Even if you never miss a workout, never skimp on sleep and never forget to sip your green juice in the AM, there’s one integral part of overall health that many of us unknowingly sabotage — our beauty and skincare routine. There are so many reasons to go natural, but for the average consumer, natural beauty is something that requires a certain amount of demystification. Living-well lifestyle bloggers Alexandra of To Vogue or Bust and Erin of The Sparkle are shedding some light on why natural beauty is such an important part of a healthy lifestyle and which ingredients to begin incorporating (and avoiding!), with expert insights from Ana Congdon, the founder of LeVert Beauty.
6 common ingredients to avoid
1. Sunscreen chemicals (aka benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone): These pesky little chemicals act as an agent to absorb ultraviolet light, among other things. Unfortunately, they also lead to exocrine (i.e. secretion of a substance out of a gland or duct) disruption, contribute to cellular damage and possibly cause cancer.
2. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (aka SLS): This wetting agent is found in roughly 90% of conventional products. A good rule of thumb is that if your product foams up, SLS is likely in there. SLSs are found in many acne treatments, shampoos, body washes and mascaras and can cause kidney and respiratory issues because they typically become a carcinogen when paired with certain other chemical ingredients inside many cleaning and beauty products.
3. Parabens: These estrogen-mimicking preservatives are easily absorbed through your skin. Sadly, biopsy samples have shown that they are often found inside of breast cancer tumors, which has led to them quickly becoming the most well-known ingredient to avoid overall.
4. Formaldehyde (aka Quaternium-15, DMDM Hydantoin, Ureas, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate): This chemical acts as a preservative and antimicrobial that is considered a human carcinogen, greatly affecting the body’s immune system over time.
5. Triclosan: It’s an antimicrobial chemical most familiarly known as an endocrine disrupter and especially affects the thyroid and reproductive hormones, throwing the body off course.
6. Phthalates (a.k.a. DBP, DEP, DEHP, DMP): Phthalates do many things, from giving plastic bottles their flexibility to helping nail polish resist chipping. Yet studies suggest they’re some of the biggest culprits in the increase of breast cancer, reproductive birth defects and early development abnormalities in young girls.
The 5 Most Effective Ingredients in Natural Skincare
1. Lactic Acid/Alpha Hydroxy Acid is extremely effective for exfoliating the skin and addressing breakouts, while also being deeply hydrating.
2. Ester-C is an exclusive, unique and potent form of vitamin C that boosts skin’s collagen, brightens dark spots and transforms skin’s texture.
3. Vitamin A works wonders for anti-aging, acne and discoloration as does its conventional counterpart Retin-A, just without the harsh peeling and irritation.
4. Turmeric is a superfood spice that supports your skin as an anti-inflammatory that helps with a plethora of issues such as wrinkles, acne, stretch marks, burns (especially when paired with aloe vera thanks to both of their antiseptic healing properties) and dry skin.
5. Green Tea is insanely rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties but also has collagenase (an enzyme that helps break down collagen). What’s even more important to note is how it enhances and amplifies the bottom line results when paired with ingredients such as quinoa (for hair) and Ester-C/vitamin C (for skin).
What Products Are Worth Swapping Out
Anything ingested through the mouth, applied around the eyes (a membrane) or absorbed by your largest organ, your skin, should go through the ingredient-list test. Your skincare routine, eye makeup and lipsticks are the absolute smartest first swaps to be made. If you’re starting out in the summer, opt for a natural sunscreen (zinc oxide is said to be great for controlling breakouts as well!), face oil, deodorant, mascara and maybe a tinted lip balm.
Have you experimented with natural beauty? Tell us about your experience in the comments!
(Photography by Erin Sousa )