This month’s healthy home challenge is a little late because #life
I have loved hearing stories of how February’s and March’s healthy home challenge has inspired so many of you to make small changes to live a healthier life! That’s really the goal of these monthly challenge’s – to inspire and encourage you to make small, easy changes to make your life a little bit healthier and expose yourself to less environmental toxins!
I wanted this month’s challenge to be something relevant with what’s happening in our world right now, and not overwhelming. We have enough things stressing us out, this shouldn’t be one of them. Lately, most of us have been really taking time for self-care, because we actually have the time. This has inspired me to make this month’s healthy home challenge to transition to one cleaner beauty product.
It’s taking me a while to really jump on this clean beauty train, but now that I’ve taken the time to read the research, I think this is something we should all take some time to think about. I want to reiterate what I try to relay with every healthy home challenge – this isn’t an all or nothing deal! Please do not go and throw all of your beauty products out. That would be a fantastic way to go broke, which no one needs right now! I am challenging you to do a little research the next time you run out of concealer, moisturizer, or shampoo. Before you buy the same brand you’ve been using, educate yourself on the ingredients and decide if those are things you are comfortable putting on your body. Cool, so we all understand – don’t go crazy here! Just try to be more mindful the next time you need to purchase a beauty item.
Background on FDA Regulation of Beauty Products
The FDA put the Cosmetics Act into effect in 1938, and since has made minimum updates to this act (1). When I first learned this, I was shocked! The products I put on my face are regulated by an act written in the 30s… I don’t know about you, but this was a huge reality check for me!
To date there are nine ingredients banned by the FDA to be used in cosmetics. This is trivial, as compared to other countries which have banned over 1400 chemicals in cosmetic products (2).
I’ve chatted about this in previous posts, but let me reiterate, human studies are very difficult (there’s no way to control every variable). Therefore, it is difficult to make definitive conclusions from the data on environmental toxins and human health. However, there is a growing concern from scientists that many of the FDA approved ingredients in cosmetics can be linked to asthma, cancer, birth defects, and fertility problems (3).
Now, to be fair, the FDA has not defined what clean beauty products are, and therefore there seems to be many opinions on what is safe and unsafe to use. An editorial in JAMA was published in 2019 diving into this topic, and even mentions that Whole Foods listed petroleum as a banned ingredient on their list (4).
I believe it’s important that consumers take all of this information into account, and decide what they personally are comfortable with. Some people may be comfortable with the current FDA regulations, and have no problem with what is on the market. While other’s may be much stricter and only use EWG certified products. I think we are all entitled to our own opinions. I personally fall somewhere in the middle. I want to use cleaner products, but I also want them to work. I personally have difficult skin issues because of my PCOS (which hey- may be induced because environmental toxins in the first place). My goal is to find beauty products that help resolve the issues I am experiencing due to PCOS (mainly acne) without making the condition worse. I encourage you to read the linked articles, do you own research, assess your own concerns and goals, and make your own opinion as well.
Ingredients to Avoid
Taking into consideration what I said above, I do want to mention a few ingredients that, at this point, are generally known to cause health issues. Again, these are things that the FDA has not banned, so you need to do your own research and decide how you feel about these chemicals as well. Personally, since I have fertility issues already, I have decided to try and avoid these ingredients in each new product I am purchasing.
- Phthalates: These chemicals are heavily used in personal care products and plastics. There is a ton of research about phthalates and human health on the internet, but I think Dr. Shahine hits the nail on the head with concisely giving the facts. According to Dr. Shahine, phthalates are known endocrine disrupters which can interfere with reproductive hormones. They have been associated with several women’s fertility issues and even poor sperm quality in men (5).
- Formaldehyde: Doesn’t just hearing that formaldehyde can be in your beauty products freak you out? Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen – aka causes cancer. Typically, cosmetic companies use formaldehyde to act as a preservative in their products. Currently, the FDA does not regulate how much formaldehyde can be added to products, however there have been efforts to try to encourage companies to use lower than 0.2 percent (6).
- Parabens: Like formaldehyde, parabens are used to help stabilize cosmetics and have been heavily used in many beauty products. There has been growing evidence in scientific studies that parabens may be a hormone disrupter and linked to fertility issues and increased risk of cancer (7).
Resources to help you find better products
I know it can seem overwhelming to figure out where to start when purchasing safer products. I personally rely on three resources to help me make more educated decisions.
