An Environmentalist's Solution to Toxic Skin Care

Updated: Feb 8, 2020

Classic skin care products advertisements try to guarantee that they have the special formula to get rid of acne, prevent aging, and make your skin glow. These products are usually packaged in single use plastic that will never get recycled, and are full of ingredients that we cannot even pronounce. These ingredients are the exact source of the inflammation and imbalance in our skin that cause blemishes and acne.

A few years ago I made a rule that I wouldn't buy food if I couldn't recognize the ingredients on the label. This rule should apply for cosmetics as well. And while our skin is healed from the inside out with a healthy diet, applying harsh chemicals impairs the healing process.

The growing chemical burden we bear in the 21st century- through our cleaning products, skin products, clothing, etc. - is partly responsibly for the growing disease and chronic illnesses we see in our society, such as cancer. To reduce your own chemical burden, it is essential to learn which ingredients can cause damage to our health.

Many ingredients be considered toxic, and most consumers trust the marketing strategies employed by large corporations that they are safe and effective. For example, Johnson & Johnson had to pay $4.7 billion in reparations to consumers that showed their cancer was attributed to their long-term usage of their baby powder.

I believe each and every consumer should be educated on the effects of the things they purchase, even when it's difficult to understand.

Ingredients you need to know about:

  1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) - SLS is a surfactant that is widely used skin care products, as well as cleaning, cosmetics, and other personal care items. According to the Environmental Working Group, SLS has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation, and endocrine disruption. Using SLS's can put you at risk for eye, skin, mouth, and lung irritation. If you have sensitive skin, SLS can actually clog pores and cause acne.

  2. Oxybenzone - This is found in numerous skin care products, specifically cosmetics, nail polishes, and sunscreen. Oxybenzone is a known hormone disruptor, demonstrating effects in babies. Mainly though, oxybenzone is reported with the highest allergic reactions on our skin. Learn more about it's association with killing coral reefs here and how to shop toxin free nail polish here.

  3. Fragrance - Anyone wanting to learn more about how "fragrance," is linked to health problems, I highly suggest watching Stink! on Netflix. The volatile chemicals used to make up the ambiguous ingredient of "fragrance," in our products has been shown to impair cognitive functionality. Go fragrance free.

So where does that leave us consumers that value our wellness and skin?

With growing awareness surrounding toxic chemicals in personal care products, more brands are popping up that use wholesome ingredients. When I began the zero waste journey, I switched completely to Castille Soap for my skin care. But as I've gotten older and spent more time in the sun, I wanted a more well rounded skin care regime.

Activist Collective is a four step skin care brand that I align with on every level. They are completely transparent about their ingredients, are 100% vegan and cruelty free, donate 5% of every sale environmental advocacy causes, use recyclable glass bottles with zero waste packaging, and are a small woman-owned business. I honestly couldn't ask for a better business model.

The four steps:

1. Sea to Skin Cleansing Gel OR Botanical Cleansing Oil

2. Healing Water Toning Mist (Cucumber!)

3. Active Hydration Serum

4. Active Infusion Hydration

All of these steps work together to maintain the balance of my skin and support healing, hydration, and anti-aging properties. Knowing I'm saying no to toxic cosmetics while protecting the planet lets me rest easy.

Businesses often claim its too challenging to afford zero waste packaging, or natural ingredients. They say its too expensive to go vegan or cruelty free, and they need 100% of the profits to support business growth. Activist Collective calls BS on all of that, and serves as a model brand making a difference where it matters.

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