Every now and then I take a break from a Freaks and Geeks marathon on Netflix to watch a documentary, and The Human Experiment really hit close to home. The film, produced and narrated by Sean Penn (yes, that Sean Penn), detailed the mind-boggling effects that toxins can have on the body. The bad news? Many of these harmful toxins are lurking in products we use every day, such as deodorant and makeup. Perhaps the most jarring of these negative effects is infertility, which the filmmakers connected with various chemicals that pretty much everyone in the USA and beyond are exposed to on a regular basis that may prevent otherwise healthy men and women from being able to conceive.
That's not to say that your mascara is definitely going to thwart any future pregnancy plans, but it's certainly made me think twice about what I use on my body. If I can avoid it, I'd like to stay away from putting things like lead and butylated hydroxyanisole on my face.
Luckily, it's now easier than ever to avoid these harmful ingredients. Brands like Ava Anderson and M61, started by Bluemercury co-founder Marla Beck, and shops like Follain have banished hundreds of toxins from products they make and carry.
It can be daunting to think about making a huge change and overhauling your beauty and skincare routines in favor of gentler products that can sometimes be harder to find or more expensive than what you're used to using. Like any other big shift, you don't have to do it all at once. "My recommendation is to start with products that you either use most often or are on your body the longest, like lotions, deodorant, or makeup," says Kalei Ensminger, an independent consultant at Ava Anderson.
With that in mind, here are four common ingredients found in the grooming and beauty supplies that you probably use everyday, and how to swap them out for some a little gentler.
1.) Lead (Found In Lipstick)
WHY: Yes, lipstick is considered a paint, of sorts. But most people wouldn't dream of painting even an accent wall with paint that contains lead, so why would you slather it onto your mouth?
SWAP FOR: Ava Anderson Lipgloss, $14.95. It comes in a rainbow of pretty colors, and since we all know that a majority of lipstick loss ends up on your teeth or in your mouth, you'll have nothing to worry about but reapplying.
2.) Triclosan and Aluminum, common in deodorant:
WHY: Deodorant was long rumored to cause breast cancer, and while this still hasn't been proven, there are still some majorly whack side effects from using deodorant, especially those that concern estrogen. That said, there are also some pretty consequential side-effects of not wearing deodorant, like people not wanting to sit next to you, or refusing to lend you their tres chic clothes.
SWAP FOR: Aesop's spray deodorant, $35. I personally use Aesop's deodorant, and it smells pleasantly like a fresh, non-cloying men's cologne. It definitely works as well as a drugstore brand deodorant, and, if I do ever find that I need to reapply, the scent is so lovely that I don't mind at all.
3.) Carcinogens like nitrosamines, present in some condoms
SWAP FOR: Condoms (and lubricants) from Sustain, $13.99 for 10 (or you might need the pack of 144 for $144, hey, it's your life) one of only two condom brands found to be lacking in this unsexy additive.
4.) 1,4 Dioxane, found in Shampoo
WHY: Dioxane is an ether. And ether, aside from being quite possibly the greatest dis track ever (Nas has some choice words for Jay-Z in his song, entitled "Ether"), is not only quite irritating to the eyes and skin, but it's also a carcinogen and has caused death in workers that had prolonged exposure to it.
SWAP FOR: A yummy-smelling and shine-enhancing shampoo like Rahua's Classic Shampoo, $32, made from coconut oil.