Written by Dr. Mona Wiggins
When it comes to our health, it’s not just what we put in our bodies that matters but also what we put ON our bodies!
As women, many of us use 10, if not 20 or more, products on our faces and bodies every day: cleansers, toners, serums, sunscreens, makeup, etc. And that’s just our faces! When you also add in shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, etc., you can see how our daily and lifetime exposure to chemicals quickly adds up.
This issue is that these products don’t just sit on our skin.
Your skin is your largest organ and it absorbs the products you put on it!
What you put on your skin is absorbed into your tissues and your bloodstream. Depending on the ingredients, this can be bad news for your hormones and reproductive health, as well as your nervous and immune system. This also goes for chemicals that you inhale through breathing in fragrances or those you eat by licking your lips, etc. while wearing products.
Many countries even have little to no regulatory standard for cosmetic products and what they are required to disclose to consumers.
Many cosmetic products contain harmful chemicals that are toxic, even in low doses. As I highlighted in a previous blog post about endocrine disruptors, exposures to these toxic chemicals may contribute to negative effects for you and your loved ones including
- estrogen dominance,
- thyroid disease,
- decreased fertility,
- increased risk of miscarriage, and
- reproductive cancers.
Additionally these toxic chemicals are stored in our fat cells, which we naturally have more of as women. Plus we tend to use more products than men, starting in our teen years or sometimes before, so women accumulate these toxins at higher amounts. Our overall toxic exposure and body burden is much higher.
Clean Beauty Resources
- EWG (Environmental Working Group)’s Skin Deep is an extensive database with over 60k products. It allows you to search your current products or those you are looking to purchase and offers a safety rating along with information on chemicals of concern and often offers safer alternatives. EWG also offers certifications for companies that meet nontoxic requirements including full transparency of ingredients and avoidance of ingredients of concern (ingredients with health, ecotoxicity and/or contamination concerns), you can look for this designation on products.
Think Dirty is an app that allows you to search and check the safety of your current products. It gives a safety rating on a scale of 1-10 and offers up cleaner solutions. The website also has additional information on verified clean skincare companies and limited products available for purchase.
- Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a great website with detailed information on various chemicals found in cosmetic products including info on chemicals of concern. They are a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners whose aim is to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation. Safe Cosmetics' Red List is a fantastic and extensive dive into the various chemicals found in personal care products, cleaning products and fragrance ingredients that pose serious, chronic health concerns including cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive and developmental harm. The paper is a great resource if you want to look at individual toxins and their risks. For example maybe you’re okay with respiratory risks but you want to avoid any products with endocrine or reproductive risks. It’s your body so only you can decide what risk is acceptable to you.
- MADE SAFE is a partner of Safe Cosmetics and provides nontoxic certification for companies that make cosmetic and personal care products. MADE SAFE (Made With Safe Ingredients) verifies products are made with safe ingredients not known or suspected to harm human health, animals, or ecosystems.
So what can you do?
Here are some simple suggestions for cleaning up your beauty routine.
- Simplify your beauty regimen. Consider eliminating products and really slimming down your overall product use. Go natural, use minimal makeup, and embrace your natural beauty!
- Research and Read the Labels. The only way to be aware of what you are putting into your body is by reading the labels. Educate yourself on what is harmful and know where you are personally willing to take risks and where you are not. Below are some great resources for cosmetic products, most of these have explanations of the various ingredients and some will rank in terms of safety or even suggest safer alternatives.
- Look out for “Greenwashing.” "Greenwashing" or "cleanwashing" is when companies attempt to make a product look safe or clean when it really isn’t. This is a common phenomenon and very popular nowadays. Be cautious with labels such as “natural,” “clean,” “nontoxic,” and “organic.” Unfortunately, there are actually no clear standards or requirements for these terms. Read the ingredients!
- Use Online Tools and Apps to Find Safer Products. See the resource list above! Many of these offer extensive information on the various toxic chemicals and what effects that may have in your body. I love the features on both EWG and Think Dirty that allow you to search your current products to understand their safety level, they also offer safer alternative suggestions. The Red List is a great resource if you want to dive deep in this info.
Consider Buying Nontoxic Certified Products. Consider using products with the EWG or MadeSafe seal as they hold a standard for certification that monitors what companies put in their products. You can read more on the websites, links below.
- If You Can’t do it All, Prioritize. If you don’t have the time, money, or energy to replace all your skincare products don’t stress. Consider this a process and be patient with yourself and your learning process. If you want to pick just one product at a time, focus on what you put over large surface areas of your body (eg body lotion or soap), those you put on your lips since we lick them all day, or those that are rated most harmful.
- Take a Deep Breath, Relax, and Focus on Nourishing your Body. Changing to cleaner routines can sometimes feel overwhelming or stressful. Try to remember that your goal is to better nourish your body, so focus on this. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, baby steps are a good place to start. Take a deep breath, love on your body, move it, nourish it, and know you will figure it all out in your own timing. Remember your skin care is a way to nourish and care for you. You are deserving and there are people out there to help if you need it!
Dr. Mona Wiggins is a doctor of nursing practice, fertility awareness educator, and cycle coach. With over 14 years of medical experience, her passion and goal in life is to empower women to shamelessly embrace their bodies and divine feminine wisdom through cyclical living, fertility awareness, and holistic health education.
Mona first came to fertility awareness after years of struggling with irritable bowel syndrome, mental health issues, and significant side effects from hormonal birth control. Fertility awareness has helped her to find true health, freedom, and confidence in her body and she is dedicated to sharing this valuable information with others. She teaches CM, BBT, cervix positioning, and LH testing and offers both one-one-one and self-study courses. You can learn more about working with Dr. Mona on her website and can follow her on social media - facebook and instagram. If you found this post helpful and would like to thank Mona while receiving a special discount, shop Tempdrop with Mona’s discount code.