June 26, 2011

How to get rid of your unhealthy makeup

Unless you started out buying natural makeup from the get go, chances are at some point you made or are in the process of making the transition over to healthier cosmetics. I know for myself, and from others I have talked to, this change can be challenging. Evaluating the safety of your products is confusing at first, and it can be hard to justify because it involves throwing out perfectly "good" products. But, it's a necessary process if you want to avoid habits that expose you to harmful chemicals everyday. So, here are some tips to help you along with the process, and to soften the blow.

First, figure out what you are keeping and what you are getting rid of:

-Start by looking up your products in the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. Throw out everything that is rated in the red category (7 and up). These products are considered a significant hazard to your health and should be discarded immediately.

-Besides products with high hazard ratings, it is up to you to decide how strict you want to be about where you draw the line. I personally won't use anything above a 2 (the highest green rating).

-However, at this point you really need to start looking at the ratings of the ingredients. Sometimes products are rated higher than they should be, because - for example - they list fragrance in their ingredients, which the database will rate as a hazard. If the company specifies that they use natural, phthalate free fragrance, then it's probably okay. Sometimes the database rates a product as a low hazard even though it has bad ingredients, like talc or parabens, two ingredients I choose to avoid all together.

-Compare lists of chemicals you want to avoid to the ingredients in your products. This "Dirty Thirty" list is a fantastic place to start. If you don't know what an ingredient is, look it up in the cosmetics database or google it. Beware that innocent sounding ingredients, such as Vitamin A, can acutally be quite toxic.

-Another consideration is nanoparticles, often found in cosmetics as Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. These ingredients are relatively safe when they are in their regular form, but are a significant health concern when they are nano sized. It's impossible to know whether a product contains nanoparticles or not from reading the label. This is probably the biggest thorn in my side in terms of discerning safety, because unless a company specifies that they don't use nanoparticles, there is no way of knowing. When in doubt, send an email to the company and ask.

Now that you know what you need to get rid of, here are three tips that should make it a little easier:

-Swap products on makeupalley.com. I've gotten some brushes and bareMinerals products through this website, and it's a way of getting rid of products without feeling wasteful.

-If your friends ask for them, give your products away, while warning them about their hazardous ingredients. I know this sounds bad, because you are not using the products anymore because of the health hazard. However, I have friends who I've tried to talk to about this issue to over and over, and they still have no interest in changing. So it really doesn't make a difference if they rummage through my throw away pile.

-Just Throw. It. In. The. Trash. You'll be fine. Think about that awesome new product you bought that has only ingredients that you trust. You want everything in your collection to hold up to this standard.

June 24, 2011

So fresh so clean

Since you are reading a blog about non-toxic beauty, there is a good chance that you have heard of, use or even worship Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps. They are known for being pure, natural and safe. They are also widely accessible in health food and regular grocery stores, easily recognizable with a distinct quote label, and completely versatile. Maybe you use them for your hands, body, hair, for household cleaning, laundry or just as an air freshener.

But today I am writing about a particular scent that does wonders in the summer months. Taking a cold shower with Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap is the most cool, refreshing and all around amazing way to get relief from hot summer weather. Better than air conditioning, pools or daiquiris by a long shot. When you take a shower with this stuff, the peppermint intensifies the cooling sensation of the water, makes your skin tingle, and leaves your senses feeling refreshed. Even an hour after use you still feel fresh and minty. I highly recommend trying it. I just love using the soap for this soap in the summer time. Let me know what your favorite ways to cool off are!

Product performance: Recommended. So, so versatile. An essential for any natural beauty enthusiast.

EWG rating: 1

Ingredients: Water, Saponified Organic Coconut and Organic Olive Oils, (w/Retained Glycerin), Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Mentha Arvensis Extract, Organic Peppermint Oil, Citric Acid, Vitamin E.

June 15, 2011

Coastal Classic Creations liner shadows

When I first started getting rid of all of my chemical laden regular cosmetics, I noticed that many of the darker pigmented products like eyeliner and mascara were especially toxic. So when I went about buying new eyeliner, I went for a company that consistently had some of the lowest rated products on EWG's cosmetic database, and that was Coastal Classic Creations. I purchased "Coastal Evenings," a highly pigmented true black color, and "Black Pearl," a dark cool-toned brown.

I will say upfront that these are NOT the easiest products to work with. Because of their purity, they do not have the same texture as the kind of eyeshadow you are probably used to. They are looser, and are prone to fallout. However, it's pretty easy to get the hang of using them by simply getting them wet. This makes their appearance more intense, and creates cleaner strokes for lining. I have found that these last all day or night by applying them wet, then going over them with the dry powder, especially if you've used some type of base on your whole lid. Another option is to use a cream or pencil eyeliner, and then to use these powders to set them and intensify the color. They can also be used for dark smokey eyes. To avoid fallout under the eye when using as a shadow, I suggest using a concealer, primer or cream shadow underneath. These are messy, and may not be for everyone, but I love them. The intensity and the purity make them an essential and worthwhile product. These shadows will last you a very long time. I've been using them for almost a year as my main lining product, and I've still hardly made a dent in them!

