THE BIG BEWARE
Remember this? You’ll probably recognise it from a Daily Mail article (and others) which highlighted the 515+ chemicals we expose ourselves to on a regular basis.
Seriously. Who wants to use a body lotion which seeps into skin cells (and blood) which has an ingredient used in oven cleaners? (Are we mad?) Our skin is our largest living, breathing organ. It absorbs what we put on it (we’re eating our lipsticks!) It sounds simplistic but if we want our skin to look and feel healthy shouldn’t we treat it – and ourselves – with more respect?
1)Vote with your wallet
Surely we’re too intelligent to still be buying products with potentially risky ingredients in them? But a lot of us are. (How mad is that? The problem is lack of information, even if we do read the label half those long names don’t mean a thing – is it a good long name or a chemical?)
We read the other day about this big baby shampoo brand reformulating its ingredients following pressure to remove formaldehyde in its baby shampoo. Another big brand is still advertising its “natural” range in a number of women’s magazines and sites but when you check the range’s product labels you’re in for a surprise. Different countries have different legislation about beauty products. It’s all rather complex so let’s get straight to the point. Which is…
2)Read the label
Luckily, there’s a shortcut to the truth – and this applies to food, too – and it’s called “read the label” (even if you have to get your NASA magnifying glass to decipher the small font).
3) The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
Last year Beauty Shortlist tested hundreds of products by innumerable brands (I got to the stage where I could almost recite off the top of my head which ones contained what). There were brands which were astoundingly pure, organic and amazing to use… others which were good… some OK…some which were OK-ish but which we had reservations about. And then there were the products/brands whose labels were…frankly, shocking.
I was more disappointed than shocked, to tell the truth, thinking of the millions of women (and men) paying money for products with nasties in them. Beauty products are one of life’s treats (a necessity, we say!) so how darn disappointing, surely, if you’ve bought a pot lurking with known carcinogens, allergens and other bad boys. (Of course there are plenty of consumers not particularly bothered by this whole circus – we’re all entitled to buy (into) what we believe and free to buy what we want).
4) If you want to play it safe, use a safe brand
If it all sounds too confusing, find a few good brands and stick to them. Brands live by their ethics/ingredients so if a brand is genuinely pure, natural or organic, its products will be too.
5) Does a long ingredient name mean it’s bad?
Nope. Plants have long Latin names (good) and so do other ingredients. You soon get used to the chemical names, though – see the links at the bottom.
Quick quiz! Which is the nasty? Propylene Glycol or Hyaluronic Acid? Answer: Propylene Glycol (skin irritant).
Despite its long name, hyaluronic acid is of natural origin, and occurs naturally in our bodies -in fact, it’s the most powerful moisture-retainer we know of for keeping skin healthy and gorgeous. Once you’ve tried it you WILL want it in your skincare because few things plump up skin as well as it does. It’s brilliant and it’s safe. (Feature on HA coming soon). It’s in products by OSKIA, PH ADVANTAGE, REN and many other brands these days – it took off big time in beauty about five years ago although it’s still not familiar to many consumers.
OK, where can I find a listing of Safe/Natural/Organic Beauty Brands?
Have a look at the brands listed on our Breast Cancer Beauty Special page, buy from sites that stock natural brands, such as Pravera, LoveLula and Being Content. Stick to brands like Dr Hauschka, Weleda, REN, Melvita, Neals Yard, Lavera, A’kin, Organic Surge, Pai Skincare, etc. Here are some of the best links with great info:
www.naturalbeautyyearbook.co.uk Natural Beauty Yearbook 2012 – great brands, great brand directory
www.ewg.org/skindeep The Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetics Database
www.safecosmetics.org Stacy Malkan’s site, committed to making a difference, she’s a safe cosmetics pioneer
www.sukiskincare.com/v6/pages/ingredients+to+avoid Really useful list of ingredients “best avoided” on Suki Skincare
www.cosmeticscop.com/cosmetic-ingredient-dictionary/A.aspx – Loads of ingredients, a mixed bunch of good and bad
You might also like:
Dr. Oz on petroleum jelly – and other beauty no-no’s
The Ecologist “Behind The Label” – various beauty brand “red lights”
Part 2 of The Big Beware
Coming next: All baby products are not formulated equally; Petroleum Jelly (the clue is in the name); Beauty Shortlist’s top ten lip balm picks.