Overwhelmed with options? Don’t be. Starting a clean beauty routine doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s help getting started. But first, meet the experts!
• Laura Burget and Connie Lo, founders of Canadian skincare brand NIU Body.
What’s the argument for switching to a clean beauty routine?
Tata Harper: Your skin is your largest organ and absorbs everything you put on it. If you’re applying synthetic, potentially toxic chemicals every day, they get absorbed into your body and can lead to health issues.
Laura Burget and Connie Lo: Wouldn’t you want to avoid having chemicals and toxins enter your bloodstream? Many of the ingredients in conventional sincere are “endocrine-disrupting chemicals,” meaning they can affect our hormonal systems.
Laura Townsend: What you put on your body will eventually circulate through your bloodstream. Anywhere blood travels, toxins and chemicals can travel. Natural beauty has come a long way in the past 10 years! Formulations are competitive with the conventional world and products perform very well, ingredients are clean and high quality, and even the packaging and branding has improved.
Don’t we need synthetic ingredients for better skin?
TH: Not really. The majority of synthetic ingredients that can pose health risks aren’t actually used to give your skin any benefit — they’re just fillers. Some of these include: BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), which is a preservative found in many colour cosmetics, sodium laurel sulfate, also known as sodium laureth sulfate or PEG, which is an emulsifier that helps with a product’s texture and synthetic fragrances. These help a product smell good (they are even used to cover the smell of other ingredients in products that are labelled “fragrance free”), and they are considered trade secrets, so manufacturers aren’t required to list their ingredients. Up to 4,000 ingredients can make up one “fragrance.”
What “bad” ingredients should we be keeping an eye out for?
LB and CL: The major ones to avoid are parabens, sulfates, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), lead, aluminum, synthetic colours, and formaldehyde. (Learn more about the potentially toxic ingredients you use every day – and where they’re hiding.)
What natural ingredients could you swap for these harmful ones?
LB and CL: You don’t need chemicals and artificial ingredients to see results. Earth’s natural ingredients have been used for centuries for beauty purposes. For example, coconut oil works wonders to remove makeup, kaolin clay digs deep to draw out blackheads and dirt from pores. (Try this DIY oat flour beauty mask – all you need are a few simple ingredients.)
TH: We use fermented radish root as a preservative, safflower oleosomes as emulsifiers, and pure essential oils for fragrance. These alternatives provide the same results without health risks.
Where’s the best place to start? Should you swap all your products at once?
LT: Start with one of two approaches: #1. Swap out something you use daily. A mascara, your lipstick, bar of soap, deodorant. Keep it simple and be consistent with using it! Or #2. Swap out something that covers the largest surface area such as body wash or body soap. Also anything that goes near the sensitive eye area or lip area. You eat anything you put on your lips! Deodorant is usually the first thing people swap. It’s so important with so many lymph nodes being around the underarm.
(Be sure to check out these natural deodorant reviews from Best Health editors!)
LB and CL: We recommend you avoid switching everything at once, because it can get pretty overwhelming. Start with the basics in your skincare routine, such as a gentle makeup remover, toner and serum.
How do you choose a natural product?
TH: Make sure all the ingredients are actually natural. Some companies label their products as natural or include a few natural ingredients, but still contain synthetic fillers or preservatives. Check the ingredient list thoroughly.
LT: Do your homework! There are so many fantastic, personal and genuine reviews on the internet (Check out the Detox Blog or YouTube channel for expert reviews). Start with purchasing a “travel size” product or “discovery kit”. Many green beauty brands offer these options, The Detox Market included. Our Detox Box is a great way to explore different brands and products from the green beauty world. [The Detox Box subscriptions start at $58/month. Each monthly box features products from one brand and is valued at $110 or more.]
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Next, discover 15 natural beauty brands you probably didn’t know were Canadian.