home Beauty Why the 'Clean Beauty' movement is worth a try – The Courier-Journal

Why the 'Clean Beauty' movement is worth a try – The Courier-Journal


We may be a few weeks past the traditional New Year’s resolution date, but it’s still the first month of the year, which means there’s still time for a clean start. Actually, any time of the year is a good time to make personal improvements, especially if they enhance your health and well-being.

“I think we’ve seen people in Louisville getting on the health and organic food bandwagon. I also think we are seeing these same people realize it doesn’t end there,” said beauty expert Jill Higginbotham, owner of J. Michaels Spa and Salon, 4121 Shelbyville Road in St. Matthews.

As more of us carefully consider the foods which positively or negatively fuel our bodies, there’s a growing awareness of the health implications of the beauty products which are absorbed into our skin and hair.

Like reading a food label, women are turning over bottles and scanning packaging labels in order to get a better read on the list of ingredients in their face cream, mascara, shampoo and other beauty products.

“The average person who wears lip color daily will eat about a tube-and-a-half of lip balm, gloss, or lipstick a year,” Higginbotham said, and many have products like lead in them.

If that sounds frightening, welcome to the “clean beauty” movement. The movement isn’t touting new information – everything from hair spray to body lotion is made from unpronounceable chemicals and has been for decades. What is new is the fact that women are paying attention and asking for safer alternatives.

“Many people first come to clean beauty when they’re thinking about having children,” said Jean Godfrey-June, beauty director for Goop, a lifestyle website curated by actress Gwenyth Paltrow. “But when you think about it, shouldn’t we treat our own bodies with the respect and care that we treat our children?”

Since 2008, when Paltrow launched Goop as a weekly newsletter with healthful recipes and clean living tips, the idea has grown into a lifestyle brand. Log onto Goop.com and you can shop for a pricey new outfit, dream about vacationing at the featured island destination and pick up plenty of clean living recipes, products, tips and advice.

The importance of clean beauty and a how-to-guide for readers to understand beauty without toxins is the topic of  “Goop Clean Beauty” (Goop press/Grand Central Life & Style, $30). The hardback is written by Goop’s editors.

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“The cosmetic and personal care industry is all but unregulated, and companies excuse the toxic, hormone-disrupting, potentially cancer-causing, skin-irritating ingredients they use with the idea that ‘it’s just a little bit.’  Add up that little bit, for each product, every day, year after year, and your exposure is significant,” Godfrey-June said. “If you knew you were spraying on chemicals known to cause birth defects in baby boys and low sperm counts in men, you probably wouldn’t find the scent so beautiful.”

Chapters on creating a clean beauty routine encourage readers to search product labels for ingredients which have been declared by the FDA as safe food additives. After all, if you are absent-mindedly eating over a tube of lipstick each year, better that it is made from ingredients that wouldn’t be harmful to eat. Because it can be tough to know what to avoid, Godfrey-June and her staff write in detail about the chemicals to avoid, what makes each harmful and healthier alternatives.

“Without all the chemical texturizers and fillers, in a clean product, you often end up with more of the active ingredient – think of all the products you see that claim to have aloe in them – a clean product is more likely to have much more actual aloe in there than the conventional one, to make a sweeping generalization,” Godfrey-June said.

While the clean beauty movement may not be sweeping the cosmetic aisle in your local drugstore just yet, the idea of using fewer and less toxic products is gaining ground. In her Louisville salon, Higginbotham uses non-toxic mineral-based Jane Iredale cosmetics and has for years because of the natural properties of the product.

“Don’t think you have to trade function for healthy. Many independently owned companies are making products that are healthy, safe and still make you feel beautiful,” Higginbotham said.”Giving you the same results and even better results than those products that are harmful.”

Reach Kirby Adams at kadams@courier-jouranl.com or 502-582-4336.

‘Goop Clean Beauty’

The new book covers a multitude of topics, from speeding up the process of detoxing your body to non-toxic acne treatments. The editors offer these five steps to help you get started on your path to clean beauty.

1. Check out ewg.org, the website of the Environmental Working Group. You can look up practically any beauty product, and gauge its safety.

2. Look at the list of ingredients on the back of any beauty product: if you see the word “fragrance,” and the company doesn’t break out what’s in the “fragrance” anywhere, you know they’re not being transparent about what’s in there. 

3. Switch your SPF. Chemical SPF involves some of the most irritating chemicals in the beauty industry – and irritation is a huge factor in skin aging. Chemical sunscreens also degrade in sunlight, so you need to reapply – and on top of that, some chemical sunscreen ingredients can kill coral.

If it’s impossibly easy to rub in, don’t bother – it’s chemical. Mineral sunscreen formulas have improved dramatically – try one from Ursa Major.

4. Switch your mascara – it goes in your eyes and conventional ones use petroleum-combustion byproducts and endocrine-disrupting plasticizers. Pick up one from Juice Beauty.

5. Lipsticks, glosses and stains go directly into your body. Goop recommends the lipstick line from Kosas or Olio e Osso balm.

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