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Cleanup in the Beauty Aisle

When it’s time to toss

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Cleanup in the Beauty Aisle

There’s nothing quite as rewarding as a good spring cleaning. As you decide what to toss and what can stay, be sure to take a glance at all those products that keep you looking good. Some of them may be hiding ugly secrets.

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Buyer beware

It’s important to remember that not all the self-care products on the shelf are healthy, no matter how green the label. Words like “natural” mean nothing, and there are various degrees of “organic,” too, depending on the product recipe.

Ingredients like sodium laureth sulphate are skin irritants, while chemicals like phthalates and parabens found in some body-care products are hormone disruptors that can impact natural processes in your body, including reproduction and metabolism.

While resources such as the Environmental Working Group can be helpful when you’re learning about toxins in personal care products, remember that they don’t assess all ingredients and that companies can change a formula overnight. Rather than relying on one source of information, become your own health advocate. Learn about ingredients to avoid, and read labels before you purchase.

Remember that ingredients are listed on labels in descending order, starting with the most prevalent ingredient. Question the integrity of products that broadcast that they include some amazing nutrient—which appears at the bottom of the ingredient list. Generally, the more complex the formula, the greater risk that the product contains ingredients you may not want near your body.

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Feed your good looks

The better your skin and hair are naturally, the fewer products you need to look how you want to look. Clear, vibrant skin starts with good structure—meaning you want to get adequate protein and collagen into your diet.

Unfortunately, your body’s collagen production decreases as you age. This eventually leads to thinner skin and reduced elasticity and moisture along with increased sagging and wrinkling. For women at menopause, collagen production drops by up to 30 percent.

Encourage collagen creation by providing key building blocks, including the nine essential amino acids. Only animal foods provide complete collagen proteins, but foods including berries, citrus, leafy veggies, spirulina, and nuts help promote collagen production.

Promote healthy cells with adequate intake of both omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids. These fats play a critical role in the barrier function of your skin as well as how it looks. Look for your essential fatty acids in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, and sardines. Plant sources include algae, walnuts, pumpkin, and flaxseeds.

Protect your skin with a spectrum of antioxidant vitamins, minerals, and phyto (plant) nutrients found in colourful fruits and vegetables. Vitamin E keeps cell membranes healthy, while vitamin C protects the fluids inside cells and is necessary for collagen production.

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Detox Mother Earth

A true cleanup of our habits includes considering the impact of our buying choices. While the shrinking planet has made it much easier for us to fall in love with tropical oils, they leave a pretty deep carbon footprint.

And if the last two years has taught us anything, it’s that we would all benefit from finding ways to source products from closer to home. Luckily, Canada provides a cornucopia of home-grown beauty care ingredients.

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Home and native plants

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Camelina sativa

A flowering shrub with soft yellow flowers, Camelina sativa, often found growing in flax fields, is also known as false flax. The seed oil contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, plant sterols, and antioxidant tocopherols (vitamin E).

This combination of nourishing fats in camelina oil make it very attractive for skin care. The high tocopherol count reduces risk of contamination—meaning manufacturers may be able to reduce chemical preservative ingredients in formulations.

Camelina oil is perfect as a massage oil, and because it’s nutrient rich, it can help hydrate and nourish skin. Camelina may clog pores, so if that’s a concern for you, look for it in soaps rather than leave-on products.

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Healing hemp

Hemp is one of those beauty ingredients that truly is good enough to eat—and you really ought to consider adding it to the grocery list. High in fibre and omegas 3, 6, and 9, hemp also offers anti-inflammatory gamma linolenic acid (GLA). Hemp is also a natural source of skin-supporting minerals. Plus, with all nine amino acids, hemp is a complete protein to offer your skin, hair, and nails.

It works well on top of your skin, too. Anti-inflammatory GLA in hemp oil is involved in maintaining a robust skin barrier, soothing atopic dermatitis and irritated skin, as well as encouraging new cell generation. Because hemp oil is extracted from the seeds by cold-pressing, it’s not exposed to damaging heat or potentially toxic chemicals.

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Canuck clays

We’ve all heard the benefits of Dead Sea minerals, but did you know that we have an abundance of mineral-rich clays here at home? The Manicouagan region of Quebec provides absorbent and astringent sea silt or Manicouagan clay that is also useful as a surfactant (to help with cleansing).

Not to be outdone, the hot spring mud found in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan (known as Moose clay or Canadian colloidal clay), may provide significant detox benefits, including removing toxins, dirt, and oil and unclogging pores.

Canadian-grown beauties

yarrow to soothe irritated, burned, or itchy skin
wild rose oil to cleanse, tone, and soothe skin
camomile to soothe burns, cuts, and diaper rash
lavender to provide a calming fragrance; antibacterial

Clean your cosmetics cupboard

Most of us can confess to keeping a few outdated favourites hiding at the bottom of the toiletry bag. Antioxidants and skin-replenishing nutrients deteriorate over time, meaning you might be relying on an expired product to do something it can no longer do. This is particularly critical for sun protection products.

Beauty product When to toss
cleansers 1 year
toners 6 months to 1 year
moisturizers or serums 6 months to 1 year
lip balm 1 year
lipstick, gloss, and pencils 2 to 3 years
mascara 3 to 6 months Note: Never add water or saliva to mascara.

Tip: To reduce risk of contamination or product expiry, use an indelible marker to write the date you open your cosmetics and personal care products right on the container.

12 ingredients to avoid in your beauty products

Source: David Suzuki Foundation “The Dirty Dozen” cosmetic chemicals to avoid (davidsuzuki.org)

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