3 Questions You should ask BEFORE SWITCHING TO CLEAN BEAUTY
The decision to swap your current beauty products for toxic-free options is a lot more complicated than it may seem. For starters, you've probably already invested a ton of time and money sampling the products you currently use and finding a routine that works.
You might be a bit skeptical as to if non-chemically laden products are actually as effective as their counterparts, or how bad those 'toxic' ingredients really are. And finally, there's society's obsession with looking young, which might also influence your decision as to whether it's 'worth it' to swap to clean personal care products.
To be clear, clean personal care products don't just have to do with skincare or cosmetics. But for a lot of women it's typically one of the last area's in wholistic living that they seem to be willing to make a change.
(Even the founder of Vintner's Daughter, April Gargiulo, felt the same way. That is, until she realized she couldn't use any of her favorite products during her pregnancy. Why? Because they were too toxic. Hence, her creation of the Active Botanical Serum.)
Ultimately, what we choose to use (or not use) on our own bodies is up to us, but it should be made with all the facts. Here are the three questions to consider before diving into (or running from) clean beauty products.
1. What do I consider to be beautiful?
Throughout history, it seems that women have always been willing to do some crazy things for the sake of beauty. And societies have had a plethora of answers to what beauty norms should be and what effort we should take to achieve those norms.
We’ve bound our breasts to appear more flat-chested (flapper era) and worn push-up bras to make us look bustier. We’ve fake-baked and spray-tanned, bleached our face, our hair, and our down-there’s. We’ve used sunscreen that kills coral reefs and disrupts our endocrine systems to prevent skin cancer, and we’ve painted our teeth black (to prove we had money for sugary treats). We’ve worn lead-based lipsticks and green dresses dyed with arsenic (that literally killed us).
We’ve ripped out our hair (in lots of places), gone makeup-free, tattooed our eyebrows, had our feet bound by our mothers and then bound our daughters feet. We’ve eaten arsenic for paler skin and worn 80’s style makeup. We’ve gotten fake butts, and used such shiny shoe polish it could make you faint. We’ve elongated our necks, manipulated our skulls, covered our real nails with fake nails, and painted our faces with white lead so toxic it actually ate away at our skin.
We’ve worn cages over our lard-filled hair to keep critters out, corsets that required fainting couches, highly combustable hair combs (that literally caught on fire if they got to hot), and high-heeled shoes that caused back pain, knee pain and even bunions.
We’ve literally manipulated our physical appearance for the sake of beauty in so many ways it’s hard to imagine a time where we don’t. And yet, most definitions of beauty over the centuries have often been very narrowly defined.
Today, change is (thankfully!) happening, but the version of beauty we see often see is thin, white, blond women with wavy hair, clear skin, no wrinkles, who are extremely fit, and look like they're 21.
Trying to fit that mold can put a a lot of pressure on us to use high performance beauty products, even at the expense of our health.
So take a moment to honesty answer the question, ‘What do I consider to be beautiful and why?’
Hopefully, it triggers a much deeper reflection on what society says beauty is and how those social constructs influence our personal view.
2. How do I fit into this idea of beauty?
The second question to ask yourself is, "How do I fit into my definition of what beauty is?"
Most of us could do with a little less self-criticism. Especially, in how we think or talk about our own physical appearance. You probably don’t think less of a friend or partner because they have laugh lines, forehead wrinkles, freckles, or look their age. And you wouldn’t take your best friend (or your daughter) to a mirror and search for all the flaws on their face, their hair, their skin, their body.
So don’t do it to yourself. Be kind. You’re not lying. You really are beautiful.
When you keep in mind how narrowly defined (and often ridiculous) our constructs of beauty have been -- and still are -- you may have a different answer of what your beauty priorities are or how clean personal care products work into that equation.
Smoking used to be a social norm. So normal in fact that doctors recommended certain types of cigarettes and featured ads with mom’s smoking with their new-born infants. Then we decided to shift those social norms and value our long-term health more.
Chances are you wouldn’t wear a rare (but vibrant) arsenic dyed green dress if you knew it was going to kill you. You probably also wouldn’t lather your face with a sunscreen that gave you acne, and you might not want to continue to use a product that was linked to cancer, neurotoxins, or endocrine disruptors.
Or maybe you would, but at least you would know the health implications — just like you know drinking a bottle of wine a night is bad for your health, or how packs of cigarettes have a Surgeon General’s Warning.
Unfortunately, of the 80,000 chemicals used in the USA, most of them have been evaluated for their health effects. So it really is hard to know what's of concern and what's not -- unless you do the research!
What we do know, is that the FDA does not require any personal care products to be tested before they go to the market, and that the EU has banned over 1300 products that are currently being used by US manufactures.
3. What's my priority when switching to clean beauty products?
Then last big question to ask yourself before deciding if you want to switch to clean beauty products is, "What's my priority?" Ultimately, it's a personal decision if you decide to swap one or all of your beauty products - or none at all. Each person will have different priorities, timelines, and end goals.
There are lots of options out there. Including; effective toxic-free products, zero-waste or DIY options, products that are vegan and cruelty free and some that are all of the above.
Knowing where or what you priorities are will help simplify the process of what you’re looking for, which products you want to swap first, if you want to make a clean break, or if you just want to avoid the top 6 worst ingredients.
What might be good for me; might not be right for you. But at least you'll know why.
The Top 6 Ingredients to Avoid.
8 Personal Care Products to Swap ASAP.
How See if My Products are Toxic.