- EWG Skin Deep Database: find it HERE
The EWG database will score a product 1-10, 1 being the least concern and 10 being the most concern. It will also provides an area on ingredient concern and gives information on cancer, allergies and immunotoxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and user restrictions. A downside to this database is that there are several products that have not been analyzed yet. There is an app as well which is super helpful for on-the-go!
EWG verified products meet very strict criteria from the EWG. These products avoid their ingredients of concern, provide full transparency, and use good manufacturing practices. You can read more about the EWG verified products HERE.
- Think Dirty App: read more HERE
The Think Dirty App for phones is incredibly helpful! It is an on-the-go way to make educated decisions as you shop. This app lists ingredients in cosmetics, warns consumers of potential toxic ingredients, and empowers consumers to make informed purchasing decisions. Similar to EWG, not all products have been reviewed in the database, but it is a fantastic tool!
- Sephora Clean Beauty: find it HERE
I really love the EWG and Think Dirty App, however for particular products I needed, I could not find something that fit the bill using their databases. This is when I turned to the products at Sephora that are categorized in their Clean Beauty section. These products have been vetted to not include several ingredients, like formaldehyde, parabens, and phthalates.
What I’m Using Right Now and Loving
To give you some ideas of products you can give a try this month, I’ll share a few clean products I have been using for a year and love, as well as a couple products I am new to.
Beauty by Earth Self Tanners: find it HERE *affiliate link
I’ve been using Beauty by Earth’s self tanner for almost a full year now. I absolutely love their products. Their products are all clean and avoid harmful ingredients like parabens and synthetic fragrances, and instead use natural, organic ingredients (read more about the ingredients they use HERE).
I absolutely love their full body self tanner (get it HERE) and face tanner (get it HERE). I find their formula to be much more hydrating than the mouse self tanners, and that it lasts much longer on your skin.
Cover Fx Power Play Concealer – find it HERE
I also just put in another order at Ulta for Cover Fx Power Play Concealer. I’ve been using this concealer for over a year now and I really love the full coverage formula. In particular, my acne due to PCOS has been flaring up lately, so having this stuff on hand is so helpful. Their products are free from parabens, phthalates, and much more.
New products I’m loving so far…
With my acne due to the PCOS, my doctor recommended I find products with glycolic acid and avoid salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide (not the best to be using while trying to conceive). I decided to use this as an opportunity to buy skincare with cleaner ingredients than what I have been using. I used Sephora’s Clean Beauty filter to help me find products for my particular skin concerns. I just have started using these products, so I can’t fully recommend them just yet. But, I will say, so far so good! I have been using:
- Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser by Glow Recipe
- Roebuck’s Lifesaver Skin Brightening Toner
- B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum by Drunk Elephant
- Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer by Drunk Elephant
I hope today’s blog inspires you to make one small transition in your life to help you reduce your environmental toxin exposure. Be sure to use #thehealthyhomechallenge in your posts on social media this month as you try clean beauty products! I’ll repost them on my stories!
- EWG. “80 Years Later, Cosmetics Chemicals Still Unregulated.” EWG, http://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2018/06/80-years-later-cosmetics-chemicals-still-unregulated.
- Ewg. “On Cosmetics Safety, U.S. Trails More Than 40 Nations.” EWG, http://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2019/03/cosmetics-safety-us-trails-more-40-nations.
- Environmental Working Group. “About EWG VERIFIED™: A New Standard for Your Health.” EWG VERIFIED™ : For Your Health, http://www.ewg.org/ewgverified/about-the-mark.php.
- Rubin, Courtney Blair. “Natural Does Not Mean Safe.” JAMA Dermatology, American Medical Association, 1 Dec. 2019, jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/fullarticle/2751513?resultClick=1.
- Shahine, Lora. “Phthalates and Your Reproductive Health.” Dr. Lora Shahine, Dr. Lora Shahine, 2 Mar. 2018, lorashahine.com/blog/2018/3/2/phthalates-and-your-reproductive-health.
- “Is Cancer-Causing Formaldehyde in Your Cosmetics?” EWG, http://www.ewg.org/research/exposing-cosmetics-cover/formaldehyde-releasers.
- “What Are Parabens, and Why Don’t They Belong in Cosmetics?” EWG, http://www.ewg.org/californiacosmetics/parabens.
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I am not a physician or Registered Dietician. Some blog posts discuss healthy eating and exercise, and the purpose is to share my personal journey and experience with diet and fitness. As always, consult a physician before making any changes in diet or exercise. The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any activities or ideas from this site.