Every time you swap personal care products and make-up for a more natural brand, you do your health a favour – and it's so easy!
Get rid of products containing harsh foaming agents like sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and your skin's texture and moisture levels will improve; you'll also do our waterways a favour, as SLS causes algal overgrowth. Need more convincing? Studies have linked SLS to organ toxicity, mutations, and cancer. Natural products containing jojoba, grapeseed, coconut, or avocado oils gently remove dirt and make-up without causing irritation. Try: AEOS Cleansing Oil (www.iamnaturalstore.com.au).
Many commercial brands contain alcohol and synthetic fragrance, which strip skin of natural oils and may trigger allergic reactions. Check the label for 'alcohol denat.', or denatured alcohol, a petrochemical by-product known to cause dermatitis. Misting the face with a natural floral water after cleansing will assist absorption of a moisturiser; if you need a little more pore-refining, try: The Beauty Chef Probiotic Skin Refiner ($69.95, www.thebeautychef.com)
Still using a conventional brand? I can guarantee you two things: one, that cream will be up to 70 percent plain old water, and two, there will be a petrochemical in there somewhere – petrolatum, mineral oil, or the preservative methylisothiazolinone, which will probably be banned shortly due to its high rate of toxic reactions. Natural brands replace water with antioxidant-rich extracts or soothing floral waters, and are of course petrochemical-free. Try: Edible Beauty Vanilla Silk Hydrating Lotion ($55.00, www.ediblebeautyaustralia.com).
Many brands contain silicones (dimethicone) which coat and therefore clog skin, and petroleum-derived glycols (propylene and butylene), which give the product 'slip', but eventually weaken the skin's proteins. Natural brands use fine-textured, highly nutritive oils like jojoba, rosehip, and sesame instead. Try: Kelapa Organics Face Oil ($49.95, www.kelapa.com.au)
We don't use them as often as other skincare products, so we tend not to think about what goes into them – but again, conventional brands contain ingredients you just don't need on your skin or down your sink. Make your own using clay, oats, honey, natural yoghurt, and spirulina, or try Super Greens Mask ($65.00, www.todayisours.com.au)
This can be a hard one to give up if you've got a long-time favourite, but there's a long list of dodgy ingredients in both powder (bismuth oxychloride causes irritation, and talc, which can be contaminated with asbestos) and liquid foundations (denatured alcohol, parabens). Mineral make-up brands like Inika's certified organic vegan range suit all skin types. Try: Inika Baked Mineral Foundation ($65.00, www.inika.com.au)
I have not used commercial deodorant in over 12 years, and my favourite challenge is to change people's thinking on these products. Aluminium – as chloride, zirconium, chlorohydrate or hydroxybromide – is used to prevent sweating, but has been proven to be absorbed into other body tissues. It is a huge red flag for breast cancer, as it disrupts the endocrine system by mimicking oestrogen; plus, it's a neurotoxin. Your body needs to sweat to release toxins, but you can inhibit the bacteria that cause odour with ingredients like bicarb-soda and essential oils. Try: Woohoo Body Deodorant Paste ($17.95, www.woohoobody.com.au)
In addition to SLS, which can cause or worsen eczema and dandruff, avoid triethanolamine (TEA) and diethanolamine (DEA) – these two are used to adjust pH balance in conventional shampoos, but have been linked to organ and nerve damage. Natural brands use plant-based foaming agents like coco-betaine (from coconut) and plant extracts to balance pH. Try: Rahua Shampoo (www.beautifulbecause.com.au)
The worst culprits are the ammonium salts behentrimonium (or cetrimonium) chloride, and silicones. Apart from causing irritation and sensitisation, they are all eco-toxins. Natural products are based on aloe or natural oils, and use essential oils like orange and rosemary to add softness and shine. Try: Mukti Botanique Conditioner ($49.95, www.muktiorganics.com)
Synthetic fragrances are the biggest culprit when it comes to causing allergic reactions, ranging from headaches and dizziness to rashes. The worst are phthalates, which disrupt hormones and are linked to cancer – the evidence is so strong, the US and Europe recently banned dibutyl and butyl benzyl phthalates, but Australia lags behind. Natural perfumes use certified organic alcohol and gorgeous floral extracts and essential oils. Try: Aura Soma Pegasus ($168.00, www.iamnaturalstore.com.au)
Lisa Tristram is a natural skincare expert, aromatherapist, organic educator, and mind-body wellness teacher. www.lisatristram.com