the best toxin-free cosmetics: a listicle
Updated March, 2015
So, in yesterday’s Sunday Life column, I shared how I tested the toxicity of my body following an extended period of wearing a shit-load of VERY toxic makeup and other beautifying guff. And then decided to clean up my beauty act. It’s been a long process. I’ve been investigating it for months. Thinking of learning more? Know this: it’s a VERY complicated issue and answers are not definitive.
I’ve spoken to a lot of people about how you and I can best act on the very real fears we have that our foundations and hair dye’s and deodorants are not good for us.
There are three things we feel we can all do:
1.Learn a little more.
Follow the debate and support groups that are agitating for the government to police these chemicals better. The Environmental Working Group’s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics should be followed. In Australia, sign up with National Toxics Network.
2. Use less stuff.
Reduce the chemical load where you can. It takes some getting used to – wearing less makeup and less products. But, hey, the natural look is back in.
3. Use the stuff the experts recommend.
This topic is waaaaay too hard to navigate without a chemistry degree. Best to be inspired by women in this realm who’ve researched their choices. This way you also make a difference with your shopping $$$s.
So. To this end, I’ve asked my contacts for their best buys. It’s not a definitive list. It’s not perfect. Talking to these experts we all agree: it’s not always feasible to go completely chemical-free. We can simply reduce the chemical load by making safer choices where we can.
Your safe beauty shopping list:
Jo Immig works with the National Toxics Network, an organisation that lobbies the Australian government to catch up to the rest of the world in regulating toxins. Her favourites include:
- CEA Ocean Mineral Superfood. It’s my hair ‘product’. It adds volume and texture and is great for thin hair. It’s also a sore throat spray and I use it on food. It’s organic, and cheap, and lasts for ages as you only need the smallest amount.
- Hemp Organics. I use their lip tints.
- Ere Perez makes my favourite mascara. [Sarah says: quite a few people mention this brand for mascaras! I'm going to test them out next.]
- I also recommend you have a look at the Biological Farmer’s Association standard for organic cosmetics in Australia. It’s a really helpful site.
Narelle Chenery started Miessence, the most reputable organic cosmetics makers in the world. She invented all their products in her kitchen and went on to be one of the – if not the most – reputable cosmetics producers in the world. Miessence ranks in Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Top Five brands and was the first brand internationally to be certified organic by organic food standards. I have blogged about her Berry Radical before and we met a few weeks ago for a chai tea in Byron. She radiates fresh beauty. She’s a guru in this area. I’m in awe. She obviously uses her own stuff, but has shared some extra tips:
- Viva La Natural – my hairdresser Gary Anderson is a lovely organic, intuitive sweetie in Burleigh Heads.
- Future Therapy Day Spa. This is where I go for beautifully relaxing facials.
- Inika cosmetics - I’ve used them for eyeshadows, as I haven’t made my own, yet!
Sonya Driver created Eco Tan after her sister was diagnosed with melanoma. After ditching sun-baking for spray-tanning, she became concerned about the ingredients used and vowed to make an Australian made, all-natural, certified organic, cruelty free, toxic free, vegan friendly alternative. In 2011 Eco Tan became the first and only organic tan to be certified by the Organic Food Chain, an Australian organic government approved certifier. Where possible they use veggie ink and recycled paper for packaging, and products are made from cacao, herbs, flower extract, fruit extract and camomile.
What I’m using now
I’ve slowly being making a switch (I’m not about to ditch stuff…that’s just wasteful…I’m replacing, item by item. And experimenting). I’m also being realistic. I don’t have the dosh to go all out. Plus, I have constraints. So I’m doing the best I can. I still have to dye my hair for work. So I’m researching chemical-free dyes (a work in progress). I recently got eyelash extensions. The glue? Not so good. But it saves me having to wear mascara. The lesser of two evils. When I do TV work I don’t have a say in what products they use on me. I’ve recently decided to balance this by wearing no makeup the rest of the time…I’m easing into this. At parties I still indulge. But during the day – nada. It’s been an interesting transition. It means people are almost disappointed when they meet me. They’re used to seeing me on the telly or in magazines slathered in stuff. But…oh well…a good challenge for my ego!
Here are some products I’ve switched to, most of which contain one ingredient. Or less than five!
