Sort out the non-toxic makeup brands from the pretentious ones. Read on to understand the buzzwords and learn how to choose natural and organic personal care products.
RELATED: Love Yourself Organically
In this article:
- Harmful Ingredients and Toxins Hidden in Labels
- Are They Truly Natural Ingredients?
- The Different Names of Harmful Chemicals
- What to Avoid
- Clean Beauty Products We Recommend
Find the Best Non-Toxic Makeup by Decoding the Brand Labels
Harmful Ingredients and Toxins Hidden in Labels
Most of us folks on the health train know chemicals aren’t good for us and have taken steps to reduce or eliminate them in our homes, but are you doing the same thing with non-toxic makeup?
When it comes to the world of beauty, there are some insidious bad guys we don’t always know to look out for.
Even so-called “natural” products could be fooling you. They may not actually be as natural as you’d hoped.
Dare you enter the dark world of the beauty industry? Your “beauty” cabinet could be costing you far more than the dollars you spent.
Our problem starts with the labels on these products. Did you know the FDA only has three sections on the regulation of production and sale of cosmetics?
This means there’s very little control over what is allowed to be printed on your shampoo, body wash, or your favorite lipstick, nail polish, or eyeshadow. But what they do list is usually made up of unpronounceable ingredients.
They are promoted to us by very clever psychological marketing tactics. These two combined create a recipe for successfully blindsiding an unaware population.
Are They Truly Natural Ingredients?
These days, we care much more about our bodies and the planet, and yet we are being kept in the dark deliberately.
And it’s all for profits, so we can be sold skin care products that pander to the deep desire every woman (or transgender man) holds in their heart, to be beautiful and desirable.
Many of us are looking for natural alternatives, only to be unknowingly sold more harsh chemicals with clever labels.
For a cosmetic to be labeled as “natural,” it only has to contain ingredients that once were derived from a natural substance. That is regardless of how much processing it goes through.
It is an unregulated term and certainly does not mean the product is free of chemicals. It’s not fair to us seeking the good stuff! But that’s how it is, for now.
Also, when it comes to sensitive skin or acne-prone skin, you may see a note that sets you at ease: “dermatologically tested” or “dermatologically recommended.” Don’t be so easily swayed.
If it claims to be “tested,” that is by no means equal to being “approved.” And if it says it’s “recommended,” it may have been endorsed by a non-board certified dermatologist, who may even have received a handout for signing off on the product.
Similar is true of the “hypoallergenic” statement. It can mean whatever the company wants it to mean.
It’s not regulated. As you can see, what they say rarely means any more than “Buy our stuff!”
Other buzzwords you should watch out for are the following:
You get the idea, yes?
What you can trust is when a product says certified organic, especially if it’s approved by a governing agency such as the USDA. In this case, the product will contain no less than 95% natural materials grown without the use of harmful chemicals.
It’s no wonder the organic “fad” is holding its own so well!
The Different Names of Harmful Chemicals
There are also the typical toxic chemicals with confusing names. For example, parabens and phthalates may also be ethylparabens, butylparabens, or diethylphthalate.
Some ingredients may be generally safe in other forms but harmful when on the skin. One of these is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).
SLS can be a food additive, according to the FDA. Some companies, however, use it in makeup or skin care products such as shampoo.
This ingredient can make the product foamy or emulsifying. On the downside, it can potentially irritate the skin.
Synthetic fragrances can also be a problem. They may have other names such as parfum (aka fragrance) or essential oil blends.
A 2011 study showed they can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can affect indoor air quality. Fragrances can increase the risks of respiratory illnesses, including asthma.
What are volatile organic compounds? These are gases or vapors emitted by various substances such as solvents and skin care products.
What to Avoid
How to choose the best non-toxic makeup? The biggest baddies to avoid in the industry is still a long list to remember (and too long to cover here!).
Generally, we’d recommend you read the labels and avoid any so-called natural products with many-lettered ingredients unless they meet the following criteria:
- You can pronounce it and know it’s safe.
- You know that it’s from plant origin. For example, sodium cocoate is saponified coconut oil and is perfectly safe.
- The product is certified organic.
If you are uncertain about a particular brand you are looking at or using, you can run it through the EWG’s Skin Deep website. You can check how the product is rated for safety.
The website has over 64,000 cosmetics listed, so you should be able to find the one you’re looking for.
How to Use the Skin Deep Database
Here’s an illustration to show you how easy it is to look for non-toxic makeup in the database. Let’s search for Beautycounter products.
- In its homepage, type the name of the brand and press Search. The list will show you all entries pertaining to it.
- Choose Beautycounter, and it will redirect you to an EWG summary. You will learn about the products’ overall hazard and use restrictions.
- The site will also list down the common ingredients used. Take, for example, titanium dioxide, which is a typical sunscreen ingredient.
- On the right-hand side, you can see a score, which indicates the ingredient’s hazard level. The lower the number, the better.
Titanium dioxide has a score of 2, which means it is one of the non-toxic products of the brand.
You can also follow the same procedures for RMS Beauty and other cosmetic products you like to know more. You may also search according to ingredients such as zinc oxide or a specific product like Living Luminizer.
If you have a specific makeup type in mind, like volumizing mascara or blush, you can also browse the database. The top-scoring products appear first.
If not, you can email them. They are also starting to offer verification on products that meet their safety assessments. You may be able to find an alternative product with its seal of approval on it.
For women of African heritage, there are even fewer healthy options among cosmetics. In fact, out of 1,177 products tested, 1 in 12 was ranked as “highly hazardous” in the EWG’s database.
It also showed that only 25% of the products were ranked as “low in potentially hazardous ingredients.”
To be clear, EWG is not the ultimate decision-making tool for you. It doesn’t contain everything related to non-toxic makeup, such as non-nano zinc oxide.
It’s still a fantastic platform to teach you how to choose safe non-toxic makeup. When in doubt about the claims of natural makeup brands, use it.
Clean Beauty Products We Recommend
While it may feel at this point that there is nothing safe left that you can use, fret not!
There are more and more companies making changes. They are producing safe, trustworthy cosmetics and other products that are good for you and good for the earth.
Check out this company we love called Anne Marie Skincare. They are making honest cosmetics that are truly natural, and they also offer sample kits of their products.
You can be armed with good knowledge about what you don’t want. You can make great decisions about what you do want!
Worth a mention too is the DIY craze sweeping the cosmetics world! There are so many recipes online for all-natural, healthful, and truly detoxifying cosmetics you can make at home.
They come with a few simple ingredients you can find at your local health food store or online. Be sure to check if these ingredients are 100% natural.
If a website doesn’t state the ingredients of a product, do not buy from them.
The following are some of the ingredients you can use for a DIY chemical-free makeup and other non-toxic beauty products:
- Candelilla wax as a component for DIY lip balm (it is a vegan substitute to beeswax too!)
- Cocoa butter as a makeup remover
- Jojoba oil as a facial cleanser
- Argan oil as a skin moisturizer
- Aloe vera as an ingredient to even skin tone
With a little bit of courage to try it out, some organic ingredients, and a few minutes of your time, you can reduce your chemical exposure considerably and make your makeup routine safer. You can also craft a healthy life for you and your family with non-toxic makeup.
What are your favorite non-toxic makeup brands? Share what you love about them in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on March 8, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.