The common misconception about natural skin and body care products is that as long as the product says “natural” you’re good. However, that's far from the truth, and honestly I wish it was that easy.
How to switch to natural skin and body care products can be somewhat daunting because it seems like a never ending battle. While everyone is obviously entitled to use whatever they choose, where do you draw the line of what you are willing to put on you and maybe little ones bodies.
Knowing that the cosmetic industry is highly unregulated should spark your curiosity.
Let’s jump in.
Why Switch To Natural Skin and Body Care Products?
You and your family have been using the same product for generations, why change it now? We know what we were taught and really don't want to unlearn if we don’t have to. I get it. Our families before us probably felt the same, however, they also didn't have as much information as we do now. The good and bad.
We have access to more studies and a larger scientific database which allows us to see these ingredients for what they really are. Toxic. It's hard to say for certain that given all the information we have now, if our beloved members would choose to still use them or not. With all that said technology we are being exposed to more and more chemicals every day. They are bottled up, presentable, and we use them morning, noon, and night.
Ingredients To Avoid
It would seem that we would need to memorize a huge list of unfamiliar verbiage on the back of the bottles, but these ones are pretty easy to recognize. Keep them in your phone notes to refer back to.
So far, studies have shown these to be the most common sources of issues found in products:
- Parabens ( Methyl, Butyl, Ethyl, Propyl)
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
- Triclosan and Triclocarban
- Propylene Glycol (PG) & Butylene Glycol
- Mineral Oil
- DEA (diethanolamine) , MEA ( monoethanolamine) , TEA (triethanolamine)
- DMDM Hydantion & UREA (Imidazolidinyl)
- PEG ( (Polyethylene glycol)
I wrote another post about greenwashing with all the descriptions of these ingredients. You can find it here.
Essentially what you’ll find are ingredients that disrupt hormones, cause internal and external allergies, rashes, chronic fatigue, poison your blood stream, aren’t regulated, are artificial, do the opposite of what they say, and some that are “secretly” listed.
The word fragrance is a huge red flag. The term "fragrance" is made up of hundreds to thousands of different ingredients not listed on the label, so you are never sure what you are actually being exposed to. You can find this word in cosmetics and skincare products, household products - candles, air fresheners, scented trash bags etc.
Read more about Skincare Toxicity And Dangerous Ingredients To Avoid.
Get familiar with this list and start to keep an eye out of what pops up so that you can make your own informed decisions.
Practical Reasons To Switch To Natural Skin and Body Care Products
1: Hormone Balance - Most of the contents found in commercial beauty products like lotion, shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, makeup, SPF, more, and the container they come in are full of endocrine disrupters. Phthalates, parabens, and polyethylene glycol mimic hormones like estrogen which disrupts the natural distribution of this hormone in our bodies causing the imbalance.
2: Organ Health / Skin and Blood Toxicity - Fossil fuels like petroleum are constantly used in skin care. Petrochemicals like anything else once put on the body will absorb into your skin and straight into your blood system. Toxicity then flows through your circulatory system and enters your brain, heart, pancreas, and heart. These petroleum derivatives look like benzene, phenoxyethanol, propylene glycol, paraffin wax, and toluene. Avoid these at all costs.
3: Risk of Cancer: Ingredients like formaldehyde, aluminum, propanol, 1.4-dioxane, coal tar, hydroquinone, and lead and known to cause DNA modification and have carcinogenic effects on our bodies. According to cancer.org carcinogenic meaning "an altering cellular metabolism or damaging DNA directly in cells, which interferes with biological processes, and induces the uncontrolled, malignant division, ultimately leading to the formation of tumors." Most of the time these ingredients are used as a colorant, preservative, skin lightener, and pH adjusters.
4: Anti-Testing Dummy - The beauty industry is highly unregulated and essentially we the consumer are taking these products for a test drive. If it doesn't work, the company will find out in the form of a lawsuit. There is no limit to how many chemicals can go into creating a product. A study showed that only 10% of chemicals used in a products are actually tested which is why it is so important to read your ingredient label.
5: Environmental Balance/ Air Quality At Home: The problem of greenhouse gases and environmental degradation is very alarming in current times and we have to put every effort to avoid such cataclysm. The manufacturing of chemical-heavy cosmetics often leads to the release of these chemicals and other toxic bi-product in the environment which causes a lot of damage to the wildlife and the oxygen pumping trees and plants which provides us with fresh and clean air. We cannot destroy this balance by promoting the companies which uses unethical methods of polluting the environment while producing artificial beauty products.
