Why should you switch to natural cosmetic products? I have heard this said so many times – ‘You will have nothing left if you get rid of all the normal cosmetics!’ Although that does sound reasonable on the surface, don’t you think it’s also kind of scary? Bad cosmetics are everywhere! Because of the world we live in, synthetic chemicals are hard to avoid. However, dismissing harmful chemicals as normal and using any old cosmetics as long as they work is a bit of a cop-out. Why? Follow me, reader, I will tell you why 😉
Like many of us, I have always thought that SURELY there are proper regulations in place that make sure the manufacturing of cosmetics is controlled and that I am protected. Surely, no one would dream of putting carcinogenics, or irritants, or any other generally ‘bad’ chemicals in my shampoo, or deodorant, or face cream? Disappointingly, the cosmetics industry is mostly self-regulated, and often works to the disadvantage on the blissfully unaware customer who does not read the ingredients label, or if they do, they do not properly understand it. Fortunately (for me) my mother works in a science laboratory, and has taught me a lot. In fact, tonnes of ingredients so commonly found in cosmetics pose serious health risks, not necessarily immediate ones (although that can happen too) but rather long term risks due to chemical absorption and bio-accumulation in your body. A tiny fraction of every product you use is absorbed into your skin/blood/hair and bit by bit this build-up becomes higher
This is why it’s best to switch to natural cosmetics, or at least those that pose minimal risks. It’s tedious, yes, but I did it, and you can do it too! With a little bit of knowledge and attention to what you are buying, it’s not that hard! Have a think, how many products do you use every day? Here’s my list, as it comes into my head:
Toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, facial cleanser, toner, serum, day cream, night cream, eye cream, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, deodorant, body lotion, lip balm, leave-in conditioner, hand cream, powder, blusher, mascara, perfume…
And let’s not forget things we use not daily, but still frequently like facial scrubs, masks, body scrubs, hair treatments, other treatments, creams, blah blah… the list goes on, and I am sure I have left lots of things out. So if you use around 9 products a day, that’s the average for a person. If you are like me and use a lot, you are at a high risk of exposure to LOTS of chemicals. The average amount of unique chemicals in 9 products is 126. Ok so let’s count my products… I got around 20! So that’s around 280 unique chemicals a day! And even if I cut half of my cosmetic products out of my routine I would still be left with 140, that’s still too many for my liking!
What do we do, then? How can we escape? To minimise exposure to ‘suspicious’ chemicals, it makes sense to switch to natural products, and even better, organic. Now, there are a couple of little problems. Ingredients can be derived of natural sources and still be harmful. Limonene, for example, is produced from citrus peel. It’s a simple and common chemical, I find it in many ‘natural’ cosmetic products. However, through process of oxidation, it poses a high risk of immunotoxicity and irritation. Let’s take some other examples. What can seem less harmful than talc or lavender? Recent research shows that both are in fact carcinogenic. So there are good natural ingredients and bad ones 😉
So what do we look for in cosmetics? Firstly, my favourite – buy organic cosmetics! The reason is that organically grown natural ingredients are not exposed to pesticides with which your cosmetics can be contaminated. It’s the same as buying organic fruit and vegetables when you go shopping 🙂 Secondly, take a look at the ingredient list. Try to choose cosmetics that are made mostly from natural extracts. They usually will have a little ‘translation’ in the bracket next to the ingredient, for example the label will usually say ‘Buxus chinesis (Jojoba Oil), Salvia offinialis (Sage Leaf Extract)’. Make sure the natural ingredients come at the BEGINNING of the ingredient list, and any chemicals (if there are any) at the END, because the order of the list goes from the largest quantity present, to the smallest.
Of course, it’s hard to switch EVERYTHING you have to natural and organic versions. What would be most reasonable is to think of the products you use the most, and concentrate on them first of all. So, usually it would be stuff like face washes, face creams, shampoos, conditioners, shower gels… Look for some better brands that produce natural cosmetics. The ones I can personally recommend which are good and easy to get hold of are: Burt’s Bees; Neal’s Yard; Dr. Hauschka… Trilogy has some good things. A good one for inexpensive shampoos, conditioners and decorative makeup is Lavera, which is made in Germany I believe.
P.S. never listen to those who claim ‘natural’ skincare to be ineffective because it does not ‘penetrate’ deep enough into your skin. Of course it will penetrate. Yes, synthetic chemicals do it better, as they have absorption enhancers, however with these you will only absorb other synthetic chemicals. Skin is very good at absorbing whatever we place on it – think of a nicotine skin patch, or a contraceptive one, for example. So be careful with what you use, and you will keep your good looks for years!
On my part, I am going to keep you up to date with new research as much as I can, as well as write more in-depth posts on what ingredients to look for, which to avoid, how to choose certain products, and how to make your own if you would like to have a go 🙂 If you have any thoughts, tips or suggestions of your own, let me know!!