Hello there all you lovely ladies! This is the last blog post of a three part series on finding cruelty-free beauty products that are void of dangerous ingredients. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven’t already. And if you want to know more about going cruelty free, I wrote this article about picking humane beauty products that describes why it’s important.
Okay, let’s get started! Here’s why it’s so important to actually read the ingredients lists before buying beauty products (or any product for that matter):
Moisturizer – Since skin is the biggest organ, it’s sort of a big deal what we put on it because it absorbs everything and enters our bloodstream – and eventually – our body tissues. If we’re using moisturizers with harmful chemicals in it, those chemicals essentially become a part of us. Yikes! Look for organic products, and definitely stay away from the 4 P’s: parabens (they mimic estrogen and disrupt hormonal processes, and have been linked to cancer), propylene glycol (causes skin irritation and kidney/liver abnormalities), phenol carbolic acid (suspected to cause respiratory failure and circulatory collapse), and petroleum products such as mineral oil, paraffin and petrolatum (they create a plastic coating over the skin that clogs pores and allows for the build up of toxins, and can result in early aging signs and cancer). Also be aware of acrylamide (linked to mammary tumors), dioxane (carcinogenic), sodium laurel sulfates (also called SLS or SLES, it breaks down the moisture barrier of the skin with possible cause of hair loss. Will sometimes be sneakily described on the label as “coconut derived” or “comes from coconut.” Don’t be fooled!)
Instead of using products with these ingredients, here are some suggestions. You’re best bet is to use organic oils that are safe for the skin. I personally use oil of oregano (mixed with a little organic sunflower oil) because it’s moisturizing but also helps with acne and dermatitis. I buy it off Etsy.com from Hippiecrap (technically it’s called Hippieshit but gotta keep it PG for Etsy lol); it’s handmade by a lovely woman who grows her own oregano. You can find oil of oregano in most health and natural food stores, just make sure it’s not 100% oil of oregano, it’s too potent to be put on the skin that way. It should be infused with another oil like sunflower or olive. If the directions specifically tell you how to use it externally, then you’re probably good. You can also use other oils as moisturizers, such as coconut oil or argan oil. Sea buckthorn berry is great for the face and chock full of anti-oxidants. Oils can be used in moderation, just a few drops is usually good.
If you don’t want to use straight oils, check out Etsy for handmade moisturizers. Or take baby steps and start with a store bought moisturizer like Avalon Organics Night Cream. It’s only 70% organic and has a long list of ingredients, but it contains no parabens, SLS, or harsh synthetics. It’s also vegetarian and no animal testing. Alaffia is another good brand. Their moisturizer has a shorter list of ingredients, also cruelty free, but contains phenoxyethanol which is a chemical.
Hand & Body Lotion – When it comes to lotion, stay away from the same ingredients we discussed with moisturizers. Don’t forget that parabens come in many forms, including methylparaben, propylparaben, and ethylparaben. They are all harmful. Also watch out for aluminum, which causes cancer, and because it is a bio-accumulative chemical, cannot normally leave the body. Try to steer clear of any alcohol ingredients as well.
Again, you can turn to something like coconut oil as a replacement to body lotion. Slather some on when you step out of the shower and it will lock in all that moisture and give you glowing, hydrated skin. Or you can make your own body butter by whipping coconut oil with any other oils you like (grapeseed is a good one for skin) and something that smells good like pepperment oil, lavender, lemon, or any other scent you like. If you don’t have time to make your own lotion and don’t want to use straight oils, you can try a brand like Andalou Naturals, found at natural food stores. It does have one instance of cetearyl alcohol in the ingredients, but I like this brand because it’s non-GMO verified, gluten free, cruelty free, plus many of the ingredients are fair trade.
Lip Balm– This is a big one for me because I go through tons of lip balm. Definitely stay away from the Chapstick brand or any generic versions. Chapstick contains parabens, petrolatum, mineral oil, saccharin, white wax, polyphenylmethylsiloxane (say that 5 times fast!), artificial dyes, and other toxic ingredients. Wow. Plus, it’s tested on animals. Instead, I like Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lip Balm – it’s fair deal and cruelty free. That’s more like it. It contains only a handful of ingredients and they are all natural. I also like Eco Lips Mongo Kiss because it’s organic, gluten free, GMO free, and cruelty free. It has some really nice ingredients and it comes in a larger tube size. The only downside is that both of these lip balms contain beeswax, which I’m not necessarily crazy about. In my opinion, we need to stop using bees for our own personal products and let them do what they are meant to do on this Earth, which is plants. If they don’t do this, then we don’t have food to eat. But again, coconut oil is a great alternative! So is avocado seed oil, cocoa seed butter, and sunflower seed oil.
Sunscreen – Unfortunately, sunscreen is a big issue when it comes to chemicals and toxins. It’s difficult to find a really good sunscreen. Just check out this guide from EWG. Look for products that contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone, or mexoryl SX. They provide good UV protection with no skin penetration and no evidence of hormone disruption. However, avobenzone can be known to trigger skin allergies. Never buy sunscreen with oxybenzone, it’s high in toxicity, disrupts hormones, high in skin allergy rates, and can cause endometriosis in women. Also stay away from octinoxate, homosalate, and octocrylene, plus the other chemicals that we’ve already been talking about. I personally use Nature’s Gate Mineral Kid’s Block. No, I’m not a kid, but it’s made for sensitive skin and we should all be treating our skin sensitively.
It’s a lot of information to take in but if you take the time in the beginning to learn to read ingredients lists it gets much easier and you will be an expert in no time! At first it was a little overwhelming because there are so many ingredients in some products and most of them are indecipherable. If it helps, try to focus on what ingredients to look for – as opposed to what ingredients to stay away from since there are many more of those. Your body will thank you, animals will thank you, and mother nature will thank you.