how to detox your beauty cupboard

Posted on July 28th, 2010

I predict that in the next year or so the big issue we’ll be getting outraged about it is the amount of toxicity we ingest. On Sunday I’ll be posting my Sunday Life column about how I got building biologist Nicole Bijlsma to do a toxicity reading on my apartment. But the crap we ingest via cosmetics and beauty products is deserving of a separate mention.

SoCosmetics_Still_002

I’ve posted work by The Story of Stuff chick Annie Leonard before. This week she released The Story of Cosmetics, an 8-minute expose of what we’re doing to ourselves when we apply mascara, shampoo, etc. You REALLY need to watch it (below). It coincides with the introduction this week of the US federal Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 — the first attempt in more than 70 years to overhaul cosmetics regulations to eliminate the use of cancer-causing chemicals and other harmful ingredients.

A few things to chew on:

* Those“pink-ribbon” brands? Dozens of them rank an 8 or higher on the Skin Deep database’s toxicity scale

(10 is the worst)—including products that contain carcinogens and hormone-disrupting chemicals linked to increased cancer risk.

* The industry is not policed: Less than 20% of all chemicals in cosmetics have been assessed for safety by the industry’s safety panel  so we just don’t know what they do to us when we use them. A product can list in its ingredients “fragrance” or “parfum” and it could be anything, really. They don’t have to declare. BTW, when “fragrance” or “parfum” are listed, it means they’re trying to hide something…best to avoid.

* Lipstick poisoning: 61% of tested lipstick brands contain residues of lead.

* Natural much? On cosmetics labels, words like “herbal”, “natural”, even “organic” have no legal definition.  That
means anybody can put anything in a bottle and call it natural.

* Our shampoo is making us fat: toxins are fat soluble. So our little bodies, when put in contact with toxic substances, protects us by soaking up the toxins in our fat cells. More toxins…more fat cells.

So what should you be doing?

Annie provides these tips:

* Simplify: use less stuff less often, and choose products with shorter ingredient lists and fewer hazardous synthetic chemicals (do you really need to spray “air freshener” around the house or sit in a tub full of toxic suds?) Want more tips? Visit safecosmetics.
* Just say No to Fragrance: It’s best to avoid the mystery concoction known as “fragrance,” [or parfum] made from a dozen or more secret chemicals. Everything has a fragrance these days, from make-up, to candles and even clothes. Check labels carefully; even “fragrance free” products may contain fragrance chemicals to cover up the odor of other chemicals. Nicole Bijlsma has provided this link on what ingredients to avoid in cosmetics.
* Read labels: Thankfully there are great resources online to help consumers make sense of confus-
ing product labels. One of the best is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database, which ranks products for toxicity on a scale of 1-10. It’s friggen fascinating!!!

Me, I’m quite stumped on this issue. I don’t want to toss what I already have in my house. That’s too wasteful for me. But I am committing to no longer buying stuff with long lists of ingredients. Not easy. Anyone out there got some good tips? It’s all pretty new? Anyone know if there are groups here in Australia acting to get legislative change here about labelling?

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  • http://taf.tumblr.com Teresa

    The problem I have with this video is that she keeps saying “linked to cancer”. A huge part of what makes something a carcinogen is the dose at which it’s used, the type of exposure, etc. This video just defines this vague threat without showing any substantial proof that these “carcinogens” are doing anything dodgy. I agree, there needs to be a lot more testing of these ingredients and proving that they actually work and don’t kill people, and in this respect the cosmetic/beauty industry has many parallels with the “natural” supplements and alternative therapies industry. Both are basically unregulated, and both can put claims on products about things that often go unsubstantiated.

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  • Cris

    Is there such a thing as a safe mascara? I hope so.

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  • http://www.teawithmary.com.au Cath

    Wow! Thanks so much for this post, its fabulous, and very scary. I’m with you Sarah, I’m not about to throw everything out and start again, the waste factor is huge. But, I am shocked into thinking more carefully after looking up a couple of the products I use everday on the database. It might take a bit more searching and research to find safter products, particularly here in Oz, but its worth it!

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  • Mia

    I find it even more worrying that women are injecting neurotoxins like Botox into our faces. As a celebrity mania it was bad enough but now it is filtering down to the masses, I know quite a few women who have had it. Acrylic nails and perming solution also – surely those fumes are toxic, they smell like it!

