Beauty tips for an eco lifestyle

Avoid toxins and live a greener lifestyle in the simplest way possible.
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From how to read product labels to why choose natural nail polish, here are some useful tips for your well-being as well as that of the planet.

Avoiding SLS

Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) is a known irritant and a common ingredient in many beauty and bodycare products.

Found in most shampoos, hair conditioners, body washes and bubble baths, SLS is a strong detergent and foaming agent.  It can irritate eyes, skin and mucous membranes and has been linked to allergic reactions.

Say no to nanoparticles

Nanoparticles are one of the latest buzzwords in the beauty world and they are already being used in a wide range of products, from lipsticks to foundations.

Manufacturers don’t have to list them in the ingredients, however, so they are hard to avoid but worth doing so because there are concerns that nanoparticles can end up in the bloodstream and cause inflammation.

Parabens are preservatives

These chemicals are commonly used as preservatives in cosmetics and as antibacterial agents in products such as toothpaste.

They have been found to have an oestrogenic effect and have also been linked with cancer. The four main parabens in use are methyl, ethyl, propyl and butyl parabens.

Look out for organic

The global market for organic cosmetics is growing and in 2006 1,600 organic products were launched worldwide. However, be cautious: manufacturers are not legally required to obtain organic certification to make organic claims.

Make sure the product you buy carry the logos of either the Soil Association, Ecocert or USDA Organic (United States Department of Agriculture).

These products contain ingredients that are assessed to be safe to human health and guarantee that their manufacturer and use causes minimum environmental impact.

Guard against sun damage

Despite an increase in the amount of sunscreen we are using, the rates of skin cancer continue to increase, which is not surprising as we are battling with greater pollution, ozone depletion, unregulated tanning salons and longer lifespans.

One theory, though not proven, is that damage is enhanced by exposure to some of the ingredients used in sunscreens.

In particular, avoid: parabens (butyl-, methyl-, and propyl-), PABAs (para-aminobenzoic acid), padimate-O or parsol 1789, and benzophenone, homosalate or octy-methoxycinnamate (octinoxate).

Know your AHAS

Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) are used in products such as moisturizers and exfoliants.

They effectively remove the outer layer of skin and are known for their anti-ageing effects.

However, research has revealed concerns that they could cause increased sun-sensitivity and the risk of sun-related skin cancers.

Relax in a bath lit by petrochemical-free candles

Vegetable-based or beeswax candles are better for the environment and better for your health.

When lit, normal paraffin candles emit trace amounts of toxins including formaldehyde and petroleum soot.

Choose vegetable-based candles such as soy candles perfumed with pure essential oils for a greener alternative.

Turn on your man

Take advantage of the growing number of natural and organic brands specifically targeting male grooming.

The number of paraben-free and SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate)-free shaving foams and gels is rapidly growing so even the greenest men have a wide choice of products.

Scoop of Nature is a men-only range of organic skincare (see

Take care with titanium dioxide

Research has shown that many currently fashionable teeth-whitening toothpastes and agents contain titanium dioxide.

A suspected carcinogen which can be absorbed into the skin, it is also harmful to the environment and has been found to acidify rivers and seas.

It is used both as a pigment and a thickener in many other cosmetic and skincare products.

Choose natural nail polish

Conventional nail varnishes and removers are essentially cocktails of toxic chemicals, such as toluene and colour lakes (colour bases that don’t break down in nature), acetone, formaldehyde and phthalates.

Look for the BDIH label instead: this is a respected German association for certified natural cosmetics that guarantees a product based on plant oils and herbal and floral extracts from managed cultivation.

The products it endorses do not include any organic-synthetic dyes, synthetic fragrances or mineral oil derivatives. Sante Natural Nail Polishes are certified by the BDIH.

Key chemicals for asthma sufferers to avoid

There is increasing evidence that the following ingredients, often found in haircare products, have been linked to asthma in hairdressers.

They are: ammonium persulfate, potassium persulfaute and sodium persulfate. Asthma sufferers should try to avoid them.

Hold the hairspray

Conventional hairsprays coat the hair with a plastic film to hold in place.

Many hairsprays contain phthalates, hormone-disrupting chemicals which have been linked with a number of health scares including birth defects.

Choose hairspray made with natural ingredients in pump action rather than aerosol dispensers.

This extract is taken from The Little Green Book of Beauty (250 tips for an ECO lifestyle), by Sarah Callard, which can be purchased at all book shops or online from Amazon

Last modified: June 10, 2021

Written by 4:37 pm Beauty, Fashion & Beauty