Skin Deep: Rate My Medicine Cabinet

Medicine Cabinet - top shelfI’ve recently become a tad obsessed with the idea of cleaning up all the products I use on a daily and semi-daily basis. I’ve always been a beauty product geek, and today I’m going to give you a peek at my medicine cabinet so that you can get a better sense of the extent of this geekiness (the photo to the right is just the top shelf in my medicine cabinet). Because I like to try out so many different types of products, I’ve decided to start phasing out the heavily chemical-laden products in my life and work on introducing more natural goodies. When I think about all the chemicals I’ve been slathering all over myself for so many years, it makes me feel a little green—and not in the good way.

Enter the Environmental Working Group‘s Skin Deep database. The EWG does a ton of research on products and assigns them a “hazard” rating based on the individual ingredients contained in the products. A 0 to 2 rating is Low Hazard, a 3 to 6 rating is Moderate Hazard, and a 7 to 10 rating is High Hazard. There’s also a second element to the ratings which describes how much the researchers know about the safety of the ingredients in a given product: None, Limited, Fair, Good, or Robust. EWG recommends products with a Low Hazard rating and a minimum of Fair data availability. So that’s what I’m eventually going for in my medicine cabinet and shower. I have so much stuff that it’s going to take quite awhile to get there—and not all of my products are even listed in the database.

This next photo is the middle shelf in our medicine cabinet:

IMG_4163This morning, I went through my medicine cabinet and looked up the Skin Deep rating of each product. I found that more than 75% of them have not been rated by the EWG. I can’t assume that means they’re all bad, but I also can’t assume that they’re totally safe, either, especially judging by the ingredients listed on some of the labels. Just to finish the complete picture of my skin care gear, here’s a photo of the bottom shelf:

IMG_4164So, let’s find out how my Skin Deep medicine cabinet audit went:

  • I literally have seven different Kiehl’s products in the cabinet, and none are listed in Skin Deep. In fact, the database only has one Kiehl’s product: the Actively Correcting & Beautifying BB Cream, SPF 50 (BB cream), and it has a Moderate Hazard rating with Limited data. Not conclusive by any means, but also not too promising for the brand. Despite my love of Kiehl’s I’ll be phasing these products out (which will take quite awhile, as I’ve even stocked up on some of them, like the deodorant!). Their products work very well, but I’d rather use fewer chemicals.
  • Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil and Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47: both are unlisted. However, Skin Deep does list some older Josie Maran skin care products and those are mostly rated Low Hazard with Limited data, so I feel pretty good about these.
  • LUSH Mint Julips Lip Scrub: unlisted. I do know that this company works hard to make their products safe by using mostly natural ingredients—so much so that some have expiration dates. They even go the extra mile and use Fair Trade sugar for this product, plus, you’re instructed to lick the excess off after scrubbing your lips with it (yum!). My friend gave me this for my birthday last year.  🙂
  • Alba Very Emollient Lip Balm SPF 25: the 2013 formulation is rated Medium Hazard with Limited data. Not great, but also not horrible. I bought mine recently but haven’t cracked it open yet. It was only about $2.50 so it’s not really worth returning, and I really do need a lip balm with SPF. Here’s hoping the newest formulation has improved safety-wise?
  • Fresh Sugar Lip Serum Advanced Therapy: unlisted. I am currently using a sample size, and have a full size in stock at home. I may return the full sized one, as I am not really seeing any effect from using this and it just adds a step to my morning and nighttime skin care ritual.
  • Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector (BB Cream): Moderate Hazard, Limited data. I’m tossing this one, as I’ve used up quite a bit of it and it’s actually pretty old. I probably should have thrown it out awhile ago.
  • Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Mask: Moderate Hazard, Limited data. I’ll keep using this until it’s gone; it really does help moisturize my skin when it gets super dry and flaky in the deep cold of winter. I got this one for free as a Bzzagent.
  • tarte Maracuja Oil: unlisted. I do love this stuff—in the summer, I use 2-3 drops of it as a nighttime moisturizer. The whopping TWO ingredients are Passiflora Edulis Seed Oil and Tocopherol (an organic chemical compound related to Vitamin E that the EWG lists as low concern). I’ll keep using this one.
  • Osea White Algae Mask: Low Hazard, Limited data. I got this in a Birchbox Conscious Commerce box over the holidays. Good enough for me to keep using ’til it’s gone.
  • S.W. Basics of Brooklyn Vegan Citrus Lip Balm: Low Hazard, Limited data. This one only has five ingredients and BONUS, it’s made in Brooklyn so for me it counts as locally made. I got this one for free in a goodie bag at a local foodie event.
  • Bach Rescue Cream: unlisted. I bought this homeopathic stuff at Whole Foods to help out with my really irritated wind-chapped skin this winter, and I feel like it has helped. I’ll keep it around for now.
  • Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20: the current formulation is unlisted, but the 2009 formulation is a Moderate Hazard with Limited Data. Fingers crossed that Laura’s been able to make her stuff safer over the past six years!
  • Aveeno Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream: unlisted. I’m getting to the bottom of this tub and I’ve already bought a replacement: Alba Botanica Even Advanced Night Cream (which is listed as Moderate Hazard with Limited data…ehh. But it has no parabens or phthalates, so that’s a start).
  • Eslor Firming Collagen Day Cream: unlisted. This one came in my first BIrchbox and I’ve been using it on and off. Considering it costs $85 for full size, I won’t be purchasing it when I run out. It is, however, paraben and sodium laureth sulfate free, and lists all natural ingredients on the label.
  • Coola Face SPF 30 Unscented Matte Tint (Natural BB Cream): Moderate Hazard, Limited Data. As I’ve mentioned, I received a sample from Birchbox and loved it so much that I ordered a full sized tube. When you look up the ingredient breakdown on this one, all of the ingredients are Low Hazard except for one, and that one only rates a 3—so it is in fact quite low on the moderate spectrum. I feel good about this one.
  • Yes to Cucumbers Soothing Facial Towelettes (not pictured): Moderate Hazard, Limited Data. The individual ingredients are mostly Low Hazard, but the fragrance rates as High Hazard with Fair Data. Yikes! I stocked up on these during a Cyber Monday sale…I guess I’ll just use up what I have and switch to something else when they’re gone.
  • Thayer’s Alcohol-Free Original Witch Hazel Toner (not pictured): unlisted, but two similar Thayer’s toners are Low Hazard with Limited data. Pretty good compared to the rest of my medicine cabinet.
  • Gabriel Organics Sea Mineral Tonic (not pictured): unlisted. The ingredients listed are mostly natural so I feel solid about this one. And I got it for free, yippeee!

As you can see, I have my work cut out for me. Out of the 25 products I listed today (I swear I really don’t use all of them daily!), only TWO of them are officially listed as Low Hazard—and with Limited data, at that. Clearly there’s a TON of room for improvement here, and I’m taking small steps daily. Just being aware and educating myself is better than doing nothing while continuing to buy giant corporate-made chemical bombs at the drugstore. The EWG also has a (free!) Skin Deep app available for Apple and Android, and it’s wonderful! You can use the app to scan bar codes while you’re shopping to help you make more informed decisions. I’ve started using the app to shop for skin and body products and I really appreciate having it in my purse. I used it just this morning to buy Andalou Naturals Luminous Eye Serum (Low Hazard, Limited data—for when I finish my Kiehl’s eye cream) and Mineral Fusion Concealer Duo (Low Hazard, Limited data). I highly recommend that you download the app if you too are trying to cut out the chemicals in your life!

Next up? Rate My Shower!

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