    I used to apply full foundation and make-up every day but now have a very basic make-up bag and use very few cosmetics. Partly because I feel it disruptive to the flow of my morning to spend more than 30 seconds smearing toxic/ plastic crap on my face, and partly due to my belief that if you eat well and exercise you will be beautiful anyway. (Like many who follow this blog, Hashimotos has taught me to appreciate the value of simplicity!) A few haircare brands are starting to take the harmful chemicals like SLS out of their shampoos, which I also use.

    As a former beautician I feel obliged to point out that the beauty industry is not regulated at all. Anything claiming to be anti-aging, hypoallergenic etc has absolutely zero scientific basis for these claims. Smearing collagen on your skin will do absolutely nothing, as it needs to be produced by the body. (It’s a bit like rubbing a steak on your tummy and hoping to gain weight!) Dermatologist tested simply means they paid a dermatologist to try the product on. I quit the industry because I was appalled at the lies.

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  • http://belsmusings.wordpress.com Belinda

    Sarah – thank you for bringing up this issue. I had studied Annie Leonard’s The Story Of Stuff for an economics course and found it fascinating. Like the above comments, I would love to know what levels of toxins in these products could be solidly linked to diseases like cancer…but despite this, the industry should be regulated anyway! Why is it not?! How come companies using enticing words like ‘herbal’ and ‘organic’ on their packaging are not in the limelight for false or misleading advertising?!
    I knew that a lot of cosmetic products contained a ton of chemicals, I just didn’t realise it was this serious…

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  • http://delicium.wordpress.com Brittany

    Excellent and informative post! One of the things that always made me sick and woozy was the fact that everything had a fragrance! Too many fragrances really make my head spin.

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  • Leanne

    Hey Sarah,

    This post is so relevant to me at the moment, I just had to comment!

    I have been a ‘product addict’ for years, always seeking products to make me feel better, prettier, thinner, browner, etc etc…. spending top money on the top brands (even if I couldn’t afford them). I really believed that it really was a case of the more you spend on cosmetics and creams and potions the better you would look BUT thinking about this I have come to see that If money was no object and there really are these magical creams out there then why are celebs still being airbrushed??

    At the start of the year I had a health scare which turned out to be nothing (thank goodness) but all of a sudden I just wanted to look and feel HEALTHIER, instead of all those things that have been so important to me for years. I also developed adult acne out of the blue which lead to a mad spend up searching for a ‘cure’.

    The more I read about the food we eat, the products we use, the household chemicals etc etc the more I want to read and the more I want to learn. I started with the food I was eating and first switched to whole foods only cutting out refined sugar, caffeine and preservatives. I now eat as much organic local produce as I can.

    I then decided to sit down and look at the stuff I was putting on my face, after spending months agonising over bad skin, I was shocked to see what I was using to hide/deflect this bad skin!! Fake tan, conealer, bronzer, blusher, mascara, eye liner, kohl liner, eye shadow !! All containing chemicals. Then onto the bathroom cabinet … Glycolic Acid, soaps, perfumes, copper peptides… what is all this stuff?? and why am I spending all my money on it??

    By eating good organic whole foods my eyes are bright, my hair is shiny, I have lost weight, I have more energy and I feel great so maybe if I stop the chemicals on my face too I will further improve my acne?

    I am with you and I can’t actually afford to just bin all the stuff I’ve spent years buying and loving too .. but I think if everyone makes the decision to replace things (or not replace at all) once they’ve finished them and really take a look in the bathroom cupboard then it’s a good start!

    I stopped using shampoo and shower gel that contains sulphates and parabens a few months ago because I was given some organic products to try … I ran out of that recently and had some old products left in my cupboard which I’ve been using up and my scalp is so itchy and flaky and sore now as a result. …

    After reading your blog today I am a little stumped because I had looked into some organic makeup that I was going to buy but i’m a bit nervous now that the ingredients aren’t listed properly and i’m wasting more money so it would be great if anyone can recommend some brands?

    I am going to (Try) and practice not wearing make up this weekend, just until I can find something more natural to use for touch ups and see if giving my skin time to breathe with no make up for a while will help my skin clear up but to be honest I haven’t left the house without make up for years and it’s scary!

