Clean up your products with ‘clean beauty’

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Thinking about the chemicals that are in your everyday products can be utterly overwhelming, especially when a lot of them are hidden in the ingredient list.  Many of the synthetic chemicals and harmful ingredients are found under the ‘added fragrances’; this is because manufacturers don’t have to divulge the full ingredients used to give a scent to the product, which leaves room for hundreds of ingredients to be unknown to the buyer.  Four of the major chemicals found in beauty products that can be harmful if used on a regular basis are parabens, BPA, sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, and polyethylene.

The majority of the harmful chemicals found in your everyday products can act as hormone disruptors, meaning that they act like the hormones that your body naturally produces and can overstimulate your body, throwing it off balance. According to a story by The Washington Post, parabens are often found in the fragrance and are one of the most well known endocrine disruptors. BPA, according to The National Institute of Environmental Health Studies, is most often found in plastics and can leach into the product over time as the plastic packaging starts to break down. It is extremely important to read the ingredient list on your products and do some personal research to see how your products could be affecting your body. Many companies will explicitly state that their products don’t include harmful chemicals, but it’s always good to do your own research and make informed decisions on what you put in and on your body.

When I first started to learn about clean beauty, which is a class of products that don’t include harmful chemicals and substances, I heard about an app called Think Dirty. On the app you can scan the barcodes of the products that you use on a regular basis (I started with my deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, and facewash) and it pulls up a comprehensive review of that product’s ingredients. I was really surprised to find that the majority of my products were rated relatively high on the Dirty Meter, which is a scale of one through ten that evaluates the ‘dirtiness’ of the products. The high rating is an indication that my beauty products had some ingredients that were negatively affecting my body. Once I saw the high ratings, I desperately wanted to find an immediate solution, but I realized that buying all new products would be a waste of my money. Instead of replacing everything, I decided to slowly incorporate cleaner products as my ‘dirty’ products ran out. Currently, my shelf is rated a four on the Dirty Meter which is much better than the seven it used to be.

Another thing that overwhelmed me was where to find clean products, I was really worried that all of the switches would be much more expensive or really hard to find. I was so excited to see tons of healthy products at Target and TJMaxx, two of my favorite places to shop. Once I did some research to see which brands carried clean products, it became a lot easier to shop with confidence, knowing that I was helping my body be the healthiest it can be. Before I buy any product that I will be using on a regular basis, I check with the Think Dirty app to see its rating on the dirty meter. Some of my favorite brands are Dr. Bronners, Acure, Pacifica, Burt’s Bees, and Alba Botanica, all of which I’ve been able to find at Target, Amazon and TJMaxx (but obviously with TJMaxx it’s more of a gamble with what you’ll be able to find).  

One thing to keep in mind is that not every product you buy must be completely clean. While it’s nice to be able to get clean products, sometimes that’s just not possible for everyone, including myself. I try to follow an 80/20 rule with my beauty products, meaning that I try to have 80 percent of my everyday products as clean as possible and the other 20 percent leaves a bit of leeway for products that aren’t as clean. If you look on my bathroom sink or in my shower, most of the products are clean, but there are still a few things that are ‘dirty’. It’s still a work in progress, but I’ve been able to see a difference in my skin and how my body feels after using products with fewer chemicals. I feel so much more at peace knowing that the products I use on my body every day aren’t causing me long-term harm.

From Left to Right: Alba Botanica’s Very Emollient Coconut Lime Shave Cream (4 on the Dirty Meter), Alba Botanica’s Acne Dote Face&Body Scrub (5 on the Dirty Meter), Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap in the Lavender scent (0 on the Dirty Meter), Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Coconut Hair Creme (1 on the Dirty Meter), Acure’s Ultra-Hydrating Shampoo (0 on the Dirty Meter), Acure’s Clarifying Conditioner (0 on the Dirty Meter), and Jason’s Normalizing Tea Tree Treatment Shampoo (4 on the Dirty Meter).


Front Row from Left to Right: Jo Malone’s Peony and Blush Suede Perfume (7 on the Dirty Meter), Lavanila’s Sport Luxe Deodorant (3 on the Dirty Meter), Clinique’s All About Eyes Eye Cream (6 on the Dirty Meter), and Pacifica’s Vital Immersion Deep Hydration Mask (This isn’t the exact same mask, but it’s a very similar one; it’s not on the Think Dirty App, but my best guess would be between 0 and 3 on the Dirty Meter).

Middle Row from Left to Right: Acure’s Facial Toner (0 on the Dirty Meter), Burt’s Bees’ Cleansing Oil (2 on the Dirty Meter), Desert Essence’s Thoroughly Clean Tea Tree Cleanser (3 on the Dirty Meter), and Burt’s Bees’ Skin Nourishment Day Lotion with SPF 15 (7 on the Dirty Meter).

Back Row from Left to Right: Batiste’s Dry Shampoo (7 on the Dirty Meter) and First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream (5 on the Dirty Meter).

In the Mug Clockwise from the Chapstick: Burt’s Bees’ Coconut Pear Chapstick (0 on the Dirty Meter), Pacifica’s Tuscan Blood Orange Roll-On Perfume (0 on the Dirty Meter), Tazorac Cream (prescribed by my dermatologist, not on Think Dirty), Aczone Gel (also prescribed by my dermatologist, not on Think Dirty), Pacifica’s Glow Baby Youthful Face Scrub (5 on the Dirty Meter), and Pacifica’s Skin Revival Micro Dermabrasion Scrub (this isn’t on the Think Dirty App, but my best guess would be between 0 and 5 on the Dirty Meter).