By carly castillo
Carly's Clean & Intentional Living Tip #1: Read your Ingredient Labels
Look at the labels on your products. Do you know what you’re reading? Are you familiar with them? Can you pronounce them? Don’t let those technical, scientific words intimidate you to where you just nod your head and assume it’s something good for you because the label is cute and you want to be won over? If it’s truly natural these ingredients will not do tricks to your brain but allow you to sound them out with familiarity.
At Under Luna, we believe in less is more. Less in the number of ingredients, more potency in the ingredients you use. The more complicated the product doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to provide you with more benefits.
You can be your own advocate and herbalist. What products/ingredients does your skin, hair, body tend to gravitate towards and why? More of that! Learn about what your skin or hair likes or craves and lean into more products like that.
Greenwashing is very alive and well. Large, commercial companies are realizing the natural market is where it’s at and in order to attract those non-toxic, natural leaning customers they tend to lead with buzzwords like “natural”, “organic”, “sustainable” and “eco-friendly” because there is a lack of regulations on beauty. Thankfully regulation does call for ingredient lists and those lengthy ingredient lists is where we get to call them out!
Here’s a few ingredients to be sure to AVOID when it comes to beauty products:
Sodium lauryl Sulfate / Sodium laureth Sulfate: an extremely irritating surfactant. It is inexpensive and easily breaks down the surface tension between ingredients, making it a very effective foaming agent. For those reasons, many companies are all in. They may make the product look pretty/seem effective, but there are cases and studies to show just how irritating it can be to the skin and there is no-telling what it is doing internally.
PEGs: Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) and Polypropylene Glycol (PPG) are petroleum derived ingredients. These can act as stabilizers, thickeners, emulsifiers or emollients. They help enhance the absorption of ingredients, including the harmful ones. It has been found that PEGs contain impurities, ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, which are known carcinogens.
Synthetic Fragrances or Phthalates: You’ll see “parfum” or “fragrance” listed - easy to find and highly recommended to avoid! This can mean a whole host of synthetic and toxic ingredients, not to mention endocrine disruptors.
Toxic Preservatives: there is a long list to stay away from, but here are the most frightening and most commonly used:
- Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA). These are endocrine disruptors, possible carcinogens, and skin irritants.
- Formaldehyde. A known carcinogen. While not all products contain the ingredient formaldehyde, some may contain and/or use formaldehyde-releasing substances. It has been reported by the FDA that nearly 1 in 5 cosmetic products contains a substance that generates formaldehyde.
- Parabens. One of the most common ingredients found in cosmetic products today. They are endocrine disruptors or chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system. It can cause adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune effects. Look out for any ingredients ending with -paraben ie. propylparaben, butylparaben.
Here are a few ingredients to look for in your beauty products:
Herbal extracts - these are all listed in their natural form and won’t try to deceive you. They’re typically listed by their latin name but usually you can pick out what flower/plant it is coming from. They are chalk full of powerful nutrients and obviously the cleanest form.
Aromatic herbal oils or essential oils - this is the most natural way to add aromatics to a product. Depending on who the product is for, you still want to cross check these scents with any sensitivities/if essential oils will work with you, your skin, your child’s, etc. If fragrance is needed in your life, this is the best option for you. You can always opt for fragrance-free or essential oil free like our Unscented Shampoo and Unscented Conditioner. This ensures it will work for you, your kids, dogs, everyone and their sensitivities.
Natural Preservatives - preservatives are only necessary if the product contains water in the formula. If so, look for rosemary extract, radish root ferment or lactobacillus. These are natural plant based preservatives that do a great job in giving us a fairly good shelf life.
Going down this very path of understanding ingredients and the products out there, is the very reason Under Luna came about. Clean, transparent, plant derived products is all I was looking for. I put in the research and dedicated countless hours, weeks and months to find the group of ingredients [link to Ingredients blog post] to fit this bill.