    Any more info you can give on products and which are good products to try would be great, I can’t ever see myself wearing no makeup and not using products/colourants on my hair but there must be better alternatives to still help me make the best of the body/face I was given without damaging it and leading to serious problems in later years…….

    Love your blog! Thank you.

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  • http://www.michellekoen.com Michelle

    Hi Sarah,
    Micheal DeJong has a series of books which detail natural ways to look after your body and house using simple ingredients such as lemons, olive oil, bi-carb, salt and vinegar. He gives recipes for shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser etc. It’s worth a read.

    Michelle

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  • Natalie

    Hi Sarah,
    I think there are more ‘advanced’ products in developed countries such as Oz and Us where the research are more advanced and more ppl has money to buy it.

    I came from Indonesia and although some of the ppl has money to buy advanced imported products, but if you go to most salons and has hair treatments, they give you choices of aloevera, avocado, egg, etc
    even at home we are used to just put fresh aloe Vera on our hair. Most of the local beauty brand mask cream are either tomato, lemon, and other sort of fruits or vegetables so the people there just buy the fruit/ vegetable itself and apply it to the face.
    They probably buy really advanced face cream but they often do such treatment at home using everyday stuff. It also got to do with the imported brands are expensive.

    Since I saw the documentary The Corporation, I try to be careful with what I buy even beauty products because watching that is really shocking.

    I didn’t really know how to avoid facial skincare as my skin is pretty sensitive down there, but things such as body scrub, I just mix caster sugar honey and olive oil or any oil, and I think it give great effect same as any expensive products. There are so many beauty brand doing sugar scrub, why don’t we just use the real sugar? Mixed with some oil.
    Also instead of hair extension, why don’t ppl just grow their own hair? Same with nails. Eat vitamin that’s good for hair & nail.
    I read that pouring beer to hair is good, I do that too.

    We should start by cutting down stuffs which are unnecessary. And for cosmetics, read the company history and stuff such as against animal testing and Company who cares for the environment. Because most probably they care abt the products and customers. Nowadays we check out the product information online so check out the company background too.

    Ps: auww you include my comment abt the Twitter. That’s so sweet ! Xx

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  • http://natthepagodatreecomau.blogspot.com/ Nat Kringoudis

    This is awesome. Thank you for sharing. x

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  • http://activehandsyoga.wordpress.com/ Berlin Yogi Bettina

    I find that shampoos and soaps made for babies and children are usually gentler than adult-oriented ones. The best is to read the labels, but I often find that baby soap and shampoo to be less toxic than adult-oriented ones.

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  • Lolly

    Excellent blog Sarah.

    For me it has been a slow but very worthwhile process changing over to chemical free cosmetics. I started two years ago and have been changing over each product as it runs out. This gives you time to research products before you buy and reduces the cost and scariness of complete overhaul. I have found there are so many beautiful chemical free and organic products out there now, especially for your body, that feel amazing and really work. Make up took the most research, but as suggested by other readers lessening chemical load combined with eating well/organic reduces the need for make up.

    It might just be in my head but on the occasion when I am caught out for whatever reason have to use chemically products I really notice it- the smell of the artificialness and the effect it seems to have on my body is quite unpleasant. Your best bet is to start looking outside of supermarkets for products.

    Then you start noticing the chemicals you use around your house….

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  • Olivia

    Lolly,
    Can you suggest any brands? =)

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  • http://lifebeautylaughter.blogspot.com Laura

    As a (part-time) makeup artist who works on the floor, selling products… I try not to let these things phase me. If I did, I would have to quit my job.

    My favourite brand, though, and the one that I always recommend first and foremost, is Nude Skincare…. started by Brian Meehan of Fresh & Wild (now WholeFoods) in the UK (Bono and his wife are business partners), he wanted to make a skincare line that was natural AND effective. His brand is free of parabens, SLS, silicones, mineral oils, GMO, fragrance etc. They are not 100% organic (yet) but they are moving that way… it is a matter of the standards advancing to skincare. At the moment, the checking system focuses on food and obviously, not all food is beneficial when applied topically on your skin. It is the first skincare line to incorporate pro and prebiotics, which feed the good bacteria in the skin and keep it supple and balanced. All the ingredients are sourced ethicially (the argan oil is from a women’s refuge in Morocco, for example) and the brand is carbon neutral (the packaging is recyclable, it’s made from recycled materials, it is shipped instead of send by air freight, etc).

