The Ultimate Guide to Organic Skincare and Beauty

The Ultimate Guide to Organic Skincare and Beauty

We want to help you celebrate and enhance every aspect of your holistic beauty from your personal health and wellness to your shining hair and glowing skin.

Our goal at Sole Toscana is to support and celebrate beautiful, strong women in this world. We want to help you to make informed, wise, decisions in all aspects of your health and beauty. 

It is our belief that maintaining a positive attitude and staying connected to a sense of meaning in life, is when you are really happy. When you are really happy; you feel the most beautiful.  When you love being yourself; you never lose your personal sense of beauty and style. Pampering your skin, hair and body is a luxurious joy and celebration of your unique self.

We are dedicated to this enjoyment of life, devotion to wellness, and natural beauty.  An Italian woman represents a natural beauty that never goes out of style, no matter the age. She instinctively knows that simplicity is her friend. She knows less make up is the best choice for a classic beauty.  She eats healthy foods in smaller quantities, pursues her interests and has a sense of purpose. She knows how important it is to stay fit.  She stays active, whether it is by hiking, yoga, a gym, Pilates, or just walking. Yet, she still enjoys wonderful culinary delights and keeps her sense of humor.  She drinks lots and lots of water to stay hydrated and knows that moisturizing is a must after bathing.  Beauty is an Italian tradition handed down from generation to generation! Sole Toscana provides you with the Italian beauty experience!

In this article, you will find a guide to the natural and organic lifestyle.  You will be able to identify the different skin types. You will know your skin type and why it is important. You will understand the difference between natural and organic and how to identify authentic organic skincare products.

You will find out the toxic chemicals you need to avoid and why you need to avoid them.

In summary, we believe lifestyle is essential to beauty. Healthy, beautiful living and self-confidence make a beautiful person. An organic skincare routine is part of clean living.  Within this philosophy is enfolded the idea that clean living is a complete lifestyle. 

Our goal is to empower you to make healthy and wise choices as you purchase beauty products, select your dietary needs, and become more physically active.  All culminating in creating a more beautiful you!

What is Natural and Organic Beauty?

We are more concerned than ever about our health, environment, food, hair and skin.  All of this focus has led us to question what is actually in the products we put on our hair and skin. As we become more aware and more conscious of healthier lifestyle choices, we also become more mindful of our diet, our exercise, and what goes into our cosmetics and hair care products. We want to be more discerning and educated on these topics and we want to make the healthiest choices for our family and us.

Natural beauty is an emphasis on you.  It reflects self-care; getting a good night’s sleep, drinking enough water every day, and having a young, kind spirit.  These attributes shine through as glowing skin, sparkling eyes, and shining hair.  Of course, those of us who value these attributes, want to use skincare products that reflect these same values as well.

Unfortunately, United States cosmetics law allows companies to label skin care ‘natural’ even when it contains less than 1% natural ingredients! The same problem exists for labeling “organic.” Claiming your product is natural or organic when it in fact contains a high percentage of synthetic chemicals is called greenwashing

Companies that practice greenwashing also often show pictures of flowers or nature on their labels. This can make shopping for genuinely green products problematic. 

To overcome this challenge and ensure you only get the best truly natural skincare, you need to pay close attention to skincare labels and understand how to read the signs of greenwashing. 

Natural or Organic Skincare?

So, what should you look for? First, you’ll want to check that your skin care is natural or organic. But ideally, you want skincare that is both natural and organic. Here's what those terms mean in the skincare business:

Natural Skincare

Natural skincare is made using plant-based ingredients (sometimes called "botanicals"). Genuinely natural skincare should not contain any synthetic chemical ingredients such as phthalates, parabens, silicones, synthetic fragrances or PEGs.

Organic Skincare

Organic skin care is also made using plant-based ingredients; it is different because it has entirely green production. This higher standard includes avoiding ingredient exposure to chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. It also restricts formulation to using organic ingredients and production must use organic methods (such as hand crafting, small batches, and low heat) to ensure ingredient integrity.

Certification…What Does it Mean?

So, you’ve checked the label and your skincare claims to be natural and organic. But how can you be sure? The trick to shopping for genuinely organic skincare is to check the label for independent certification logos. 

One of the ways we can know if products are living up to their claim of “natural” or “organic” is by certification. 

Italy, France and other EU countries have banned or restricted over 1,300 potentially dangerous skincare and cosmetic chemicals.  In contrast, the US has only banned or restricted 11 chemicals. This is one of the reasons why, European organic certification is the gold standard.

