Ingredient Navigation :: How to Tell if a Product is Truly Safe

Ingredient Navigation

Last week we talked about the easiest ways to make the switch to nontoxic products. So you’ve decided how you’d like to do this (ease in or all in, now for finding those products.

There are tons of natural cosmetic brands on the market today. Compared to a decade ago, the numbers are staggering. But you have to beware tricky marketing and get to the good stuff.

So, how can you tell if a brand is truly committed to safety in cosmetics?

The old adage If it seems too good to be true, it probably is works here. If a mainstream brand that has been making toxic products forever suddenly pops up with a new “pure” or “natural” product you have every right to be skeptical. Creating nontoxic products takes time, research, and money. Even more so, reformulating toxic products. If a brand were to come up with a truly nontoxic product to add to their toxic line, they would have to go to a lot of effort, testing, and dollars spent. And they would definitely want you to know all about the steps they took and healthy ingredients they use.

Slapping the word “natural” on a product does not make it nontoxic.

You have what you need to ID a safe product. Because you are armed with your trusty Ingredients to Avoid list, well-versed in breaking down a product ingredient listing, and know exactly what YOU want, it is going to be that much easier to identify greenwashers. You’ll be throwing products aside at a glance in no time. And getting straight to the good stuff.

Remember, ingredient listings can be confusing. Some are even meant to be that way. That is a red flag. No readily available ingredient listing = another red flag. If a brand does not disclose a full ingredient listing for each of their products, be skeptical.

My last, favorite, and possibly most important tip on choosing safe cosmetics: Shop brands you can trust. There are many companies committed to safety in cosmetics. Take a look at their commitment page or read their story on their website. Check the list of ingredients they never use. Follow them. Buy their stuff.

Our purchasing power is our greatest tool in providing ourselves with healthy bodies and a healthy environment to live in. When we buy products that have no toxic ingredients in them and have been manufactured with environmentally friendly processes we are creating a demand for these products and ingredients, which in turn means more organic farming and safer manufacturing methods.

All of these point to healthier living. And maybe by using safe organic products on our children we can raise more aware, healthy adults. The key to a healthier environment for generations to come.

*Image by Sylwia Bartyzel at Unsplash.com

Trend :: The Grey Job

The Grey Job

Trends get crazier all the time. One of the most shocking (at least to me) is the dyed grey hair trend going on right now. Shocking because I know many women who spend countless hours (not to mention dollars) keeping their strands grey-free.

Is this purposeful grey trend liberating or a slap in the face to those who’ve been combatting this situation for years?

My own Mom went grey at a young age and dyed her hair for many years. After losing her hair during her first round with breast cancer, she decided to forgo the dye job and leave her hair beautifully grey. But she was 66 at the time.

What about those women who are in their 40’s or even 30’s? I totally get why they are not ready to quit coloring.

A very close friend of mine is totally grey and colors on a regular basis. Very regular, like every 3 weeks. Not only is this time and cost consuming, but she is concerned about putting these harmful chemicals on her hair and scalp so often.

What do you think? Are you grey and covering it? Or going natch? Or have you hopped on the grey dye job bandwagon?

Pics via Pinterest

How to Make the Switch to Natural Products

Girl with Dog

This summer we’ve talked a lot about finding the right skincare for YOU. Your skin type, your issues and desires, what is important to you and works for your skin. If you didn’t see it, last week I posted a worksheet to really narrow things down. Fill in those blanks and you have your own personal skincare recipe.

Now you may be wondering … How do I make the switch?

There are several ways to go when first switching to nontoxic products. Sure, you could throw out everything that contains nasty ingredients and make a fresh start all at once. I would advise against this mode, as it can be pretty expensive and time consuming. The best way is to choose where you’d like to begin and go, gradually, from there.

Most exposure Switching out products that offer the most exposure to toxic ingredients is a great place to start. Items like facial serums and moisturizers, makeup, and body lotions (products that sit on the skin all day). This will immediately decrease your daily exposure to toxic ingredients.

Easiest substitutions Certain products are easier to swap out than others. Facial cleansers are pretty straight across the board and simple to replace. Same goes for body wash, make up remover, and toner. This type of product is also on the less expensive end of the skin care spectrum, making them a feasible place to begin.

What can’t you live without? Most of us are fairly attached to our moisturizers, for example, and may even use several – one for daytime, one for nighttime, one for winter, another for summer. You may have to experiment in this area, but as long as you follow the product specs and guidelines it should not be a difficult transition. Choose for your skin type and check labels to see if there are any ingredients that may irritate your skin. Certain skin types are sensitive to particular essential oils, but usually if a product is labeled “Sensitive” it will be safe for finicky skin.

Another rule of thumb – once you find a product that you love try other products from the same brand. Many online retailers offer samples with purchase or trial sizes at an affordable price. Some even have estheticians ready to answer your questions. Read product/brand descriptions thoroughly and if you have further questions contact customer service. Or ask me. I have tried most brands on the sites I love to shop and would be happy to answer your questions or point you in the right direction.

