Chemical safety has been close to my heart for most of my life, and became especially important to me during graduate school.
While working on my dissertation, I studied harmful pollutants that we encounter in everyday life and their extensive health impacts. For years I was immersed in research showing the reproductive and carcinogenic effects of these pollutants. As a result, I became obsessive about removing as many toxic chemicals as possible from my life. In doing so, I learned that personal care products are one of the biggest sources of endocrine disruptors and carcinogenic substances that we encounter throughout our lives. Most of us use makeup, lotions, fragrances, and cleansers on a daily basis. This means that if we are using conventional products we are likely continually inundating our bodies with toxins that can lead to things like cancer, asthma, and reproductive challenges.
Most of the cosmetics used today in the United States contain toxic chemicals, including known endocrine disruptors and carcinogens, as well as heavy metals such as lead and arsenic. Due to regulation loopholes, the FDA does not have the power to require that these harmful ingredients be removed from the products we use on a daily basis. Even products marketed for children can and do contain these toxic chemicals.
This means that the onus is on the companies themselves to keep harmful chemicals out of their products. And the unfortunate reality is that most of them don’t. I eventually stopped wearing makeup and began making my own skin care products because I felt unable to find a brand I trusted fully.
Now that I am beginning to work with families who have or are are planning to have children, I have a refreshed passion for helping women find skin care that is safer for themselves and their babies. I know that not everyone is interested in or able to assemble their own personal care items, so I recommend brands that I trust enough for women to use while pregnant or breastfeeding. These are my favorite options, based on performance, quality, and ingredient safety:
100% Pure was the first ‘natural’ beauty brand that I was really happy with. I researched their ingredients and mission and felt comfortable using their products, and I found that I was quite pleased with their performance as well. My favorite is the Vitamin C Serum. They also donate a percentage of proceeds to environmental or animal rescue charities, which is a huge bonus for me when I’m considering whether to support a company through shopping with them.
I was introduced to Primally Pure when I jumped on the natural dry shampoo bandwagon. I’m lucky if I get a shower every 2-3 days, so natural and effective dry shampoo that works for dark hair is hugely helpful in keeping the grease-factory in check. I have since experimented with other products such as cleansing oils and face creams and have been extremely happy with all of them.
Beautycounter is my go-to for high-performance makeup and skin care. My personal experience is that their makeup in particular is the best competitor for conventional high-end makeup, without the harmful chemicals. I mostly use the skin care products and am consistently impressed with just about everything I try. But the thing that truly love about this company is their advocacy and mission. They are committed to keeping known toxic chemicals out of their products, which is huge in itself. But they have gone so far beyond that to promote legislation that would require every single cosmetics company to remove dangerous ingredients from their products as well. They are also working hard to create more environmentally-friendly packaging and production, which is a top priority for me.
*I have an affiliate relationship with some of these brands, but I will only ever recommend products that I use myself and in whose quality and integrity I am confident.