Simplifying (and Myth Busting) Healthy Beauty Products
I was talking to an acquaintance recently about beauty and personal care products. She said that she doesn’t want to use products that are tested on animals, and she prefers that they not contain animal ingredients too.
But she also worries about harmful chemicals and was not sure which ones should be a priority to avoid. She told me she had recently stood in a store aisle reading bottles and becoming increasingly confused about what all the little symbols on the bottles meant. She ended up walking away without making a purchase.
We all want to do what’s best for our health, as well as animals and the waterways into which many products end up flushed. But when there are not only legitimate symbols and certifications to navigate, but also some that are just made up by companies for marketing purposes, it can be a challenge to figure out what is real, and what isn’t.
Here are a few myths - and realities - about personal care products, designed to simplify your quest for a better and healthier life.
- If something is all-natural it’s safe. FALSE. Natural is one of those words that has lots of connotation but not a lot of meaning. And it’s a word that marketers LOVE to use. Arsenic is “natural” and you wouldn’t want to apply it to your skin or eat it. Be skeptical of “natural” claims that do not explain what that means.
- Only completely chemical-free products are safe. FALSE. While it’s a good idea to avoid harmful chemicals, chemicals themselves are not inherently bad or unsafe. In fact, it’s impossible to avoid all chemicals in your products: For example, water is a chemical! In fact, everything you can breathe, see, ingest or touch is made up of chemicals. All matter, including us, is made of chemicals. So how do you know if a chemical is harmful? While it’s true that the science is still out on some, your best bet is to keep an eye out for the chemicals on Ecoholic Adria Vasil’s Mean 15 list.
- The Leaping Bunny symbol signifies that a product is free from animal ingredients. FALSE. The Leaping Bunny is an internationally recognized symbol which shows that a product is not tested on animals - which is a great thing! This is something that matters a great deal to many people. However if you want products that additionally contain no animal ingredients, you will have to look for the vegan symbol, self-identify as vegan, or become an adept label reader. (For a list of animal ingredients to watch out for, click here.) Note that most recognizable brands that you can buy in your grocery store’s pharmacy aisle are tested on animals.
- Natural personal care products don’t work as well. FALSE. It’s true, natural personal care (and cleaning) products lack the abrasive chemicals that sometimes make their mainstream counterparts effective. However, it’s only been a few decades since these chemicals have become staples of our daily regiment. People have been using more natural ingredients to great effect for years. And some chemicals serve simply as cheap filler; except for a handful of banned chemicals, manufacturers can add almost any ingredients to those revitalizing eye creams, vitamin-stuffed conditioners, and kiss-resistant lipsticks
- If a product isn’t labeled with a certification mark, it isn’t vegan/organic etc. FALSE. ALthough, these symbols DO represent an easy way to decipher a product’s status. Some smaller brands may not have the budget to pay for a certification but their product may be made with organic ingredients etc. For example, my dad has a garden which he grows using 100% organic growing principles and non-GMO seeds, but because it is small scale he doesn’t have his vegetables “certified organic.” But, you are trusting the company to be honest, so if you want to be certain, seek out a product that has a third party validated certification mark or stick with local companies you know well and trust.
- If there’s a symbol on something, I can trust it. FALSE. In a recent article we outlined some of the most trustworthy symbols for you to look for, but many companies simply make up their own symbols in order to highlight product attributes. While there is nothing wrong with mentioning various product attributes, when a fake symbol is created it can be a bit deceptive as it leads consumers to believe that the attribute has third party validation.
In short, look for products that are made by local companies, or the ones that are stocked at your local health food retailer, and keep an eye out for the Mean 15 ingredients. Seek out products that are rich in plant-based oils, and if they’re scented, are done so with essential oils. You’ll be supporting not only your own wellbeing, but also that of animals, the environment, and that companies that strive to make safe and effective products.
At Kardish, we try to keep it simple by stocking a tightly curated collection of personal care products from companies that we trust, which are safe and healthy for you and your family. We don’t try to have the widest selection, nor are our products necessarily the absolute “purest” on the market, but we aim to strike a balance between quality, affordability, and safe ingredients.
Some of our favourite lines include:
- Mineral Fusion
- Andalou Naturals
- Green Beaver