*Image by Matthew Wiebe at Unplash.com, cc

Reader Question :: Serum for Oily Skin?

Serums for Oily Skin

Hi, I am a 32 year old Asian woman with oily skin, large pores ,dark spots, and some pimples. Do you think a serum will help reduce my skin problems? If yes, which organic and natural product will help me? Thank you so much!

Serums hold many benefits for all skin types. The difference is in the ingredients.

For oily skin types you need light, easily absorbable ingredients. Argan oil works well on oily skin. It absorbs readily into skin, offering all the nourishment with no extra oiliness. My friends with oily skin love this stuff.

I’m also going to suggest one of my favorite all time oils here, and that is rosehip oil. It is very lightly moisturizing (to help balance oiliness), lightly exfoliating (to help with breakouts and skin texture), and offers lightening and brightening effects (to fade spots).

You may or may not need a daily moisturizer with a serum, depending on how oily your skin is. If you do give serum a try, wait 10 to 15 minutes and if your skin feels tight, go ahead and apply a light moisturizer over the serum.

You may also want to consider a product for pore refinement. Amala Purifying Moisturizer offers very light hydration, balances oiliness, refines pores, and evens skin tone. This product may work very well for you, with or without a serum.

I’m happy to see you are considering a serum to control your skin issues. So often those with oily skin tend toward drying treatments. While this may seem like the way to go with oily skin, over doing it will only exacerbate the issues. Spot treatment is fine, but stripping the skin of natural oils means flakiness. Sebum becomes trapped under skin flakes and this causes breakouts.

One last note. To protect against more dark spots and prevent further darkening of existing spots, wear a mineral sunscreen when spending prolonged periods outdoors.

Choosing Skincare :: A Worksheet

Writing in Diary by Viktor Hanacek at Picjumbo

So over the past few weeks we’ve talked skin type. We’ve talked skin issues and what you like, dislike, and have to have in skincare. We’ve even looked at some real life examples on choosing the right skincare.

Still in a quandary as to what will work best for YOU?

I’ve created this little exercise to walk you through ID’ing your perfect products. Fill in the blanks and you will have a set of personal guidelines to follow when shopping for beauty products.

My skin type is _________________ .

I have ______________ issues with my skin.

I love __________________________in a beauty product, but cannot stand ___________________________.

Therefore, when shopping for nontoxic cosmetics I should be on the lookout for products designed for __________________ skin type, that also help to treat ___________________________ issues and are/aren’t ___________________________.

There you have it. You’ve just figured out which products are perfect for your skin! That wasn’t so difficult, right?

As always, if you have question just ask.

*Image by Viktor Hanacek at picjumbo.com

Bold Lip, Bronze Eye

Bold Lip Bronze Eye Organic Makeup

This is sort of a reverse of Alexa’s sig makeup look. Where she does the bold eye with nude lip, this is a bright orange or punchy pink lip with a bronze-y neutral eye. Hot this summer.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Eye color of your choice ~ If you are going for a pink lip try taupe shadow, like 100% Pure Dual-Ended Creamstick in Cotton/Silk. If you are opting for an orange lip, you can use a gold or bronze hue, like RMS Beauty Cream Eyeshadow in Solar or Seduce.

For lips ~ Here is where things get fun. My top two recommendations here are Ilia Beauty Lipstick Voila or Neon Angel.

And that is it. Keep cheeks fairly neutral and let lips take the stage. Party on.

List :: Love

Choosing Skincare :: Some Real Life Examples

Woman using iPad by timothy muzat Unsplash

So we’ve been talking about how to choose the right skincare for your skin type and particular issues. As straightforward as that may be, sometimes it helps to have a real life example. Or four. Here ya go…

Example #1: Here is what my skin care profile looks like…

Skin type: I have dry skin that can be sensitive
Issues: I am allergic to aloe vera
Likes, Dislikes & Ideals: I don’t like products that have a strong scent or are too “earthy”, they must be high performance, and preferably cruelty-free.

While I sometimes purchase ingredients for sensitive skin, I am first on the lookout for products that are suited to dry skin. Keeping my skin hydrated usually keeps redness and irritation at bay. While many chemical skin care ingredients irritate my skin, there are some natural ones that do too. These are the more heavily scented ingredients, like tea tree or mint. I read my labels and skip anything heavy on aloe. If I end up with a product that is too strongly scented or looks like putty-colored pudding I will send it back.

Example #2: This is from one of my readers…

Skin type: “super-sensitive and acne-prone without being particularly oily or dry”
Issues: Drugstore brand products for sensitive skin cause breakouts, those for acne cause dryness
Likes, Dislikes & Ideals: Looking to switch from conventional products to nontoxic. Btw, she mentioned she is active and a healthy eater, so the culprit has to be the skin care.

This woman most likely has Normal skin type that is sensitive to synthetics. These harsh ingredients imbalance the skin, which causes irritation, and natural oil production ramps up causing breakouts. Using too many different products at once can also throw skin into imbalance.

