In honor of Mother’s Day this weekend (and therefore women and, let’s face it, meaningful gift giving), I wanted to talk about an issue that is near and dear to my heart— toxic beauty products.
I believe giving your mother a “swap out” experience is one of the best gifts you can give, as it an easy way to reduce her toxic load as she ages (toxins that have accumulated over a lifetime turn into chronic diseases or symptoms that plague so many American women today). Non-toxic skin care is big topic, so for this piece I just focused on makeup. I did a full swap out last year and wanted to share why and how I did it, and what I now use.
WHY THIS MATTERS FOR MY HEALTH:
It is likely that you’ve heard about the lack of regulation (the last time Congress updated the Personal Care Safety Act was 1938!), as well as the thousands of chemicals that have made their way into beauty products since chemicals entered the scene and became the norm (in the ‘40s and ‘50s). Since your skin is your largest organ, everything you put on it goes below the surface, and most enter your bloodstream and then use it like a “highway,” wreaking havoc (or helping to heal, depending on what it is!) on various systems in your body.
Sadly, most conventional beauty products contain chemicals that disrupt the endocrine (hormone) system. When your hormones are thrown out of whack by something, it can bring about or contribute to various chronic diseases. These hormone disruptors affect all women, but they are even more of a threat to pregnant women, as they can lead to birth defects, both obvious and subtle. They are also linked to certain cancers like breast cancer because the breasts have trouble filtering out the chemicals (they are vestiges after all!), and when that happens, tumors have the best chance of forming and growing.
Once I thoroughly researched all of this last year, I imagined getting a diagnosis of one of the common chronic diseases in America (whether that’s next year or in 30 years) and looking back on how often I applied makeup I had read negatively impacted my health. I knew I’d be so mad at myself— getting rid of toxic makeup products is way easier than never eating french fries, at least for me!
HOW I DID IT:
I began investigating what to buy and where and what I needed to replace. Let’s be honest, if you aren’t sure if your beauty products are toxic, they likely are. But I didn’t want to spend money if I didn’t have to, so I checked each and every thing I use with both the Think Dirty app and The EWG Healthy Living app. Neither is a complete, perfect database, hence needing to use both. Then I researched where to go for replacements. I wanted to go in person because I find that I don’t know how makeup feels and looks until I try it and I didn’t want to have to send things back. However, doing it digitally is perfectly fine if you don’t have a clean beauty store near you.
Think you can’t afford a full swap out right now? The most important products to change are the ones with the most coverage (think tinted moisturizer) as well as the things that will go on your mouth (lipstick) or eyes (mascara, eyeliner). So if need be, start there. But I still recommend the full swap out, especially if you’re actually going to a store.
WHERE I WENT:
I went to Credo Beauty (locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Plano (TX), San Francisco, and San Diego) as I had heard they have the most clean brands to choose from and that the store staff are experts in swapping conventional makeup products for clean ones. If you go to a Credo store, don’t forget to bring your old makeup to make the change! Another similar brand and store is Follain, which has two locations in Boston, a summer seasonal location in Nantucket, and stores opening in Seattle, Dallas, and the DC area (Bethesda, MD) in 2018.
Both Credo and Follain have great online shops, which is what I now use when I run out of something. Another good option is The Detox Market, which has several locations in Southern California and Toronto. In London, there is Content Beauty/Wellbeing; in Atlanta there is Fig & Flower. There is also Beautycounter, which is an online shop with consultants all over the country who sell through events. They flew their consultants to DC in March 2018 to advocate for safer personal care products, and for that we think they are a terrific brand. This is not a comprehensive list— there are many other excellent online and in-person options as the awareness about the connection to chronic health issues and chemicals in makeup (and really any consumer product) has grown tremendously in the past few years and will continue to grow. But this is a good place to start.
WHAT I BOUGHT:
Below are the products I now use and can enthusiastically recommend. Another option is giving your mom a gift card (from Credo