Every day we use products on various parts of our bodies that contain harmful chemicals. While it’s difficult to say how much exposure to a chemical is too much, researchers advocate choosing products that don’t increase your overall exposure whenever you can. This is especially important during early childhood, puberty, and pregnancy.
You don’t have to overhaul your entire skincare routine overnight. Treat it like eating healthier: From time to time, take stock of what you’re putting on, or in, your body and replace some of the stuff in your shopping cart with better options.
What follows is a simple, but methodical, process to aid you in that effort.
Think about how you use a product
Trying to completely eliminate a chemical from your life is likely to cause you a whole lot of frustration. Remember, the size of the dose determines whether something is harmful to your health. A good place to begin, then, is by counting how many of your personal care, skincare, and beauty products contain concerning ingredients – refer to my last blog post for a rundown of the most common ones – and start cutting out items. Repeat the process every month or so.
Prioritize the things you put directly on your skin and that stay there for long periods, such as lipsticks and moisturizers.
Yes, there’s an app for that
Apps by the Environmental Working Group and Think Dirty allow you to search for a product by name or bar code to find questionable ingredients. They also score chemicals based on the number of hazards linked to them.
Keep in mind, these scores don’t take into account how, or how frequently, you use a product. So, it’s up to you to determine your level of risk. If a product hasn’t caused skin irritation or other reactions, you may decide to focus on the chemical risks of products you use daily instead of those you use once a week or less.
Third-party certifications can help
Third-party certifications, like USDA Organic (which denotes products made with organic ingredients) and COSMOS Natural (which is given to products that pass an audit of their ingredients, manufacturing processes, and eco-friendly packaging) can help you find better products. All these labels are a little different from each other, so feel free to look up the certification to find out what it means, exactly.
However, you shouldn’t assume that products that don’t bear one of these seals of approval are toxic. In some cases, companies have to pay a fee to get approved, and small brands may choose not to be certified because of the cost.