How to Green Your Beauty Routine

When you’re perusing the beauty aisle (or store) for that perfect new moisturizer, it can be completely overwhelming to try and decipher lists of ingredients and marketing claims, let alone know if what you pick will actually work for you. And when you’re also trying to avoid potentially harmful chemicals in your beauty routine, making a final decision on purchasing a new product can take longer than brewing your own kombucha.

But it doesn’t have to be that hard, especially when you have a little guidance about where to start. We’ve made it easy to begin your clean beauty transition with just a few steps. Because after all, no one should have to sacrifice health for beauty.

Why You Should Care About Nontoxic Beauty Products

In the largely unregulated cosmetics industry—there hasn’t been federal legislation regarding beauty and personal care products since 1938, and the United States only bans or partially bans 30 ingredients while the European Union has restrictions on more than 1,400—we have to be our own advocates by reading labels, asking questions and staying informed.

According to a 2004 study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the average adult uses nine personal care products on a daily basis. Those cosmetics contain an average of 126 chemical ingredients, many of which are linked to cancer, hormone disruptions or bad allergies. That’s why it’s more important than ever that we pay attention to our personal care products, and avoid potentially harmful ingredients that can impact our health from the outside in.

How to Green Your Beauty Routine

Understand what’s most toxic in your personal skincare/makeup routine.

Each of us is different when it comes to what our skin loves and what our skin might react to. Understand what’s in your personal, daily routine (and what your skin might be sensitive to) by downloading the Think Dirty app. You can become your own beauty detective and root out the ingredients that have side effects you don’t want to risk.



Start here: deodorant, lip color/balm and body lotion.

If you’re starting the beauty kit overhaul slowly, we suggest ditching your conventional antiperspirant, lip color/balm and body lotion first. Here’s why.

  1. Antiperspirant: Aluminum compounds found in antiperspirants are suspected to bioaccumulate in the body, and they’ve been linked to endocrine disruption, among other things.
  2. Lip color/balm: Since you easily (accidentally!) ingest some of what goes on your lips and because many conventional lipsticks and synthetic colors can contain potentially harmful ingredients like lead and mineral oil, consider finding alternatives for these right away.
  3. Body lotion: It covers a lot of surface area, so it makes sense to swap it as soon as you can. Since our skin absorbs up to 60 percent of what we put on it, the not-so-nice ingredients you can find in conventional body lotion might be making their way into your bloodstream each time you go to moisturize.

Move on to products that you use on large surface areas.

Want to start your beauty detox ASAP but don’t know what to toss first? Start with personal care products that cover the most surface area of your body, like soap, face moisturizer, foundation and shampoo/conditioner. Then work up to replacing things like eye cream, nail polish or mascara.

Get rid of artificial fragrance

One of the most important ingredients to ditch as soon as you can is artificial fragrance (often labeled as “fragrance” or “parfum” in an ingredient list). Due to trade secret laws, companies don’t have to disclose what chemicals, toxic or otherwise, are blended to create that just-back-from-the-beach or pumpkin-spice scent. That means that even ingredients that are banned from use in the United States can make their way into “fragrance.” Add to that that fragrance is often composed of phthalates, a family of industrial chemicals used as solvents in cosmetics and other consumer products, can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and the reproductive system, and you’ll want to skip the parfum wherever possible.

Work off the 80/20 rule.

The green beauty industry has come a long way in the last 10 years. Gone are the days of sacrificing efficacy for clean ingredients—natural, safe ingredients now often work better than conventional beauty. But, you still have to find what works for you. And if you have one favorite red lipstick or eyeliner that you JUST CAN’T LET GO OF, don’t be too hard on yourself, especially if you don’t use it every day. The important thing is that you know what’s in your products, so you can know what you’re actively choosing each time you swipe on that body lotion.

Meet the doctor who specializes in a whole person approach to medicine. Find out more.