Saturday, July 29, 2017

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Beauty

Your Best Beauty...Because Ingredients Matter--

Over the last couple years, I have found myself being more and more conscious of the ingredients I not only ingest, but also apply to my skin and hair.  I need to know what's in these bottles.  What does this stuff do?  

Many brands have started forcing the issue of ingredients, even centering their marketing and promotion around them. You've heard them..."Argan Oil-infused... Coconut Oil...Vitamin E extract...".  It goes on.  Certainly there wasn't the same enthusiasm about essential oils and vitamins--even just 5 years ago.  Large brands, like L'Oreal, Unilever, and Proctor & Gamble have latched onto the trend, but independent brands have really been trailblazers.

Independent brands have made it their business--literally--to highlight ingredients and their contributions to the product.  Taking a look at the labels, you see (in order of amount) more ingredients with names you can pronounce and hear regularly.  Not only are the unheard of compounds  less dominant, the oils and vitamins promise more benefits than just preservation.  They get specific.   

As I began to make it more of a priority to buy shampoos, conditioners, shower gels, and other products with healthy ingredients, I also took to some research on what the other components were. The Environmental Working Group has a plethora of information. I started comparing compounds other site to what I saw on bottles.  In addition to highlighting what's in the products, we're starting to see a lot of what has been excluded.  What'd they take out?  Why?  Why was it in there to begin with?  Much of this research led me to learn more about sulfates and parabens, which help emulsify and foam, and serve and preservatives, respectively.  Hmmm...don't I still need foam?  Do I really want this product to last for 5 years?  Do I even need that?

Sulfates are overly drying to the hair, and parabens...well they've been linked to health risks.  The levels have been low,  but enough for them to be widely removed from popular products where they were once mainstays. 

One of the most common (and most safe) compounds you'll see is cetearyl alcohol.  This one is used to emulsify/foam, and has a low hazard rate.  It's similar to stearyl alcohol--both pretty safe, despite the "alcohol" in their names.  On the other end, benzalkonium chloride, a fairly common preservative has been associated with skin irritations and allergies.  The risk here is a bit high, and it is even restricted in some countries.  There are some compounds we need for good reason.  Others, we need to keep away from.  

Many of the most common compounds used, at one time, revolutionized the beauty industry.  They allowed for products to stay in tact over long shipments, keep a long shelf life for inventory availability, and be there whenever consumers needed them--no wait.  

But what independent brands have given us, in addition to a bit of a wait for their heart-to-hand products, is a some self-regulation.  Because there are just 30 substances banned by the FDA for use in beauty products (compared to over 1500 in Europe), we are left to a little trial and error in what works, what harms, and what needs to be celebrated in its removal after 40+ years of use.  Indies are taking charge and using natural ingredients, paired with little to no compounds, carefully curating products often free of preservatives.  If it's carefully curated, just for me (in my heart), there's no need to a long shelf life.  

Hearing which ingredients are in your most needed products and knowing what they do creates an important experience for consumers.  "This will keep my skin soft."  "This will reduce inflammation."  "This will slow aging." That messaging goes a long way, especially when some of those same ingredients can be found in our kitchens and even used for other things.  Clearly coconut oil and apple cider vinegar are staples beyond the kitchen, and solve almost everything known to man.  

Are you watching your labels?

For some of our Ingredient-Infused faves, check out these brands:
TGIN (Thank God It's Natural)

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