Nontoxic Beauty Products: Why And How To Green Your Beauty Routine

What you put on your skin goes into your body.

Yes, your skin does provide a barrier to the rest of the world, but there are still three ways that toxins in the products you apply to your skin can get into your body: “Chemicals can penetrate the skin by passing directly through cells via permeation (intracellular), weaving their way between cells (intercellular), or by sneaking in through appendages like hair follicles or sweat ducts (transappendageal) (source).”

Harmful chemicals from beauty products can also be inhaled, which is the case for phthalates which are common in most perfumes. Others can be ingested, such as lead, commonly found in lipstick.

What kinds of chemicals are we talking about?

The toxins in makeup and skincare products can be categorized as carcinogens (may cause cancer), endocrine disruptors (affect the hormone system) or obesogens (chemicals that interfere with metabolic function).

Major ones to avoid commonly found in beauty products:

  • aluminum
  • coal tar
  • fragrance
  • formaldehyde
  • petrolatum
  • parrafin
  • polyethylene glycol
  • phthalates
  • sodium laureth sulfate
  • toluene
  • triclosan

This is really just the tip of the iceberg. To learn more about what kind of chemicals are in your personal products and why they’re harmful, you can go to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database. This is a great resource because you can actually look up your exact product to see what chemicals they contain and you can search for different nontoxic beauty products instead!

Finding nontoxic beauty products

I’m still in the process of greening my beauty routine. It takes time to find alternative products that work for you. It can also be overwhelming and expensive.

So, I’m a huge fan of starting slow and doing what you can. ANYTHING you do to minimize your exposure is a step in the right direction, so don’t feel like you need to toss everything at once and switch to products you don’t find effective.

Step One: Any time you finish a product, check out its ingredients to see if it should be reordered.

Step Two: If not, buy something else when you go to replace it. The Skin Deep Database can be a good source of information when choosing alternative products.

Tips for making the switch + favorite products

I’ve had a pretty easy time of finding skincare products that I love. Alternative makeup products have also been fairly easy to find using the SkinDeep database.

The two that have been the toughest for me have been:

Deoderant: It takes time to find one that works. Every one’s body chemistry is different. I’ve finally landed on two that I use regularly: Native Deodorant in “Coconut & Vanilla” and Herban Cowboy women’s deodorant in “Blossom”.

They both work pretty well for me and most of my clients have found a transition to these deodorants to be fairly easy as well. Native may lead to a tad more irritation (apply sparingly) but it works a bit better. Blossom is super gentle and easy to use but does not work as well for high-sweat days. See what works best for you and remember any reduction of conventional deodorant use will help. Keep some of whatever you’re using now on hand for special occasions and use one of these the rest of the time.

Hair care: This is the one I have the hardest time with and I still use a lot of ‘conventional’ haircare products. These days it is easier to find shampoos made without the sodium laureth sulfate at least – many of the combined products don’t use it. I use the Wen Sweet Almond Mint Cleansing Conditioner (pricier, but so yummy) or Loreal EverPure Cleansing Balm. They’re not the absolute best toxin-wise but they’re better than a lot of other products on the market and I’m happy with the results.