Earth-friendly, body-friendly and chic natural beauty products.
You want to be kind to animals, the environment and your skin, but short of going completely product-free, how can you know what you’re slathering on? According to the Environmental Working Group, consumers use about 10 personal care products each day—containing an average of 126 ingredients.
The Food and Drug Administration does not require health studies or pre-market testing, but you can search popular cosmetics and personal care products on EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, which rates them with toxicity hazard scores from 0 to 10. In general, some good tips include checking out companies’ values, which Earth and body-conscious companies will often post on their websites. Great examples include Avalon Organics and Nature’s Gate. Some companies have also signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, a pledge to remove harmful ingredients and replace them with safer alternatives. In the war against toxins, here are some brands to look for:
Think your nails are just hard, dead cells? Think again. In fact, your nails are some of the most absorbent surfaces of your body. (Now think about that formaldehyde resin-filled paint you grew up stroking on your toes.) These days, many nail polish brands advertise themselves as being “3 free,” or free from formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate—the top three traditional toxins found in nail color.
But Scotch Naturals takes “free” to another level—and eliminates ethyl acetate (a neurotoxin), nitrocellulose (an organ toxin), butyl acetate (a skin, lung and eye irritant), acetone (a neuro and organ toxin) and heavy metals. The founder of a children’s product, Hopscotch Kids polishes, the company spun off the brand into its grown-up iteration. The polishes are water-based, salon quality and come in chic colors (check out shimmering metallics from the Holiday Collection, like “Smugglers Gold”).
Can’t pronounce most of the ingredients in your shampoo, conditioner and hairspray? Then they probably shouldn’t be going onto your hair—and being absorbed by your scalp. The most common culprits are parabens (common preservatives, which some natural companies have sworn off because of concerns that they can permeate the skin and enter the bloodstream); sodium laurel sulfate (a foaming agent linked to mutated genetic material); and propylene glycol (a petroleum derivative used as a moisturizer that is thought to be a skin irritant). Look for fragrance-free products, or natural cleansing or conditioning ingredients like aloe vera, ginger, lavender, rosemary, avocado and shea butter.
Aubrey Organics commits to 100 percent natural hair and body care products that are vegan and cruelty-free. Great examples include their Rosa Mosqueta shampoo, with rose hip seeds to moisturize, shea butter to guard against fading and organic corn syrup, which rinses away chlorine. Their NuStyle Organic Hairspray does away with sticky chemicals and contains ingredients like quinoa protein to hold hair in place and rice syrup to thicken.
This German brand has been a mainstay for 50 years in the skin care and cosmetics industries, pioneering the category for its freedom from synthetic preservatives, fragrances, colors, dyes and petroleum-derived ingredients. A comprehensive ingredient glossary on its site tells you what it does include and why (look for ingredients like Horse Chestnut seed extract, olive oil and nettle leaf extract). Obsessively concerned with both skin and the environment, Dr. Hauschka maintains that the majority of its skin care line ingredients are grown biodynamically (sustainably) and organically, or are ethically wild-harvested. The brand’s creators even care about the gluten-sensitive among us. Cult favorites like the Rose Day Cream, formulated with extracts of rose petal, rose hip and avocado for soothing red, irritated skin, and cosmetics—such as its bronzer with jojoba and carrot oils—are gluten free.
There are many natural beauty products on the market. It might be worth experimenting with a few different brands to find your beauty match.
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