Today is part 2 of our 3 part series on safer beauty. Last post we talked about how naturally radiant skin begins from within. Carly listed 6 ways to begin changing your diet to support a clear complexion. This week Casey Poe, an esthetician in Colorado and fellow NTP, instructs us on what to avoid when choosing skincare and beauty products. Interestingly, I was excited to see that Casey's top 5 list is the same list I have been utilizing for years. Validation from a pro is always nice! Also, I love how her message of progress, not perfection, fits right in with our Hearts for Health mission.
Huge THANK YOU to Kristen and Carly for giving me this opportunity to guest post on their beautifully designed education focused blog! You girls rock and will change many lives with your knowledge and passion!!
I’m Casey Poe-Campbell, a Colorado-based Licensed Esthetician, Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, and former acne sufferer. After spending nearly a decade in and out of dermatologist’s offices AND becoming an esthetician my face was still covered in acne. It wasn’t until I completed my first Whole 30 nutritional reset and my skin was clear/glowing that I realized what goes into our face shows up on our face. I knew then that I had to take my pimple popping expertise to the next level with an education in nutrition.
During my quarter life crisis (age 25), I became a flight attendant. Between living mostly on airport food, drinking more alcohol than I care to admit, and not sleeping I ended up gaining 20 pounds, was ridiculously grumpy, and covered in acne/psoriasis. When a passenger noticed the psoriasis on my legs and gave me information about supplements, I was mortified. I thanked him, promptly threw the flyer away then cried in the lavatory. The next week I walked out of the dermatologist’s office with two new prescriptions.
After years of being on medications, I knew there had to be another solution to fix my skin. That is when I made the decision to become a Licensed Esthetician. Despite my best efforts, my face erupted in acne (like telling my boyfriend at the time to break up with me bad). Years passed before I finally used my esthetics license because I was so ashamed of my skin. Again, I went back to the dermatologist for another prescription and no hope that I would ever have clear skin.
Several years ago, I completed a nutritional reset program called the Whole 30 for the sole purpose of losing weight for a triathlon. I did lose weight, but it was the other effects of the program that opened my eyes to nutrition. It was the first time in years that I felt good and had confidence in my skin. I was a new person!
After working in the beauty industry for 8+ years, my eyes were finally opened to the potentially harmful ingredients (some linked to cancer, reproductive issues, and hormone disruption) in our skin care products and cosmetics.
Side note: Did you know the cosmetic industry is virtually unregulated? The last time Congress passed a law regulating the cosmetics industry was in 1938. Scary, right?
Why is this important to me? I have been personally impacted by cancer and imagine you know of someone whose life has been changed by the disease. Our stories are ever evolving. My “real” story starts with my mom, my dad, my aunt, and my grandma all being diagnosed with cancer within a few years of each other. The final tipping point that caused me to take a hard look at everything that I was consuming and being exposed to was my own cancer scare. It was at this time that I learned about the harmful and toxic ingredients that are in our personal care products. Ingredients that can be hormone disrupting, carcinogenic, skin irritating, and cause birth defects. Ingredients that we unknowingly put onto our largest organ every day.
The reality is most people don’t know what they are putting on their skin every single day. PLEASE check the ingredients in your skin care products and makeup. When selecting a product I refer to a tool called the NEVER list – it’s a list of ingredients that should never been in the products you use.
“WE DON'T KNOW, WHAT WE DON'T KNOW.”
I don’t quite remember whom I first heard that quote from but, wow, did it resonate! Here I was in the skin care industry for 8+ years and I had NO idea about the dangerous ingredients in our personal care products! From that point on, I’ve been on a mission to share knowledge about safer skin care because when we know better we do better.
Switching products, learning about harmful ingredients, and knowing what to use can be overwhelming. Here are some tips/tricks to help guide you to safer skin care.
TOP 5 INGREDIENTS TO AVOID:
- Synthetic Fragrance – considered a trade secret so companies do not have to disclose the up to 3,000 different ingredients that make up the word, “fragrance.” Fragrance can contain potentially hormone disrupting and skin irritating ingredients. Found in: all types of cosmetics.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) – makes products sudsy/foam up and can cause skin irritation and trigger allergies. It is often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane a known carcinogen. Found in: shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, and bubble bath.
- Parabens (Methyl-, Isobutyl-, Propyl-) – preservative used in products to prevent bacteria and mold growth. Hormone disruptors that have been found in breast cancer tissue. Found in: shampoo, face cleanser, body wash, body lotion, and foundation.
- Phthalates (DBP, DEHP, DEP) – plasticizing agent that makes plastics more pliable and fragrance stick to your skin. It can cause birth defects and hormone disruption. Found in: synthetic fragrance, nail polish, hairspray, and plastic materials including baby and dog toys.
- Polyethylene Glycol (PEG compounds) – used in cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers. PEGs can be contaminated with carcinogens ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane during the manufacturing process. Found in: creams, sunscreen, and shampoo.
What about products that are “natural”, “botanical”, “organic”, or “pure”?
Proceed with caution and read the ingredients. The United States has not passed a major federal law to regulate the safety of ingredients used in personal care products since 1938. This means the industry is basically unregulated and companies can use those terms without them having any meaning. Scary, right?
Are all chemicals bad? Aren’t all botanicals/naturals good?
Not necessarily. Water is a chemical made up of hydrogen and oxygen while poison ivy is a botanical. Would you stop drinking water and start using poison ivy as a face lotion? Probably not.
Now that I know all of this what do I do now?
Tools you can use TODAY!
- Use The Never List – this is a list of ingredients that should NEVER be in any personal care product you use. Simply save this list to your phone or keep a printed copy in your wallet.
- Download the Environmental Working Group’s Healthy Living app – this app allows you to scan items both skin care products and food for their safety. Warning: shopping trips will take longer!
Make the #switchtosafer as your products run out. I’m not saying that you need to throw everything out today and go on a personal care product-shopping spree, unless you want to (FUN!). I mean we spend good money on the products we use and must show some fiduciary responsibility when it comes to cosmetics. My recommendation is as you run out of products simply swap them out for products that do not contain anything on the NEVER LIST. Super easy!
Some people feel really bad about throwing away products; it’s weird how we do get attached to certain products/smells. Taking a suggestion from “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” by Marie Kondo when I threw out my harmful (toxic ingredient filled) products I found it much easier to part with them (especially my beloved Clinique Happy perfume) when I thanked each one for its service and set it free from causing anymore harm. <---Woo, woo… I know!!
At the end of the day this process is about progress not perfection. Start making switches where you can and share this information with everyone who matters to you!
Be sure to check out Casey's website: Good & Well Boulder
Also be sure to subscribe (look right ---->) and stay tuned for Part 3 in this skin care series where Casey, Carly and myself share our personal beauty routines and products.
Do you have any beauty products that you choose to avoid at all costs? Let us know in the comments.