Don’t know where to begin when it comes to switching to a more natural beauty routine? Here’s a quick rundown of why you should use natural and cruelty-free beauty products, which ingredients to avoid, and some useful resources to get educated during your transition.
Why Choose A Clean Beauty Routine?
It’s time to be honest with yourself about what’s in your skincare and makeup. Unfortunately, traditional beauty products contain irritants, hormone disruptors, poisons, and carcinogens. While a single product may contain a low or ‘safe’ level of toxic chemicals, consider how frequently you use it (e.g., reapplying lipstick), how long it stays on your skin each day, and how many additional products with similar components you’re using at the same time. It quickly adds up.
By choosing cleaner beauty products, you’re doing your body a favor and also supporting companies who actually give a sh*t about your health.
Why Choose Cruelty Free?
The bottom line: why should another living creature have to suffer just for humans to look ‘beautiful’, feel soft or smell nice? We are now in a day and age where there are alternatives to animal testing and to be honest, I am bewildered by the fact that it still goes on.
Rabbits, rats, mice, dogs and other animals are subjected to horrific skin, eye and hormone tests in the name ‘safer’ cosmetics. In other words, they suffer so that we don’t have to. Most will never know life outside of a laboratory and the life they do live it full of pain.
“Cruelty-Free”, is used to identify products that do not use animals to test their product. This ranges from testing their ingredients to the final product. It’s ridiculously easy to make the switch the cruelty free cosmetics. If you’re not ready to go for natural products, PLEASE at least consider only buying brands that don’t test on animals – there are so many great cruelty-free beauty brands out there (I will write more about these in next post).
Does Vegan Means Cruelty Free?
Any beauty product that does not contain any ingredients of animal origin or derived from animals, such as lactic acids or honey can be considered as “vegan”. ‘Vegetarian’ is a little less stringent category, implying that the product cannot contain any animal parts but may contain substances produced by animals.
On the other hand, products can only be classified as “cruelty free” only when both the final product as well as all the ingredients the product contains must not have been tested on animals. But the responsibility does not only fall on the brand that markets the beauty products, but also on third party companies contracted to carry out only part of the production. If any of these companies use any kind of animals to test their ingredients, then they cannot receive the ‘cruelty free’ label.
Which Ingredients Should I Avoid?
As a general rule, I avoid anything on a label that I can’t pronounce! But here is a list of common ingredients that you really shouldn’t be slathering on your face and body – it’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good starting point:
- Diethanolamine (DEA), Triethanolamine (TEA), Monoethanolamine (MEA), Ethanolamine (ETA): linked to the development of cancer in laboratory animals and can lead to nasty skin conditions.
- Formaldehyde: look out for this stuff in your nail polish, in keratin hair treatments and other hair products. It is a known carcinogen, can cause liver problems and skin irritations.
- Parabens: used in WAY too many things as a preservative, and linked to hormone disruption that can lead to illnesses such as breast cancer.
- Phthalates: disrupts hormones and is a suspected carcinogen. Particularly dangerous during pregnancy as it is believed to be toxic for fetuses.
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: the stuff that makes your shampoo, body wash, toothpaste etc. foam up. A very common skin irritant.
Where Can I Find Out More?
When it comes to cleaning up your beauty routine, it’s really important to do as much research as you can. Read in to specific ingredients and find out why they are harmful, and double check facts to make sure what you’re reading is accurate. The more you understand, the easier it will be to sever ties with your old toxic products and start making better choices.
Here is a list of my go-to resources for looking up questionable ingredients, getting those science-y questions answered and finding out the bottom line facts about what you’re putting on your skin:
The first and most informative clean beauty book I have read. They give detailed descriptions of ingredients and actually write about how the skin on each area of your body works (such as your face, scalp, body and nails). As one of the authors also has a background in law, there is a lot of interesting information about the legalities of the cosmetic industry.
A no nonsense approach to cosmetic ingredients. This website is amazing for quick ingredient look ups, and they have a great rating system for different products and brands. Her ‘Beautypedia’ is a great resource and she manages to tear down a lot of skincare myths.
Handy app for scanning the products you already own or when you’re out shopping to see their ‘Dirty Meter’ rating. Unfortunately this doesn’t work for most non-maintream brands as they aren’t usually in the system, but is really useful if you’re just starting to evaluate the products that are already on your bathroom shelf.
Green Beauty Bloggers
I love reading other green beauty blogs to find out what products are out there, find great DIYs and stickybeak into other people’s routines! Some of my favorite reads include Ana Goes Green, Organic Beauty Talk, Genuine Glow, Beauty by Britanie and Well Beauty Blog, just to name a few. A quick google or Bloglovin‘ search will reveal a whole tribe of green beauty bloggers, so be sure to check them out!
It’s also really important to research which brands are cruelty free. The following resources will be a big help:
Things to Remember While You’re Getting Clean
- Don’t believe what is on the label. Claims like ‘natural’, ‘botanical’, ‘pure’ and so on are often just marketing ploys trying to suck us in. Beware of ‘greenwashing’!
- As corny as it sounds, always remember that outer beauty starts from the inside. Eat nourishing, plant based foods, drink lots of water, get enough sleep and make sure you’re getting natural sunlight on your skin everyday (not too much though, or course!). It will do more for your skin than any chemical laden product.
- Do your own research and make up your own mind. There is a lot of conflicting information out there and everyone has different personal standards when it comes to cosmetic ingredients. Do what feels right for you.
- Many companies claiming to be “cruelty free” are in fact owned by parent companies that do test on animals. A great example of this is The Body Shop, which presents as a natural and ethical company, but is actually owned by L’Oreal (and their ingredients are far from natural!)
- At this time, if a company sells their product in China (excluding Hong Kong) they cannot claim to be cruelty free. China requires by law that all cosmetics undergo animal testing before being sold on their shelves.