When I first met my husband, Andrew, a couple of years ago, we were quickly thrown into the deep end when it came to health. Although we had a budding interest in healthy food, we were quickly faced with learning how to live a toxin-free lifestyle due to Andrew’s eczema. We never intended our lives to turn so drastically towards this lifestyle, but after some suggestions that the products we were using could be contributing to his situation, we began researching.
I devoured article after article, book after book, etc. about eczema. For a long time, we thought his sensitivities to tree nuts, including coconut, might be making matters worse so we cut out anything containing almonds, shea butter, and coconut. Have you ever realized that everything has coconut in it?? When I mean everything, I mean EVERYTHING. I’m surprised I even held my job at the time because anytime I had access to the internet, I found myself deep down a rabbit hole to find anything without shea butter or coconut. Then we were avoiding alcohol. Then we were avoiding fragrance. On and on. Every time we turned around there was a new layer added that made searching for products more difficult. It got to a point where the only thing he felt comfortable using on his skin was beef tallow because everything else was too harsh. I bought a wholesale order of grass-fed, organic beef tallow meant for a restaurant because I literally did not know what else he could use. It was maddening and the sad part is that that was just the tip of the iceberg because I would continue to research the unhealthy components of personal products long after the situation was resolved.
Long chronic illness story short, we found acupuncture and his gut was healed through food and lifestyle changes. We now realize that the source of his issues with eczema was coming from within him so therefore needed to be dealt with inside out. Although products are important for appearance, cleanliness, and hygiene, please remember that you are what you eat. If you want nicer skin, hair, weight, etc. you will need to make changes from the inside out through food, exercise, and lifestyle changes.
Anyway, the whole situation turned me into the crazed woman that I am today. I have always been a researcher (ask any of my friends that needed a rundown on a guy they were about to go out with, but only had a first name and one picture if you know what I mean), but my eyes have been pried open to the insanity of the personal care and beauty industry in the US.
Did you know that the FDA has not updated personal care standards since 1938? 1938 was during the Great Depression, for reference. That was, like, a really long time ago. As of 2009, The EU has banned 1,328 harmful chemicals. As of 2018, the US has only banned 30. There are over 80,000 chemicals on the market today and most of them don’t have safety data, let along long term data. Decades of studies show that ongoing chemical exposure is linked to health issues such as cancer, infertility, and allergies. Like many of you, I assumed that someone had my back when I was buying beauty products. I figured someone somewhere had to know what this stuff does to you and they wouldn’t sell it if it weren’t safe. Well, I was wrong. Very wrong. The industry is completely unregulated and beauty companies develop products on good faith. While I appreciate the option to choose which products work for me (it is America after all), I would have also appreciated a heads up that, “Hey, your skin is also known as your “second mouth” and anything you put on it directly absorbs into your bloodstream including that $5 lotion with 4239874983 ingredients that you can’t pronounce. All of them might contribute to the fact that you can’t get pregnant one day. At least it smells good, right?” To make things worse, companies can use words like “natural” and “eco-friendly” without any enforceable definition, so people think they are making a switch for the better when there are still sneaky ingredients looming.
After Andrew’s situation (which is totally resolved now in case you were wondering!), the more products that I bought, the sooner I would throw them away because I found yet another nasty ingredient in them. My list of “do not buy” ingredients became paralyzing and my wallet much lighter. I was luckily never a big brand makeup buyer or else I would have been PISSED to know how much money I was spending on bronzer with lead in it. Although I have always maintained a very minimal, “french girl” attitude towards styling myself, I was astounded by how many items that I had to go through before I found a good fit for my health and my cosmetic needs. However, my trials are your triumphs! Here are some tips for switching to clean beauty products:
The EWG is a free resource that rates personal care ingredients on a 1-10 scale. Since there are only select products in the database that are rated as a whole, I tend to search each individual ingredient of a product that I am researching. The final rating seems to be an average of all its individual ingredients.
I personally prefer to stay in the 1-2 range, except for shampoo, since I have not been able to find one in the lower range that works for me. Men have it much easier if they do not have to use conditioner because there are very clean options out there for them. I just literally can’t drag a brush through my hair with those!
Trustworthy companies essentially do the work for you and avoid long lists of ingredients when they are stocking or creating products.
Beautycounter is the holy grail of clean beauty. Not only do they scrupulously perform research on all the products that they make, but they also maintain a beautiful aesthetic, are constantly evolving, and are actively advocating to update US regulations on personal care products. I am a consultant and big supporter of their products and mission. Please feel free to ask me questions about their products. I will periodically offer personal sales or incentives to my Instagram and blog followers so stay tuned!
One of the services I offer is a “detox”. This involves switching out the current items in an area of your life for healthier, non-toxic items. This service can encompass food/pantry items, beauty products, furniture, whatever you need help with! This also lends itself well to a remote engagement as well. For example, if you want to switch out your kitchen wares to toxin-free items, I can talk with you about your goals and send you curated suggestions of new kitchen items to purchase.
Give yourself some grace. No one is perfect and sometimes the ideal product does not exist or can be hard to find. Hold fast to the attributes that are most important to you, but do not panic if you are using something that does not fully align with your goals. Finding the perfect replacement can take patience!
Have more questions about switching to clean beauty? Please feel free to ask me!
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