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A Clean Beauty Primer for Silver Sisters

Clean beauty is a hot topic in the gray hair community, so I asked my friend Asa Suriano to give us some tips. Asa is a clean beauty blogger and the founder of grayisgorgeous.com. – Katie

I was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis in 2012, which led to a complete lifestyle overhaul.

I stopped coloring my hair to avoid the toxins in dyes and changed my diet completely once I realized the chemicals in processed foods directly impacted my disease activity.

It wasn’t until I read an article about sunscreen toxins in 2017 that I overhauled my family’s beauty and personal care products in an effort to minimize our environmental toxic exposure, improve my disease activity, and protect my family’s health as well.

My anger about what I found in that original research deep dive into the beauty industry fuels my passion to this day.

WHAT IS CLEAN BEAUTY?

Clean beauty very simply means products that are good for you and the environment.

It means all raw materials used are sustainably sourced from audited supply lines, obsessively tested for toxic ingredients and safety endpoints like carcinogenicity, reproductive harm, and every ingredient is transparently listed on every label.

Products are certified cruelty-free and use sustainable packaging. There should be nothing to hide.

CLEAN BEAUTY AND THE GRAY HAIR MOVEMENT

Regardless of the myriad reasons we may express for going gray, we all have at least one commonality: in doing so we have helped limit our exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals and minimized our toxic load as a result.

It’s just one of the many positive benefits that come with ditching the dye.

While many of us made our decision to go gray at least partially on the desire to escape the toxic ingredients, too many are unaware there is even a reason for concern, even after the research surfaced two years linking breast cancer with hair dye and higher cancer rates for salon workers.

Unless one is paying attention, it is easy to miss and while we assume the government is protecting us, the beauty industry is basically unregulated.

Ready to be shocked?

The current state of the beauty industry in the US

  • A law has not been passed regulating the industry since 1938
  • 80% of ingredients in beauty products have never been tested for safety.
  • Less than 2 pages of federal law governs a 62 Billion dollar Industry
  • A product containing known carcinogens can remain on the market. The FDA does not have the authority to intervene.

A recent discovery of asbestos in children’s makeup at Claire’s, which they refused to recall, brought new awareness, shock, and outrage, and rightfully so. But asbestos is in many makeup and self-care products targeted to all of us.

(Those in Europe and Canada have better protections in place but can still benefit from labeling knowledge)

UNDERSTANDING LABELS

Clean/ vegan/natural/ cruelty-free/ green/ organic….What does it all mean?

Very little, unfortunately. Companies can claim to be whatever they want because there is no accountability and very little transparency.

It’s called greenwashing.

A company can put whatever they want on a label: all-natural, cruelty-free, and clean, but they may have used ingredients tested on animals- but not the final product, be free from one toxic ingredient but full of others, vegan means free of animal products, but the product can still contain toxins, and all-natural isn’t always great: even mineral-based products can be contaminated with heavy metals, like lead.

If a company claims to be clean, yet you see the word fragrance or perfume/ parfum/ essential oil compounds/ aroma on the label, they aren’t being truthful.

Fragrance is an industry secret/ loophole that allows ingredients to be hidden in the name of “company formulation secrets.”

It is an especially dangerous practice since known carcinogens, hormone and endocrine-disrupting ingredients, and ingredients known to cause severe allergens in some individuals can be among them.

The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) lists 3,059 materials that are reported as being used in fragrance compounds. Of these 3,059 ingredients, some have evidence linking them to health effects including cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies and sensitivities.

Current laws do not provide the FDA with the authority to require disclosure or public safety of fragrance ingredients. In the U.S., companies are required to list ingredients on the label; however, this regulation excludes the individual constituents of fragrance in order to preserve fragrance trade secrets. This sustains a loophole that leads to disclosure gaps.

SOURCE: SafeCosmetics.org

HOW TO FIND CLEAN PRODUCTS

Be informed

Find companies who are certified Corps, those committed to full transparency in all business practices from sourcing to production to final product, or at least companies who print all ingredients on every label and do not use fragrance. There should be nothing to hide.

Do NOT take labels at face value

I am approached regularly to promote “clean” products that are not actually clean. The website and label claim an all-natural product that is maybe free of sulfates, but a quick search reveals parabens and phthalates in the first ten ingredients, and almost always. . . fragrance.

I do not believe those promoting these products do so maliciously (some are even my friends) they just take the word of the company because it is in our nature to trust those in charge are looking out for us.

MY FAVORITE BRANDS

The clean beauty brands I love and trust are:

  • Beautycounter
  • Ilia
  • Innersense
  • Primally Pure

IS IT EXPENSIVE TO SWITCH?

True, clean beauty products will cost more until the industry requires higher standards for all because the proper formulations, environmentally sound and humane product sourcing, extensive testing, and sustainable packaging costs more.

Instead of questioning why it’s more expensive, question why other makeup is so cheap.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Since switching to a non-toxic lifestyle and making conscious choices about what I put in and on my body, my disease activity has become more manageable and I have even been able to lower my weekly medication dosage!

Thankfully, giving up all the nasty ingredients doesn’t mean giving up performance. You can get the benefits you are looking for without compromising your health.

After all, clean beauty doesn’t have to be coconut oil face creams and homemade makeup- it can be as high-performing as the well-known department store/ Sephora makeup you have come to know and love.

Why not give it a try?


If you enjoyed this article, make sure to check out:

True Roots: An Interview with Ronnie Citron-Fink about the Dangers of Hair Dye

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