Today I asked the lovely Arpita from Up, Down, and Natural to do a guest post for us on choosing healthy cosmetics. I’ve been curious for some time about eco friendly and body friendly makeup, shampoo, and other products whose chemicals can have an adverse affect on our health. Arpita has an in depth knowledge of this topic, so I knew she was the perfect woman to give us the basics on going toxin free with our cosmetics. Healthier women, healthier pregnancies, healthier babies. And a healthier planet, to boot. Enjoy! And thank you so much, Arpita, for taking the time to impart your wisdom.
As part of my mission to overhaul all the products in our home and rid us of all the nasty chemicals, sulphates, parabens and other unnatural elements that seem to be lurking everywhere, one of the first things to go were my cosmetics. After reading Ecoholic by Adria Vasil there was no turning back. I cannot go shopping without her voice in my head (or how I imagine her voice sounds) and I am so grateful for that. I’m not going to sugar coat it, switching my cosmetics over was by far the hardest thing I’ve done since transitioning over to a natural, chemical free life style. It’s also the place where I’ve had the most slip ups – so I’ve decided to ”dumb it down” for myself. I’ll be honest, I was a little teary while I was bagging up my Lancome pressed powder… but I have to tell you, I got over it fast when I saw that the Environmental Working Group has linked my beloved powder, and quite a few of my other previously loved cosmetics to cancer causing agents, and reproductive toxicity. (Yikes!) Got over it even faster when I read in “Ecoholic” that there is embalming fluid in most nail polishes.1
I like to tackle things in baby steps. I have two cardinal rules when it comes to my cosmetics. Everything past these two is optional, but the first two I stick by firmly. The first things I got rid of was anything that had “parfum” or “fragrance” in the ingredients list. The reason for this is that those words don’t actually mean anything, and are basically a catch-all for any chemicals the company wants to toss in. If they can’t be clear, I don’t trust them. My second rule is that I will not put anything on my face or skin that has parabens in it. The reason for this is that parabens are essentially straight up estrogen. Having endometriosis, which has been a major cause of our 4 year struggle with infertility, I cannot afford to have parabens anywhere on my body that can easily be absorbed in by my skin.
What I was most surprised about is that I was actually able to satisfy these two criteria (and more, like avoiding sulphates!) with brands that were readily available in my regular drug store, and for roughly the same cost as what I was used to paying. The lines I chose to replace my previous cosmetics with were Physicians Formula Organic Wear, Lavera, Jane Iredale, and Burts Bees.
To replace my pressed powder I went with Physicians Formula Organic Wear Tinted Moisturizer and Powder Bronzer. I have dry skin, especially in the winter so I liked the option of having the moisturiser which is not a foundation. It gives a really nice base, and the powder feels so silky! I absolutely love both those products and will definitely be using them moving forward. For my mascara I also went with Organic Wear, and while it does the job I do find it a little on the clumpy side. I have since switched over the paraben free L’Oreal brand and am thrilled with it. For my dark complexion I did not find that the Organic Wear had enough of a colour spectrum in their line to suit me. The best natural blush that I’ve found to work with my skin tone is Jane Iredale; that being said, I will mention that the Jane line is a little pricier than I’m normally used to spending on cosmetics.
For my eyeshadow and eyeliner I decided to go with Lavera. I love love love the Lavera line!! This is one of the instances where it truly breaks my heart that the line is so limited. I have the eyeshadow and it’s the silkiest most luxurious powder I have ever felt. I truly wish I was able to get my pressed powder with them but alas, the only two shades they carry for pressed powder is Transparent and Fair. Not very conducive to a girl of Indian descent, but at least I can use the eye products!! I have to say, I never really thought too much about eyeliner before but this one I love!! It’s so easy to get a really nice thin line for daytime wear, and still play up dark dramatic smokey eyes for a night on the town.
My one piece of advice with trying to go chemical free and switch to all natural cosmetics is to read labels… and not just the brand name where they claim to be “Natural” or “Organic”, those labels aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on! Please please please read ingredient labels! I could kick myself now for it, but even after reading Ecoholic by Adria Vasil, and after knowing about the EWG’s Database I was stung because I didn’t read labels! I was in the natural aisle of my grocery store and bought Avalon Organics Shampoo and Conditioner. I naively thought, I’m in the organic section and this bottle says Organics- must be safe! Then only while I was in the shower after having washed my hair I looked at the label and almost lost my mind to see that my “organic” lavender shampoo was chock full of the same crazy chemicals I was trying to get away from with my old brand. I’ve since switched to Brommer’s liquid castille soap for my shampoo. You can read what I think of it here… Spoiler alert: it’s fabulous!! A full year later, it’s still what we use!
My biggest pieces of advice are to research what substances you “should” avoid, by checking out Adria Vasil’s book, or the Enivronmental Working Group, and then pick one or two ingredients you want to stay away from at first. Once you’ve found your groove with that, you’ll be amazed at how quickly it will snow ball and filter in to other parts of your life.
1 Vasil, Adria. Ecoholic: Your guide to the most environmentally friendly information, products, and services in Canada.
Toronto, Canada. Vintage Canada, 2007
Arpita is an author & blogger on Natural Parenting, Attachment Parenting, infertility, and her journey into living the crunchy life. She is currently living in Victoria, British Columbia with her husband, as they embark upon domestic adoption within Canada, after 4yrs of infertility. You can read more on her blog at Up, Down And Natural, join the conversation on Facebook, Follow on Twitter, and get Pinspired by her Pinterest!