Skincare Part 3: How to Find Awesome Alternatives (to the products tearing you apart from the inside out)

Welcome to part 3 of the Skincare series! You can review the recap of parts 1 and 2, or skip right down to this week’s new material below.

In part 1, “Why is the U.S. Cosmetic Industry Not up to Snuff? (And why should you care?)“, you learned:

Europe has banned 1,328 ingredients from cosmetics, Canada 587, and the U.S. a mere 11. This means 99.2% of the banned ingredients in Europe are allowed in the United States.

What you put on your skin is absorbed into your bloodstream in under 30 seconds.

“It’s more dangerous to put a product on your skin than to eat it.” –  Dr. Samuel Epstein

The average woman is exposed to 168 unique ingredients in cosmetics daily.

The average newborn has over 200 chemicals in his or her cord blood, many of which cause harm to the brain and nervous system, and are linked to cancer, birth defects, or abnormal development.

The last legislation regarding the regulation and safety of cosmetics was passed in 1938 – the industry is largely self-regulated.

In part 2, “How to Protect Yourself and Your Family (Without memorizing all 1,328 ingredients banned in Europe)” you discovered:

Replace the dirtiest products that you use daily first – these are the ones that accumulate in your body.

Think Dirty is a free, easy-to-use app that can screen your products in no time and rate the whole ingredient list for safety around carcinogenicity, developmental & reproductive toxicity, and allergies & immunitoxicities.

Be particularly aware of “fragrance” on any ingredient list – a term encompassing over 3,000 ingredients, some of which are carcinogenic chemicals, neurotixins, endocrine disrupters, respiratory irritants, narcotics, known allergens, and more. (Source)

Here in part 3, we’ll cover how easy it is to find awesome alternatives.

In part 4 (2 weeks from now), you’ll find out how to make your very own products at home. If you’re not already subscribed, sign up to get it delivered straight to your inbox!


Part 3: Awesome Alternatives

(To the products tearing you apart from the inside out.)

It doesn’t have to be hard to find clean, pure skincare products.

If you’ve been out there scanning products on the shelves with the Think Dirty app you discovered last week, you might be feeling pretty disheartened. There’s a LOT of bad out there mixed in with the good.


The surprising part is that these products look like they should be ok. They have words like “natural,” “healthy,” “age-defying,” and so forth all over them, and their packaging is made to look natural, invoking images of waterfalls, flowers, forests, spas, and so on.

This marketing mask is designed to fool you until you learn to peek underneath. And when you see the ingredients, you might start to wonder.

What are the alternatives? Paying an arm and a leg for a better product, or assembling your own chemistry lab at home to make your own products? Well, it’s not quite so hard as that…


How to Find Better Products

Better products don’t always cost an arm and a leg more. And it can be fun to create your own products at home – but I’ll leave that until part 4.

How do you find reasonably priced products that don’t contain ingredients suspected of links to cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm, or birth defects?

I have a fantastic resource for you: the Skin Deep Database put together by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). It’s online, it’s free, and it’s easy to use.

When you visit the site, you’ll find a menu across the top including topics like skin care, makeup, hair, babies & moms, and more. These topics have subtopics, and sub-subtopics, so it’s easy to find what you need.

For example, you might browse through the personal care section of skin care and check out deoderant & antiperspirants. There you’ll find a list of 741 products sorted by EWG’s clean score, and can sort through some 153 deoderant options that have earned a shiny, spotless number 1.

Sound too easy? It’s really that simple!

(On a sidenote, the EWG also has an app similar to Think Dirty called Healthy Living. I prefer Think Dirty, though, because the app breaks down a product ingredient by ingredient, and gives a great amount of deep research and citations along with each ingredient. The EWG app will give you the basics, but not as many details.)


Get to Know Your Brands

In addition to individual products, you can also search the Skin Deep Database for your favorite brands and discover how they score. Most have a wide range.

I used to use Garnier hair products. Looking at the brand’s results on the database, their products score anywhere from a clean 2 to a filthy 9.

If you search for a brand with a clean reputation, like Burt’s Bees, you’ll find scores from 1 to 6 – not too bad.

As you’re searching for baby products, you’ll likely be surprised by the amount of dirty products out there.

Diaper ointment is one notable example – you can find products rated as dirty as 6 and 7! (Definitely not something I’d put on a baby’s skin!)

Baby soap also has many clean options, but there are a number of products rated 5 and 6. Half of these dirty products are the popular Johnson’s brand – showing what’s popular isn’t necessarily a good choice.

I’m grateful that I learned more about the skincare industry and the hazards of the products out there so that I am able to protect my son from the nastier ingredients, using safer options instead.


Fancy yourself a chemist?

Do you see yourself embarking on a journey to make some of your own products at home? Or all of them? It takes some time, the right supplies, and can actually be a whole lot of FUN!

If you want to make your own products, I recommend working with one at a time. Recipes are widely available, but I’ve found they often take a bit of finagling before they’re perfect.

Did you know that when you make your own products, you spend only a fraction of the cost of buying that same product?

If you have free time and want to play, definitely look out for part 4 in another 2 weeks – you’ll find a lot of fun inside! (Subscribe if you haven’t already so you don’t miss part 4.)

Comment below – what’s your biggest takeaway on skincare so far?

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