By Dawna Matthews:
Every day I wake up and wash my face, add some toner, oil and moisturizer. On most days, I also add sunscreen, lip balm and lotion. That is my basic beauty product regimen, but that is still 7 separate products. Just think about how many products you use for your beauty regimen, from your face to your bath or shower. There are cleansers, scrubs, lotions, creams, exfoliants, deodorants, shampoos, as well as various types of makeup. It seems that — for years — we repeatedly buy and apply to our faces and bodies an endless combination of products.
It may surprise you that many commercially available beauty products we use daily are filled with toxins and chemicals that are very damaging to our skin and health. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) “The average woman uses 12 products containing 168 different ingredients daily. Many cosmetic chemicals are designed to penetrate into the skin’s inner layers, and they do. Consequently, some common cosmetic ingredients turn up in people’s bodies. Among them: industrial plasticizers called phthalates; parabens, which are preservatives; and persistent fragrance components like musk xylene.”
Yuck!!! These ingredients don’t seem to add to my beauty; in fact, they make me feel as if I am being poisoned. Companies making these products are not regulated very strictly and are allowed to use numerous ingredients in their skin care products without being tested for safety before they are sold. Some of the ingredients, like the ones listed, can cause skin irritation and sensitivity, carcinogenicity, and even developmental toxicity. The bottom line is that we just don’t know what the long term effects of these products are on our overall wellness, and we need to choose the ones that support our health and natural beauty.
Throughout the last decade, I have really tried to filter through my beauty products and add those which feed my skin good ingredients. Here are some ways to clean up your beauty regime and enjoy healthier products.
1- Do some research on the products you use. First, power up on some knowledge by taking a look at the ingredients listed on the products. Use the EWG’s skin deep database to look up what is in the beauty products you use and how they rate on safety. Once you do this, you can begin to make empowered decisions about what to keep and what to phase out of your regimen.
2- When in doubt, throw it out! Reduce the number of products you have “in stock.” Sometimes the easiest way to do this is much like going through the kitchen pantry: check for expiration dates on the products and toss away those that are past the date. Even if the product does not have a date, it’s best to throw it away if you have had it longer than one year. Some water based products (lotions and creams) may contain bacteria, while some oil-based items such as makeup can contain rancid oils which give off free radicals. When in doubt, throw it out!
3- Simplify and swap. Reduce the number of products you actually need to use, and swap out gradually. If one of your products is about to run out, try to find a healthier alternative by checking out the EWG resource, a natural health store or a natural skin blog. Try to use some products a few times a week instead of every day. Sometimes it’s challenging to get rid of our all time favorite lip gloss. If you discover it has a few too many questionable ingredients but you still want to use it, maybe just trying another product you’re more open to will eventually lead to swapping it for something better for you. Be gentle with yourself, and if you still value this product, just use it consciously or maybe limit its use to special celebrations only.
4- Allow your natural beauty to shine. A few days a week, allow your natural beauty and skin a chance to breathe and shine. Be sun smart and apply a safe sunscreen, and maybe wear a hat to protect yourself from the sun’s rays. Make your own beauty products with items you can actually eat! You can make simple skin care products with sea salt, raw sugar, olive or almond oil, honey, avocado, and more. Also, be sure to hydrate and eat whole foods. This allows your pure, natural, unfiltered beauty to shine and look its best.
In order to make any lasting beauty regimen product changes, I strongly believe it is best to move slowly and gradually, as it can be less shocking to your system and your finances. When you make more conscious health choices this way, the beneficial effects last longer for you and your family. Each choice we make to stand up for our own health creates a ripple effect and transforms the world around us, making the world a more beautiful place.
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