According to the Environmental Working Group, “the average woman uses 12 products containing 168 unique ingredients every day.” In other resources, I’ve read that the average woman puts up to 500 chemicals on her body every day. Men, on the other hand, use 6 products daily with 85 unique ingredients, on average.
Any way you slice it, that is a lot of chemical exposure each day and demonstrates the need to clean up your skincare routine!
Your skin is your largest and fastest-growing organ. The majority of what you put on your skin is absorbed, and in some cases, in as little as 26 seconds. So what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body.
In this 4-part series that began with The 5 Benefits of Clean Living, I will be highlighting ways to start your clean living journey. Today, we will be diving in with ways to clean up your skincare routine and why it’s important. Many people understand why it’s important to eat healthy, clean food, but they are often unaware of the dangers and toxins lurking in their skincare and makeup.
I am the perfect example! I have been on this journey to live a healthier, cleaner lifestyle for about 9 years, but in reality, it dates back to when my husband and I became vegetarians in 2000. As you can see from my own example, I started with changing the foods I was eating first, which is where most people start. Although I wasn’t always the healthiest vegetarian (that’s a story for another day), I did consciously make choices to eliminate meat from my diet for the sake of animal welfare and the health of our planet.
Since having my own children, I started learning about the ingredients in our processed foods and started researching the benefits of organic foods, which I’ll expand on later in this series. Yet it took me 18 more years to become aware of the harsh chemicals and toxins that I was still exposing myself and my family to through our skincare and beauty products.
For example, when my daughters were babies and having allergic reactions to conventional, store-bought laundry detergents, we needed to quickly switch to safer products that didn’t include fragrances, dyes, and other harmful ingredients. Yet they continued to have allergic reactions and break out in eczema even when friends and family would hold them against their clothing that was washed with conventional laundry detergents.
It’s true that you don’t know what you don’t know. So that’s when I started to do my homework and learn more about safer skincare. I began buying safer shampoo, conditioner, soap, and laundry detergent for our daughters but wasn’t doing the same for myself or my husband. It has definitely been a journey for our family to switch to safer products and took a turn in my own health to really catapult me to the next level of cleaning up our personal care and beauty products.
About 1.5 years ago, I switched to a safer deodorant after learning about the potential health harm from most traditional, aluminum-based antiperspirants. For the first 6 months or so, the switch went well. However, in August 2018, I started to break out from an allergic reaction from what I thought was my “new” deodorant. I tried switching to several different brands including switching back to my original aluminum-based antiperspirant, but I kept having repeated allergic reactions and a rash that started spreading down from my underarm area to my abdomen and back. In fact, I was so miserable one day when no remedies were working, that I took myself to urgent care and ended up with a steroid injection and a course of steroid pills to clear up my severe allergic rash.
I finally felt some relief after a few days, but once the medications were done, the rash returned. By this point, I had made an appointment with my allergist and we began to investigate what could be causing the allergic reaction. She suspected my laundry detergent and other people suggested it could be the type of fabric my clothing was made of. I was prescribed a stronger steroid cream to use as needed until I could pinpoint what was causing these repeated reactions.
It was at this exact time that I was reintroduced to a clean beauty and skincare company, called Beautycounter. I had heard of them and actually owned one product, but had never taken the leap to really learn about Beautycounter products until I had reached this level of desperation after having a mysterious, 8-month allergic reaction.
Well, when you reach a low like this with your health, you become very motivated to learn all you can about the products that come in contact with your skin. Between the education I received from Beautycounter and the information I learned on the Environmental Working Group’s website, I realized that I need to clean up my skincare routine. I switched to safer products, began using Beautycoutner’s Countermatch skincare regimen, and ditched all of my other products. After a complete overhaul of my skincare routine, my allergic reaction cleared up completely! I was truly amazed and so relieved.
So in the end, it was the products that I was using on my face that were causing the repeated allergic reaction and rash all over my abdomen, arms and back. I saw firsthand how harsh chemicals and toxins can be absorbed into your body and cause widespread health harm.
Since that experience, I am a huge advocate for safer beauty and skincare. Not only do we put ourselves at risk of adverse skin reactions and sensitivities when using conventional skincare products, but years of studies indicate that serious health concerns are on the rise, including asthma, cancer, and infertility, due to our exposure of toxic chemicals.
Since 1938, 60,000 chemicals have been registered for use in our products and only 10% have been tested for safety. In fact, the last time Congress passed a law regulating the personal care industry was in 1938 and the U.S. has only banned 30 harmful ingredients in cosmetics compared to the nearly 1400 harmful ingredients banned by the European Union. (You can read more about the work that Beautycounter is doing to get safer products into the hands of everyone on their website.)
ARE YOU READY TO CLEAN UP YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE?
If you find these statistics as alarming as I do, I urge you to research your own skincare and beauty products. I hope that my personal story is in some way helpful to you and that you learn from the mistakes I’ve made and from those people in your life who may have similar stories of allergies, asthma, cancer, and infertility. If you are ready to clean up your skincare routine, I would start by using these two resources that have really helped me learn the facts about the personal care products my family and I are using.
1. Visit the Environmental Working Group
First, as mentioned previously, the Environmental Working Group’s website is a wealth of information regarding how to protect your health. I especially like the EWG’s Skin Deep website and EWG’s Healthy Living app to look up your current skincare and cosmetics and to research new safe products that you are looking to purchase.
2. Consult Beautycounter’s Never List
Another useful and handy reference tool is The Never List by Beautycounter. This list is “made up of more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals that we never use as ingredients in our products. This includes the over 1,400 chemicals banned or restricted in personal care products by the European Union, plus additional chemicals screened by Beautycounter and found to be of concern.” By visiting Beautycounter’s website, you can learn more about why these chemicals are a concern, and you can download and print a copy of The Never List to take with you when you are shopping or researching new beauty and skincare products.
Remember, what you put ON your body is just as important as what you put IN your body. Taking the time to do your homework and research the products you are exposing yourself and your family to each day can have a significant, positive impact on your overall health.
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