Thriftbooks

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hair, Makeup, and My Kids

By Phoebe Farag Mikhail

I once was a skincare and makeup addict, rarely walking out the door without some kind of makeup on my face. That practice ended quickly when my first baby started habitually chewing on my chin as a teething soother, and I had to ask myself what else he could possibly be putting in his mouth when he did that. Add to this my second child’s love of playing with my hair, and suddenly I had to re-think all my skin care, makeup, and hair care products in light of what affects their ingredients might have on my developing infants—and on me.

Weeks of research lead me to this fantastic website: The Environmental Working Group’s cosmetics database, Skin Deep. I learned about this database through the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which works to get potentially dangerous substances out of the everyday products we use, from shampoo, conditioner, lotion and sunscreen to foundation, lipstick and eyeliner. You can input the name of any product or brand in the Skin Deep database (also available as a mobile app), and if you don’t find a rating for the exact product, you can also search the ingredients of the product to see if it has potentially allergenic, toxic or carcinogenic ingredients.

So when I received a box of free samples of shampoo, conditioner, nail polish and lotion from Influenster to review in the mail, the first thing I did was read their ingredients. Then, I checked Skin Deep to see how the products were rated. As they are relatively new products, most were not, so for those I searched their ingredients instead.

My toes adorned with "Song of Summer," a nice nail color,
but not as cute as my two little ones enjoying summer.
(c) Phoebe Farag Mikhail
The Sinful Colors nail polish in “Song of Summer” seemed the most promising, stating that it has no formaldehyde, toluene, and DBP, toxic chemicals that were once common in nail polishes. Recent press about toxicity in nail polish has led to safer formulations in many brands. In addition, I like the subdued mint green color and the price tag – these polishes start at $1.99 per bottle. Skin Deep rated these polishes with a “moderate hazard.” I tried one coat on my toes and liked the color. There are even safer nail polishes on the market that include some of the traditional drugstore brands, so I would not go out of my way to purchase this brand.  

The Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe shampoo and conditioner did not appear in the database, but the other “Beach Babe” products from this line come up as a “moderate hazard.” I searched the ingredients of the conditioner, and some of them did come up as hazardous in the database. The strong scent is overwhelming, and while it did indeed produce “beach waves” when I tried it, I still had some frizz in my hair that I took care of with a little bit of organic hair oil. I’ll stick to my shampoo and conditioner from The Honest Company. Similarly, the Hawaiian Tropics Silk Hydration After Sun lotion came up as a “high hazard” in the database. I would rather soothe my skin after the sun with 100% aloe vera, like this bottle from Aubrey Organics.


Since being introduced to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Skin Deep database, I have done a purge of many of my cosmetics, skin care, and hair care items, gravitating instead towards safer and more pure products. This purge has also led me to reduce and simplify my use of these products in general, saving my family and me time, money, and our health.