    This is not an ad for Nude, I promise. I just love the brand – the products and the ethos. Please check it out for yourself, though, to make sure that it is right for you and addresses your concerns. All the ingredients are listed on the website, under each product… http://nudeskincare.com/. My favourite products are the cleansing wash and the serum (“advanced smoothing complex”).

    Laura xx

    P.S. Darphin make an SLS-free toothpaste called Denblan. My doctor recommended it – she says that she would never use SLS inside her mouth because it’s carcinogenic. It’s a really lovely product.

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  • http://www.sharnanigans.com Sharni

    Hi Sarah – I use shampoo, conditioner, body wash, baby wash etc.. all from this little boutique store on Facebook — http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wild-Fillies-Photography/64070374147?ref=ts#!/pages/Tania-Louise/321590552698?ref=ts

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  • http://www.sharnanigans.com Sharni

    (all chemical free – obviously)

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  • http://jademusing.tumblr.com/ Jade

    I’m in a rush, but moogoo is awesome :)

    http://www.moogoo.com.au/

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  • Jenny

    I’m in the US and I’ve just started buying most of my beauty products on Etsy.com. I’ve totally stopped using any hair products that come in plastic bottles, and I only use all natural bar shampoo, conditioner, body soap and face soap. And most people on Etsy list ingredients so you know whats in it! I also use only natural mineral makeup and even found an all natural mascara! My skin has never been happier with me! I have also been researching online homemade natural beauty products such as scrubs or masks. For me just going back to basic and natural ingredients in things I use is the answer to all this!

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  • http://www.wickfingers.deviantart.com marina

    in the last year, i’ve committed myself to finish up the products i already own [as not to be wasteful] but to only purchase new products that have received an overall rating of 2 or lower on the sliding scale set up by skindeep [http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com]. i am gluten intolerant and have very sensitive skin; this has led me to believe that if i cannot safely eat a product, it probably shouldn’t be plastered onto my face, left in my hair or poured into my bath. i currently use mostly products from pangea organics [http://www.pangeaorganics.com], local organic beauty products [i live in upstate new york] and i home recipes for sugar scrubs, moisturizers, shampoos, maskes, toners and toothpaste.

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  • http://www.BBEboutique.com AJ

    Try BBE boutique for outstanding body products, using only the finest Australian ingredients.

    Find them also on FB – http://tinyurl.com/BBEboutique

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  • http://www.sharnanigans.com Sharni

    Sorry – I have no idea why my link is taking you to Wild Fillies Photography – I tried again and it didn’t work – if you “Like” Tania Louise – a little boutique on Facebook you will find a fabulous store – she sells beauty products all chemical free aswell as household products — I use it myself (shampoos etc) and for my 1.5 year old son – never turning back.

    Please look her up Tania Louise – sorry link is not working – promise that is all :-)

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  • Tiff Junee

    This is a great thread Sarah. I have recently had to stop using mascara because I now react to the chemicals (very sad), Have you come across any organic ones that you can suggest?

    By way of sharing, I recently discovered Gondawana Clay.
    To make a mineral mud mask = 2 teaspoons Gondwana Clay powder and 1.5 teaspoons mineral water. If you want to make it a moisturising mud mask then just add a few drops of cold pressed almond or olive oil. You can also substitute the mineral water with yoghurt for extra moisturising.

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  • Jo W

    Great article. I just started slowly substituting organic products for the usual ones and in time you find the ones you like.

    Good organic shampoos and conditioners are really hard to find, my fav is JASON Biotin but it’s increasingly hard to find.

    Moisturiser/ face care – Dr. Hauschka moisturising day cream is great. Their steaming-with-muslin face care tecnique with their cleansing creme (it’s a bit like peanut butter…) is really great, speak to one of their staff for help before trying.

    The ‘Yes to Carrots’ range (in Oz) is cheap and cheerful and is a great fill-in for when you can’t get your hands on your favourites.

    Most dept stores carry some of these ranges now, even if the supermarkets are the last to catch on (aren’t they always?!). Good luck everyone with detoxing your bathroom!

