My Top Non-Toxic Skincare Swaps
We use so many skincare and beauty products every day. These products have become so common place in our lives that we often use them without second thought.
But, unfortunately, many of our common personal care items can be sources of chemicals that can actually be doing our bodies more harm than good.
These chemicals can actually be contributing factors behind your stubborn hormonal imbalances or gut issues.
Xenoestrogens, like parabens and phthalates, are the main offenders when it comes to harmful chemicals in our skincare products. But other chemicals you want to avoid are things like fragrance, formaldehyde, and retinols.
(Here’s a great blog post that goes into detail about the specific chemicals you should avoid if you can!)
And even though these chemicals are in almost every conventional skincare, makeup, and beauty product on the market, we don’t actually want to be putting them on our skin. Especially if you’re already dealing with other chronic health conditions.
In this blog post I’m going to quickly explain why we should avoid many of these conventional personal care items, and then give you all of my favorite non-toxic swaps that I’ve found over the years.
Why Avoid These Chemicals
The skin is our largest organ.
Did you ever wonder why after you used a face cream of body lotion it seemed like it disappeared from your skin after awhile? That’s actually because it gets absorbed into your body directly from your skin. Our skin is like a sponge, soaking up any and everything we’re putting on it.
And what you put on your skin doesn’t have the chance to get filtered through your detox organs before it enters your blood stream. This makes what we put on our skin potentially more important for our health than what we put in our mouth.
On average, up to 60% of the chemicals in cosmetics end up in our bloodstream. And when these chemicals are known to be harmful to our bodies, why would we want to use them on our skin?
I don’t want this information to be frightening and overwhelming. The good news is that once you stop using these harmful chemicals they leave your body fairly quickly.
And to be honest, I spent years just focusing on my gut health and ignoring all of the conventional skincare items I was using.
I just didn’t have the bandwidth to focus on swapping out my makeup and skincare items. So I just didn’t. And you don’t have to either.
This is just one more tool to have in your tool belt that can lead you further on the path towards complete healing. But if it just doesn’t work in your life at this moment, don’t sweat it!
Switching to Safer Takes Time
All of this information about harmful chemicals in your skincare products can be overwhelming. Trust me, I’ve been there.
But just know that you don’t have to switch everything over all at once.
In the beginning, I focused on the products that I used the most and that covered the most skin. For me that was my foundation and lotions. Those were the products that I switched over to non-toxic versions first, and then I went from there.
And again, these chemicals don’t accumulate in the body. So once you stop using them, they leave your system fairly quickly.
After getting serious about reducing my toxic skincare exposure, it took me about a year to find and switch out all of my products.
And I still do use some conventional products. My hair is a super thick lion’s mane, and I cannot for the life of me find a “non-toxic” conditioner that can handle it. So, I just do the best I can and try to avoid the heavy hitters, like parabens and phthalates.
I think that’s the best mindset when it comes to switching to safer skincare. Do what you can, and then be okay with the rest.
With that being said, here are a my top non-toxic skincare items that I love and use frequently.
My Go-To Non-Toxic Skincare Products
Face wash/scrub was a relatively simple switch for me to make. There are so many high-quality, non-toxic choices out there, it was really just about picking something that would work for my skin and budget.
I have two non-toxic face washes that I love.
For daily use, I use Pacifica’s Kale Detox Deep Cleaning Face Wash. There’s nothing special about the kale or the detox, it just sounded intriguing so I bought it. When this bottle runs out I’m planning on trying one of the many other face washes by Pacifica.
For deep cleaning, about once a week, I’m a huge fan of the Acure Radically Rejuvenating Facial Scrub. It’s made with red clay, so the product is actually red. And it provides a super gentle exfoliation, so my skin doesn’t feel raw after using it. I love how soft it makes my skin feel. I’m definitely a fan of this one.
My skin doesn’t get super dry, so I don’t really use a body lotion. Well… the lotion I do use for my face is actually a body lotion. But is there really a difference?
When I signed up for Beauty Counter’s Band of Beauty to get product discounts I was given a free bottle of their Countermatch Adaptive Body Moisturizer. I wasn’t too excited since I don’t really use body lotion. But then I ended up using it as a facial moisturizer after my face wash at night.
I like the silkiness of this product and how lightweight it feels. But, to be honest, when this bottle runs out I probably won’t pay for a second one. The price just isn’t worth it for me.
When that time comes, I’ll be on the search for a different non-toxic face lotion. So if you have any recommendations, I’m all ears!
Before I switched to a safer foundation, I was using Garnier’s BB Cream. I don’t need or want a super heavy, makeup looking foundation. So this lightweight cream that just evened out my skin tone and provided sun protection was perfect for me.
I was hesitant to switch this one out because it worked so great, but I knew that I used this product every day all over my face, so it had to be one of the first to go.
Thankfully, I found Beautycounter’s Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer! This product is so much better than the more toxic BB Cream I was using.
It’s extremely lightweight, provides just the right amount of coverage for a natural, but more perfected look, and leaves my skin feeling… well, dewy. Plus, it has a tiny bit of sunscreen in it, so my face is protected from daily sun exposure.
This product is a little pricey, but I stock up whenever Beautycounter has a sale. And one tube lasts me about three months with regular use, so definitely worth the investment.
Oh eyeliner. I’m super picky about my eyeliner, so this product was actually one of the last products I switched out. When it comes to lining my eyes, I want a natural looking, soft line. So I needed a soft pencil that was going to blend nicely and not give me a harsh looking line.
I went through a few bad natural eye pencils before I found a clear winner. And now I’m hooked on the Mineral Fusion Eye Pencil.
