Are my cosmetics safe? What to avoid at the beauty counter.

Megan Johns, founder of The Green Kiss beauty bar, answers our questions around what we should be avoiding at the beauty counter.

Megan Johns, founder of The Green Kiss beauty bar (located online and in The Good Planet Company on Fort Street), retails organic beauty products,natural cosmetics and mineral makeup. Here she answers our questions around what we should be avoiding at the beauty counter.What are the main ingredients that I should be avoiding in beauty products and why?

1) Parabens.  What are they? They are a preservative in a LOT of products.

What is the problem? They are a known carcinogen, and parabens have been found in the breast tissue of women with breast cancer.  Why they are not banned yet is the true question.

2) Phthalates.  What are they?  They are a plasticizer. Phthalates are added to many products to make them softer.   This includes soft plastics (like shower curtains) and cosmetics.  They are also often added to fragrance and perfume.

What is the problem?  They are a known hormone disruptor.  There is a direct link from phthalates to low sperm counts in men, and to reproductive development issues for baby boys in the womb.  There have been many studies on this.  Phthalates, and I believe all categories of them, are already banned in Europe.  Again, they need to still be banned in Canada and the USA.

3) Animal Hair Makeup Brushes. What are they?  Your makeup brushes you have had for years, perhaps the ones you love…….

What is the problem?  Two problems…

1) The ‘norm’ for the beauty industry, is that makeup brushes are made out of badger, squirrel, mink, sable etc…  And no, they don’t shear them.  Typically, if a brush is made out of mink or sable for example, it is a product of fur farms, where they raise animals just for their fur.  Here is more information http://www.peta.org/living/beauty-and-personal-care/synthetic-make-up-brushes.aspx

2) Many people actually get reactions from the animal hair brushes.  So often, women think they are allergic to their makeup, but they are actually allergic to the animal hair being swirled around their face

Yes – The Green Kiss carries awesome synthetic brushes!!! 🙂

What are the best natural beauty products made from, can you give us the key ingredients we should be looking for?

1) Zinc oxide is an amazing mineral that has been used for years in natural sunscreens.  People also take zinc to help with skin problems.  So this one is a no brainer when it comes to awesome makeup ingredients.  You will get added sun protection on your skin if it is added to foundation, and it will also help clear up acne and other skin conditions.

2) True natural makeup brands who do not use toxic chemical preservatives must find another type of preservative to use.  Especially when looking at wet products.

These natural preservatives not only preserve, but also add quality nutrients to products and your skin!  They include ingredients like vitamin e or essential oils of oregano, thyme, frankincense etc..

3) Antioxidants. 100% Pure is a line that pigments their cosmetics with fruit.  They are the only company I can find who do this.  Not only does that mean that you are truly getting something chemical free, but you are also getting some of the nutrients that the fruit may provide!

If I only make 3 small changes to my beauty routine, what do you recommend as the most important?

1) Look at all of your labels, and throw out anything with parabens in them (or at least never buy them again) Look carefully.  They hide under names like methylparaben, butylparaben and propylparaben

2) Stop wearing fragrance, and stop buying products with fragrance listed as an ingredient.  The word fragrance on a label is a total crapshoot.  Anything can be in there.  There is a loop hole in the system, where companies do not have to list what is in their ‘fragrance’, leaving it a mystery as to what is actually making that smell.  Usually it includes a concoction of chemicals, including phthalates.

3) Start by purchasing a natural base.  I would start by replacing your foundation with a natural one, and by replacing your mascara with a natural one.  Those are two of the most common beauty products that my customers use every day.  Most women who don’t wear makeup, will still often wear mascara.  So start with the basics, and then replace the extras as you go along.  It is overwhelming to try to do it all at once, so just start replacing items as you run out of certain ones.

Are natural beauty products safe?

Good question.  Two issues here.

1) Not all products claiming to be ‘natural’ are natural.  And ones that claim to be ‘organic’ I would watch out for even more.  I don’t use that word at all when talking about these products.  I use the word safe.  A product can have a tonne of chemicals ingredients and handful of certified organic ones, and be called organic.  So don’t be fooled.  Read the labels and research! Many of the new mineral makeup lines coming out have some nasty ingredients in them too – so be careful!

2) Knowledge always improves.  They used to say smoking cigarettes was good for you remember?  Point being, is that at this exact moment in time, with the research available, every single product I carry is the best out there in terms of safety.  The true players in this industry do their best, and work darn hard at keeping on top of all of the studies, and wading through the myths out there on certain ingredients.  It is always evolving. The best tool as a consumer, is to check out The Environmental Working Group’s site for Safe Cosmetics.  It is called the skin deep database.  It is the hub for safe cosmetics information.  http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

Can I buy eco and health friendly cosmetic sponges and brushes?

Yes!  See above.  Synthetic bristles with wooden handles are the best available and we stock those.  I would leave behind sponges and only use brushes.  Your makeup will also last a lot longer that way.  Those sponges eat up a lot of makeup within them.

We know your beauty bar sells some great makeup ranges, but when we shop for shampoo, conditioner and other everyday products, what brands do you recommend we look for that aren’t hard to find?

The Good Planet Company here in Victoria has a great line of lotions, shampoos, conditioners, hand soap etc..  They are also made in town!  And the prices are very reasonable.

Rocky Mountain Soap Co. in Mayfair Mall has a great selection of body washes and soap.

Silk Road here in Victoria also has a fantastic array of natural skin care products.  Their face cleanser is one of my favourites!