Non-toxic Beauty Tips: Summertime equals long days spent outside soaking up the sunshine, but it also can mean you need to take a little extra care of your skin.
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD
According to a survey conducted by the Environmental Working Group, the average person uses at least nine different care products on their bodies every day, containing more than 120 different ingredients. These products include lotions, makeup, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, body wash, sunscreen, and more. If each product is filled with chemicals, it’s easy to see how the toxic burden can quickly add up.
This summer, don’t let chemical-laden beauty products ruin your health. Non-toxic self-care is easy to keep your skin healthy and happy while avoiding harsh chemicals. This article will share some of the best non-toxic tips for healthy glowing skin.
Read the ingredients on your beauty products
Do you read food labels? Make sure you do the same for your beauty products. Learning about what chemicals to avoid on your skin is as important as recognizing food additives that aren’t great for your health.
You’d probably be shocked at the number of potentially toxic chemicals in our personal care products. Self-care products are filled with chemicals that are unsafe for our health or haven’t even been adequately tested for safety. Yet, they remain on the shelves. Some of these include toxins you’ve probably heard of, like formaldehyde, mercury, phthalates, and parabens, and many have already been banned from use in other countries outside the U.S.
A big reason these ingredients are so problematic is that they are endocrine disrupters. Endocrine disrupters are chemicals that can mimic hormones in the body, like estrogen, disrupting your natural balance. These chemicals are associated with reproductive, cognitive, and immune health concerns. They have even been connected to an increased risk for certain cancers. You can find them in everything from nail polish and lotions to cosmetics and sunscreens.
Keep your eyes out for these two offenders in particular: parabens and phthalates.
Parabens are one of the most common endocrine disrupters found in care products. They are used as a preservative in many beauty products to extend shelf life. The problem? Parabens are easily absorbed into the body and impact estrogen receptors, creating an increased risk for hormone-related health conditions. When looking at the label, look for any ingredients that end in paraben, but they often have other words in the name, like methylparaben or propylparaben.
Phthalates are another endocrine disruptor impacting reproductive health. One study found that they are associated with altered sperm h in quality in men. They are even associated with early puberty in children, increasing cancer risk later in life. They are used to add fragrance and texture to your products but may be harmful at even low doses.
Choose safer sunscreens
With increased awareness about the importance of sun protection, more and more of us are reaching for sunscreen. Unfortunately, not all sunscreen is created equal.
A study published by the Food and Drug Administration found that many of the common ingredients in sunscreen are easily absorbed and enter the bloodstream. While the researchers suggest more testing is needed to understand the impact of each individual chemical, it does point out how easily we can be exposed to these chemicals and why we should choose products that limit the use of any toxins.
Research suggests that oxybenzone, a chemical found in many popular sunscreens, is toxic to your body and the environment. It’s been banned from certain areas near the ocean where it’s particularly dangerous to the health of coral reefs. In humans, oxybenzone is linked to alterations in thyroid and reproductive hormones, kidney function, and, once again, early puberty.
The safest active ingredients are found in mineral-based sunscreens like titanium oxide or zinc oxide. These are considered physical sunscreens, meaning they sit on top of the skin and block UV rays instead of chemical sunscreens that are absorbed into the skin.
Use natural alternatives to chemical-laden toothpaste.
A shiny white smile to match your summer glow sounds great, but be careful what you choose to clean your teeth. Many chemicals in store-bought toothpaste are linked to adverse health outcomes. Some of these ingredients are added to give the toothpaste a foamy texture but are linked to allergies and mouth sores such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). And triclosan, which you may recognize from its use in antibacterial soaps, can also be found in certain toothpaste. This ingredient is associated with liver-related damage and is a known endocrine disrupter.
So what can you use instead? Baking soda has a pH of around eight, which works great on teeth because it helps break down plaque while also helping to remove stains. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a potent anti-microbial that helps keep gums healthy. Luckily many products now use these ingredients to keep your teeth – and your body – healthy.
Go non-toxic for your nails
Brightly colored nails and toes may be summer must-haves for some, but they aren’t without risks. If you choose to polish your nails, opt for non-toxic nail polish without these three ingredients:
- Formaldehyde, a toxic preservative and nail hardener, is a known carcinogen.
- Dibutyl phthalate (DBP), a type of phthalate used to reduce polish chipping, is associated with reproductive health concerns.
- Toluene, added for a smooth texture, is linked to nervous system concerns and birth defects.
Look for non-toxic options that avoid these ingredients.
Take care of your lips.
Your lipsticks may be high in heavy metals, particularly lead. Research has discovered the presence of lead and other toxic metals in many popular lipsticks, which are not exactly what you want near your mouth. And despite multiple studies with similar results, very little has changed within the cosmetic industry.
Lead is a known neurotoxin and can have significant health concerns even at small doses. But the FDA claims that it is found in such small amounts that it’s not a health concern. Since you won’t find lead labeled on the ingredient list, look for clean beauty products that have been third-party tested, such as those found on SafeCosmetics.org.