Natrue is a Brussels based international non-profit association committed to promoting and protecting Natural and Organic Cosmetics worldwide. Founded in 2007, it embraces those who commit to its high standards of quality and integrity. 

Note that Natrue has 2 standards, one for Natural and another for Organic (with Organic being the highest).  Sole Toscana is certified organic with Natrue.

ECOCERT

While the FDA does not certify cosmetics, the USDA will provide certification to cosmetics that meet its organic food standards (the same standards as USDA organic beef). While helpful, given some inherent differences in food and cosmetics ingredients it is often taken with a grain of salt.

Some organic skincare brands go even further and use ingredients from their own farms, where they can fully control quality and farming techniques. 

These are called seed-to-skin or farm-to-face brands. 

They are the highest quality organic skincare brands in the market and are often handmade in small batches.  

Now that you know how to protect your skin, let’s look at ways to optimize its health.

What is My Skin Type?

 The most important part of skincare isn't the products you use. Instead, it's understanding your specific skin type and how it reacts to different seasons and circumstances. The skin is the largest organ of the body. It's just as sophisticated and intelligent as other vital organs like the heart, lungs, and liver. 

Using excessively harsh products (even if they are formulated for excessive oiliness) may send signals to your skin that more oil is needed. Conversely, applying moisturizers that are too thick results in decreased natural oil production. Your skin becomes even drier. 

That's why taking time to understand your skin's specific needs will help you choose the right products. 

Every person's skin is unique. However, there are four main skin types: Dry, Oily, Normal/Combination, and sensitive:

  • Oily - skin has excess oil, mostly throughout the t-zone of the face (forehead, nose, and chin.) It always seems to be glowing, feel greasy, and is often prone to blemishes and breakouts. You might find that makeup and skin care products tend to smear and not stay put like you prefer.
  • Normal/Combination - not too dry or too oily. You don’t experience many breakouts. Your skin doesn’t tend to react negatively to new products or weather changes. You don’t feel like you need to constantly moisturize or blot oil from your face all day long. Your skin is firm, with minimal fine lines and wrinkles. You tend to have a balanced t-zone.
  • Dry - This skin type usually feels tight throughout the day. You may also experience noticeable flaking. As with the other skin types, dry skin is primarily due to genetics. Other causes include climate, lifestyle & diet, and hormonal changes. Dehydration is another culprit, so make sure you drink plenty of water and avoid diuretics like caffeine.
  • Sensitive – Can be caused by skin conditions like Rosacea or allergies. This skin type is also easily inflamed.

Bare Face

An easy way to determine your skin type is to carefully study your bare skin. You can start by washing your face with a mild cleanser. Then, gently pat dry with a soft towel.  Wait an hour and don’t put any product on your face. Then observe your skin. What does it look like? Does it appear shiny on your cheeks and t-zone? You might have oily skin. Or, does your skin feel tight and have flaky areas? Your skin is likely dry. If your skin appears to be well balanced, neither oily nor dry, you probably have normal skin.

Blotting Sheet

Another way to determine your skin type at home is to press a clean blotting sheet on various spots of your face. Then, hold the sheet up to a light to see how much oil was absorbed. Your skin type will generally be dependent on how much oil is visible, meaning the more oil on the paper, the more likely you have oily skin. If there is little to no oil visible, you most likely have dry skin. If the blotting sheet reveals minimal oil from your forehead and nose, your skin is probably normal or combination skin.

So, now that you know what type skin you have, how do you best care for it?

Dry Skin? Here’s What to Do:

While people with oily skin stress out over visible and clogged pores, those with dry skin battle dull and rough complexion.  If you struggle with dry skin, here are our exclusive tips for you:

We all experience dry skin occasionally. However, dry skin possesses these characteristics to a higher degree:

  • Nearly invisible pores
  • Occasional irritation and itching
  • Tightness, especially after cleansing
  • Occasional red patches
  • Dull, rough, or "ashy" complexion
  • Visible fine lines and wrinkles 
  • Flakes and peeling

Causes of Dry Skin

Genetics are responsible for the type of skin you have. 

Insufficient Sebum Production

Dry skin typically lacks natural skin oil (sebum). It also loses moisture quickly.

Compromised Outer Layer

When the outer layer of skin is impaired, it lacks the "lipids" or fats that help it hold onto moisture. Dry skin generally is deficient in the lipids it needs and this makes the skin more vulnerable to losing its elasticity.

Specific Dry Skin Problems

Dermatologists refer to this skin type as "vulnerable" because of the compromised outer layer. Outside elements easily penetrate since the protective barrier is weak. Harsh preservatives, cleansers, and chemicals pose a high risk to dry skin. 

