How to Avoid Toxins In Your Makeup

Steps on how to avoid harmful toxins in your daily makeup routine! Did you know your makeup likely contains heavy metals like lead and mercury, hormone disruptors like phthalates and parabens and carcinogens hiding under words like “fragrance?” Learn all about how to identify toxins in your makeup and my favorite safer makeup brand!


Oh makeup… as Lauren Conrad put it at the ripe age of sixteen, “It’s like art for our face.” And I couldn’t agree more. Makeup is an artistic expression for many of us, a way for us to stand out or make a statement, and often times just a fun morning ritual that makes us feel more awake and ready for the day. 


Makeup’s history spans thousands of years at this point with the first “products” created from earthly clay, copper and ash.


In modern day times, most cosmetics in the marketplace contain a mix of:

  • parabens (widely recognized hormone disruptors)1,4-dioxane (a potent carcinogen),

  • heavy metals (like lead, mercury and arsenic),

  • phthalates (endocrine disruptors and carcinogens)

  • plant extracts,

  • alcohol,

  • PEGs (often contaminated with carcinogens),

  • fragrance/parfum & flavorings (which require no disclosure or testing and can contains hundreds of thousands of chemicals),

  • hydrolyzed wheat protein (thought to be unlikely to cause a gluten reaction except in very sensitive individuals),

  • retinyl palmitate (a cell disrupting potential carcinogen),

  • mineral oil (which can be contaminated with more dioxane),

  • aluminum,

  • titanium dioxide

  •  and water. 


You can probably figure out which of those ingredients you want to be putting on your skin every morning and kissing your kids or partner with and which you do not.



The Cosmetic Industry Is Hardly Regulated 

The FDA does not approve cosmetic ingredients before they hit the market with the exception of colorants. 

The FDA does not require “fragrance” or “flavoring” ingredients to be expanded on or made transparent to the public. Those words can mean absolutely any chemical, whether or not it has been tested for safety. 

The FDA is currently unable to issue mandatory recalls of cosmetics with known toxins in them such as lead or arsenic. That’s right. If L’Oreal knows their lipstick contains lead (as third-party testing has revealed), they have no obligation to pull it from the drugstore shelves. 

The FDA has no legal limits on heavy metals in cosmetics despite Health Canada’s guidance on the issue. 


Heavy Metals in Cosmetics Are Rampant

“Natural” mineral makeup is often times more likely to be contaminated than non-mineral makeup as the mining and manufacturing process of minerals makes heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium more bioavailable. 

The vast (vast) majority of cosmetics companies do not test their sources or their end products for heavy metals which can be contaminated in harmful amounts with repeated chronic exposure (such as daily or weekly use). Repeat exposure is key here. The FDA has recommended  cosmetic companies set the level of allowable lead in lip products to 10 ppm but it does not require this limit nor does it test marketplace products nor issue recalls if products exceed this amount.


What Makes Beautycounter’s Makeup Different: 

Beautycounter triple tests each batch of color cosmetics for 12 of the most common heavy metals including lead, mercury, arsenic, nickel, cadmium and copper. We aim for non-detectable levels in every batch and often times achieve that or very low levels of 0.5 ppm (which is why we don’t believe any cosmetics company can truly call themselves “heavy metal free” for true transparency). I have yet to find another cosmetics company going to this level of testing for every single batch of ingredients and final product.  


Is Talc In Makeup Harmful?

In recent years, talc has gotten a bad rap in the media after a well-publicized lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson alleged their baby powder directly caused reproductive cancer. It turns out it wasn’t talc that was the issue but the asbestos-laden talc that J&J was sourcing for their best-selling baby powder. Sufficient evidence exists that J&J hid their knowledge of this asbestos contamination for decades from the public.


What Makes Beautycounter’s Makeup Different:

– Beautycounter sources only certified asbestos-free talc which is both tested by our trusted source as well as our own third-party tester for every single batch




These five Beautycounter makeup products perform like my old MAC & Sephora favorites & I’m always getting compliments on my makeup when I wear them! 

 1. Tint Skin Foundation: a lightweight, breathable and buildable foundation that helps you achieve that bright, hydrated and slightly luminous glow. It’s not a heavy matte foundation, which I prefer, as heavier foundations cause me to breakout or my skin to look dull and dry.

2.Luminous Highlighter These new highlighters are the best I’ve ever used (and I’m coming from MAC & Sephora) – finely milled cocoa butter powder helps them go on naturally but provide a noticeable and gorgeous glow. Apply to your cheekbones, bridge of nose, cupid’s bow, shoulders & anywhere else you want a natural glow with either the Powder Brush or Fan BrushThey can be used as eyeshadows too!

3. Color Intense LipstickI personally prefer a more matte, long-lasting lipstick so Beautycounter really upped the ante with this lipstick line. Safer lipsticks have the reputation or wearing off fast but not here! Don’t be fooled by the name – there are plenty of neutral colors including Brunch, Backstage, and First Date (for a light rosy pink). No gluten or soy either and you can rest assured you won’t be slathering your lips in lead or mercury as well! 

