A Step-By-Step Guide to Detoxifying Your Beauty Routine

1. Start learning

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Skin care products and cosmetics are full of ingredients that we should not be putting on our bodies, despite what advertisements tell us. Rather than making us look younger or more beautiful, the many toxic ingredients that are used to make conventional beauty products are more likely to give us cancer, cause infertility, and disrupt the hormonal balance of our bodies. If you haven’t already, then it’s time to detox your beauty routine and get away from all that unnecessary chemical exposure. Here’s a step-by-step guide for how to do so. Learn what is in the products you use and why they are bad – for your body, for the water supply that you use to wash them off, for the marine wildlife that is affected by chemical runoff, for the recycling facilities that are swamped with tubes and bottles of all kinds, for the landfill sites that receive non-recyclable plastic cosmetics containers. Learn to read ingredient lists so that you can easily identify toxic ingredients when scanning new products. Here is a list of 20 toxic ingredients to avoid.

2. Do a purge

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Now that you know what’s bad, go through your bathroom cabinet, makeup bag, shower, and bedside table and pitch all the products that don’t meet green standards. Please dispose of products responsibly and recycle containers wherever possible. Admittedly, this is a tricky task because it seems so wasteful. No doubt many people would argue that it’s better to use up the bad products before replacing with non-toxic ones; but the way I see it, the products end up in the environment regardless, so you might as well bypass one step of the chain, which is your body. Toss them and move on to better things. It’s never too soon to start protecting your health.

3. Minimize

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Think about what you really need and like to use. The fewer products that are in your collection, the more money you will save, the smaller the burden placed on your skin to absorb said products, and less goes into the environment. You might be surprised at how many things you don’t use, or bought just because they were on sale or everyone else was using them. For example, I used to carry foundation everywhere in my makeup bag until I realized I never used it. I tossed it, didn’t replace it, and have never missed it. You'll discover that a few key ingredients are real multi-taskers. You can use coconut oil to wash your face (using the Oil Cleansing Method), to moisturize skin, to shave, to condition hair, and to mix up other interesting beauty concoctions.

4. Know where to shop

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If you’re committed to clean products, then you’ll have to avoid the pharmacy, department store, salon, supermarket, and dollar store when it comes to shopping for new things. It’s very difficult to find truly green, non-toxic brands at any of those sources; most are greenwashed, and when you apply your newly learned skill of ingredient-reading, you’ll soon realize it, too. Your local health food store and the Internet are your best options for finding products. There are many great little companies out there selling ethically made, non-toxic skin care products and makeup that will happily ship samples for you to try. Many are featured on TreeHugger (just search the Organic Beauty tag).

5. Get creative

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Look around your kitchen to find ingredients. It makes sense to look among edibles, considering that you should be able to eat anything that you’re putting onto your skin as it will be absorbed. Oils such as olive, coconut, and grapeseed, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, brown and white sugars, black pepper, yogurt, lemons, avocados, etc. can all be used for various skin care purposes. Cosmetics are harder to make from scratch, but there are plenty of recipes available. (See Bea Johnson’s book Zero Waste Home for some interesting recipes, including homemade mascara.)

6. Discover great sources

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The world of non-toxic skin care is growing exponentially, as more and more people realize how important it is to avoid the chemical overload in conventional products. Here are a few places to start your own research, and then spread the word among friends and family. The more people who demand non-toxic products, the better off we'll all be. Books: The Green Beauty Guide by Julie Gabriel Purely Primal Skincare Guide by Liz Wolfe There’s Lead in Your Lipstick by Gillian Deacon All You Need Is Less by Madeleine Somerville Natural Beauty Alchemy by Fifi M. Maacaron Ecoholic Body by Adria Vasil Other: Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database Think Dirty app