If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you spend a lot of time in the organic produce section of the grocery store. You probably started avoiding trans fats long before the rest, and maybe even follow labels such as the ‘Rainforest Alliance’ and ‘Certified Humane.’
Now comes the next challenge: safe beauty products. You’re being careful to avoid potentially harmful chemicals and proven toxins in your food, so why put them on your skin? The natural next step for many ingredient conscious consumers has been to start safely greening their beauty routine, seeking products free of potential carcinogens, hormone disruptors, and skin-irritating chemicals.
So, can you just look for an USDA organic certified label and call it a day?
Well if that were the case… we wouldn’t have written this article. Currently the FDA doesn’t regulate the term ‘organic’ when it’s used on cosmetics. If a product contains agricultural ingredients, it can undergo an organic certification like a food, but otherwise the USDA is not involved.
Many companies are now filling in the gaps, offering new labels and certifications for beauty products — clean beauty, green beauty, safe beauty, non-toxic beauty…
This means two things: One, companies are making an effort to clean up an industry that in recent history has been dominated by synthetic chemicals with potentially dangerous long term effects. This is definitely a relief.
Two, it also means that if you want to avoid known carcinogens, hormone disruptors and a whole slew of other nasties that don’t belong in our body care (which you should), buying these products now requires you to do a lot of homework.
Lucky for you, knowing about these things is our job, so the Healing Lifestyles & Spas’ Safe Beauty & Body Team is here to help you navigate this labyrinth of beauty product labels, certifications, and vetting systems so you can discover the products that will help you glow while offering you the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re using safe ingredients.
Who’s Labeling Beauty Products These Days
A lot of companies are now claiming they can help you navigate the world of clean beauty products. But they can profit from it, by having companies pay them to use their label, which in turn persuades you to the buy the product.
This isn’t inherently bad — business is business — but some certifications are more thorough than others. We wanted to make you a trusty list of what we believe to be the four best resources when it comes to choosing safe and natural beauty products.
Made Safe was first on the scene here in the U.S. to put a nontoxic seal on products. They leave nothing out, covering products across all non-food categories: skincare, baby products, home cleaning products, and the list goes on.
Their goal is to eliminate the guesswork for consumers who want to avoid harmful ingredients in their products. They are unique because they not only provide consumer education, but also work with scientists and chemists to help advance research and innovation in green ingredient technology, and they also work with companies to help them make safer products from the start
Made Safe has a stringent certification process that means that products with their label are completely non-toxic. Their approach is unique because ingredient diligence screening is actually done in a lab environment. So after they screen a company’s ingredient list through their database to verify that none of them have been shown to cause human harm, they test the final product using mass spectrometry and/or lab tests.
They even look at things like bioaccumulation. While an ingredient may not be harmful in small doses, some accumulate in the body and can become toxic overtime. So say, if you’re washing your face or using a moisturizer everyday, you don’t want it to have an ingredient that bioaccumulates and becomes toxic.
Another way this label shines is that it considers aquatoxicity as well. With microbeads recently coming to light as being a nagging source of cosmetic pollution, it’s apt that Made Safe is taking the lead on vetting products for their effect on our waters.
If you’re a company looking to start making clean cosmetics or household products, Made Safe can offer essentially a roadmap to follow on how to formulate safe products.
As a consumer, you can find lists of Made Safe certified products on their website to help inform your next purchase. Or, you can check out their resources for lists of everything from mammary toxins to California’s Prop 65 List to the President’s Report on Carcinogens List.
Their comprehensive methods and thorough process makes this nonprofit a leader in clean cosmetic certification. We highly recommend this as a resource to anyone looking to avoid toxic ingredients in their home.
Leaping Bunny set out in the mid 90’s to rid the beauty scene of animal cruelty. There were so many brands making claims to cruelty-free products, but the claim lacked an authority to oversee it. Eight animals rights groups came together to solve this problem, forming the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics to be that authority — the Leaping Bunny logo was born.
Maybe you’ve seen the Leaping Bunny logo while perusing products in the store? Leaping Bunny looks at all aspects of the supply chain and distribution when vetting products for being humane. Not only must a company ensure that their ingredients have not been tested on animals, they also can’t allow their final products to be animal tested by third party, for example when distributing their product to another country, which may typically perform animal testing on imported products.
The site boasts an incredible bounty of information from the Consumer Safety Product Commission, Personal Care Product Council, the FDA and more. The wealth of information on the site and their ‘Myths & Facts’ alone offer an important resource to consumers.
If you’re committed to buying products that have not been tested on animals, look for the Leaping Bunny label and check out their website to discover companies who have been vetted and certified.
If you find yourself walking through the aisle of the store in search of a new product, Think Dirty will help you vet on the fly.
With the quick snap of a barcode you can see exactly what’s in the personal care product you’re about to buy, and how it ranks in terms of carcinogens, allergens, and other things you don’t want to be putting on your skin. It’s also useful for fact-checking label claims like “all-natural” and “organic.”
Think Dirty was born from the personal journey of founder Lily Tse, whose family history of cancer led her on a search to understand the truth about the beauty industry. Like many who have sought information on ingredients in their personal care products, she found that good information was hard to find and even harder to sift through.
She created Thinky Dirty to empower and educate consumers about what they’re really putting on their skin. If you don’t want to spend your time becoming an expert on the dozens of ingredients being used in personal care products, a tool like this can offer you a way to quickly get the information you do need and buy with peace of mind.
It’s relievingly user-friendly and even offers you alternative to products that don’t rate well.
EWG Skin Deep
Want to spend your next rainy day nerding out on cosmetics ingredients? We’ve got a database for you.
The EWG Skin Deep database is one of the most widely known, and perhaps the most scientifically accurate, in North America. It’s arguably the most searched too.
It’s popularity is deserved. You can look up virtually any cosmetic or beauty product on EWG’s database and find out exactly what’s in it, with information on each ingredient potential as a hormone disruptor, carcinogen, allergen, and more.
This resource is interesting because brands can still have their products listed on the site, however brands that choose to undergo the rigorous EWG Verified process have the most up-to-date information, as well as more prominent placement on the site. The mission of the EWG is to protect the consumer and the environment. In 2004 they started the Skin Deep program to bring about awareness for toxicants in products and to showcase how the toxins in our products can bring about health issues. The main goal was to educate the consumer to make wise choices for better personal health and that of the planet.
In it’s 8th year, The Skin Deep database has become quite extensive. It showcases over 2000 brands and over 65,000 products. This database is the real deal, from product details to ingredient listings, they don’t miss a beat nor do they leave any toxins unturned. They have even developed a ‘hazard rating’ for ease of use to the consumer. There are hazard categories and weighting factors, a hazard scoring framework for cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption and more. There is a hazard coring framework and full infrastructure built into their system.
While easy to use, this is probably not your go-to when you’re in the store and ready to make a purchase. But if you want to spend some time really learning about these ingredients that are on the shelves, EWG is the place to go.