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  • http://www.blackpearl.com.au Emma

    12 months ago I switched to Moo Goo http://www.moogoo.com.au and use their chapstick, face moistureriser, body cream, bodywash which I use as my face cleanser and milk soaps.
    MooGoo make great products for people with skin & scalp problems too! That’s how I initially found them…

    For around the house I use eco store plant based products from NZ. They’re available in Coles & Woolworths now and cost the same as most other brands. ww.ecostore.co.nz/about/index.html
    So far I’m using laundry detergent, washing detergent, dishwashing tablets, hand soap and a spray & wipe!

    There’s also another brand called Natures Organics I think, I’m using their shampoo and conditioner, it’s ridiculously cheap and people often comment on how healthy my hair looks. It’s also available from supermarkets and I think they also are now doing a range of other products.

    PS – I LOVE MOOGOO

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  • alexis

    Lush all the way – so many beautiful, fresh, organic vegetarian products and also a large range of vegan products – not to mention their great campaigns for charities and palm oil reduction. Also, Meow Cosmetics is proving to be quite a pleasant surprise!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tania-Louise/321590552698?v=wall Tania Louise

    Hi Sarah
    Thanks for your thoughts, its great to see other people taking notice.
    I am a cancer patient and have proved that certain chemicals are killing us slowly, anyone who disagrees has not gone through cancer and treatment (especially cancer that is documented to be caused by exposure to particular chemicals and fumes)
    During my treatment and the subsequent isolation period (with large amounts of thinking time), I started getting cross about the chemicals I had in my toiletry bag (imported also).
    I thought “would’nt it be nice to have beauty/skincare/household products that were aussie made, with quality, no harmful chemicals but still with top class results”.
    So TANIA LOUISE was born, my boutique facebook gift store, stocking aussie handmade mineral makeup, skincare, beauty products and cleaning products all aussie made and with top grade ingredients.

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  • http://natthepagodatreecomau.blogspot.com/ Nat Kringoudis

    You ask my fave product at the moment – Akin Rosehip Oil. Loving it and so is my skin!

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  • Charlie

    Hi Sarah,

    I loved how much of a response this article got. It hits home for a lot of people.

    My two sense is in the form of a woman i met and the shop she owns.

    There is a shop called Ovvio in Paddington. Anthia who is a naturopath, and organic lifestyle educator, teaches clients and patients a no nonsense, fad free, honest and informative approach to achieving health and happiness, she has a shop in Paddington where you can buy tea, herbs, household cleaning products, beauty products including shampoo, toothpaste, make up, nail polish. If you have one look at Anthia, you will fall in love with her and her way of life. She is the emblem of natural beauty.

    http://www.ovvioorganics.com.au/

    xx
    Charlie

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  • http://whollyafool.wordpress.com Michelle

    Annie Leonard actually came to my school and did a short talk and question-and-answer session awhile back; she was great. She’s such a great personality and she really knows her stuff!
    It’s really frightening that there have been no regulations on cosmetic products all these years. And on top of all the scary stuff, I’d really love to stop buying from the companies who test on animals, which is just as hard. I’m with you and I’m not going to throw anything out, but if we take it a little at a time I think it’s totally possible!

    Plus, I’ve found that products without all those nasty chemicals actually work a lot better for me than the ones with them. I had some crazy acne a few months ago, mostly because of stress, and the thing that finally worked was a combination of witch hazel & vitamin e – both of which are single ingredients and pretty easy to find!

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  • Charlie

    How embarrassing i just re read my post and there is several spelling and grammatical errors in it!

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  • http://www.nadinefawell.net Nadine

    Balance. That’s all I’m saying. I do use perfume, but I use Grown face stuff and natural shampoo (the organic one from the supermaket, I forget the brand) and l’occitane. And lush. Not perfect, but you know what? We live long healthy lives for the most part, despite all the scary chemicals.

    I make a policy of reducing my exposure to parabens, sodium lauryl sulphate, and petrolatums.
    But nice cosmetics? Make me a very very happy girl. And I am willing to brave the occasional scary chemical for a lovely body cream. I figure the enjoyment of it is adding years onto my life anyhow!

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  • http://www.buildingbiology.com.au NIcole Bijlsma

    When you consider that the cosmetic and personal care industry is largely self regulated, it should not come as a surprise that the majority of ingredients in our products have not been assessed for human health (Safe Cosmetics, 2009). As a naturopath, it quickly became obvious that what people used on their skin was just as (and in many cases) far more important to address than what they were eating.

