“Green Makeup” doesn’t mean dressing as a zombie for Halloween. As we learn more about the sometimes-toxic components that make up our makeup, women around the world are choosing eco-friendly alternatives not only out of a desire to save the planet, but to literally save our own skins.
The Environmental Working Group found that the average woman uses 12 beauty products containing 168 ingredients every single day. Since beauty products are specifically formulated to be absorbed by the skin, the ingredients can be detected deep in women’s bodies. These are often harmful substances like industrial plasticizers. When non-toxic products can give us the same beauty benefits, why are we taking the risk?
A Natural Nighttime Routine
In the months leading up to your wedding, skip the harsh substances and chemical cocktails that make up many nighttime beauty routines. As attached as we can get to the bottles and jars that promise us youth and beauty, the truth is that many of these so-called beauty products actually dry out our skin over time and cause more bagging and wrinkles.
The best thing you can do for your skin is to skip the complicated array of ointments and lotions. These all serve one common purpose: to seal moisture inside your skin, keeping it fresh, hydrated, and supple. Instead, after you take a hot shower or wash your hands and face with warm water, while your pores are still wide open, rub a layer of light oil onto your skin. The oil can be anything from argan oil, a popular but expensive option from Morocco, to extra virgin olive oil from your local grocery. If the thought of smelling like an Italian eatery doesn’t appeal to you, you can add a few drops of essential oils–anything from peppermint to orange blossom–and your bottle of oil will take on a scent that’s been custom-designed by you.
Beauty Product Ingredients to Avoid
It’s tempting to embark on a new beauty routine as you anticipate starring in your upcoming wedding album. Before you run wild in the cosmetics aisle, however, take a moment to figure out what ingredients you want to avoid.
Diethyl Phthalate: Often added to beauty products as a fragrance, this is one chemical to avoid if you’re considering starting a family. Absorbed through the skin and, scarily enough, even by merely breathing the fragrance, the chemical can cause decreased fertility and birth defects. It has been banned in the European Union.
Lactic Acid: The same chemical that our muscles produce when they get sore from overexerting, lactic acid is more than just a pain in our behind. It also acts as a photosensitizer, which means it primes skin for getting sunburned (and increases a risk of skin cancer) with a fraction of the sun exposure it would usually take. It’s also a penetration enhancer, forcing our skin to be more receptive than usual to other chemicals penetrating into the bloodstream.
Glycolic Acid and Alpha- and Beta-Hydroxy Acids: These commonly used “skin care” ingredients also act as photosensitizers, dramatically increasing a risk of sunburn. If you use lotions with these ingredients, take care to stay out of direct sunlight.
Aminophenol: Most often seen in hair dye products, this chemical is known or suspected to cause birth defects, skin or sense organ toxicity, and damage to the immune and endocrine system.
Hydroquinone: A “skin lightener” that can cause irritation, rash, mutations (and not the fun, X-Men kind), and a disease called ochronosis that will leave you with blue and black skin lesions that are completely irreversible.
DMDM Hydantoin & Bronopol: Used as cosmetics preservatives, these chemicals release formaldehyde as they age. You may remember formaldehyde if you ever had the pleasure of dissecting things in biology class; not only does it smell awful, but it’s also a known human carcinogen. Not exactly something you want to rub on your cheeks!
Resorcinol: Found in many hair dyeing and bleaching products; this chemical is toxic to your skin and your immune system. Ironically enough, the United States government regulates exposure to resorcinol in the workplace, but doesn’t limit it at all in the context of beauty products.
Look Natural for Your Wedding
You only get one face, so it pays to take care of it. Don’t take chances with unknown chemicals that promise unrealistic results. Next time you’re at the salon or the store, ask to see a list of the ingredients that will be going on your skin. You can find complete lists of common beauty product chemicals and their known side effects listed online by independent researchers like the Environmental Working Group.
One easy step you can take is to use fragrance-free products when possible. The word “fragrance” can mean the inclusion of any number of dangerous chemicals. (United States law doesn’t require fragrance ingredients to be listed on labels, leaving you to assume the worst.) If you want to play it safe, look for beauty products that have short, simple ingredient lists with names you can understand.
There’s no reason you can’t wear dramatic makeup if you choose; just read the ingredients and make sure you’re using something safe. After all, you want to look your best on your wedding day… make sure you look your best on your 50th wedding anniversary, too.
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.