An efficient way to avoid toxic toiletries is to simply use less of them in general. A study performed by the Environmental Working Group showed that the average woman uses twelve different care and beauty products every day, containing 168 different chemicals. While men do not use nearly as many cosmetics, they still expose their bodies to ~85 chemicals. By limiting skincare routines to fewer but higher quality serums, creams and cleansers, women as well as men also decrease the risk of unpleasant skin breakouts, rashes and allergies. At the drugstore, customers should take their time to read labels carefully and look up unfamiliar compounds. To help consumers determine whether or not a product contains harmful chemicals, several apps have been developed for this purpose. These can be downloaded on smartphones where innovative barcode scanning technologies are used to identify products, accompanied by insightful background knowledge. Further information can be found online and in various printed sources, ranging from easy-to-read blogs and practical guides to more in-depth magazine articles, books or even scientific studies published in peer-reviewed journals. A helpful and enjoyable way to continuously expand one’s knowledge is to take a pretty notebook or journal and take individual notes. By summarising the information found online or in books, one can create a list of specific additives to avoid. This list can be built up over time so that a comprehensive understanding of these different chemicals is acquired.
Educating oneself takes time, especially given the complex names of synthetic chemicals that can be a struggle to get your head around. Consumers are not left helpless though. In order to differentiate the green from the greenwashed, shoppers can look out for the EWG Verified stamp on labels, launched by the Environmental Working Group in 2015 as a follow-up to their work with the Skin Deep database. Smarter choices can also be made by implementing simple habits, such as favouring a soap bar over a liquid hand wash. The same goes for cleansers, shower gels, shampoos or other liquid hair products, all of which are often available in a solid form. Additionally, a general rule of thumb for beginners is to opt for products with fewer ingredients, as these tend to be more natural. Another enjoyable practice to implement is to make face masks or body scrubs at home from truly natural ingredients like yoghurt, locally grown fruits and vegetables, honey, sea salt or 100% pure plant oils. Relying on mother nature’s lush variety of ingredients is a fabulous way to create cosmetics without all the toxic chemicals, but instead packing them with a wealth of healthy vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.