Stay beauty-safe this summer
There’s nothing like a summertime beauty routine that will keep you feeling refreshed and great, but you may want to consider swapping out the products in your makeup bag for healthier, non-toxic options this season. This way, you can enjoy all the benefits of sun exposure without worrying about skin damage or potential health risks from chemicals in standard cosmetics. Plus, these products will benefit you all year round.
Medical Disclaimer: This article is based on the opinions of The Cell Health team. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended to share knowledge and information from the research and experience of the Cell Health team. This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD, for the accuracy of the information provided, but we encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
- EWG. “Why Skin Deep®? || Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database.” Accessed June 18, 2021. http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/contents/why-skin-deep/
- “The Toxic Twelve Chemicals and Contaminants in Cosmetics | Environmental Working Group.” Accessed June 17, 2021. https://www.ewg.org/the-toxic-twelve-chemicals-and-contaminants-in-cosmetics.
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. “Endocrine Disruptors.” Accessed June 17, 2021. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/index.cfm.
- La Merrill, Michele A., Laura N. Vandenberg, Martyn T. Smith, William Goodson, Patience Browne, Heather B. Patisaul, Kathryn Z. Guyton, et al. “Consensus on the Key Characteristics of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals as a Basis for Hazard Identification.” Nature Reviews. Endocrinology 16, no. 1 (January 2020): 45–57. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41574-019-0273-8.
- Nowak, Karolina, Wioletta Ratajczak-Wrona, Maria Górska, and Ewa Jabłońska. “Parabens and Their Effects on the Endocrine System.” Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 474 (October 15, 2018): 238–51. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mce.2018.03.014.
- Hauser, Russ, John D. Meeker, Susan Duty, Manori J. Silva, and Antonia M. Calafat. “Altered Semen Quality in Relation to Urinary Concentrations of Phthalate Monoester and Oxidative Metabolites.” Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.) 17, no. 6 (November 2006): 682–91. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.ede.0000235996.89953.d7.
- Jurewicz, Joanna, and Wojciech Hanke. “Exposure to Phthalates: Reproductive Outcome and Children Health. A Review of Epidemiological Studies.” International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health 24, no. 2 (June 1, 2011): 115–41. https://doi.org/10.2478/s13382-011-0022-2.
- Matta, Murali K., Robbert Zusterzeel, Nageswara R. Pilli, Vikram Patel, Donna A. Volpe, Jeffry Florian, Luke Oh, et al. “Effect of Sunscreen Application Under Maximal Use Conditions on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” JAMA 321, no. 21 (June 4, 2019): 2082–91. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2019.5586.
- Schneider, Samantha L., and Henry W. Lim. “Review of Environmental Effects of Oxybenzone and Other Sunscreen Active Ingredients.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 80, no. 1 (January 2019): 266–71. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2018.06.033.
- Suh, Susie, Christine Pham, Janellen Smith, and Natasha A. Mesinkovska. “The Banned Sunscreen Ingredients and Their Impact on Human Health: A Systematic Review.” International Journal of Dermatology 59, no. 9 (September 2020): 1033–42. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijd.14824.
- Chen, Jiangang, Ki Chang Ahn, Nancy A. Gee, Mohamed I. Ahmed, Antoni J. Duleba, Ling Zhao, Shirley J. Gee, Bruce D. Hammock, and Bill L. Lasley. “Triclocarban Enhances Testosterone Action: A New Type of Endocrine Disruptor?” Endocrinology 149, no. 3 (March 2008): 1173–79. https://doi.org/10.1210/en.2007-1057.
- Lee, Hye-Rim, Kyung-A. Hwang, Ki-Hoan Nam, Hyoung-Chin Kim, and Kyung-Chul Choi. “Progression of Breast Cancer Cells Was Enhanced by Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals, Triclosan and Octylphenol, via
- “Formaldehyde and Cancer Risk – National Cancer Institute.” CgvArticle, June 10, 2011. Nciglobal,ncienterprise. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/formaldehyde/formaldehyde-fact-sheet.
- Tam, Victor. “Di-n-Butyl Phthalate (DBP).” Text. Proposition 65 Warnings Website, July 10, 2017. https://www.p65warnings.ca.gov/fact-sheets/di-n-butyl-phthalate-dbp.
- “Toluene | ToxFAQsTM | ATSDR.” Accessed June 18, 2021. https://wwwn.cdc.gov/TSP/ToxFAQs/ToxFAQsDetails.aspx?faqid=160&toxid=29.
- Nutrition, Center for Food Safety and Applied. “Limiting Lead in Lipstick and Other Cosmetics.” FDA, September 9, 2020. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-products/limiting-lead-lipstick-and-other-cosmetics.
- “CDC – NBP – Factsheet – Lead.” Accessed June 17, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/Lead_FactSheet.html.