Swatches with and without water:

EWG rating: 1

Price: $18 each at coastalclassiccreations.com

Costal Evenings Ingredients: Filtered, high purity, synthetic iron oxide black (CI 77499)

Black Pearl Ingredients: White cosmetic clay; high purity, filtered synthetic iron oxide black (CI 77499) and brown (CI 77499, CI 77492, CI 77491) (also listed as CI 77492)

June 9, 2011

Zosimos Botanicals blush in Peach

This product is a bit special to me because it is one of the two first healthy beauty products I ever bought. I can remember how it all happened. I had a conversation family friend, a public health reporter, who told me about one of his new investigations. He was researching all the negative health effects of nanoparticles - an emerging type of technology that enabled companies to use extremely tiny sized particles. Tiny enough to seep into parts of the body and cause biochemical damage. What he was particularly concerned with was how ubiquitous these particles had become so quickly, without enough research to examine the potential health consequences. They are in the coatings of fruits and vegetables, pharmaceuticals, and most concerning to me, cosmetics. He didn't know any way of verifying that your products are safe. So I started researching safe cosmetics, and it opened the floodgates for me on all types of dangerous chemicals that were present in my lipstick, bronzer, shampoo, toner and mascara, to name a few.

So I've diverged from the topic a bit, but the point is, I made the decision to switch over to safer cosmetics. I found Zosimos Botanicals from the Environmental Working Group's cosmetic database, and purchased their peach blush as one of my first natural products. This was a great choice, because it off the bat proved to me that I didn't have to sacrifice product performance for product safety. Just look at how pigmented this blush is. It's insane.

I love this color, it looks a bit more bronzy in the swatch with the flash than it does in real life. It's obviously not matte; it has a pretty sheen so you really don't need to wear a highlighter with this. It looks great whether I'm pale or more tan. Because this blush so pigmented, you only need to use a small amount, so it will last you a long time. I like to use a duo fiber brush to apply it so it doesn't end up too heavy.

As you can see from the top picture, there are only two ingredients in this blush: Mica and Zinc Oxide. According to their website, the Zinc Oxide helps protect the skin from the sun.

Zosimos is a fantastic company for people concerned with what's in their makeup: everything they make is free of all the things you have to look out for. My one complaint is that the pictures on the website do not necessarily show the true colors of their products, so you should order samples first to be safe.

EWG rating: 2

Where to buy: $20 at zosimosbotanicals.com

June 8, 2011

My favorite bronzers

I love the look of a glowing tan complexion, but getting that naturally is pretty unsafe for someone with a fair complexion like me, so I use a lot of bronzer. Of course I don't want to sacrifice the safety of my bronzer, so I've sought out safe, natural looking bronzers. Here are two of my absolute favorite products.

"Faux Tan" by Bare Minerals is great because it can be used all over without making you look fake. What makes it so unique is that it is red based, like a natural tan, rather than orange, according to Goss Makeup Artist. I have a very pale freckled complexion, and it works for me - so unless you're totally porcelain and don't look good with any color, this probably will look great you. One container lasted me about 6 months with everyday use, so for $18 you do get a good amount. This is also great because it's so accessible. It can be found at Sephora and many sites on the internet. It has a short list of ingredients, which is always a good sign: Mica, Bismuth Oxychloride, Iron Oxides , Ultramarines, Carmine, and Titanium Dioxide. This product is pretty safe, it has a preliminary safety rating of 2 from the cosmetics database. Bare Minerals does not use nanoparticles.

Another great product is Vapour's Solar Translucent Bronzer. The best part about this product is probably the convenience of it. Whereas powdered products are a bit impractical for on-the-go, this stick form bronzer can just be stuck in your purse, and wherever you are you can just dab it on blend in with your fingers. The cream formula is great for summer time hot weather, and it is definitely unique to find this type a formula for natural products. I have the color "Simmer," which I will say is slightly more orange based than Faux Tan, but on the cheeks especially to give a peachy glow, and still looks great worn all over. And it's quite safe: this product also has a rating of 2 on the cosmetics database.

In terms of long lasting, I find that like pretty much every product I've tried, they need to be reapplied at some point in the day. That may just be the nature of my skin and the fact that I live in a climate that often feels like a steam room.

Here are the swatches of both products with and without flash. The Vapour bronzer is on top, and the Bare Minerals in underneath. I will say that the only time I have seen the Faux Tan sparkle like that is with that flash, otherwise it is a pretty matte product that can be used for contouring.

Bare Minerals Faux Tan
EWG rating (preliminary): 2
Price: $18

Vapour Solar Translucent Bronzer
EWG rating (preliminary): 2
Price: $34 at vapourbeauty.com

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