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Clean. Natural. Green. Nontoxic. Organic. It's easy to get overwhelmed by these wellness buzzwords. While we prioritize our physical and mental well-being, taking care of ourselves encompasses more than diet, meditation and exercise. We should be equally as discerning with the foods we're putting in our bodies as we are with products we are using and putting on our bodies.
When it comes to beauty products, steering clear of parabens and phthalates might be a no-brainer. But Decoding labels and marketing jargon isn't exactly easy, especially when there's a new "danger" or nontoxic product everywhere you turn! So, how do you know if your beauty and skincare routine is really safe?
At Ghost Democracy, we're helping you break down what clean beauty means to us, why it matters, and how it differs from natural, organic makeup—because who doesn't want to glow (and feel good) about what they use.
There isn't an "official" agreed-upon definition for clean beauty. Though many companies greenwash their products with labels like "natural" or "eco," that doesn't necessarily mean they're nontoxic. If you really want to find the safest skincare products, you have to take matters into your own hands —and that starts with looking at the list of ingredients.
To us, clean beauty means products made without ingredients that have harmful health effects. The U.S. restricts only 30 ingredients from being used in personal care and cosmetic products. Compare that to the EU, which has banned around 1,400. Now, you'll see why it's essential to look at each ingredient yourself and see what research (if any) has been done so that you can make the best decision for you.
Clean Beauty Tip: The Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Skin Deep Cosmetics Database can be a useful resource when reviewing ingredients in your beauty products. It's worth noting, though, that the EWG errs on the side of caution when it lacks information, so take its ratings with a grain of salt.
We know that some chemicals make their way into our bloodstreams through the skin, nose, and mouth. What we don't know is how much of these chemicals get absorbed or the long-term effects they have on our health. However, several common personal care ingredients have been linked to endocrine (or hormone) disruption and cancer, and many others contain irritants or potential allergens. At Ghost Democracy, we prefer to avoid these potentially harmful ingredients whenever possible, especially when there are so many effective clean beauty products that don't use them.
Another potential concern is body burden. Have you ever heard of it? From cleaning products to pollution, and, yes, beauty products, body burden is the total accumulation of chemicals in our body. By limiting our exposure to these potential toxins where we can—like by using clean skincare products—we may be able to lessen our overall chemical burden.
While, there's no single list of harmful ingredients to avoid, individual company's set their standards around what they will (or won't) allow in their skincare and beauty products. One consequence of the FDA having very little control over the personal care industry is that many brands get away without listing everything on the label. Seek out companies that are transparent about what goes into their products and don't hide behind the sticker.
At Ghost Democracy, we believe the best clean skincare products are paraben-free, phthalate-free, sulfate-free, formaldehyde-free, dye-free, and talc-free. That's a lot of free! We also suggest steering clear of the following when choosing what products you use:
- Added fragrance
- Essential oils
- Mineral oil
- Drying alcohols
- Polyethylene glycol
Instead, look for beauty products with nontoxic, science-backed ingredients such as glycolic acid (a powerful exfoliator), bakuchiol (a natural alternative to retinol), and niacinamide (vitamin B3, which soothes and strengthens skin).
Clean Beauty Tip: When looking at labels, watch out for broad names like "fragrance" or "perfume"—they may be hiding less-than-stellar ingredients under the disguise of it being a trade secret.
Organic makeup generally means that the ingredients used were grown without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides—but organic says nothing about the product's efficacy or its safety. A beauty product can be organic and still contain potentially toxic ingredients or allergens.
The same goes for the term natural.
In theory, natural cosmetics are made with non-synthetic, plant-based ingredients, but just putting "all-natural" on a label doesn't make it so (remember, companies can market their products however they want). Natural ingredients aren't necessarily safer or better for you.
When we talk about clean beauty, we're referring to skincare products that use safe, proven, non-irritating ingredients that actually work.
Clean beauty products are even better if they are vegan (no animal or animal-derived ingredients) and cruelty-free (never tested on animals). It's a win-win for Mother Earth... and you!
Summer is officially here, and with that, there are so many fun activities that will motivate you to get outside to stay in shape and strive for those post-quarantine fitness goals. But before you decide to get outside to enjoy some walking, yoga, swimming, or hiking, remember these best practice skincare habits to protect your skin from common skin concerns, such as, sunburns, chafing, and excessive dryness.
Here, board-certified Dermatologist, Dr. Bottiglione, shares some advice to help your skin stay healthy as you embark into the great outdoors.
When going outside, the sun is going to be your biggest culprit for damaging your skin. While the sun boosts benefits like vitamin D production, take notice when your skin is overexposed to the sun’s harmful rays as it becomes dangerous. When overexposed to direct sunlight, the skin is irritated, causing sunburns, dryness, and sensitivity that can increase the chances for wrinkles and skin cancer as we age.
