3 Simple Steps to Green Your Beauty Routine

May 30, 2016

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3 Simple Steps to Green your Beauty Routine & 1 Massive Mistake Women Make That Causes Them to Waste Money and Time Searching for the Perfect Products

By. Dr Jen Newell, Naturopathic Doctor/ Skin Doctor

Our skin is our largest organ and while its purpose is to protect us, it acts more like a filter than a solid wall. What this means is that some things are kept out and others pass through and into our blood stream. Unfortunately, our daily skincare, makeup and hygiene routines put this barrier function to the test and many synthetic ingredients used in common skincare brands pass through the skin and affect our hormonal balance, organ function and genetic expression. Luckily, more natural skincare and personal care brands are entering the market and people are making a more educated choice than ever before about what they put onto their skin (and ultimately, into their body). Before you go and throw out all your products here are 3 simple steps to green your beauty routine:

  1. Ingredient Intel

Reading the ingredient lists of your products with a critical eye is important. No longer can the consumer trust claims such as “natural” or “non-comedogenic” because there are no regulations around the use of these terms. Educate yourself about the commonly used ingredients that may be in your products and harming your health. Look for the Dirty Dozen skincare ingredients:

  • BHA and BHT
  • Coal tar dyes (p-phenylenediamine and colours listed as “CI” followed by a 5 digit number)
  • Diethanolamine/DEA ingredients
  • Bibutyl phthalate
  • Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea and methenamine)
  • Parabens
  • Parfum/fragrance (hint – these will even show up in products marketed as “unscented”)
  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG compounds)
  • Petrolatum
  • Siloxanes (ingredients listed as –siloxane or –methicone)
  • Sodium laureth sulfate
  • Triclosan
  1. Product Purge

If you are having trouble identifying which products you should replace with greener, more natural ones check out the Think Dirty App. It allows you to scan the bar code of your products as assesses whether or not they are safe for use. I recommend that my patients and clients avoid any products that come back as orange or red. Take time to replace your products and dispose of those you are getting rid of safely. Do not just wash them down the sink – many of the more controversial ingredients also impact the health of our environment. Start by replacing products that you use daily or those that get more access to your body (ie. lipstick and lipgloss, foundation, moisturizer, etc).

  1. Clean Routine

Once you know what you want to replace confusion is not uncommon because there are a number of green beauty options at various prices and fewer places to test them out that more conventional products. I recommend trying products before you buy them because it can be challenging to find ones that are comparable to what you have grown accustomed to. Luckily a number of online retailers offer sample programs so you can try things before committing to a full sized product and more storefront retailers are popping up where you can play with products.

I also recommend that in the process of finding new products that are both safe and effective that you look for specific ingredients that will naturally address any specific concerns you have with your skin.

  • Age spots and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation – liposomal glutathione
  • Clogged pores – jojoba oil and enzymes from papaya, pumpkin or pineapple
  • Dry skin and lines – hyaluronic acid and carrot seed oil
  • Acne – black cumin oil, bergamot and lemongrass

And finally, the #1 massive mistake women make that causes them to waste money and time searching for the perfect products is that they don’t seek professional advice. I often see women trolling the skincare aisles at the grocery store, pharmacy and Sephora hoping for divine intervention to shine a light on the perfect product for them. And while the sales people sometimes get great product knowledge they don’t know your skin goals or skin and health history. By relying on this method of selecting new skincare products you will spend more money on things that don’t work or give lackluster results and you will wind up frustrated. You need a reliable expert to provide guidance and a thorough skin assessment to select the best products for your skin. This expert could be a naturopath, holistic dermatologist, esthetician, or skin therapist. Do not do this alone, your skin will thank you.

Dr. Jen Newell is passionate about helping people embrace health, feel amazing and easily incorporate “real” food into their busy lives. Her mission is to make health accessible and achievable, and to inspire patients to live an active, vibrant and healthy life.

Jen has a clinical focus on digestive health, food sensitivities and healthy nutrition; mental health and stress-related illness; women’s health, hormone balance and fertility; optimal aging; and dermatology. She focuses on integrating healthy foods into one’s diet in a medicinal and therapeutic capacity and providing individuals with nutritional support that is easy to incorporate into a busy day. Dr. Newell practices at the Integrative Health Institute in Downtown Toronto.


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