We are now questioning the ingredients in our food and our beauty products more so than ever- and rightfully so. In 1938, a law was put in place stating the FDA has no legal authority over what ingredients can be put into personal care products. It is estimated that around 90% of personal care product ingredients have never been assessed by the FDA, while for comparison, in Europe, personal care ingredients are tested quarterly by a committee of toxicologists.
So, as consumers, how are we supposed to weed out the good from the bad? This is where the Environmental Working Group comes in. They are a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. This group performs research on commonly used products and provides the data to a public database. With readily available databases, making the switch from harmful to helpful personal care products is just a matter of turning the bottle over to read the ingredients.
Below are some tips on how to avoid putting bad chemicals in your body:
Step 1: Avoid marketing scams like greenwashing.
This is when a company or product will use a label like clean, natural, simple, or non-toxic to appear healthy. These words have no legal definition when it comes to ingredients. Common brands that use these labels while containing extremely harmful ingredients are Loreal, Pantene, Tresemme, and Herbal Essences.
Step 2: Prepare yourself with ingredients to avoid buying.
Parabens, sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate, fragrance, triclosan, formaldehyde, BHA, and oxybenzone are the most commonly used harmful chemicals. BHA is a preservative that keeps the shampoo’s oils from going bad, but has been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, allergies and/or immunotoxicity and organ system toxicity, and it has been found to accumulate in tissue so that the more is used, the higher these risks become. On a hazard scale of 1 to 10, BHA rates a 10 according to EWG. Fragrance is one of the most commonly found hazardous ingredients. There is no definition of fragrance, anything can be used and not disclosed in the listed ingredients. Natural fragrances will clearly state using fruit or vegetable extracts or essential oils.
Step 3: Be a conscious consumer.
You can never be too educated when it comes to your health. Read every ingredient, every label, and when possible make switches to lower your waste impact. This is as easy as ditching single use plastic and opting for a company that has refillable options. Target, Walmart, Sephora, and Whole Foods all recently announced initiatives towards higher standards of ingredients.
A wonderful golden rule I personally follow- If you cannot read and understand every ingredient, it probably, should not go in, or on your body.
Below is a list of healthy brands that have made it their goal to work towards a healthy environment:
Kjaer Weis is not only safe to use but it is environmentally friendly as well- after you buy the container the product is in all you need to continue buying are the refills. This means you are not throwing away excess plastic and metal every time you use up a beauty product.
Juice Beauty makes clean beauty products with outstanding clinical trials.
Zero Waste Store is an awesome store that has all clean ingredients and lifestyle items that don’t harm the environment.
Dr. Bronner’s makes responsible products while dedicating profits to help causes close to them.
And don’t forget to sign up to the EWG’s newsletter, check out the database, and download their app.