This pencil has a super soft tip that won’t tug at your eyelid, and it actually holds together when you sharpen it. And, unlike other brands I tried, the line actually stays on all day, just like my conventional eye pencil did.
Plus, Mineral Fusion is an EWG Verified brand, meaning that all of their products are approved to be safe for use by the Environmental Working Group. No worries of toxic chemicals here!
Okay, so this product is the only one on this list that I’m not completely satisfied with. But it does the job, and it wasn’t bad enough for me to need to return it, so it’s still making the cut.
For a non-toxic concealer I’m currently using Pacifica’s Transcendent Concentrated Concealer. They advertise it as being “crease-less",” but I’d have to respectfully disagree.
I really only use concealer on my under eye area, and after about 10 minutes of wear this concealer is showing up in the fine lines around my eyes. (Yes, it’s hard for me to admit that I have fine lines around my eyes, but there you go.)
I don’t think the creasing is super noticeable to anyone but me, which is why I wasn’t to concerned about it. But, when this tube runs out, I’ll be on the search for a better performing non-toxic concealer.
I wish I could show you my grave site of non-toxic deodorants that didn’t work for me. I’ve been through more than my fair share of safer deodorant before I finally found one that I was happy with.
And I don’t think this is because I have an abnormal amount of perspiration. But I do live in Georgia, and am fairly active outside. So I just didn’t like feeling wet and slightly smelly after even the shortest time in the summer heat.
The clear winner in my search for the best non-toxic deodorant is probably not one that you’ve heard of. Yes, I had to search far and wide to find one that finally worked like I wanted it to, but without the aluminum that can have harmful effects on our health.
I’m now using, and loving, the Naturally Fresh Deodorant Crystal product. I currently have the Lavender scented one, only because they were out of the unscented version on Amazon.
This product does use the ever ubiquitous “fragrance” which can be any combination of harmful chemicals. But it doesn’t contain aluminum, which I was more concerned about. So I figured it was an okay trade-off until I could get my hands on the unscented version.
And I won’t lie, I still do use my conventional deodorant in serious social situations or if I’m going to be working out heavily. There’s really just nothing as good as the aluminum filled deodorants, unfortunately.
Non-toxic sunscreen can be tricky. It’s pretty difficult to not spend a ton of money on one, and also to not look like a ghost after you apply it (due to the zinc oxide as the active ingredient). There’s kind of no way around it.
Safer sunscreen uses a physical barrier instead of a chemical one to protect your skin from the sun. And unfortunately, that physical barrier makes your skin turn a tad bit white. It is possible to rub in, but usually not all the way.
This was an important product for me to transition over to, so I was willing to sacrifice white-streaked skin for a few less chemicals floating around in my system.
I’ve been through many brands to find the best non-toxic sunscreen, and my favorite so far is Bare Republic.
I have both the lotion and the spray version of their sunscreen, and I’m happy with the level of whiteness to sun protection that I get with this brand.
Nail polish was actually a very easy item to swap out, once I realized that I needed to switch to non-toxic versions.
Nail polish contains a host of chemicals that are actually pretty bad for us. So once I figured that out, I was determined to make the switch.
Zoya is a great nail polish brand that has formulas that are free of the top ten most harmful ingredients found in conventional nail polishes.
They also have an insane library of colors, so I was very easily able to color match a bunch of my old, toxic, favorites.
The polishes wear really well too. I’m always too lazy to use a base and top coat (anyone else?) and my polish still usually lasts a day or two before chipping.
I was never really a fan of perfume and fragrance. I think they all just smelled too much like chemicals to me… probably because most of them are.
But when I found the Good Chemistry brand of fragrance and body mists, I was hooked.
This swap was especially important for me to make for my husband. He has forever and always been an avid user of the Axe sprays. And I knew the only way I could get him to switch over to something (a lot) safer was if I could find a product that had a similar smell.
Thankfully Good Chemistry has a men’s scent that smells almost identical to one of the Axe products my husband was using. So I bought it for him and I haven’t heard a single complaint yet! (He’s also very on board with my non-toxic living goals, so it wasn’t too much of a struggle to begin with.)
And since I was getting my husband a non-toxic fragrance, I decided to pick one out for myself. I ended up loving their Blue Bell scent. It’s not overpowering, but just fragrant enough that it smells like you’re wearing something. Plus it’s scented will all essential oils, no undisclosed “fragrance” here.
How to Make the Switch
The products listed here definitely aren’t the only options out there. If you’re interested in making your own non-toxic swaps, I’d recommend using the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database or the Think Dirty phone app.
There are tons of products listed in those databases that are given ratings on a 1-10 scale for how harmful their ingredients are. One being the safest, and ten being the most harmful.
If a product rates lower than a 4, it’s typically one that I’d feel safe using. But obviously if it’s a carcinogen versus just an allergen, that’s going to play a role in my decision making process as well.
You also need to take into consideration what you’re sensitive to and what specific ingredients you’d like to avoid. It’s really up to you where you place your safety threshold. I figure that if the product is safer than what I was using previously, it’s an improvement and a win in my book. You can’t do this perfectly, and simply reducing your chemical exposure rather than eliminating it is really all we can do.
I used the following thought process to switch out my skincare items. You definitely don’t have to use this method, I just thought it would be helpful to share how I went about it.
I first switched out products that I use most often AND that covered a lot of my skin. For example, the first thing I switched was my foundation because I used that every day and it covered my entire face. I also use mascara every day, but I actually still haven’t switched that out because it touches such a small portion of my body that I’m not too concerned about it.
And like I said earlier, don’t feel rushed or anxious about switching out your products all at once. I’d recommend just making the non-toxic swap as you run out of your conventional products. This way you can naturally pace yourself and give yourself some time to research and find a product that will work for you!
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