    Here are some consumer myths worth pondering:
    1. It’s on the shelf, therefore it must be safe -WRONG. Almost 80% of ingredients in personal care products have not be adequately assessed for their impact on human health;
    2. Organic is better; WRONG. The industry definition for organic is that it contains the atom Carbon, NOT the public perception that it is free from pesticides and still in its natural state
    3. Natural is best. NO, the term natural implies it comes from the earth… so does uranium and asbestos!
    4. All of the ingredients are listed on teh label; NO. incidental ingredients such as phthalates (hormone disrupting chemicals commonly found in fragrances), dioxins, and formaldehyde are not required to be labelled as they have no technical or functional effect.
    5. Lastly and perhaps more shockingly, the ingredients are designed to be beneficial for the skin. Sadly, the opposite is mostly true. If you look at the material safety data sheet of each ingredeint in the majority of our products, they are skin irritants.

    (NIcole is author of Healthy Home, Healthy Family).

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  • steph

    I use Dr Hauschka and Living Nature for makeup and Jurlique for skincare. They have a great range especially Hauschka, which is natural and organic but the real deal, they have been around for a while, longer than Juriique. Bare minerals is good also. I get Dr Hauschka at DJ’s or health stores, Lavera is more affordable and at most health stores.
    http://www.drhauschka.com/about/our-mission/

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  • Vanessa

    It’s really great to see more awareness of the toxicity of personal care and cleaning products. Like Lolly, I’ve been switching over gradually to simple, non-toxic products. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

    For cleaning, vinegar, bicarb, a castile soap like Dr Bronner’s and Ecostore laundry powder are as good or better than all the specialised cleaners. Dr Bronner’s or any good olive oil or goat’s milk soap is lovely and gentle for washing your body.

    For hair… Well, I tried a shampoo bar and the ‘no poo’ thing, but the result was horrible stringy, limp hair. Now I use Al’chemy shampoo and conditioner, plus Trilogy hair treatment. No ‘poo is definitely worth a try though – it does work for a lot of people.

    Skincare: I use Trilogy cream cleanser, followed by Trilogy rosehip oil (my FAVOURITE discovery!), Natural Instinct sunscreen, and occasional exfoliation with a slice of lemon or a bicarb paste. Then I use Trilogy Everything Balm for, well, everything: lips, hands, body, and even on my face if it’s very dry. I’m also using up a tin of L’Occitane pure shea butter as lip balm – it’s lovely but has too stiff a texture to use ‘everywhere’. As you can tell, I like Trilogy. I originally got onto it for the rosehip oil, as the Trilogy one smells absolutely delicious. (In Essence rosehip oil also smells great, but the Kosmea brand smells awful IMO, and Akin is fine but has a sort of minty fragrance that I don’t love.)

    I’ve heard great things about the brands Yes to Carrots, Moo Goo and Dr Hauschka, but haven’t tried them personally. Thumbs up for Jurlique products though.

    I’d like to make my skincare even simpler – I tried the oil cleansing method, but sadly, like no ‘poo, it didn’t work for me. Breakouts! Next I’m planning to experiment with making my own balm and, especially, my own sunscreen. I used to love Natural Instinct products, but I don’t trust them since I found out they use sodium laureth sulfate in their foaming products while having ‘NO sodium lauryl sulfate’ written on the bottle. So sneaky! I tried Soleo and UV Natural sunscreens and found them far too greasy, so DIY seems to be the way to go.

    Re: make-up, my skin has never been so good since I switched to mineral make-up, and at the moment I use Inika mineral powders and their Lip Whip (love that!). But I saw that they still score a 3 on the Skin Deep database and a brand called Rejuv Minerals scores 0! So that’s next to investigate. Non-toxic mascara is trickier. The Inika mascara gave me panda eyes during autumn! :/ I’ve heard good things about Jane Iredale mascara, however.

    Sorry for the absolute tome of a post, but this has been a project of mine, to find safe products that are as good or better than the toxic ones. I also try to reduce the amount of packaging, particularly plastic packaging, and the ‘product miles’ as much as possible – though I figure if anything’s going to be worth shipping around the world, small, lightweight, high-value products like make-up are it.

    Good luck everyone, and give it a go!

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  • Vanessa

    Err, can I also add: OPI nail polish is toluene- and formaldehyde-free, and Spa Radiance make a formaldehyde-free nail hardener that works.

