The Sprout Guide to Avoiding Harmful Chemicals in Skin Care Products

I often get asked what products are safe to use, non-toxic, and free of nasty chemicals. In a world of misleading marketing and information, I know firsthand that it can be extremely challenging to find safe skincare products. Products that I initially thought were "natural" often turn out to be loaded with harmful chemicals and toxins. Not to mention that no premarket safety testing is required for the industrial chemicals that go into personal care products or the chemical industry as a whole. According to the Office of Cosmetics and Colors at the federal Food and Drug Administration, “â€Ķa cosmetic manufacturer may use almost any raw material as a cosmetic ingredient and market the product without an approval from FDA.” (FDA 2012) Personal care products are manufactured with 10,500 unique chemical ingredients, some of which are known or suspected carcinogens, toxic to the reproductive system or known to disrupt the endocrine system.  Scary stuff, huh?

So, what to do? I use the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep guide (they also now have a mobile app- which has come in handy many times!) to limit the amount of chemicals that I am exposed to. The EWG researchers have evaluated hundreds of safety studies and thousands of ingredient labels to bring top recommendations for what not to buy.. Based on this information, I put together a list of a few of my favorite products that I use daily.

1.  Hugo Naturals Balancing Shampoo, Tea Tree and Lavender, EWG Score: 1
2. ACURE Facial Cleansing Creme - Argan Oil + Mint , EWG Score: 2
3. Om Aroma & Co, Pumpkin Seed Renew Serum, EWG Score: Not Available but is certified organic
4. Burt's Bees Mama Bee Nourishing Body Oil with Vitamin-E, EWG Score: 2
5. Boscia B.B. Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 27, EWG Score: 3 
6. Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps Pure-Castile Soap, All-One Hemp Lavender, EWG Score: 1
7. 100% Pure Body Cream Coconut , EWG Score: 3 
8. Acure Organics Day Cream, EWG Score: 2
9. Thayer - Witch Hazel Toner, EWG Score: 2

Here is a great chart to help navigate everyday products by the EWG.

SoapAvoid: triclosan and triclocarban.
Skin moisturizer and lip productsAvoid: Retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinoic acid and retinol in daytime products
Hand sanitizersPick: ethanol or ethyl alcohol in at least 60% alcohol
SunscreenJust say no:
  • SPF >50
  • Retinyl palmitate
  • Aerosol spray and powder sunscreen
  • Oxybenzone
  • Added insect repellent
Say yes to:
  • Hats and shade in mid-day sun
  • Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide as active ingredients, otherwise Avobenzone (at 3%)
  • SPF 30 for intense sun
  • Use a lot and reapply frequently
Hair CareAvoid or limit:
  • Dark permanent hair dyes
  • Chemical hair straighteners
ToothpasteAvoid: triclosan
NailsAvoid: triclosan and triclocarban
  • Formaldehyde or formalin in polish, hardeners or other nail products.
  • Toluene and Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) in polish.
  • Pregnant? Skip polish
Now that you have a sense of what to avoid, here are 16 natural oils to look for and incorporate into your skin care routine. After all your skin is your largest organ, take care of it girl ! This beauty guide from Glamour is ESSENTIAL!

Have you made the switch to clean skincare? I would love to hear some of your suggestions.

Source: Environmental Working Group, Skin Deep, Glamour