4. Velvet Eyeshadow Palette in Classic: To me, this is the perfect all-in-one day to night palette. Browns, neutrals and golds look beautiful on all skin tones and you can really achieve the most natural to a bold, dramatic look with this palette. I recommend the All Over, Crease and Precisioneyeshadow brushes for applying Beautycounter’s eyeshadows. Great mix of mattes & shimmers for all ages.

5. Touchup Concealer Pen: A sleepy mama’s dream come true for under-eye darkness, redness or breakouts. I love this Chanel-inspired concealer pen and how long it lasts me too. Just a few dabs under my eyes and in the corner of my nose where I’m prone to redness, and I’m looking like I got more than 6 hours of broken toddler-banging-on-our-door sleep! 



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How to Detox Your Beauty Routine

We spend a lot of time and money making sure what goes IN our body is high quality and non-deleterious to our autoimmune conditions, energy levels, and sleep quality. What about what goes ON your skin? Skin is not an impermeable barrier protecting our insides from everything we come in contact with, especially the stuff that we rub in willingly to smell like a call girl eating a vanilla cupcake.


Skin’s absorption can be helpful in some instances though – it is in fact how muscle rubs, topical hormonal creams, and the nicotine patch work so well. These products bypass our digestive system when taken transdermally, eliminating either a breakdown of the medicine before it is properly absorbed or decreasing the likelihood of gastrointestinal upset (commonly seen with oral pain medicine versus uncommon with topical formulas).


The FDA does not regulate the cosmetic industry as tightly as we would think. They perform periodic checks of specific products, especiallly if a consumer or health professional has reported negative results, but certainly not every product is individually inspected and evaluated by the FDA. In fact, all of those “organic” products out there? The FDA doesn’t even have a definition for the word “organic”, so they made friends with the USDA who says a product can be labeled “Made with organic ingredients” even if 30% of the ingredients are not organic at all. On top of that, there is absolutely no regulation of the labels “earth friendly”, “eco friendly”, or FOREIGN made “organic” cosmetics.


Trust  me when I say I had a bathroom cabinet full of whatever I could find on sale at CVS before starting this lifestyle. Now I use a very natural beauty regimen, saving standard cosmetics for special occasions, and my skin is much less prone to breakouts, my hair is shinier, my teeth are whiter, and my allergies don’t go ape shit since I rarely douse my top knot with the aerosol hairspray Rachel Zoe recommended in a 2010 issue of Marie Claire.


Face Wash Coconut Oil – I rub 1/2 a teaspoon on my face morning and nice then gently scrub with a warm washcloth to rinse off


Face Toner – 1/4 cup water + 8 drops tea tree oil + 4 drops neem oil – I wipe this across my face and neck with an organic cotton pad (the kind with the exfoliating side) after washing my face


Face Lotion – Rosehip oil + Jojoba oil + Neem oil – a small amount goes a long way, leaves my skin hydrated all day/night and never greasy


Deoderant – None.  I am not putting anything from a container right near all my lymph nodes! No I don’t smell, and I barely sweat anymore either.


Body Lotion – Either pure shea butter or coconut oil


Body Wash – I pick up a bar or two of locally made soap bars when I travel. I always read the ingredients, but they are generally made from coconut oil, lavender, rosemary, and olive oil. If I eat it, then I feel comfortable sudsing up with a product.


Shampoo/Conditioner – I choose to buy these manufactured, non-organic products because they are not sitting on my skin like the above producs do, and they are being rinsed down the drain almost immediately. ALWAYS buy gluten-free hair care products though if you are gluten intolerant. I use Kevin Murphy and Bumble & Bumble products including their Tonic Lotion when I do style my hair. The tea tree oil in it is cooling to an irritated scalp too.


Hair Masks: Mixtures of avocado, egg yolk, apple cider vinegar, and sometimes gluten-free beer (I rinse with it once a month but cover my face very well so it doesn’t trickle down my throat – but I’d probably love if it did)


Face Masks: Mixtures of vitamin C powder, colostrum, bentonite clay, egg yolks, honey, lemon juice, cucumber juice, and red clay. If you want a recipe for it, holler.


Makeup: Do whatever does not irritate your skin if you wear foundation only once in awhile. Always be careful with anything you put on your lips especially if you have celiac disease. I remember reading in some fanatical girly magazine that the average woman consumes upwards of 2 lbs of lipstick in her life! That’s a lot of possible gluten getting into your belly.


I now use Beautycounter’s products rather than making my own because they are rigorously screened for safety and have a “Never List” of 1,500 harmful chemicals that you will never find in their products. Their products do not contain gluten ingredients except the No.2 Plumping Mask and Mist (avoid those 2 products if you have Celiac disease).