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I believe that plant nutrients are rocket fuel to healthy vibrant skin. In the way that whole foods feed your body, natural ingredients help nourish and improve your skin health. I rely on the power of cold-pressed plant oils, nutrient-dense infusions, natural plant extracts, and essential oils in our micro-batch skincare products. My sources are a combination of organic, small family farms and wildcraft. It’s that simple.
But what good are the best quality ingredients if we don’t avoid the bad stuff? Because both good and bad are absorbed through our skin we avoid ingredients that can harm our health. I believe in evolving science that shows prolonged exposure to even small quantities of harmful chemicals in our everyday products has a cumulative, negative effect on our health.
So, here are the ingredients I don't use and why.
Sodium Laurel Sulfate and Sodium Laureth SulfateThe main reason I don't use these in my products is that they are irritating to skin, especially sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). Both sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are used as foaming or lathering agents and are found in things like shampoo, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, body wash, hand cleaner, shaving cream, and bubble bath. But why? Because it cleans really well and it’s cheap. But many people find them too harsh - you know, that tight, dry, itchy feeling you get from commercial soap? SLS is the culprit – it strips the skin of natural oils, breaking the barrier and leaving it exposed. SLS is also an environmental pollutant; it’s toxic to fish and other aquatic animals. SLES is also harmful because it is ethoxylated; contaminated by a known carcinogen.
ParabensParabens are a class of chemicals, including methylparaben, butylparaben, and propylparaben, that are used as preservatives in personal care products. They are very effective in preventing microbial growth in products, which is important, but they’re endocrine disruptors - interfering with natural hormone levels in humans and animals. Parabens are so pervasive the CDC has measured these chemicals in 99% of people tested! And women had significantly higher levels than men. They point to women’s use of personal care products as the reason why we are more exposed than men. Product preservation is important but there are less toxic ways to do it! [See 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12]
PhthalatesPhthalates are pretty high on my no-no list. This group of chemicals is in tons of products. Everything from perfumes, makeup, nail polish, household cleaners, scented candles, air fresheners, yuk! Phthalates are used in certain plastics to make them flexible, and in fragrance to make it last longer. Even if you make a conscious effort to avoid them, you probably have detectable levels in your urine. This is concerning because phthalates mimic estrogen in the body, disrupting our normal hormone cycles. They are being increasingly linked to obesity, breast cancer, thyroid dysfunction, and reproductive anomalies. [See 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 10, 11]
PetrochemicalsByproducts of the petroleum industry, like petroleum jelly and mineral oil, are used in personal care products to protect the skin and prevent water loss. I avoid petroleum-based ingredients, mainly, because we'd like to do our share to decrease dependence on that industry. It’s not sustainable or eco-friendly. Petroleum-based ingredients also have comedogenic (pore-blocking) properties. Because both mineral oil and petroleum jelly block pores, I don't think they are the healthiest choice for our skin. I prefer to allow my skin to breathe. Petroleum doesn’t offer any nutrients for our skin. I choose to use natural, nourishing ingredients derived from plants rather than a byproduct of crude oil that lends no nutritional value for our skin.
Ethoxylated IngredientsEthoxylation is a process by which a substance is treated with ethylene oxide, a synthetic chemical known to be carcinogenic. It's a process that has been used extensively in the cosmetic industry to create ingredients that enhance penetration and help stabilize emulsions. One of the by-products of ethoxylation is 1,4-dioxane, which is another carcinogen. Be aware of any ingredients with words that end in "eth", phenoxyethanol (a preservative), emulsifiers such as the polysorbates (20, 30, 80), "emulsifying wax", and ingredients that have "PEG (Polyethylene glycol)” or “PPG” in the name. PEG’s are penetration enhancers, thereby increasing the amount of chemicals that can enter your bloodstream. [See 7, 11]
Synthetic FragranceFragrance can be especially dangerous because it is a catch-all term that can include hundreds of different chemicals and is also protected as a trade secret. This is troubling because most synthetic fragrances contain petrochemicals, phthalates, endocrine disruptors, carcinogenic agents and allergens.
Synthetic ColorFD&C colors are dyes that have been approved for food, drug, and cosmetic use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Sadly, questions are starting to surface about their toxicity and most of them are petroleum-derived. We prefer to skip the added color with the exception of our soaps, where we use natural plant powders and clays that provide skin benefit and produce beautiful muted earth tones. [See 8]
Palm OilPalm oil production in Borneo is responsible for the mass devastation of orangutan habitats. Farmers are clearing land fast to cash in on growing demand for palm oil, which is used in half of all supermarket products, from chocolate to shampoo. The failure to protect the rainforests known as Asia’s Amazon -- a vital set of lungs for the planet -- could result in one of the world’s most devastating environmental casualties in the quest for profit and human consumption - something we won't contribute to. [See 13]
Does this list of ingredients to avoid make good sense? Would you like to make the change to clean, green beauty but wonder about the efficacy of natural products because they look and feel different than major beauty brands? I’ll show you how you can open your mind to clean products and breakthrough some of the barriers that hold you back from embracing them. If you are ready to challenge the status quo, then read this.
To your good health,
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Many in-person Earth Day events have been canceled again this year due to COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean we can’t show the Earth some love. Check out these three things you can do.