The contamination of chemicals inside homes is 2x - 5x more than the contamination of chemicals outside homes. Especially in winters when the doors and windows of homes remain closed, which doesn’t allow the chemicals to escape. These chemicals are released from artificial cosmetic products like deodorants, hairsprays, makeup, perfumes, hair products, cleaning products, air fresheners, scented candles and more.
If you are concerned about the air quality of your home, look into house plants, bamboo charcoal air purifying bags like these, and try to leave your windows open more.
Purchasing Natural Products VS Making Your Own
Regardless of which direction you choose, you are still making an executive decision to get the heck out of the toxicity jungle. If you decide you want to purchase natural items be sure to check out this post on “green” and “clean” washing.
Essentially brands are realizing that we as the consumer, are trying to make better choices in regards to our health and wellbeing. Therefore, they try to use this information against us by marketing and targeting with visual aspects, jargon, and new psychological branding techniques. I was surprised to find some of these ingredients lurking in my personal items when I first started doing my own research so don’t feel bad if you have a current product that has the same, it’s trickery I tell you!
Examples of “green” and “clean” washing:
-Color of product bottle: green, white, or pastel colored bottles
-Outdoor imagery such as grass, flowers, leaves
-Jargon “green”, “natural”, “plant-based”, “botanically derived”
-Claims without USDA certification labels
If you want to go the DIY route then I’m glad you are in my neck of the woods. I have so many free resources on how to get started with making your own herbal products which are extremely simple, it saves money, and can even be a fun project to do with a little one. You can find more here. If you want to go all in, our membership program might be more suited to your needs. This includes members only downloads, password protected blogs, recipes, masterclasses, and a monthly box of herbal goodness. You can get more information here.
Some easy things you can learn to make today are infused oils, face mask, bath salts, body butters, body scrubs, salves, balms, herbal hair rinse, soap, shampoo, and deodorant.
How To Switch To Natural Skin And Body Care Products
Here’s what you came for, the good ole’ switch-er-roo. I know that was a lot of information and you probably need to let it soak in and a margarita, but the good news is that we ripped off the bandaid.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to switch everything all at once. I didn’t, especially if you have full bottles of a product. The main idea is that you start to make conscious choices. Unless you are having severe allergic reactions and believe they are coming from your products (which they might be) try replacing one item at a time.
ONE: Make A List
The easiest way to go about checking all of your products is to take inventory of everything and check just the ingredient list. If you know it needs replacing, highlight or make a star next to it so you can remember the next time you are at the store. You can also do this with your cleaning products as well!
TWO: Just Start
I’d personally replace the item I use the most first because a) you'll run out of that the first and b) if it's something you use daily chances are you are getting a huge heaping of chemicals first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
If you're not ready to replace that yet then start with a product you would be willing to switch out. Like your deodorant, moisturizer, body soap, or bath “bombs” to bath salts.
Here are some easy swaps we have right here in the apothecary:
Natural Lip Balm (replaces current lip balms especially if it is high in petroleum)
Replenish Facial Tonic (replaces toners or micellar water, face wipes)
Wildfire Hydrate & Glow All Over Butter (replaces lotion, heavy duty moisturizers, night cream)
Herbal Hair Rinse (replaces natural leave in conditioner, shine serum, an softens hair)
Scalp Hair Oil (replaces dandruff treatment, harsh scalp chemicals and shampoos designed for dandruff, these types of products can be extremely drying to the skin)
THREE: Do Your Own Research
You don't have to take my world for it. Do your own research, I read a lot of books, have continued education studies, and constantly do my own research pros and cons.
Most of the time we search for things we want validation for. For example if I’m looking for the benefits of essential oils, I'm going to find the benefits of essential oils, but I won’t find the negative side effects of essential oils unless I'm specific in my search.
For every pro there is a con, so don't believe the first tween blog post you read. Dig deeper, find peer reviewed articles, scholarly journals, trusted medical sites, and of course sites with references if possible. Even books can sometimes be misleading so be sure it’s an accredited author and not quackery.
Listen, I built my apothecary DIY-ing. There was nothing that could help my wants and needs so I made my own. That's the beauty and the power of herbalism, learning exactly how to create your own products. It’s empowering.
Head here to learn how to make your own pH balanced shampoo.
It’s a small but mighty journey to get out of that toxicity zone lurking in your skin and body care products. But I promise it’s worth it. It’s worth not being poisoned day in and day out and wondering why you have a skin rash, a wheeze, burning eyes, maybe even fertility issues. It goes that deep.
I’m not sayin this is the answer but hey, the worst that can happen is that you start to breathe clean air and understand how mass media has brainwashed us all into thinking these products are the only way. It’s never too late to make a small change.