Does anyone remember that Britney Spears song “I’m not that innocent”? I remember it being her ode to shedding her good girl image. What does that have to do with your beauty chemicals? A lot. All the potions and tonics and cover ups in our beauty arsenal are usually not made of pretty ingredients so think of this as finally seeing the not so innocent part of the beauty industry.

This past week I went to an event by Environmental Defense in Toronto. It was an event aimed at offering consumers toxic free alternatives to basic beauty products such as makeup, nail polish, lotions and potions. I ended up buying 2 nail polishes that were toluene and formaldehyde free. I did my undergrad in Chemistry and I remember looking up MSDS (materials safety and data sheet) on the chemicals we were going to use in the lab and those 2 sounded pretty familiar. Out of curiosity I looked up both toluene and formaldehyde. Here is what I found by googling both ‘toluene and msds” and “formaldehyde and msds”:

For skin contact with formaldehyde I found this:

“Immediate first aid is needed to prevent skin damage. Immediately flush skin with plenty of water for at least 20 minutes while removing contaminated clothing and shoes. Seek immediate medical attention. Wash contaminated

clothing before reusing.”

Ok…that is pretty scary yet there are throes of women (maybe some men) who are willingly putting themselves at risk and not knowing it. This is not good!

For toluene I found this under chronic effects on humans:

“May cause damage to the following organs: blood, kidneys, the nervous system, liver, brain, central nervous system (CNS).”

Ok not good either. I guess we pay for beauty on the outside with damage to our internal organs on the inside. I wish I knew I was bathing myself in organ damaging chemicals.

Anyhoo, there is some good news to gain from all of this. You can educate yourself.

Avoid these chemicals:

The top 10 chemicals to avoid when buying beauty products are as follows. You can download it here.


2.Artificial Musks




6.Formaldehyde releasing agents

7.Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

8.Silicon chemicals

9.Coal Tar derived colours

10.BHA and BHT

Can you eat it?

 Also another good rule of thumb is that is the product you are buying is edible and safe to eat then it will be good for your skin too. Our skin is our largest organ and it readily absorbs what we put onto it. Over the last year I have really cleaned up my products. I rarely wear make-up so my focus has been more on daily products I use.

Swap the old for the new and improved!

  • I swaped my Clinique super defense moisturizer for coconut oil (I use it on my face and body)
  • I swaped dove soap for olive oil soap
  • I swaped my ombrelle sunscreen (which contains parabens and is dermatologist reccommended…the horror!) for Burt’s Bees spf 15.*
  • I swapped out my old shampoo for Kiss my face shampoo that is free of parabens, phthalates and SLS. Why are those bad? The can cause hormones disruption that leads to weight gain among other things!

*I would actually like to try green beaver’s new facial spf as well. I find that with my complexion certain physical sunscreens make me look a bit grey :S So far the burt’s bees it ok and I pair it with a wide brim hat in the sun…fashion and protection!

UPDATE: I am loving the Green Beaver SPF 15 moisturizer. I don’t turn grey and it is a physical sunscreen 🙂

Are your current products safe?

You can also check the Environmental Working Group (EWG) site  and look up the products you use and see their toxicity.

I know giving up your old products can be like severing an arm off. I used Clinique products for years, partly because I thought I was pampering myself but alas I wasn’t!

Have a great Saturday, chemical-free of course!