Walk down the aisle of any beauty retailer or drugstore and you will be quickly inundated with products claiming they are green, clean, and everything in between. Paraben-free, silicone-free, sulfate-free, phthalate-free… we are all told a million times over what our products are free from, but do we even know why? Some products even go as far as making the claim ‘chemical-free’, which is absurd, as even the earliest of elementary-aged science students would know that everything is a chemical, including water. We are being told again and again by businesses small and large that the products we are using now are chemical-laden and dangerous, and “here, use our products instead.”
So what is all the hype about? With so much information out there, how do you know who to trust?
Marketers are excellent manipulators and know exactly which fears strike a chord with which people, but choosing which cosmetic products you put on your body doesn’t have to be as complicated as they’d like you to believe. Lately, beauty companies like convincing the public that the contents of the products they use are so complex and so complicated, that no ordinary person could possibly handle making the decision on their own – a space of uncertainty ripe for the picking. But the truth is, beauty products don’t need to be so complicated, and choosing what is right for you isn’t a decision that you should allow to be made by advertisers and marketers who use fear-mongering to drive sales.
To make a confident decision about which products to spend your hard-earned dollars on, you only need to ask yourself two simple questions, what do I value in a skincare product, and is this product appropriate for my skin?
Does the brand test on animals? Are they conscious of their environmental impact? Do their products contain animal by-products? We believe these are the more serious questions that deserve addressing rather than simply ‘do these products contain chemicals’ – because, newsflash- they do. Support brands that have values that overlap with your personal beliefs and you’ll always feel good about the products you are using and the companies that your purchases support.
Do you, girl.
Ingredient lists exist on labels so that consumers can be aware of any potential allergens they might encounter in a product. Some people find fragrances really irritating, or some people may have a sensitivity to oils derived from nuts. It’s important to listen to your skin and your body, and use ingredients lists as a tool only when necessary to identify a potential irritant.
Look for products that you are comfortable with, and don’t buy into the advertising jargon meant to scare you into making (or not making!) a purchase. If it works for your skin, is made by a reputable company and it makes you feel good – use it! Ultimately that’s what beauty products are all about right? Making you feel good. You can trust that there are many, many people hard at work behind the scenes of your favorite beauty products ensuring that they are safe, stable, and effective.
A sea of biased information
For those of you who are self-proclaimed ‘skincare junkies’ or simply want to know more about what goes into the products they use day-to-day, there is a multitude of tools and resources at your disposal. So much so, that it’s incredibly easy to become overwhelmed by the unlimited, and often contradictory or biased information. EWG was the original pioneer of cosmetic evaluation tools when they released their ‘Skin Deep’ database, however, their methodology is inconsistent at best. They are quick to dish out an unsafe rating for a product, even though they themselves say the evidence is lacking or incomplete. We recommend taking a more balanced approach to assessing skincare, and one of our favorite tools is Skin Carisma, which evaluates products based on suitability for your skin type AND combined safety data pulled from a greater set of sources than the EWG database alone.
So before you go ahead a dismiss a product for ingredients that you don’t understand, or can’t pronounce, try to evaluate a product without bias or prejudice.
The most important thing you can do when choosing a beauty product is to choose something that is right for you! That is something that no marketer or advertiser or industry can tell you. Listen to your body, learn what works and what doesn’t, and use the tools at your disposal to make the most informed decisions possible that you can feel good about.
Most importantly, don’t fall for the hype, natural products don’t inherently equal safe, organic isn’t always what it seems to be, and contrary to popular belief – not everything you put on your skin gets absorbed into your bloodstream. More on these topics in the following blogs – stay tuned!