Do you typically make New Year’s resolutions? Many of us appreciate an annual opportunity to improve our lives in a meaningful way. While weight loss and healthy eating are common themes, living in a more sustainable, “green” manner is likely to be especially popular this year—and for good reason.
As we witness the escalating challenges our planet faces, we see that there has never been a more important time to make daily choices that support the Earth’s healing.
Along with helping the global ecosystem, making planet-friendly choices in various categories benefits you directly too—especially in your own home environment. Your personal care regimen is a great place to start, because you typically have full control over the products you regularly apply to your face and body.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the average adult uses at least nine, and up to 15, personal care products on a daily basis, with over 126 different chemical ingredients (Read: The Dirty Dozen of Cosmetics). As a result, 12.2 million adults are exposed to ingredients that are either known or probable human carcinogens every single day through their personal care regimen.
Happily, establishing a healthier beauty routine is easier than you think. It’s as simple as consciously choosing safe, natural personal care solutions over chemical-based, mass-market products. These tips can help guide your eco-beauty resolutions:
1. Choose plants over petroleum
Renée Loux—author, eco-consultant, television personality, chef and restaurateur—advises us to beware of petroleum-derived ingredients, which are standard in countless personal care products. Benzene, toluene, xylenes, methanol, phthalates, mineral oil, polyethylene glycols (PEGs) and coal tar dyes are just a few examples of hazardous petrochemical ingredients we would be well advised to avoid.
Loux cites numerous studies linking these chemicals—which bio-accumulate in human tissue—to headaches, allergies, asthma, endocrine disruption, neuro-disorders, toxicity of the brain, kidneys, liver and lungs, birth defects and cancer. The EWG’s Skin Deep Database is a valuable resource to find personal care products in all categories rated for safety based on the ingredients they contain.
2. Go natural with fragrance
According to Julie Gabriel, green beauty expert and author of The Green Beauty Guide, the famous Chanel No. 5 (which debuted in 1921) was the first completely synthetic perfume ever created, prompting most fragrance labels to trade costly natural fragrances for synthetic versions. Nearly 95 percent of perfume on the market today is derived from petrochemicals.
While the European Union has banned many of these chemical ingredients, the U.S. fragrance industry is self-regulated through the International Fragrance Association, and not legally required to even disclose potentially hazardous ingredients. Fortunately, there are many safe, natural fragrance alternatives, including essential oils such as rose, lavender, jasmine, ylang ylang and more. Or try a clean, natural spritz from Pacifica in luscious scents like Island Vanilla, French Lilac, or Hawaiian Ruby Guava.
3. Embrace multi-use products
While you can purchase countless “specialized” beauty products, multi-use products can really streamline your beauty routine while saving on money and packaging too. They’re ideal for busy people and perfect for travel. Great examples include natural liquid soap, which can operate as shaving cream, body wash and bubble bath. Organic coconut oil also makes the grade, as it is beneficial for skin, hair and even oral hygiene.
Pure aloe vera is another winner, acting as a beauty-bath staple, cleansing facial toner, sunburn healing agent and even a plaque-fighting, natural mouthwash and gum soother. And of course, essential oils offer numerous mind-body-spirit benefits, including aromatherapy, wound healing, help with sleep, mood balancing, bath treatments, natural fragrance and more.
When we green our personal care, we shelter the Earth as well by ensuring fewer dangerous chemicals are washed into rivers, streams, lakes and oceans. Avoiding petrochemicals is especially eco-smart, as they take a dire and complex toll on the environment from extraction through manufacturing, use and disposal.
As you can see, eco-personal care is as beneficial to our lovely, ailing planet as it is to you personally. Now that’s a beautiful solution!