Healthy Beauty Part 1: Your Guide to Ingredients to Avoid and Products You Can Trust

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One of the newest additions to my bookshelf, Dr. Sam Epstein's Healthy Beauty: Your Guide to Ingredients to Avoid and Products You Can Trust, has become my go-to beauty bible when it comes to natural beauty products and cosmetics.

Epstein, a founder and chairperson of the Cancer Prevention Coalition, professor emeritus of environmental health at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and consultant to the Environmental Protection Agency, details why we should be wary of potentially hazardous ingredients in everyday cosmetics — and offers natural product selections from companies who are leading the way in safer cosmetics production.

Check out this excerpt from Healthy Beauty: Your Guide to Ingredients to Avoid and Products You Can Trust to find out more about how to swap out conventional products for healthier, natural alternatives.

Principle Categories of Organic Cosmetics and Personal-Care Products 

While organics have been making inroads throughout the cosmetic and personal-care products industry, the following categories have embraced organic ingredients more than the rest:

Cosmeceuticals. Cosmeceuticals are the largest and most rapidly expanding group of products containing organic ingredients. Natural antioxidants used in cosmeceuticals in particular are more and more often being obtained from organic sources.

Natural baby and children’s products. The organic children’s personal-care market continues to grow, which is of particular importance given the high permeability of children’s skin.

Natural whiteners. Organic whitening ingredients include arbutin, azaleic acid, burner root extract, kojic acid, licorice root extract, mulberry root extract and the antioxidant vitamin C.

Natural soaps. Certified organic vegetable oils are being used to replace synthetic detergents in many soaps.

Natural sunscreens and sunblocks. Several “green” sunblocks have been discovered recently, including a combination of plant-products ferulic acid and vegetable oil, and gamma oryzanol, from rice bran, and their ingredients can be obtained organically.

Natural Hair Colorants. Conventional hair dyes can be replaced by a variety of organic botanical or natural plant dyes, such as henna, indigo, and madder root. Emblica officinalis (amla/amlaki) is a botanical used thousands of years ago by Ayurvedic elders to blacken gray hair. This dye is an intensely colored multi-herb mixture which contains a group of anthocyanin antioxidants. The ingredients, when isolated, are notoriously unstable, but together are safe and effective. Another effective multi-herb mixture, Eclipta alba, is based on a host of sulfur-containing ingredients. Other Ayurvedic dyes include sterculia platanfolia, zizyphus spina-christi, mooncake and lotus tree leaves. Unfortunately, there is little published information on the practical potential of these plant-based dyes and their ingredients.