Ingredients, research, and shopping, oh my…


Lately I’ve been getting more and more strict about the ingredients in my skincare products and makeup. This all started when I realized that a newly discovered favourite product of mine had a formaldehyde-releasing ingredient (glyoxal) and a controversial preservative (phenoxyethanol) that may or may not be better or worse than parabens. Sigh… What’s a beauty product lover to do? Start researching better products, of course!

I realize that this can be daunting, but I sincerely enjoy it (and yes, my husband thinks I’m crazy). My top research site has always been, and is still, Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database, and I also used GoodGuide to fill in any gaps. If a product I was looking for wasn’t listed, I looked up the individual ingredients. Every. Single. One. And if no ingredients were listed on the company’s website, I didn’t bother with it at all. Shouldn’t companies be proud of their ingredients?

What I discovered was probably not all that surprising, but reassuring in a strangely depressing sort of way:

  • Not all so-called natural companies have clean ingredient lists. Come on companies, we’re smarter than taking “Made with natural ingredients!” at face value. A no-no I’ve been finding a LOT in products is, as I mentioned earlier, phenoxyethanol. This is basically supposed to be a better substitute for parabens, but maybe isn’t that much better after all. I suspect we’ll be hearing about it more and more in the coming years.
  • Natural ingredients aren’t necessarily safe or non-toxic. This is self-evident when we think of things like lead or cadmium, but the logic sometimes escapes us when we’re looking at product labels that scream “natural!” Many natural ingredients found in products can either be irritating or contribute to allergies, so reading labels is still a must!
  • Some mainstream/synthetic products can have non-toxic ingredient lists. Often, lines made specifically for sensitive or intolerant skin have surprisingly clean ingredient lists, so I wouldn’t discount all conventional companies without some careful label reading.
  • You have to do what’s right for you. If you want to wear a full face of makeup every day (and honestly I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that), you’ll probably have to come in contact with some ingredient that might be harmful in some way. It’s really hard to be perfect! I’m sure not. I’ve had to make some choices, and decide that while some ingredients will be a outright “no!” for me, others are okay. I think the important part is that it’s an informed decision.

So here’s where the fun starts! While tearfully (not really) parting ways with some longstanding favourites, I’ve had the chance to explore other companies with clean ingredients–that actually work. I was thrilled to discover that a beauty boutique close(ish) to me carries a few brands I’ve been dying to try: RMS, Consonant, John Masters, and ILIA.

I haven’t had a chance to try them all yet, but I’ve started with RMS. Have you heard of it or used it? It’s got this crazy cult following but I hadn’t heard about it until recently. It’s a really lovely line started by a makeup artist so the products are effective and the colours are super flattering. Most products are multipurpose, and they come in these cute little pots so you can apply with your fingers. Shown in this photo are a lip2cheek and eye polish. The store was out of the luminizer and “master mixer” so that’s what’s on my list next!

What are your thoughts on ingredient lists? Any “clean” companies you’d recommend? Let me know in a comment below!


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