When we first opened New Vintage Beauty Lounge, a clean-air apothecary and salon, we knew we wanted to use only cruelty-free, sustainable products. But just as importantly, we wanted to use products that actually work! Over the past 10 years, we’ve tried just about every non-toxic hair and skincare product on the market. It’s a privilege to share everything we’ve learned with you.
Why you should be concerned
We’re all becoming more thoughtful about the food we consume, so shouldn’t we be just as concerned about the products we apply to our skin and hair? After all, the skin is the body’s largest organ.
When we started our journey, we knew to avoid products with parabens, phthalates, and sulfates. These were commonly understood among industry professionals and consumers alike to be unhealthy and unnecessary additives. We were starting to see more natural hair products being made without these ingredients. However, we soon discovered that these particular chemicals were just the tip of the iceberg. Among the countless mysterious ingredients in beauty products, hundreds are toxic.
What we uncovered
The more we dug, the more concerned we became. The cosmetic industry is shockingly unregulated, especially in the US. The Environmental Working Group* (EWG) reports the European Union has banned more than 1,300 chemicals from ending up in cosmetic and personal care products, while the US has restricted just 11. In fact, corporations often make a different formula of the same product to be sold in the US, because they perform well and are extremely cheap to mass produce.
Scary facts about everyday products
Many of the hair and skincare products commonly found in American households contain preservatives, fragrances, and surfactants that are known skin irritants, carcinogens, and endocrine disruptors. The latter interfere with our hormones and reproductive system, which is particularly concerning for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and young children and adolescents.
We were infuriated to learn that we had unknowingly exposed ourselves and our family to toxic ingredients. The truth is, there is no reason for toxic ingredients to be in our products. Corporate greed and lax government regulations have put consumer health at risk for decades. There are actually thousands of safe ingredients for manufacturers to use. It’s up to consumers and businesses to shift their buying habits and persuade these companies to look to better alternatives.
What to avoid
When it comes to shopping for safer personal care products, it’s important to take a good look at the label. We know hair and skincare ingredient lists are overwhelming. It can feel like you’re reading a foreign language. As a starting place, we recommend becoming familiar with the following harmful ingredients:
- Aluminum Compounds
- Aminomethyl Propanol
- Animal Fat and Musk
- Benzalkonium Chloride
- BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole)
- Chemical Sunscreens
- Coal Tar
- Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid (EDTA)
- Mercury & Mercury Compounds
- Methyl Cellosolve
- Methylisothiazolinone & Methylchloroisothiazolinone
- Mineral Oil
- Phthalates (DBP, DEHP, DEP, • DMP, and Others)
- Placenta Extract
- Polyethylene Glycol (PEG Compounds)
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
- Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) &
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
- Synthetic Flavor or Fragrance
- Triclosan & Triclocarban
Harsh chemicals such as these can be found in everything from shampoos and hairspray to eyelash adhesives, nail polish, and makeup. Take some time to inventory your personal care products and toss items that contain any of these ingredients immediately.
The good news is that many retailers, even large national companies, are taking it upon themselves to no longer purchase products with these harmful chemicals. Even better, there are many more companies creating really amazing products free of all toxic substances.
From the front label to the ingredients list, it can be hard to know what to look for. While, unfortunately, very few cosmetic and personal care product labelling claims are actually regulated by the FDA, you can use this glossary of terms to better navigate the many options out there.
What to look for:
Bottom line, look for sustainably-minded companies that are committed to cruelty-free practices and use non-toxic ingredients in all of their products. Brands that are transparent about their ingredient sourcing and production methods are likely to be more committed to making products that are safer for you and our planet.
A new wave of effective natural beauty products
Through the years, our stylists have put nearly every non-toxic cleansing, styling, and coloring product to the test. In the past, natural hair products, in particular, have drastically underperformed, especially when it comes to meeting the demands of a bustling urban salon. Thankfully, we’ve discovered a handful of brands that are committed to delivering results-oriented products made with only non-toxic ingredients. Additionally, we select lines that are committed to sustainable and cruelty-free practices.
Our commitment to you
We created NVBL, to make it easier for you to shop conscientiously and trust the products you and your family use. We are pleased to share our selection of tried and true favorites for you to easily browse. It is our promise to our customers and clients to continue monitoring EWG reports and recommendations and always source the best products that meet our high standards. Wherever you’re shopping, we encourage you to take a closer look at labels and ask more of the brands you purchase, because your health and well-being are worth it.
*The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that brings research and education to the consumer, in order to empower us all to make healthier choices for ourselves and our planet. Learn more at ewg.org.