From shampoo and conditioner, to lotion, to deodorant and make-up, most of us are slathered in beauty products on a daily basis. In fact, the average person uses no less than nine of these products a day (yes men, this means you too!). Anything and everything that we put on to our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream. This means that the beauty products you use each day can have a significant impact on your health.
The Green Beauty Rules by celebrity makeup artist and green beauty expert Paige Padgett just came out and man oh man is this book amazing! There has been some celebrity buzz around this book because Jillian Michaels (a la the tv show The Biggest Loser) wrote the forward, but this is not celebrity-inspired fluff. Instead it is a thorough and easy-to-read how-to manual for getting the toxic chemicals out of your cosmetics. What I most appreciate about this book is the fact that it is written for the average person. Padgett doesn't try to guilt or scare the reader, instead she offers practical tips, thorough information, and numerous product recommendations that anyone can easily follow. This book has become a go-to reference for me, and it makes a user-friendly guide for anyone looking to learn more about how to decrease the number of toxic chemicals in the cosmetics they use.
Avoiding the 3Ps in your cosmetics is one of many useful tips mentioned in Padgett's book. The 3Ps are: parabens, perfume, and petrochemicals. These are three of the most common chemicals in cosmetics and definitely chemicals I have long worked to avoid. In order to spot these chemicals you need to do your due diligence and read the ingredient lists on the products you use.
Parabens: Used primarily to kill bacterial and other microbes these chemicals are rapidly absorbed into the skin and accumulate in our bodies. Parabens are endocrine disrupters and the Environmental Protection Agency and the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products have linked parabens to metabolic, developmental, reproductive and neurological disorders, as well as various cancers.
What to look for: Ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, other ingredients ending in –paraben. These are pretty easy to spot since the word 'paraben' is always present.
Perfume: Used to add scent to products, companies are not required to list the components of parfum/fragrance. This means that while the fragrance used in a product could contain or be made up entirely of essential oils, they could just as easily contain toxic chemicals such as phthalates.
What to look for: The words, fragrance, perfume or parfum.
Petrochemicals: These chemicals are made from petroleum or natural gas. Natural gas in my lotion? No thanks. Petrochemicals can be tricky to spot because they are used for a wide range of purposes (thousands in fact, from food to body armor to shampoo) and fall under a wide range of names.
What to look for: The abbreviations PEG, DEA and SLS. A few common petrochemical ingredients, PEG-12 Dimethicone, PEG-150 Disterate, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium lauryl ether sulfate.
The good news is that as public awareness of these toxic chemicals has become more widespread so has the availability of affordable, non-toxic beauty products. No longer are health food stores and specialized boutiques the only places to find green beauty products, most local grocery stores have at least a few products, even stores like Target are jumping on the green bandwagon.
Do you have a go-to green beauty product or place to shop for them? If so please share in the comments below!