Solution: Use nontoxic products formulated for Normal skin type. If these products still cause skin to become irritated, see if there is a similar ingredient(s) in the product compared to that of the drugstore brands she’s been using. If she still has issues with acne after switching to nontoxic products (give it a week or so) try natural acne treatments designed to be gentle and non-drying. My guess is that simply switching to toxin-free skin care will balance her skin and bring back a clear, healthy complexion.

Example #3: Also from a reader…

Skin type: Sensitive
Issues: Dry, flaky skin in the winter and fairly sensitive to soaps, foaming agents, and fragrance ingredients.
Likes, Dislikes & Ideals: Would like some anti-aging benefits (lightening of spots and softening/preventing wrinkles)

Solution: Most sensitive skin types do well with a milk or cream cleanser, versus a foaming cleanser which can be too drying. If you need a foamy cleanser, say after workouts, use it only when necessary and opt for a cream cleanser (or just warm water) the rest of the time. Dry, irritated skin is a common symptom of over cleansing.

Safe nontoxic skin care brands use natural fragrance ingredients, but even these can irritate sensitive skin. She should opt for fragrance-free moisturizers or those made specifically for sensitive skin. A rich cream moisturizer, or even a balm, will help to relieve excessive dryness in winter. As for the anti-aging and spots: rosehip oil is gentle, softens lines, and helps to reduce the appearance of spots and scars. This oil can be used on its own, and is used in many products for sensitive skin. Love it!

Example #4: Also from a reader…

Skin type: Oily
Issues: Acne, flakiness, clogged pores, but no allergies
Likes, Dislikes & Ideals: Interested in DIY skin care

Solution: Oily skin and acne go hand in hand. But flakiness? Doesn’t that sound more like a dry skin problem? Nope. Many people with oily skin, who are prone to acne, end up with flakiness. This is due to the products and measures they use to get rid of the acne. Even oily skin types benefit from moisturizer and most often people in this skin type will skip this important step.

“My skin is already oily, why would I apply moisturizer to it?”

Guess what happens if you don’t. Skin becomes dry due to lack of moisture, cleansing and over-zealous scrubbing and treating. This causes flakiness. The skin then attempts to self-remedy the situation by producing more oil, which gets trapped under the layer of dry skin, and *voila* you have zits.

This woman should purchase nontoxic skincare designed for Oily skin. Including a light, balancing moisturizer. Those made for oily/acne skin types use lighter emollient ingredients that will balance oil production and keep pores clear. A great place to start with DIY skincare is exfoliation. All skin types benefit from this step, and it should be done regularly. A mixture of organic sugar, organic milk and a dab of honey is my absolute favorite scrub for the whole body, including face. Always massage gently when exfoliating.

*Image by Timothy Muza at Unsplash.com

Reconstructed :: Alexa Chung’s Signature Makeup Look

Alexa Chung Makeup Look Reconstructed

I came across this video on Byrdie.com of Alexa Chung doing her own makeup. Pretty cool. Alexa has that 70’s makeup vibe down pat.

How about we reconstruct her look with all natural products? Here is what I’d use:

1 :: Kjaer Weis Cream Foundation

2 :: RMS Beauty “Un”-Cover-Up Concealer

3 :: 100% Pure Dual-Ended Creamstick Cholcolate/Champagne

4 :: Benecos Natural Liquid Eyeliner in Black

5 :: Dr. Hauschka Mascara in Black

6 :: RMS Lip2Cheek in Smile

7 :: Ilia Beauty Organic Lipstick in Humble Me

We All Have Issues

Girl with hair mustache by Shandi-lee Cox at Flickr.com

Last week we talked skin types and how knowing yours will help you to purchase the right skincare products for your skin. This week we are taking things one step further. Let’s talk issues.

Whether it is added dryness in winter or an ongoing issue, like rosacea or eczema, it is important to use products formulated to work on your skin’s needs.

This is also where allergies enter the picture. I happen to be allergic to aloe. It is a great ingredient (and widely used in natural skincare) but hives do not look good on me so I avoid anything that contains a lot of aloe. If you are sensitive to certain ingredients, scan labels to see if products include them. Easy enough.

Now name your likes, dislikes, and ideals.

Start with your likes and dislikes. Do you hate using anything even slightly greasy? Maybe you cannot stand the scent of rose. Some like a thick mascara, others like something a little thinner. If you purchase products that you feel you should like, but really cannot stand, you are not going to use them. I speak from personal experience, I’m sure you have been there too.

In this category also fall your ideals — gluten-free, vegan, cruelty-free. These will be marked on products or at the manufacturer website.

Now you know your skin type, your skin issues, and your likes and dislikes where skin care is concerned. Taking them into account when shopping will help you to buy the perfect product for your skin. You wouldn’t go grocery shopping without a list, would you?

Have questions? Ask them in the comments. That’s what I’m here for!

*Image by Shandi-lee Cox at Flickr.com, cc