    Here endeth the lesson. :)

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  • Kathryn

    Hi Sarah, I have long been a fan of all things ‘natural’ and did away with commercial cosmetics years ago. It’s great to have someone like you with an intelligent voice who is spreading this news to so many people. We need to open our eyes and get smart about our choices for us and for the earth – Governments need to get the message!

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  • http://www.oscarnatural.com Oscar de Vries

    Hi Sarah, am a regular reader of your blog but this story REALLY got my attention. I used to find that my Gillette shaving gel – allegedly the ‘Best A Man Can Get’ – completely dried out my face and as a result I regularly looked like I was attacked by a cat on steroids..
    After I read an article called ‘What’s Behind The Label’ about Gillette Mach 3 gel in The Ecologist (UK) a few years ago I decided to develop my own natural shaving prep alternative, an all-natural shaving oil called OSCAR. I stuck my name on it, because if anyone has a question, problem or complaint about it, they can ask, call or blame me. I am not afraid to stand up for my product, unlike most skincare companies.
    Getting it on shelf was a big challenge, but it’s now in Coles, Priceline and more and more pharmacies and health food stores. Men typically have 3 major interests in life and shaving isn’t one of them….so when my teenage daughter developed an adverse reaction to using VEET on her legs, I decided to bring out a natural shaving oil for Women, as an alternative to using a cocktail of chemicals on their legs and in turn perhaps persuade their partners to try OSCAR?
    Calling it Oscar for Women sounded wrong (unless your name is George Clooney) so I called it BRAZILIA instead. It’s now available from Priceline and we’re donating $0.50 for every bottle sold to the McGrath Foundation.
    Even my highly opinionated teenage daughter is a big fan now. Believe me, that was a huge coup.
    Of course, I have to run it as a business, but believe me there are easier ways to make money than selling to major retailers. It’s just that I am a great believer in that what you eat or put on your skin, has an effect, good or bad. Well done on raising people’s awareness to this lurking problem.
    Cheers, Oscar

    [Reply]

  • http://inwanderment.com Monica at In Wanderment

    I’ve been concerned about toxins in beauty products for a while now and have used these natural beauty products: MyChelle Dermaceuticals Sun Shield, SPF 15; Kiss My Face body lotion; Organic Wear makeup and Eau de Zum essential oil fragrance — not “fragrance.”

    The only drawback to these products is that, while they don’t contain toxins, the makeup and sunscreen doesn’t apply as well as their toxic counterparts. It’s a trade off between safe and ease of use.

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  • Laura

    I cannot speak highly enough of Moogoo. Years of sebhorric dermatitis remained untreated, no matter how many bottles of T-Gel, Heads & Shoulders and Nizoral I went through. Moogoo shampo and condiitoner saved my life – their ingredient list is miniscule and it actually works and soothes while cleaning.

    I’m now hooked on their lipbalm and oil cleanser for my face. Dr Hauschka is my other favourite. It literally makes my skin glow without the chemical nasties.

    [Reply]

  • http://saborsaudade.blogspot.com/ Claudia

    Come on girls, bin those trash products now! Just do it! Now!!!

    Chemical habit is like a drug habit, it puts a “mascara” (literally a mask) on who you really are, it hides you from yourself and the others, you feel protect and you are just hiding. you must get out of it as soon as possible, and you must immediately leave behind the idea of “losing” the money you spent on those chemicals, you are buying your way out, a healthy way out a chemicals habit. Celebrate yourselves, a health body comes with a health mind . One is a product of the other one or vice versa.

    Mens sana in corpore sano

    [Reply]

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  • Campbell

    I kinda don’t get this make-up obsession thing. I’m male and I just don’t really find make-up that attractive on women – just in case you were doing it for us blokes (hah!). You’re basically trying to hide your natural face… who you are… and that’s partly what disheartens me about seeing someone covered in it – it suggests to me you’re trying to hide yourself and you don’t like yourself in some way.

    It is, as someone else said, a drug habit. My girlfriend doesn’t really use makeup too often and I love that… and sometimes she does, fairly sparingy, and that’s nice. But should this be a thing that every woman does religiously each morning… I think it’s a bit crazy – drilled into you at a young age that you need to put stuff all over your face to be beautiful – actually you are beautiful already. Society can go get stuffed if it makes any person feel inferior – why don’t we drill that into our kids instead of buying them cutesy wutesy pink make-up sets with ponies on the front!

