by Claire Moshenberg
Tis the season for summer beauty. Warmer days mean more sunscreen applications, different makeup routines, and more showers to make up for chlorine soaked hair or sweaty days outdoors. Unfortunately, many of the products about to enter your summer beauty routines are more than trendy: They might also be toxic.
Women use an average of 12 products containing more than 125 unique chemicals daily. Only 11% of chemicals in personal care products in the US have been assessed for safety by the industry's self-policing panel. "Companies say, 'We do a lot of testing.' But they're looking for short-term effects like a rash," said Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. "They're not looking at long-term health effects like cancer risk."
Make your summer a little safer! Use these six safer summer beauty tips as you update your beauty routines for the season.
Soft skin in seconds: Incorporate exfoliation into your summer beauty routine with this insanely easy and inexpensive nontoxic homemade sugar scrub. Combine half a cup of olive oil to one cup of sugar. Add a splash of an essential oil for an additional scent. And that's it! You can also replace the sugar with salt for a salt scrub. For DIY cosmetics recipe, visit the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics for their handy list of homemade cosmetics recipes.
SPF Savvy: Think before you rely on SPF infused cosmetics. Even high SPF levels in cosmetics are weakened due to the relatively small surface area makeup covers and the small amount that is used. If you're using makeup with an SPF, make sure you're continuing to use sunscreen, and that you're reapplying throughout the day.
Not so natural: All natural. Green. What do these terms have in common? They have no legal definition. It's called greenwashing, a ploy used by cosmetics companies to make products appear safer, even though they've made no actual changes to improve the safety of their products. Cosmetics companies are able to use these terms without meeting any requirements. Don't be fooled! Learn more about greenwashing, and make sure you're not a greenwashing victim, by looking up cosmetics on the Skin Deep database before making a purchase.
Check the Label: You've probably heard before how important it is to check the labels on your food products. But did you know that the same rule applies to cosmetics? Labels on cosmetics are a bit more difficult to decipher. Use handy resources like the Skin Deep database, or this portable card from the National Healthy Nail Salon Alliance, which shows you how to make healthy choices when selecting a nail polish.
Less is more: It's not always financially possible to overhaul all of the cosmetic products in your life (and because of faulty legislation, it's hard to find products that are completely non-toxic). But, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Start with small changes that work for you. Streamline your routine. Find places in your cosmetics life that can be edited, where products can be used less or not at all. Focus on switching the products you use the most (like daily use products) over to non-toxic options. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics recommends that if you are attached to a particular fragrance, that you limit your exposure to fragrance in other cosmetic items to compensate for that exposure.
Check out a blockbuster: Summer movie season is here in all of it's giant summer blockbuster glory. Celebrate the season by taking a few minutes to watch "The Story of Cosmetics." This short video by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the creators of The Story of Stuff takes a serious look at the cosmetics industry and offers practical tips and legislative solutions for our current toxic cosmetics landscape.
- Beauty Care Do's and Don'ts, from Cancer Schmancer: http://www.cancerschmancer.org/prevention/beauty-care-dos-and-donts
- Tips for Prevention: Choose Safe Cosmetics, from the Breast Cancer Fund: http://www.breastcancerfund.org/reduce-your-risk/tips/choose-safe-cosmetics/
- Not So Sexy: The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance, from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: http://safecosmetics.org/article.php?id=644