Taking the Plunge: Switching to Non-Toxic Beauty Products

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Non-toxic beauty products, you hear the praises of these products touted frequently on hipster beauty blogs, but what exactly does this mean? I have known for awhile that the beauty products I have chosen to use for years are probably not good for me. Somehow this knowledge remained at a very low priority between buying an electric toothbrush and deep cleaning my fridge.

If you’ve read some of my other posts you know that I’m gluten and dairy intolerant and give a lot of effort and money to eating right. I buy only organic fruits, veggies, free range organic meat and eggs. I make it a priority to know exactly what is going into my body, with the exception of waffle fries (I can’t give them up!)

Yet, I have never taken the time to think about what I’m putting on my body. That is until my good friend began talking about how many of the products I use contain known carcinogens (cancer causing substances). At the age of 34, I’ve started to take notice when people say something can cause cancer. My mortality has become much more tangible in my 30s than in was in my irresponsible 20s, particularly now that I’m a mom. So I was all ears when my friend began discussing her process of switching from toxic beauty products to non-toxic ones.

As it turns out, there’s this really cool website called EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database that makes this whole switchover incredibly easy. All you do is type in whatever beauty product you are researching and it will provide a score from 1-10 (1 being non-toxic and 10 being nuclear waste (jk, kind of…). It also has links for different types of beauty products like blush, mascara, etc that will give you a list of the safest products to use.

So, I thought why not make the switch starting now? The plan is to take it one product at a time and take the reader along for the ride, hoping that it helps someone out there who is embarking on the detoxifying process.

Despite my decision to take the plunge, I have a few fears that I’d like to get out there.

  • Non-toxic products just won’t work as well as my toxic favorites
  • I’ll get lots of wrinkles and undo all my years of retinol use
  • My hair and skin just won’t feel clean without the “normal” products
  • Make-up won’t last or look as good as my old toxic favorites

I’m going to be very honest about my experience with using new non-toxic products as I go and let you know if my fears are confirmed or assuaged.

To start, I wanted to list out all the current products I use and their score on the EWG scale. Mostly for me to see in black and white, just how many harmful chemicals I have been exposing my body to. My goal is to switch to products that are a 2 on the scale or lower. I’m starting with toiletries and will tackle make-up in another post. Likely it will take me months to switch everything over.

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Cetaphil3/10. Known harmful chemicals include proplyparaben (endocrine disruption, developmental/reproductive toxicity, ecotoxicology) and butylparaben (endocrine disruption, developmental/reproductive toxicity, biochemical or cellular level changes). I have to admit, I was surprised by this one. Cetaphil advertises as being safe enough for a baby’s skin. Not safe enough for my baby!

Head and Shoulders 2 in 1 Dandruff Shampoo and ConditionerHead and Shoulders5/10. The two worst chemicals are fragrance and methylisothiazolinone. Issues caused by these chemicals include neurotoxicity and organ system toxicity, yikes! I have to admit I have been addicted to this product since high school and it’s going to be hard to give up.

Dove Sensitive Skin Body wash

Dove bodywash5/10. The most harmful chemicals include again, fragrance and methylisothiazolinone as well as newcomer DMDM hydantoine. New issues include cancer causing agents. I have always thought that the words “sensitive skin” equated to a safe product. Clearly this is not the case.

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Moisturizer, SPF 30

Neutrogena Rapid

5/10. Retinol and fragrance are the culprits in my very favorite day face moisturizer. Retinol has been linked to the following: developmental/reproductive toxicity, biochemical or cellular level changes, cancer, and organ system toxicity. I really hate to give this one up as it has been a godsend for my crow’s feet. Here’s hoping there’s a natural version that works just as well.

Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment


2/10. This one is not too bad chemical wise. It happens to be the only product I can use on my lips that doesn’t cause an allergic reaction, so I’m glad I don’t need to replace this.

RoC Retinol Correction Eye Cream


6/10. This has the same chemicals as #4 unfortunately. The question then is what can I use instead for anti-aging? I’m really addicted to these products so this will be a challenge for sure.

Dove Beauty Bars

Dove Beauty

4/10. Fragrance is again the culprit here. It appears I can actually just switch this over to the sensitive skin variety of the same product and go down to a 2/10, but I think I’ll try switching brands to get an even lower toxicity score.

Neutrogena On the Spot Acne Treatment

On the spot

Not on EWG’s database, which is frustrating…I’ll do further research on this and see if I can dig anything up.

Secret Ph Balanced Shower Fresh Deodorant


5/10. Fragrance again is the main issue here. I’m a little surprised this one is not rated higher, given all the literature I’ve read about anti-perspirants being linked to cancer.

ArtNaturals Enhanced Retinol Serum


Not on EWG’s database, but it has retinol so I can assume the rating would not be within my desired range.

Whew! I think that’s it. Looking at this I use waaay too many products. So where to start? My plan is to switch over items as I’m running out. So, I’ll start with my shampoo and body wash. So tune in for the next few months to my reviews on the non-toxic brands that I try out.

In conclusion, here are links to my reviews:

Avalon Organics Clarifying Lemon Shampoo

SheaMoisture African Black Soap Body Wash

Be Natural Organics Foaming Facial Cleanser

Babo Botanical Baby Shampoo

Native Deodorant

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