Dry skin types are more vulnerable to premature aging caused by environmental stressors. In summary, moisturizing and protection are vital for this skin type.

Main Problems of Dry Skin:

  • Dry, dull complexion
  • Reactions to external elements
  • Premature aging, fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging

When and Where Does Dryness Occur?

With age, we may start to experience more dry skin than when we were younger, as aging depletes our skin of the fats it needs to retain moisture.

Lifestyle Factors to Manage Dry Skin

Simple lifestyle changes such as those listed below help keep dry skin healthy:

  • Use lukewarm water to wash your face. It's less likely to strip the natural oils from your skin.
  • Check your soaps and cleansers. Watch out for harsh ingredients such as parabens, sulfates, alcohols, synthetic fragrances, antibacterial, dyes, preservatives, and lye. These are not only found in skincare products but also most laundry detergents.
  • Protection from UV rays. Wear sunscreen every day, whether it's summer or winter. 
  • Consider a humidifier. It might seem over-the-top, but if your skin is dehydrated, this tip might help. A humidifier increases the water content in the air in your home. Place one in your bedroom, so your skin gets some TLC as you sleep. 
  • Protection from harsh weather.  A cold climate can also dry out the skin. Mitigate this by wearing scarves, gloves, and hats when stepping outside in the cold.
  • Soft fabrics such as bamboo, cotton, and silk have low absorbency levels; so they leave the skin moisturized. Avoid materials such as wool, as they irritate dry skin.
  • Diet Change. Add fatty acids to your diet by consuming flaxseed, fish oil, and walnuts. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements provide an extra boost.
  • Eliminate Allergans by choosing natural and organic products that don't contain harsh chemicals.

DAILY REGIMEN FOR DRY SKIN

Revamp your daily routine for vibrant, healthy-looking skin:

Washing Gently

You should be extremely gentle while cleansing. Cleansing products should have sensitive, nourishing formulas. Use lukewarm (not hot) water. If dryness persists, try using only water to wash in the morning, then a cleanser at bedtime.

Try our Rosewater Wellspring Cleanser. It gently removes oils, dirt, and other impurities while infusing moisture into the skin.

Using Hydrating Toners

Choose toners with moisturizing formulas. Such toners help rebalance your skin after cleansing and activate the hydration process. 

Heavy Duty Moisturizers

Dry skin needs more than just oil. It also requires fats to help strengthen the outer layer. 

Tip:  Make sure you moisturize immediately after bathing or cleansing to reduce the risk of dehydration. 

WEEKLY REGIMEN FOR DRY SKIN

Adding these steps every week will ensure more glowing, hydrated skin:

Hydrating Masks

Moisturizing in the morning and at night, while helpful, is not enough. Use a moisturizing mask 2-4 times a week, depending on dryness levels. Leave the mask on for 10-15 minutes then rinse off gently. 

If you fancy doing it yourself (DIY), you can make hydrating masks with bananas, avocado, yogurt, and honey.

Tip: Soaking in your warm bath for 15 minutes with the mask on helps the nutrients penetrate deeper into the skin.

Exfoliation

Dry skin needs extremely gentle exfoliation. Avoid products that contain crushed nuts- these are harsh on the skin. DIY lovers can try mixing a can of pumpkin with ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. Leave it on for 5-15 minutes. The pumpkin's natural enzymes will loosen up dead skin cells.

Treatments

Use gentle alpha-hydroxy acids to exfoliate and moisturize.  We recommend naturally derived ones like sugar cane (glycolic), fruits (malic), and milk (lactic). Apply these products as needed, typically 2-3 times a week.

Rejuvenate

Environmental stressors cause a lot of damage to our skin and speed up the aging process. Products that contain natural ingredients work best in nourishing your skin. Try a light application of our Neroli Radiance Serum, which contains powerful antioxidants. Follow through with Espresso Bright Eyes cream to revitalize the delicate skin around your eyes, reduce dark circles, and decrease puffiness.

Say goodbye to dry skin struggles by applying these tips. Be sure to let us know what works for you!

The Solution for Oily Skin

Are you irritated with constantly having bright, shiny skin and enlarged pores? If this describes you, we have your solution!

How Can you Tell if you Have Oily Skin?

 Oily skin typically has the following characteristics:

  • It is shiny everywhere, not just the T-zone: (forehead, nose, and chin)
  • Skin appears thick and coarse
  • Pores are enlarged 
  • You experience occasional breakouts similar to acne.

