Americans are embracing sustainability more than ever, with 85% of Americans stating that they want the government and brands to prioritize it more, as reported by Forbes. Consumers are not only more interested in eco-friendly products; they are also willing to pay more for them, though concern for the environment is only one piece of the puzzle. Consumers are more aware than ever of the link between toxic beauty ingredients and potential health concerns. In today's world, eco-friendly beauty is as much about obtaining better, healthier results as it is about lowering one’s carbon footprint.
What is Eco-Friendly Beauty?
Terms like eco- and environmentally-friendly can extend to a wide range of products, most of which have in common that the products are created sustainably, relying on practices such as the use of eco-friendly packaging, organic ingredients, upcycling, recycling, responsible water management, responsible waste disposal, and fair and ethical treatment of employees. When selecting ingredients, however, it is also important to think of avoiding toxicity.
If you would like to test the health quotient of the products you are currently using, the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database is a good place to start. The latter is an online product database listing the ingredients of almost 65,000 products. Information provided includes brand and product names, ingredients, warnings, indications, and more.
Toxic Ingredients in Everyday Beauty Products
Some of the most commonly found beauty ingredients that have been shown to potentially (or actually) harm health include parabens (which preserve beauty products), phthalates, fragrance, sodium lauryl sulfate/sodium laureth sulfate (SLSs), BHT, formaldehyde, and many more ingredients. As stated by beauty guru Leslie Kenton in her best-selling book, Skin Revolution, these ingredients can have effects on health ranging from mild to severe.
SLS, for instance, which is found in the majority of shampoos, bubble baths and other products that foam up, and some creams, are derived from coconut and palm oils and are produced by chemical reactions in a lab. The resulting manipulated molecules easily penetrate skin and have been found to cause everything from flaking skin to mouth ulcerations and hair loss. SLSs can also combine with other products to form nitrosamines, which have been linked to causing cancer. This is why environmentally friendly hair products are generally SLS-free, but it's important to check every label.
Natural Ingredients Are Powerful Beauty Allies
Natural ingredients can help boost the health and beauty of your skin, hair, and nail in many ways. For instance, argan oil has been found in numerous studies to contain a host of antioxidants and to have anti-inflammatory properties. One study published in the International Journal of Molecular Science found that argan oil had the power to fight free radicals (including those which cause our skin to age and lose elasticity and firmness). Other excellent toxin-free products include organic coconut oil (excellent for keeping moisture trapped in curly and dry hair), tea tree oil (effective at treating inflammation and redness of the skin), grape seed oil (a non-comedogenic oil that can be used to hydrate acne-prone skin), and sea salt (excellent to scrub away dead skin cells and to leave skin baby smooth).
Consumers across the globe are keen to embrace more sustainable lifestyles, according to recent research. This extends to everything from the food they eat to skincare and other beauty products. To understand more about potentially harmful ingredients in beauty products, researching your favorite products on reputed databases is a good start. So too is researching on the host of natural ingredients which, when ethically and sustainably sourced, can improve your beauty game while helping you reduce your carbon footprint.
Written by Sally Collins
About the Author
Sally Collins is a professional freelance writer with many years of experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.
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