sprays, then avoid them straight away. They’re easily inhaled and can irritate our lungs and potentially cause lung cancer.
- Methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone, and benzisothiazolinone (also 2-methyl-4-isothiazoline-3-one, Neolone 950 preservative, MI, OriStar MIT, and Microcare MT, 5-Chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one and MCI) – Another preservative used in TONS of liquid personal care products, so be on the look out. This one looks like another neurotoxin and can also be toxic to the lungs.
- Heavy metals, such as mercury, lead, arsenic, and aluminum – They sound pretty bad, and that’s for good reason. They can mess with your brain and nervous system, are also hormone disrupters, and are linked to cancer. Specific ingredients to spot are calomel, lead acetate, mercurio, mercurio chloride, or thimerosal.
- Resorcinol (or 1,3-benzenediol, resorcin, 1,3-dihydroxybenzene, m-hydroxybenze, m-dihydroxyphenol) – Um, this one is also used in tire production yet it’s a common ingredient in hair coloring, bleaching, and acne or eczema peels. I mean, do we really want that shit coming anywhere near our skin if it’s used for making tires?!
- Carbon black (or D & C Black No. 2, channel black, acetylene black, furnace black, lamp black, and thermal black) – This bad boy resides in some makeup and nail polishes and is linked to cancer for some organs including your skin.
- P-phenylenediamine (or 4-aminoaniline; 1,4-benzenediamine; p-diaminobenzene; 1,4-diaminobenzene; 1,4-phenylene diamine) – Mostly in hair dyes, this ingredient can be toxic for your organs, causes skin reactions, alters the genetic material of your cells (what??!) and possibly causes cancer.
- Teflon (and polytetrafluoroethylene [PTFE], polyperfluoromethylisopropyl ether, DEA-C8-18 perfluoroalkylethyl phosphate) – You’ll find this ingredient (yes, same one from nonstick cookware) in some makeup. It’s another cancer causing and hormone disrupting toxin, so steer clear.
- Acrylamide (also polyacrylamide; polyacrylate, polyquaternium, acrylate) – This one finds its way into tons of products as a binding agent, and science links it to cancer and can disrupt reproduction. So crazy!
- Phenoxyethanol – You’ll find this ingredient in SO many products these days, and research links it to skin irritation, eczema, and can affect your nervous system and bladder. Definitely one to keep an eye out for.
It’s a lot, and a bit overwhelming when you look at this list. BUT my best tip is to look at the ingredient list and not try to memorize these. Just spot any ingredients that seem suspect and see if they are on this list. If they are, discard or do not purchase.
After a while, you’ll be using brands you trust so it’s WAY easier to vet each one to make sure they’re Naturally based products.
The best way to avoid overwhelm is swapping out products in 2 ways:
- Start with the ones that you use the most, so check the ingredients and find a replacement sooner than later. It’s a lot easier to replace a few key products for naturally based products right away than do a complete overhaul. Way less expensive too!
- Make it a gradual change, so you’re swapping for naturally based products as you’re using up existing stuff. So when you’re running low on foundation or mascara or lotion or shampoo, etc. then replace them. That also helps you from being wasteful and spending a ton of money at once.
Personally I did a mix, where I replaced the things I used the most (like haircare, moisturizers, soaps, and makeup) for naturally based products. And then as I used up my laundry detergent, dish soaps and other expensive products, I replaced them with better alternatives.
Water & Microfiber
My mom shared this cleaning tip with me earlier this year, and it ROCKS! Rather than using harsh chemicals and bleaches to clean your surfaces, use water instead!
It’s not actually the water but the microfiber cloth that’s antimicrobial that makes the difference. I keep a spray bottle with plain old water under my sink and a microfiber cloth close at hand. Then when I’m cleaning my counters or furniture, I wipe them down with that.
And let me tell you, nothing cleaned up the grease from my old stove at my last apartment like this combo. Seriously with a bit of elbow grease, it busted through that grease and looked crazy good!
Brands I’m Loving
Over the years I’ve definitely found brands I’ve come to love and trust. Now you still need to spot check their ingredients list to ensure they contain plant-based or naturally based products that are green and safe for your family. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Honest Company – for all things household like cleaners, soaps, detergents, and more! Jessica Alba not only wrote the book but took action to create products we can use and trust. I’ve used their products since 2014, and I’m including my referral link to get you set up!
- Honest Beauty – She also created this beauty brand for safe cosmetics. Currently I’m using their eyeshadows and they by far have the best makeup wipes I’ve found that are safe. Check out my referral link there to learn more.
- Tarte Cosmetics – My obsession with this brand goes back 3 years now, and I love that their Amazonian clay is natural and safe. They’ve never irritated my skin, and I’ve loved their foundations, concealers, finishing powders, eyeshadows, eye liners, and lipsticks. Oh and their mascaras are amazing too, so I’m a fan!
- Crunchi – This brand is pretty new to me, but I recently switched over to them this year for foundation, primer, and mascara so far. The coverage is great and it’s free of all the bad stuff. I’m a huge fan and I know I’ll keep using it for a long time! That’s my sister’s site, btw, because she’s a Crunchi rep and can set you up with ALL the makeup. 🙂
- Monat – I recently partnered with this haircare company that makes naturally based products using science to maximize their benefits. That means they use botanically based ingredients and developed the products to produce incredible results that actually improve your hair. If you want to learn more about this, please reach out to me or visit my site.
- Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap – This product has TONS of uses around your home AND on your body.
As I come across more brands, I’ll continue to add to this list, but I hope this provides a great start for you.
As far as skincare goes, I’ve been using a system provided by my esthetician, and I’m not comfortable sharing it here. It’s something that probably isn’t naturally based, but to be transparent, it’s the safest option I’ve found to clear up my skin. It’s a huge benefit to use the products she’s provided than to take prescription drugs to fix my acne. I know Acure and Beauty Counter tout great, safe products. So far I’ve only used one product (a face scrub) from Acure but I love it!
Now I’d LOVE to know your thoughts on naturally based products, and what brands you love and trust. Or if this is new to you, what are your thoughts or concerns? If something is making you feel overwhelmed to start, then let me know. Let’s keep the convo going on this important topic, so everyone comment below!
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