Since I was in my early teens I’ve always loved make up. For a long time I subscribed to ipsy and birchbox, and have made many retail therapy trips to Sephora. I had SO much makeup, most of it was unopened. However, there were a few key products that I always used like eyeshadow, mascara, foundation, blush, bronzer, eyebrow powder, lip stains, and lipsticks. I was a makeup snob and only bought high-end makeup. I was shocked when I found out these high-end brands use toxic ingredients in their products. I always thought that since they were expensive, they contained high quality ingredients and weren’t harmful. After going through my makeup I was horrified by the harmful chemicals I was exposed to during my beauty routine. In the United States we are exposed to over 80,000 toxins each day, many of these toxins are from our personal care products. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), "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. Though some companies make products that are safe to eat, others choose to use dangerous ingredients like coal tar and formaldehyde, both human carcinogens, and lead acetate, a developmental toxin." - EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetic Database. Toxins found in beauty products can wreak havoc on our bodies in many ways including: increasing inflammation in the body, disrupting hormones, and putting us at risk for an autoimmune disease or other diseases.
I believe you should go through any product you put on or in your body. One of the most concerning products is lipstick. I was shocked to find out that some lipsticks contain lead and other harmful metals. If you're thinking well it's probably just trace minerals, how bad could it be? Unfortunately, you would be wrong. Many times these harmful toxins are substantial components of the beauty product. After years of nonprofits conducting studies on lipsticks containing lead, finally in 2012 the FDA conducted a study. Nars, Cover Girl, Maybelline, Dior were only some of the many brands which contained the highest amounts of lead in their lipsticks. That is INSANE, frustrating, and dangerous. When you wear lipstick you ingest the ingredients of the lipstick because you drink and eat with lipstick on, then you reapply lipstick multiple times and are exposing yourself to these incredibly harmful chemicals numerous times a day. The FDA's legal authority over cosmetics is different from their authority over other products they regulate, such as drugs, biologics, and medical devices. Under the law, cosmetic products and ingredients do not need FDA pre-market approval, with the exception of color additives. The FDA does no systematic reviews of safety, instead authorizing the cosmetics industry to self-police ingredient safety through its Cosmetics Ingredient Review panel. Over its 36 years, this industry panel has rejected only 11 ingredients as unsafe in cosmetics. Since there isn’t government regulation and the Cosmetics Ingredient Review panel is pretty much useless, it is incredibly important to be a smart consumer. If nothing else, check your lipsticks on the EWG’s website (see below).
3 Steps to Giving Your Makeup a Makeover
1. Look at Environmental Working Group (EWG) rating
The EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is a FREE resource available to all. The database is incredible with over 69,000 cosmetics and personal care products, they reveal the toxicity of each product. The EWG is a nonprofit organization whose “aim is to fill in where industry and government leave off. Companies are allowed to use almost any ingredient they wish. The U.S. government doesn't review the safety of products before they're sold. Our staff scientists compare the ingredients on personal care product labels and websites to information in nearly 60 toxicity and regulatory databases.” - EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetic Database. Each product is given a safety rating along with details about the toxicity of each ingredient. They also have a list of the top scoring products which are called EWG Certified, and are measured by the company’s avoidance of toxic ingredients of concern, good manufacturing practices, and full transparency. I decided to go through each one of my skincare, makeup products, and hair-care products including chapstick, nail polish, lotions, etc. If the product was rated a 2 or above by EWG, I put the products in a pile. I actually thought a lot about what to do with the copious amount of products I was getting rid of. I didn’t want to just throw away all of the products because it seemed really wasteful, but donating them or giving them to people I care about seemed wrong because they are toxic. I decided to throw away the incredibly toxic products and warn my friends about the harmful toxins in the products I was offering them.
2. Decide what you really need
I had SO much makeup, it was unreal. While going through all of my makeup it seemed ridiculous that I had spent SO much money on these toxic products. I decided that I really didn’t need all of these products. I went through all of the products that were rated 1, none of my products were EWG Certified, and really thought about if I need this product or would ever even use this product. I decided to take a less is more approach. When you are going through your beauty products really think about what products you are going to use. It has been three months since I've gone through all of my makeup and I've experienced benefits to not wearing makeup as frequently or wearing as much makeup: my skin doesn't breakout as much or as often, the products that are EWG certified are cheaper than the toxic high-end products, and it’s a lot less time consuming to put on makeup.
3. Let it go
I’ve loved makeup since I was 14, so I had a hard time letting go of these products and brands that I had been loyal to for so many years. In the end, my health is WAY more important than a lipstick shade. Although, I did save 3 of my favorite lipsticks so I could find similar shades in an EWG certified brand, which I was able to find! Then, I parted ways with my toxic lipsticks for good. There are other brands that are EWG certified and have similar products that aren’t harming your body, so don't be afraid to go out and test new brands and products! It was also hard for me to let go of the fact that I spent SO much money on these products. My health is also WAY more important than money. There are alternatives to donating or giving away your makeup, you could always sell the products on ebay or some other website. Since I’ve parted ways with my makeup, I haven’t missed or even thought about the makeup I gave away. In the end, you need to prioritize what is best for you. Personally my health is my priority and these harmful ingredients were effecting my thyroid, skin, and overall well-being.
Have you ever gone through the ingredients in your makeup? What was the most shocking ingredient you found?