Box of Shame: Why I’m Greening My Beauty Routine

On a recent trip to the Caribbean, in between reading biographies of serial killers, I scrimped a few moments to devour a book called Not Just a Pretty Face by Stacy Malkan. Not only did it open my eyes to the dangers of toxins found in everyday personal care products (not just makeup, but also shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, and even goop made for brand new babies, not to mention all the chemicals in disposable pads and tamps – more on that in a later post), but it also scared me into running every product in my bathroom through the Environmental Working Group’s Skindeep database, inspired by Malkan’s campaign. In just the first couple hours, here’s what I pitched.


Notable offenders in my box/basket (in no particular order):

  • Covergirl
  • NARS
  • Tarte
  • Tresemme (including the “natural” shampoo)
  • Garnier Fructis
  • Vaseline
  • L’Oreal
  • Pantene Pro-V
  • Clean & Clear
  • Herbal Essences
  • VO5
  • Huggies (baby lotion)
  • St. Ives
  • Finding Nemo (kids’ bubblebath)
  • Aveeno
  • Ponds
  • Maybelline
  • Suave
  • Suave Kids
  • Got2B
  • Aussie
  • Redken
  • Freeman
  • Skintimate
  • John Frieda
  • Coppertone
Take Away Messages:
  1. The FDA has almost no authority over what personal care products make it onto American store selves.
  2. “Fragrance” isn’t just perfume. Companies are told to list ingredients in whatever bottled gunk they’re pushing to us, but anything they don’t want to disclose can be termed “fragrance”. Buyer beware. Fragrance = cocktail of poisons.
  3. Think green awareness is just for hippies and tree-huggers? Think again. By being unaware of the contents of the products you’re using, you’re introducing daily quantities of hormone disruptors, carcinogens, and skin irritants into your precious bod. Yes, the amounts are small, but when they’re in the 20-some products you use on the reg, day after day, year after year, that shit adds up.

So, in the interest of lessening my chances of a cancerous outbreak or of giving birth to a baby boy whose penis looks like a flute, no product with greater than a 2/10 rating on Skindeep will ever again grace my bathroom, much less my face or body.

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