- Fashion and Beauty
Best 5 Green & Organic Beauty Products - All Paraben Free
What are Parabens and Why Should I Care?
A few friends recently asked me about my favorite green, natural and/or organic beauty products. Green products are such a trendy topic lately that tons of new products have popped up. But how do you figure out which ones are legitimate products that really work and which ones are just a marketing ploy? And why do you need organic or natural skin care products to begin with?
First off, the terms natural or organic don't mean a whole lot since they are monitored by the USDA which is heavily influenced by major corporations/lobbyists and personal interests. The term natural isn't even regulated so anyone can say a product is "natural. The main concern according to most studies has to do with two chemicals; parabens and phthalates.
Parabens are chemical preservatives that enhance the shelf life of products. They have been shown to mimic estrogen and with increased exposure can cause a variety of reproductive problems. In college, I did a research project for a professor that showed that chemical run offs in the Everglades caused baby crocodiles to be born with multiple reproductive defects (like being born with two sets of genitals). We have known about the problems with parabens for a long time which is why the European Union, Japan and most other major countries restrict their use.
Phthalates are known to cause several types of birth defects and lifelong reproductive impairments in laboratory animals that are exposed to these chemicals during pregnancy and after birth. The use of phthalates is tricky since they are often used in fragrance which is considered a "trade secret". This loophole allows cosmetic companies to avoid mentioning them in their ingredient list. The only way to really know if a product contains phthalates is to write to a company and ask them.
So take a look at your favorite shampoo, facial cleanser or body lotion. If you see any of the ingredients below, you are using a product with toxic and harmful chemicals:
- Benzyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid
- Methyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid
- Ethyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid
- Propyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid
- Butyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid
- Parahydroxybenzoic acid
This is all pretty serious and sometimes depressing information. But the good news is that the danger of parabens, phthalates and other chemicals is becoming more known. Many companies are coming up with alternatives, some good and some not so good. Below, I have listed my top five favorite cosmetic products that are paraben and phalate free and certified organic when possible.
This cleanser was recommended by the staff at my local Whole Foods. My skin is often dry in the winter and oily in the summer so its hard to find the right cleanser. I also hate heavily fragranced products. This cleanser is very light, has a nice light smell and never irritates my sensitive skin.
Juice Beauty Exfoliating Cleanser - Juice Beauty, $22 for 4 oz
This is a great creamy cleanser with a gentle exfoliator built. I love Juice Beauty product and I am not the only one. Recently Gwyneth Paltrow launched a new skin care line with them. Based in Northern California, they whip up some amazing skin care products and a full line of make up. You can find this brand at most Whole Foods stores and many natural health stores as well as online.
Lavender & Comfrey Bar Soap - Oregon Soap Company, $6
I have probably tried every bar soap that is sold at Whole Foods, my health food store and Bristol Farms and I honestly can't tell much of a difference between them. But the Oregon Soap Company sent us a few free samples at my old company and I absolutely loved the Lavender & Comfrey bar. It might be the addition to comfrey which is known as the "go to" herb for all skin related ailments. In any case, this is a great soap and well worth the $6 price tag. You can also order huge blocks of it from the OSC website and it brings the price down.
Clearing Spray Hand Sanitizer - Benedetta, $7 for 20 ml. Free shipping from their website for orders under $14
I met the Benedetta ladies one afternoon at the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market in San Francisco. They told me that most hand sanitizers use isopropyl alcohol. Isopropyl Alcohol is a petroleum by-product and is not only toxic but it drys out the skin and strips it of moisture which actually encourages the growth of bacteria, mold and viruses. This spray uses Biodynamic Grape Alcohol and a purifying blend of Certified Organic Essential Oils. Perfect after using public transportation, on airplanes or anytime you need to clean up away from a sink.
Pyrenees Lavender with Cardamom Body Lotion- Pangea Organics, $17 for 8 oz
Its hard to find a good paraben free lotion. Most products i have tried are very thin consistency and don't feel like they are moisturizing or very thick so they take a long time just to rub into your skin. This one is a the perfect balance. Obviously, i have a preference for Lavender scents but they have many others to choose from.
There are lots of other great resources online where you can find organic or preservative free options. I have tried to list many of my favorite sites below but please email me any other suggestions or links to your favorite products.
MAKE-UP: Breast Cancer & The Estrogen Connection
Useful Links with More Information
- Cosmetic Companies and Breast Cancer
Think Before You Pink is a product of the Breast Cancer Action organization. It has a wealth of information and additional links to several leading studies linking cosmetic preservatives and cancer
- Skin Deep
The Environmental Working Group database of safe cosmetics
- The Dirty Dozen Chemicals in Cosmetics
- Organic Skin Care, Natural Cosmetics: The Future is Now : Feelgood Style
- Think Before You Pink » History of the Pink Ribbon
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