SO much has been said about the long laundry list of ingredients we need to avoid in our beauty products, right? I started researching this over ten years ago when I sat down to write my first book, Gorgeously Green. Back then it was new news: It was inconceivable that there could be anything in our our expensive anti-wrinkle creams that could be bad for our health. But, we now know the truth, which isn’t as pretty as those gorgeous jars might be promising us.
As to the laundry list – It’s really confusing for most people, especially as different brands, experts, and data bases, have different ideas as to what is “toxic” for your body. In my most recent book, Gorgeous For Good, I take a deep dive into the peer-reviewed research behind all the main ingredients in our skin care products, and especially those ingredients that everyone gets hysterical about. I also do a lot of myth-busting, especially when it comes to “green” beauty brands. For example, we hear the term “chemical-free” a lot, which means nothing (especially if you are a scientist), because every organic molecule is a chemical! If a brand wants to make that kind of claim, it would be helpful for them to get more specific about the exact “toxic” chemical/s they are referring to. Another silly term is “natural.” This term means absolutely nothing.
For the purposes of this post, I am not going to get into the the laundry list (which in my book, is pretty simple), but I am going to give you an easy short cut to getting rid of a bunch of pesky ingredients. You can do this by simply avoiding one single ingredient, and that ingredient is….drum roll… “Fragrance” or, how it’s often listed, “Fragrance/Parfum”.
This is listed on an ingredient label as just one of the ingredients in the line-up, however, hundreds of synthetic chemicals are usually hidden under that umbrella term. Many of these chemicals can adversely affect your health long-term. The problem is that many of the the chemicals in a stand-alone perfume, or a fragrance that is used to scent a product, have not been tested for safety. Reported adverse effects include Asthma symptoms, allergies, nausea, and migraines. People with multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS), babies, and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable. It is also possible that some of the classes of synthetic petrochemicals involved, may be hormone disruptors. I think I’ve become a lot more sensitive as I’ve gotten older. I feel nauseous around women who soak themselves in those heavy department store perfumes.
If you ever hop over to EWG’s SkinDeep database to see how your favorite product scores, you will notice that even some of the more mainstream drug store brands get quite a low hazard score if they are unscented. And, conversely, a relatively “green” brand might get a higher hazard score because their formula contains “fragrance” with undisclosed ingredients. BTW, these ingredients might be fine, but EWG will shove them into the “toxic” category if they don’t disclose each and every ingredient. So, for brands that don’t or can’t do that (there are complicated reasons), I try to do my research for you:)
So, what’s a girl to do who loves a gorgeous scent? That would be me for sure. I hate “unscented” or “fragrance-free” because I appreciate lovely smells! This is why I use essential oils almost every day of my life. They not only give me my fragrance fix, but they have therapeutic benefits too!
But, if you are in the market to buy lovely beauty products with scents that are OFF THE CHARTS, and that do not contain these possibly toxic petrochemicals, there are mercifully many wonderful choices. Here are some of my very favorite products. They literally make me crack a smile because they smell SO divine. Do keep in mind that when a brand uses pure essential oils and non-toxic scents to fragrance a product, it’s way more expensive for them, than just shoving in synthetic chemicals, so you will pay more. If these products are out of your budget, take a look at some of my DIY’s, where you can use your own oils to scent your products, and save a lot of money.
- Ellis Brooklyn Excellence Body Milk
- Aurelia Firming and Revitalizing Dry Body Oil
- African Botanicals Marula Body Firming Oil
And if you want a totally unscented skin care line (especially if you have irritated or inflamed skin), I cannot recommend CV Skinlabs more highly!