BY JAMIE LOBER
Consumers are paying more attention to labels and what they put on their skin, hair, and faces. The best shopper is a smart shopper. Most women will go to great lengths to get glowing, radiant skin, but should never sacrifice their health or safety. Fortunately, there are actions you can take that will make a difference.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has some basic guidelines to help you stay away from hazardous chemicals that could be hiding in your products. The main thing to recognize is that the shortest ingredient list is likely going to be the one that is free of synthetic chemicals. Companies in the United States are required to list ingredients in the order of what has the greatest quantity. Anything that has the word fragrance on the label should not touch your skin. It is important to remember that there are not a lot of regulations on makeup and other beauty products. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reinforces that there is no legal standard for labels such as pure, natural, or organic, so you have to do your own investigating.
Breast Cancer Action encourages women to stay away from cosmetics that contain parabens and phthalates as studies link them to cancer development. They define parabens as chemical preservatives that are estrogenic and disrupt normal hormone function. The phthalates are shown to cause birth defects and reproductive problems, as well as increase breast cancer risk. The exposure to these bad chemicals is the most harmful to kids and those who are still developing.
Some women like to take matters into their own hands and make their own products. It can be fun to do as a family, host a girls’ night or do by yourself. You may be surprised to learn that you probably have everything you need in your pantry, such as coconut oil, honey, tea tree oil, aloe vera gel, sea salt, oatmeal, sugar, and shea butter. These basics will help you moisturize, exfoliate, and cleanse. You will be proud to enjoy salt scrubs or body oils that are your very own creations. It takes making a conscious effort and getting your family on board to be successful. It can be hard because most people use many beauty products, and some studies have shown that many exposures over a period of time can lead to damage like birth defects, asthma, cancer, and learning disabilities.
Talk to friends and neighbors about what products they are using and share your knowledge. The more informed you are, the better. There are even apps out there like Think Dirty that rate products 1-10 and propose healthier alternatives. You can also go to madesafe.org to see if a certain product is certified. Made Safe is a nonprofit organization that offers a comprehensive certification for nontoxic products that have passed ingredient screening for known behavioral toxins, carcinogens, developmental toxins, endocrine disruptors, fire retardants, heavy metals, neurotoxins, pesticides, reproductive toxins, toxic solvents, and harmful VOCs.
Last but not least, the easiest precaution may get overlooked sometimes. Do not underestimate the value of applying sunscreen. The American Cancer Society said to be sure to read the label and look for a product that is marked broad spectrum, meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays and has a sun protection factor value of 30 or higher. Always check the expiration date to make sure you are well protected. When you apply it, you want to pay close attention to areas that may not be covered by clothing, and reapply every 2 hours. Lip balm is also available with sunscreen. If you are looking to accessorize, stylish sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat will make a fashion statement and protect your delicate skin. The American Cancer Society recommends sunglasses that are labeled as having UV absorption up to 400 nm or that they meet ANSI UV requirements. That is your best guarantee that they will shield you from the harmful rays. Now it is time to put your best face forward and enjoy the warmest months of the year.