Luckily, staying inside when it’s so pleasant outside is not the only skincare alternative to avoid the sun’s damaging rays. Here are a few simple tips to prep your skin before stepping outside.
Opt to protect your skin with a clinical-grade sunblocking lotion of 15 SPF or higher.
“Anytime you go outside, you need to apply sunscreen to your skin,” advises Dr. B. “Ensure you apply sunscreen to the full body and reapply often. In the morning, after cleansing your face, is the best time to apply.” He recommends a spray for oily skin, or the Dermatologist’s Choice Sunscreen Enhanced Moisturizer for dry to combination skin types that needs a little extra hydration.
The key is the more intentional you are about proactively protecting your summer skin, the healthier it will be. It may sound simple, but your skin will be happier when you take a preventive approach rather than a reactive approach—for example, applying the sunscreen moisturizer before a walk to help to avoid the treatment of a sunburn after. When prepping your bag for the fun day ahead, make sure to add sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water.
Now the real excitement begins! However you decide to get your fitness outdoors, we have the skincare routine you need or a carefree and healthy day.
Deep breath. Like our favorite flow, these skincare tips will keep our mind—and our skin—at ease. If you take your yoga practice outdoors, wear an SPF shirt, and lay your mat under a nicely shaded tree to help shield you from excessive sun exposure.
“Avoiding direct sunlight and wearing protective clothing is smart to protect your skin from sun damage. Even if you are going for a relaxing walk or doing just a few sun salutations. Staying out of the direct sunlight will reduce your risk of sun damage and wrinkles.” - Dr. B
Swimming is one of the best cardio and strength training workouts, while also an enjoyable activity during the summer. Whether you are swimming in open water or laps in the pool, the excess amount of water with exposure to pool chemicals and environmental pollutants can cause skin irritation and dryness. To keep your skin hydrated and protected, Dr. B. recommends applying the Dermatologist’s Choice Pre-Bath Oil to your skin before entering the water. This will seal your skin’s protective barrier to avoid skin irritation from chemicals and debris. He adds, “The Pre-Bath Oil is what I give to all my patients with eczema or dry skin. It is the only thing that will protect and also deeply hydrate the skin.” Just apply this serum before you put on your sunscreen, and you're good to go!
With warm temperatures during the summer months, it’s the perfect time for hiking and exploring the mountainous outdoors. It is essential to take the necessary steps to avoid your skin becoming sunburnt, irritated, or breaking out. “Wearing a hat with a large brim that will shade your face and neck is key. A baseball cap is just not enough for the sun protection you need. After your hike, it is important to clean your face and pores of sweat, dirt, and toxins with Dermatologist’s Choice Glycolic Peel Cleansing Pads to avoid breakouts from occurring,” Dr. B. warns. Keep them in your bag for easy cleansing after a hike.
One of the biggest skin concerns cyclists or runners usually bring to dermatologists is chafing. Even if you’re just cruising along the seaside or taking a cycling class, those tight clothes and friction can cause some intense irritation and redness. “When you have an issue with chafing, you need to protect your skin. You need armor over the skin. Beeswax, for example, is thick to coat the skin and protect it. Another effective option is the hydrating Dermatologist’s Choice Pre-Bath Oil. For best results, moisturize your skin, and then add a piece of clothing to cover it (that is actually like armor),” Dr. B. shares. Are you a runner? Feel free to use this tip too before your next mile or 30.
At the end of your activity, the real results of that skin preparation set in. But sometimes, you need a little extra support afterwards. After any good workout, cleansing off the sweat, dirt, toxins, and irritant is paramount. Dermatologist Choice pH Balanced Cleanser helps to gently but effectively remove sweat, oil, and restore the skin’s natural pH levels.
Did you end up getting a sunburn, or is your skin dry from the elements? Soothe with the Pre-Bath Oil with natural oils like sunflower and jojoba oil for deep hydration and healing.
“Sun damage can manifest in multiple ways. Most often, you will notice a sunburn first, which can then lead to irritated skin—and over time, sun damage increases the appearance of wrinkles.” For safe measure, at night regenerate sun-damaged skin with Dermatologist's Choice Ultra Anti-Aging Cream with 15% non-neutralized glycolic acid to your skin. This powerful dermatology treatment rebuilds the collagen and exfoliates fine lines, sunspots, and acne on the skin. “Do not apply the Ultra Anti-Aging Cream on a sunburn or irritated skin,” Dr. B. shares. These are long-term habits to aid in maintaining your best skin health.
Capture your best skin with everything you need this summer with the Dermatologist’s Choice Skin Kit, and get 20% off your order with code MB20 at www.dermchoice.com.