I don't talk beauty much on this blog. I find it a bit like quick sand, you start to slowly wade in and then you find yourself very quickly being sucked down under the sand.  Beauty is such a personal topic. What we use, how we use it and why we use it varies widely from woman to woman.  We all have personal challenges, like allergies (I am allergic to a lot of scents) or skin types.  So what works for one person may not work for another.  Plus a lot of beauty products are created to reverse the signs of aging. And I am about accepting and making the most of ourselves, not changing ourselves. That said I use beauty products everyday, and some of those are products that reduce my wrinkles and help maintain my skin. Am I a hypocrite?  Maybe.   So I kind of avoid the topic. 

What I do know is that I am becoming more and more selective about the ingredients I use on my face.   And there are a lot of chemicals in beauty products.   And it is very difficult to wade through the product information provided - especially since a full list of ingredients is not required on beauty products.   To complicate things fragrance related chemicals can be considered fragrance or perfum.   Even products labelled "unscented" and "fragrance free" may contain masking agents or fragrance that hide odours  (source: Health Canada).   This is concerning because many of the chemicals used in fragrances have not been test for toxicity.     The David Suzuki Foundation has done a lot of research on this subject, and you can sign their petition to the Canadian government requiring manufacturers to disclose a complete list of fragrance ingredients used in their products.

But, like many of you,  I'm not a chemist so even if products listed their ingredients I wouldn't know what was better than something else.  So I was happy to discover the Skin Deep data base run by the Environmental Working Group.  Their scientists compare the ingredients on personal care product labels and websites to information in nearly 60 toxicity and regulatory databases.  It is the largest personal care product safety guide in the world.  It is also American.  And the FDA has different rules around products than Health Canada.  But I find it provides a good place to start and a guideline for good brands and types of products to look at.

 It is easy to use you just put in the product name or brand name you want to assess.   I put in Tom's anticavity toothpaste and it scored with a green 1, which is a fair rating (the lower the number the better).  The ratings are colour coded.  The toothpaste gets a green, which is fair, then it goes to yellow and to red for the higher risk products.   They also give a breakdown of the rating, health concerns, label information and company policies (Tom's has an Innovator Status). 

You can also search by category like sun - makeup - skin care....  they provide a list of results from lowest to highest.  So if you are looking for a relatively safe dandruff shampoo you can browse their list.   They also have tips and a lot of information on various ingredients.  It can be overwhelming but I have found it a great place to start when you are assessing the health merits of your beauty products. 

Next week I'll have some Holiday party outfit posts.  And maybe some more last minute (affordable) gift hints for my husband.