Moogoo Milk Wash (made in Australia). This is a shower soap, but is mild enough to use on my face, too.
Avalon Organics shampoo and conditioner (made in Australia). I’ve been using this one for a few weeks, following my hair detox. It suits my hair…it adds volume and gradually my hair is becoming softer and softer. It’s far glossier since I’ve quit the toxic stuff.
Miessence Body Cream (made in Australia). Non-greasy and glides on nice. I also use Miessence face moisturiser and their lip balm. And their foundation is amazing. Slowly replacing my old stuff with their stuff. Also noticed a few people on yesterday’s comments mentioned they use this body moisturiser, too.
Thursday Island lavender oil. I use on spots.
Vrindavan deodorant (made in Australia). I’m not kidding, I’ve never smelt so good. I used to stink, even wearing the heavy duty anti-antiperspirants. I’ve always been stinky and sweaty. This stuff is made of mineral salts and oils and since switching to it I don’t get that stale sweat smell at all.
Kosmea Rosehip Oil (made in Australia). I also use Trilogy brand, too. I put a few drops on my face at night, 3-4 times a week. The best moisturiser ever.
Moroccan oil. For my hair. I’ve mentioned this before, too. Only buy the 100 per cent argan oil ones…the rest are full of nasties. I “pat” a little bit into the ends of my hair for gloss and lushness.
The ocean. Salt water is my beauty secret. It keeps my skin clean and balanced, infections away, pimples at bay and it’s the best ever hair volumiser.
Alana and Aaron run Origin of Energy. These guys live and breath their philosophies and have inspired me in so many ways with my health as I’ve posted before. Alana shares her beauty faves, all of which you can buy at the Origin of Energy in Bondi.
- sunscreen by wotnot. On the days I know I’ll be in the sun for more than a few hours, I use Wotnot’s 30+ SPF. It’s moisturising without being greasy and doesn’t leave you looking pasty.
- Weleda rose deodorant works for me. Smelling fresh while being a trainer can be tricky, especially when looking for an organic chemical free alternative for deodorant. They have a few guy-friendly scents as well – Aaron uses the sage or citrus and loves it.
- Aclara coconut oil doubles as a food and moisturiser in our household. It is hands down the best coconut oil on the market. A little rule we try to live by at Origin of Energy is if you wouldn’t put it in your mouth to eat, then why put it on your body? Our skin is our largest organ and everything we put on it pretty much goes directly into our blood stream. Not everything in my beauty bag falls into the edible category, but at least my moisturiser does.
Anthia Koullouros is a naturopath, herbalist, homeopath, and an organic health, food & lifestyle educator. Her safe cosmetics are:
- MV Organic Face Cream Cleanser & Protecting Face Moisturiser – perfect for this change of season stuff.
- Grown Hand Cream Vanilla & Orange Peel – divine smelling and nourishing.
- Ere Perez Natural Waterproof Black Mascara – the best I think!
- Ere Perez Natural Tinted Rice Powder Shade - MY BLUSH SPF 15 - this is like an air brush!
- Ere Perez Natural Carrot Cheek & Lip Balm – it’s called HAPPY!
- Lavera Liquid Make Up Foundation with flower liposomes and blossom butter hydrates and protects the skin for an even and subtle finish.
- Lavera Mango Milk Shampoo & Conditioner – for coloured hair and coloured protection – best ones I have ever tried.
- Butter London Cream Tea nail polish – chic clean polish. I take this with my hand cream up to the nail parlour!
Yasmin Boland is an astrologer, and the author of Younger You’s Free Spirit blog. She blogged about nail polish recently, and recommends:
- Butter London – this range of nail polish contains no phthalates (endocrine disrupters), toluene (believed to cause serious disruption to neuronal development in utero), or formaldehyde (human carcinogen used in nail hardeners). It’s safe for pregnant women.
A recent survey also shows other nail polish brands which are free of the three toxins:
Some extra stuff:
* Sunscreens: Environmental Working Group investigated these extensively to find the the safest sunscreens.
* Heavy Metal Hazard: The health risks of hidden heavy metals in face make up. Environmental Defence did a study on six women’s make up. The results are here.
* How to read a label: Environmental Working Group shares how to choose better products for yourself and your family.
* More information: I have previously shared some recommendations on cosmetics here.