    The ingredients in these things are mind-boggling as well – but people still eat McDonalds and the vast majority of our food has horrible things in it, doctors are just taught about chemical ‘solutions’ and paid by big companies to use their products, so i’m not suprised. If you’re going to use makeup at least use it a little discreetly, so many times I see stuff caked on – that can’t be healthy for your skin. It’s not how nature intended your skin to be treated.

    We go all organic and natural where possible. I’m obsessive about avoiding nasty chemicals so i’d say just throw out/recycle whatever you have that is not good for you rather than feeling wasteful and applying cancer-causing chemicals to your face for the sake of it. But that’s just me.

    Anyway, this theme cuts much deeper than make-up. Our whole society is over-dependant on man-made chemicals that cause us untold environmental and health problems. We need to live more in harmony with nature and as soon as the people demand this, the sooner corporates who seemingly run this world (only because of our inaction – they don’t actually) will align with the right way of doing things.

    OK, what were we talking about again? Oh yeah, makeup. Ditch it!

    [Reply]

  • Sarah-Jane

    I have most certainly been trying my life to only use natural, chemical-free stuff like the miessence range. I have sensitive skin. I am sixteen and I have started getting acne on my face, but the dermatolagist told me I’ve had it in my scalp for years, I just haven’t known. My friends, of whom I’m rather angry at, told me to use clean n clear on it, and not anything the dermatolagist told me to use, as they apparently ‘lie to get money’. Then my friend, Hannah, told me clean n clear is terrible for your skin, and it’s very rough. Thank you. As for make-up, many girls I know at school use it, and literally, it makes no difference. Their cakey skin, clumpy eyelashes and dark eyes make them look like they’re trying too hard. All that, and they will probably end up having all the worst skin for it. Worst is the attitude of my friends, whenever we go to a social together, it’s always about plastering on make-up. And as for my acne, it’s just another ‘problem’ for my friends to try and fix for me, without any consideration of my feelings. I told them repetedly, ‘no’ but they refused to listen. There is no support for those who don’t believe in chemicals, expecially if your friends tell you ‘chemicals will fix it Sarah, if you don’t use chemicals, you will have scarring from your pimples’ against the advice of a very nice, sympathic and experienced dermatologist, with many years specialising in the treatement of skin problems.

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  • Karen

    Living Nature are a great natural brand but rather expensive. Natural Instinct are good for sunscreen, but I use a more outdoorsy thick one. I recently discovered Sukin which I love because it’s so affordable, simple and effective. Their skin creams are lovely and contain recognisable quality ingredients. See http://www.sukinorganics.com.au

    I’m also using organic jojoba oil which I buy cheaply online from the USA: http://www.iherb.com (use the code obi720 for a discount). It’s the best oil for the skin and used in lots of creams. You can get it in Oz and NZ too, but usually it costs more. But it’s more affordable than rosehip oil. I don’t wear make-up so am free from all that rigmarole.

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  • Julie

    It is frightening what chemicals are being used in cosmetics, I recently changed my normal make up to mineral makeup (I just got pregnant and want to reduce the amount of chemicals I put into my body). Have you heard of Inika Mineral Makeup?

    I found more info here at http://www.beauty-salon-adelaide.com/inika.html

    Apparently there are certified organic, pure minerals and certified vegan. I think the more natural we can get, the better!

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  • Fiona

    There is a great company in the US called Silk Naturals. As far as I know, you can only order via the website. The packaging is, quite frankly, ugly, but the quality and colors are outstanding.

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  • Kathy

    I didnt have a choice but to detox my beauty products after a severe allergic reaction from over use of hair dyes and make up, that involved my entire head swelling up and then left me with contact allergic dermatitis on my face especially around my eyes.
    Since then, no more chemical filled shampoo/conditioner/soap, make up, creams…anything! Applying sunscreen makes my skin look like it was burnt and blistered.
    As I could not put anything on my skin or hair for quite some time I found wonderful products from Redgum Soaps. They have fantastic products, great service, helpful, informative and not only chemical free but made on a solar powered farm on the NSW south coast.
    http://www.redgumsoaps.com.au

    I highly recommend them for everybody!!

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