It’s time to consider a beauty routine detox. When we purge out chemicals found in many traditional beauty products, everybody wins: the planet, animals not being used for testing, and us. But like any diet, the struggle to put it into practice—and stick with it—is real.
If you’ve never thought about switching over to a more green routine, consider that the United States has only banned 13 toxic chemicals from beauty products, compared to close to 1,400(!) prohibited ingredients in Europe. That means we are applying potentially-harmful substances onto our bodies daily without even realizing it.
Fortunately, an abundance of both up-and-coming and established brands are taking responsibility into their own hands by offering safer alternatives with responsibly-sourced ingredients. Even drugstores now offer a plethora of options, while new specialty e-tailers, such as The Detox Market, Safe and Chic, and subscription box Love Goodly are helping consumers by only stocking ethical brands.
With all of these new possibilities come the daunting task of navigating haircare aisles, translating product labels and not falling for green-washing techniques. Companies can get away with using buzzy words like “natural,” “organic,” “eco-friendly,” and “vegan” to market their products, without an agency holding them accountable. Here’s a quick cheat-sheet on what these terms should mean:
This is an umbrella term that describes using naturally-derived ingredients. It’s kind of like using Wikipedia for research—you might be purchasing an honest product, but everyone has the liberty to use this term so it’s hard to be sure.
For instance, GMOs, or genetically-modified organisms, can fall under the category of “natural.” Keep an eye out for the non-GMO label to ensure genetically-engineered crops are not in your hair essentials.
When used correctly, this term refers to responsibly-harvested ingredients—crops that were grown without the use of toxic chemicals or pesticides. To be sure, look for the USDA-certified organic label, which shows that a product has met these standards.
Vegan (or Cruelty-Free)
Products that contain plant-based ingredients, and/or did not test on animals.
Ideally, this refers to recyclable product packaging and/or ingredients that are not harmful to the environment after disposal.
This article first appeared on ELLE.