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Beauty is skin deep, which is why it’s important to know the ingredients that go into our products and, in turn, our bodies

There’s more to beauty than meets the eye—it’s skin deep. The products we use everyday penetrate our body’s biggest organ, our skin, and harmful ingredients are linked to serious conditions – which is why it’s important to know what’s in our everyday beauty products, and the chemicals that should absolutely not be in our products (and, as a result, our bodies).

“The cosmetics industry uses thousands of synthetic chemicals as ingredients, even those linked to cancer, infertility and birth defects,” reports the Breast Cancer Fund. “Carcinogens have no place in cosmetics and personal care products. […] Yet the United States government does not systematically assess the safety of personal care products. In fact, we lag behind other countries in cosmetic safety, allowing hazardous chemicals that are banned in Canada, Japan and Europe.”

There is a myriad of other harmful chemicals in our beauty products also. For instance, in moisturizers we should avoid Polyacrylamideacrylamide contaminationPTFE, PFOA, contaminationPlacental extracts and UV filters, according to research and evidence by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Did you get all that? PFOA alone is linked to cancer, and other serious health concerns. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has designated PFOA as a possible carcinogen. With a slew of other ingredients to avoid, it’s nearly impossible to know the harmful side effects of each chemical, (though safecosmetics.org really breaks it down in a digestible format), a safe bet is to switch—if you haven’t already—to natural skincare lines. To help you do so, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite beauty brands to get you started.

1) Éminence Organic Skin Care

This handmade line of organic products hails from Hungary, and includes everything from cleansers to moisturizers and masques. Though it’s hard to narrow down our favorites from the line—it’s all so good—a couple must-try masques include the slimy (but lovely) Stone Crop Mask, with key ingredients including Bioflavonoids, lemon and honey, and the smells-so-amazing-you’ll-want-to-eat-it Strawberry Rhubarb Masque, which in addition to the natural fruit and vegetable, includes shea butter, grape seed oil and Hyaluronic Acid from marshmallow plant extract. Check out this video on how to use them:

2) Josie Maran

Josie Maran’s natural and eco-friendly skincare products are made with a signature key ingredient: 100 percent pure and organic Argan Oil (also known as Moroccan oil), which is harvested and cold pressed from the nut of the argan tree. Founder Josie Maran shared on her website that the company uses pure, Fair Trade Argan Oil, grown and harvested responsibly by co-ops of Moroccan women who earn a living wage. The brand also uses eco-friendly packaging. The oil can be used to moisturize the body, alleviate sunburn, smooth hair, soften lips and so much more. The line also includes makeup removing wipes, self-tanning oil and a body scrub.

3) Caudalie

Another line with a natural key ingredient—this time grapes—is Parisian brand Caudalie. Co-founder Mathilde Thomas grew up surrounded by vineyards in her family’s estate in Bordeaux (France). The company uses zero parabens, phenoxyethanol, mineral oils, paraffin, synthetic artificial colorings, sodium laureth sulfate, phthalates and animal-derived raw materials. Instead, its products are rich in organic grape water, grape-seed oil, plant oils and other natural ingredients, like plant extracts, avocado, flaxseed and much more goodness. Try the line’s best selling, 100 percent organic Grape Water to tone, hydrate and moisturize the skin, and check out this video on the founder’s commitment to ethics.

4) 100 Percent Pure

True to its name, this Silicon Valley-based line of organic cosmetics, skincare and bath and body products is 100 percent free of artificial colors, artificial fragrances, synthetic chemical preservatives and all other toxins. We absolutely cannot get enough of the French Lavender Nourishing Body Cream. The scent, while subtle, has the fragrance of lavender, and the lotion leaves skin perfectly smooth and not-oily.

5) Dr. Hauschka

Pioneered in 1935 as a line of homeopathic medicines, Dr Hauschka uses high-quality natural ingredients that are sourced responsibly, free of synthetics and animal testing. The products are also gluten-free and BHID Standard certified, which means they’re tested and verified free of synthetic preservatives, fragrances, colors, dyes and petroleum-derived synthetic. Dr. Hauschka is also Certified Natural by the internationally recognized non-profit organization NATURE (Check out the full-list of what that means here.)

6) Intelligent Nutrients 

This line of head-to-toe products is vegan, cruelty-free, certified 65-95 percent organic, made with plants, and uses renewable energy. It has six different third-party seals, including USDA Organic and Leaping Bunny. The website states that it’s more than “natural” or “organic,” because while petroleum is natural, it’s not healthy, safe of eco-friendly.

Intelligent Nutrients

Intelligent Nutrients

7) Goddess Garden Sunscreen

Goddess Garden Sunscreen

Goddess Garden Sunscreen

According to a 2001 study on U.S. body burden (“body burden” refers to the levels of man-made chemicals in an individual’s body, generally measured through blood or urine), benzophenone-3 (BP-3), a common sunscreen ingredient, can be found in 96.8 percent of individuals. Goddess Garden Sunscreen uses the pure minerals zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as the active agents for sun protection. It does not use alcohol, parabens and phthalates, and is biodegradable, vegan, non-GMO and cruelty free. After all, the purpose of sunscreen is to protect it from damage, not cause it! We recommend switching to a natural sunscreen stat. Learn about 12 more scary facts about chemical sunscreen here.

Still Not Sure Where to Begin?

As CONTENT Beauty founder Imelda Burke said, start by changing your body lotion. “It’s often used once or twice a day and covers the majority of your skin—the body’s largest organ,” Burke said. “By choosing an organic and natural body lotion, you automatically detox the product used on most of your body.” (Read more on Burke, and some of our favorite places to purchase non-harmful products here.)

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