Clean beauty is misleading. What is advertised as all-natural doesn’t necessarily mean it belongs seeping into our bodies. With the help of a little technology, some patience and commitment to forming new habits, you can swap to a true clean beauty regimen and level up your self care.
In today’s day and age, we understand that it is so important to know what ingredients we are putting in our bodies. We now know organic, natural, non-GMO foods and ingredients are best for our health and our bodies’ functioning. We know artificial food coloring, artificial sweeteners, and “low fat” or “zero calorie” labels do more harm than good, and there is sufficient research to support this. Sadly, we don’t really know the facts behind what we are putting ON our bodies. I bet if we were to look as closely at the ingredients listed in our beauty and personal care products as we do in the food we eat, we would have no clue as to what many of those ingredients are or what their side effects are.
What’s worse is that while we think some of the products we are using are “natural” or contain natural ingredients, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are truly clean. Many brands that claim to be natural still contain ingredients in certain products that can have adverse side effects on our bodies. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, “personal care products is one of the least regulated industries in the U.S. Current federal law regulating cosmetic safety hasn’t been updated in over 75 years.” That’s a scary realization.
A few months ago, I was introduced to an innovative new app called “Think Dirty.” It wasn’t until shortly after the New Year that I researched the app, downloaded it for myself, and began utilizing it. I was in shock at what I found as I searched the different products in my daily beauty and personal care regimen. I quickly learned that the vast majority of the items I used on a daily basis are filled with many toxic and harmful chemicals.
For example, I learned that the main ingredient in the toothpaste both my husband and I have used every day, twice a day for years is linked to infertility! What started as simply researching the items in my makeup bag out of my own curiosity, quickly expanded to needing to know every ingredient and the associated side effects (most of which are negative) in my skincare products, self-care products, and household and cleaning products. It was like traveling down a long, dark rabbit hole.
Thankfully, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The Think Dirty app doesn’t just tell us what the ingredients and negative side effects are in the “dirty” products we use. It also recommends alternative cleaner, non-toxic products allowing us to quickly and easily make more informed, health conscious decisions about the products to purchase and use in our beauty and personal care regimens. So how do we make the switch to cleaner beauty products?
7 Steps to Clean Beauty
- Download the Think Dirty app (The Healthy Living App by the Environmental Working Group is also a great resource to cross reference! This app includes self-care and food products as well.)
- Divide the products you use on a daily basis into categories and start with one category. (It will be much less overwhelming this way!) For example, start with beauty products such as makeup, skincare products such as facewash and moisturizer, and self-care products such as toothpaste and deodorant.
- Utilize the app by scanning the bar code on your products, or search directly in the app.
- Find the exact product (if possible) and look at the overall “rating based on strength of evidence” of that product. Think Dirty utilizes an overall rating scale of 0-10, with 0 being the cleanest, 10 being the dirtiest. Think Dirty lists all of the ingredients in that product and the “potential action of ingredients” which contributes to the overall rating. It also breaks down the “potential health impact of ingredients” into three categories: carcinogenicity, developmental & reproductive toxicity, and allergenicity & immunotoxicity.
- Add the product to a list within the app. For example, any products with a rating of 6 or higher, I added to the “Dirty products” list. For products with a rating of 5 or lower, I added to the “Clean products” list within my bathroom shelf. These can stay!
- Clean out the dirty products! Of the “dirty products” in my regimen, anything with a rating of 8 or higher, I threw away immediately. This may seem wasteful, but I would rather get rid of those harmful products than allow them to cause any more damage. Then, continue to work your way down the remaining products in your dirty list over time.
- Shop clean. Of the dirty products I threw away, I looked at the alternative, similar products Think Dirty suggested and added the products I would like to try to my “clean products” list. Then, it’s time to go shopping!
By dividing the products I use on a daily basis into categories, and by separating those products into “dirty” and “clean,” it made it much easier for me to replace the toxic and harmful items in my personal care regimen efficiently. The first products I replaced with the highest dirty ratings in my regimen were surprisingly my toothpaste, deodorant, and body lotion. My toothpaste had a high level of developmental and reproductive toxicity, my deodorant had a high level of carcinogenicity, and my body lotion had a high level of carcinogenicity and immunotoxicity. The worst offender ingredient: fragrance.
According to Think Dirty’s research, “An ingredient listed on a product label as ‘fragrance’ may be composed of dozens of different synthetic chemical compounds, none of which are specifically identified on the label or the manufacturer’s website…Yet fragrance is the most common cause of contact dermatitis associated with personal care products. Even more alarmingly, chemical analyses of cosmetics and personal care products containing undisclosed “fragrance” ingredients have identified known allergens, asthma triggers, sensitizers, endocrine disruptors, carcinogens and neurotoxins 3,4,5.” This is important information to remember and consider when reading new product labels and shopping for new personal care products.
A note from Anastasia: You can order this toothpaste instead – with a dirty rating of zero on Think Dirty and beautiful packaging. While you’re at it, swap to these super chic, biodegradable tooth brushes. For deodorant, try this one. For shampoo + conditioner, I’ve become obsessed with these in this scent. It’s a local Austin brand, it smells incredible, and keeps my sensitive scalp under control. The Seaweed Bath Co has replaced all the products in my bathroom + fully stocked our guest bathroom as well. Everyone loves it!
I realize that making this switch is a significant undertaking, both practically and financially, especially when you venture into replacing all of the dirty products in your home. While you may not absolutely love the first alternative clean product you try compared to tried and true products, you can have a sense of peace during this trial and error period of finding the products that work best for you and your lifestyle.
I feel very strongly about making this transition, especially as I get older and closer to starting a family of my own. It has been so hard for me to stand by some of my closest friends as they are trying to start their own families but are having major difficulties and have concerns with infertility. If the products I currently use on my body can be a factor in this, and in my recent research– they are, then I want to make a swift change to switch to clean beauty and personal care products and hopefully help my friends and loved ones along the way. I hope you’ll join me on this wellness journey to learn and live better, cleaner lives together!
A note from Anastasia: It can be expensive to completely replace your entire bathroom cabinet. Do so in waves – beginning with your worst offenders. Remember as you go to replace your existing products that your cosmetics bottles can almost always be recycled! Rinse the bottles carefully + recycle any plastic or glass bottles, along with the paper packaging of the new products.
Thank you Kimberly, for sharing your findings with us + giving us the power to take control of our health so easily! Just a few weeks in + I’ve already transitioned our home to products ranked three or less on the Think Dirty app.
Kimberly Burke is the content creator of personal life and style blog, Little Bitty in the City, based in Austin, Texas. Little Bitty in the City began as an alternative way to share about her direct sales business, but it has become her outlet to convey her passions such as affordable, everyday fashion, trendy accessories, wellness tips and products, and music. Her hope for Little Bitty in the City is to be an uplifting place for community and inspiration for like-minded, passionate young women everywhere.