Living a modern North American lifestyle, we are exposedto an overflow of toxins in our everyday environment, including in our home, in our water and air, and even in the foods we eat and products we use. While we cannot eliminate our exposure to every toxin, it is important to do what we can in the areas we can control.
The first step we suggest involves the decisions we make when it comes to the skin care and personal care products that we apply daily (and often multiple times a day!). Our skin is our largest organ, and it can absorbwhatever product or fragrance we put on it. Studies have found that many skincare products (soaps, moisturizers, creams, balms, etc.) contain harmful chemicals including endocrine disrupters, reproductive toxins, allergens, heavy metal contaminants, irritants, and carcinogens. These chemicals can put a toxic burden on our body, cause allergic reactions, wreak havoc with our hormones and reproductive system, and may even be linked to developmental toxicity, cancer and other serious health problems. Furthermore, many chemicals found in conventional bath and body products are not biodegradable and can end up in our water supply, potentially harming our wildlife and ecosystems.
Unfortunately, there is a major lack of regulations and transparency in the personal care industry in Canada and the USA, with our cosmetic laws being far lessstringent and protective than those in Europe. Many of us assume that if a product is stocked on a store shelf, it has been rigorously tested and is safe to use. That is simply not the case. Products do not have to be FDA-approved to be sold in stores, and a “natural” label does not mean the product is completely safe. Certain cosmetic ingredients, such as “fragrance” are not regulated, and do not need to be listed individually on labels, despite potentially containing hundreds of distinct chemicals. This lack of disclosure means that consumers do not know the full list of ingredients in their products. Studies have found that between 1/3 and 3/4 of all fragrance chemicals in use – generally found in soap, body wash, body lotion, exfoliating scrubs – are actually toxic, and linked to serious health problems. It is therefore on us as consumers to inform ourselves and do the homework! Read the labels and choose products crafted with simple, recognizable ingredients.
Looking for recommendations for clean swaps? Below we introduce you to some or our favorite toxin-free skin care essentials.
Moisturizers: Our favorite moisturizers are free from synthetic fragrances, mineral oils and chemicals that are potential allergens, irritants, or endocrine disruptors. We recommend lotions and balms containing skin-hydrating ingredients like olive oil, virgin coconut oil, shea butter, jojoba oil, macadamia seed oil, unrefined shea butter and Vitamin E (also known as tocopherol), as well as organic essential oils like sweet orange peel, French lavender, and Bergamot. Discover our favorites:
- Harlow: Daydream Body Balm
- Buck Naked: Unscented Lotion Bar
- Crawford Street: Lime + Macadamia Nut Body Butter
- Anointment: Soothing Skin Ointment
Exfoliators: Our favorite exfoliants use biodegradable ingredients like raw organic cane sugar, coffee seed, or dead sea salt, and hydrating elements such as extra virgin coconut oil, shea, and cocoa butter. We also favor fair-trade scrubs made with simple, recognizable vitamins and antioxidants like organic honey and Vitamin E. We have a handful of favorites that are sustainably-made and packed in reusable glass jars, including:
- Crawford street’s Coconut and Raw cane sugar polish and Dead Sea Salt Body Polish;
- Buck Naked’s Eucalyptus and pink clay sugar scrub
- Cocooning Love’s Whipped Coffee & Vanilla exfoliant.
Lip Balms: We favor lip balms that are free from mineral oils and synthetic fragrances, and instead crafted with pure, plant-based ingredients like Canadian beeswax & cocoa seed butter, and certified organic essential oils. Our top picks are not only ultra-nourishing, protective and made with only a handful of simple ingredients, but also multipurpose. K’Pure’s peppermint lip balm doubles as ahand cream and can even be applied to your temples for headache relief. Harlow makes an exquisite range of gorgeous tinted lip & cheek glosses that earn extra points in our books for being packaged in compostable paper tubes.
Bath Bombs: While traditional bath bombs contain synthetic fragrances, artificial colors, and other chemicals that can irritate the skin, look for a bath bomb that is made with natural, plant-based ingredients such as dead sea salt, and essential oils and herbs. Our favorite picks are any of Buck Naked’s Hand-packed bath bombs, which are not only nourishing and luxurious, but handcrafted in Canada with only pure and natural ingredients.
Toxin-free living does not have to be all or nothing – it is a journey, and every single swap we make is an important step in reducing our overall toxic burden. It is up to us as consumers to empower and educate ourselves to make healthy changes where we can. Switching to clean skincare alternatives can help us limit our exposure to potentially harmful toxins and their potential risks to our health, and the environment. When shopping for skincare products, read the labels carefully and ask questions when evaluating the products you choose for yourself and your family. Your body (and our planet!) will thank you!