Causes of Oily Skin

Oily skin is a hereditary condition. It is caused by over-active sebaceous glands that produce excessive amounts of skin oil (sebum). Using too many skin products that change the natural balance also triggers the over-production of oil.

Challenges Caused by Oily Skin

Those with oily skin may also experience:

CLOGGED PORES

Excess oil and dirt clog skin pores, leading to blemishes and breakouts. 

RUNNY COSMETICS

Your makeup dissolves a few hours after application, meaning you have to often blot and touch up.

The upside to oiliness is that this type of skin ages more slowly than dry skin, so you'll stay looking younger for longer!

Managing Excess Oil Daily

Oily skin doesn't have to be a burden anymore, thanks to our simple steps.

  1. Wash Only Twice a Day

The temptation to cleanse your face every time it gets shiny is overwhelming but resist it. If you remove too much of the oil, your skin reacts by producing even more and this will take you back to square one. If you feel the need to wash off that excess oil more than twice a day, use water only.

  1. Use A Dissolving Cleanser

You want a cleanser that will gently dissolve the oils and deeply clean at the same time. Try our Rosewater Wellspring Cleanser, which is specially formulated for oiliness. It gently melts pore-clogging dirt, oil, and makeup while also repairing skin. 

Splash warm water on the face first. Then massage the cleanser for at least one minute before rinsing off.

  1. Tone Carefully

Go for a toner that is gentle but effective. It shouldn't strip your skin of its natural oils.

  1. Balance the Oils in Your Skin

This is the biggest struggle for oily skin. In an attempt to get rid of excess sebum, harsh products strip the skin, damage the outer layer, and lead to excess sebum production in the long run.

Natural oils, however, are fantastic at working with the body to balance its oil levels. You may think applying oils to oily skin sounds crazy. But try it—we guarantee you'll be amazed at the results.  

Eight Tips for Oily Skin

Once you're familiar with this daily routine, it's time to move on to extra steps that will make your skin even more amazing.

  1. Use Facial Masks 2-3 Times a Week

Masks help reduce the shininess on the face for days at a time. Masking will reduce the urge to wash your skin too many times a day.

  1. Exfoliate 2-3 Times a Week

Exfoliation is key to removing dead skin. However, be careful not to go overboard as this can cause skin damage and may encourage your skin to produce more oil.

  1. Examine Your Diet

Avoid foods high in processed fats and sugars, as these cause an adverse reaction in your skin. Eating healthy fruits and vegetables and lean proteins isn't just a cliché. A clean diet contributes significantly to clear skin.

  1. Tone Using Witch Hazel Before Applying Makeup.

It's a natural salicylic acid toner. Wiping your face gently with witch hazel before applying makeup will help soak up excess oil without stripping your skin.

  1. Use a Light Moisturizer

This step might sound counterintuitive.  However, using a light moisturizer with infused ingredients that cleanse, can help your skin balance out its oils over time so that you don't appear so oily.

  1. Use Oil Free Makeup

When choosing makeup products, select the oil-free or "non-comedogenic" variants of products- these won't clog pores.

  1. Go Easy on the Powder

Too much powder can cake and may encourage your skin to pump out more oil. Instead, apply powder sparingly only on shiny areas, and use a matte translucent formula.

  1. Sun Protection

All skin types need protection from the sun, which is enemy #1 when it comes to aging! Look for zinc oxide-based formulas.

If you (or a loved one) have been struggling with oily skin, we hope these tips help you manage it without tears.

How To Care for Combination Skin:

If you have combination skin, then you're familiar with the term T-zone. Your skin has a unique blend- large pores on the forehead, nose, and chin (oily section), and dry cheeks and under-eye area.

The Most Common Type of Skin is Yours!

Cheer up! While managing both parts of your skin can be a headache, we have tips for helping you!!

How Do You Tell If You Have Combination Skin?

Apart from what we've already mentioned (oily-dry blend), this skin type has other characteristics. You may notice the simultaneous occurrence of fine lines and wrinkles and shininess and clogged pores. In some cases, the nose has an uneven skin tone or large pores.

What Causes Combination Skin?
Genetics! Just like every other skin type.

Where Will I Notice Combination Skin?

The skin will naturally produce varying levels of oil in different sections. However, using products with drying ingredients like alcohol and sulfates can stimulate the skin to produce more sebum in the T-zone area, creating symptoms of combination skin.

Specific Problems in Combination Skin 

How do you test whether you have combination skin? Wash your face with a gentle cleanser, pat dry, then wait for about 10-15 minutes. Leave the skin bare. After this time, your cheeks, temples, and other areas will likely feel dry and tight. Your forehead, nose, and chin will look shiny or have clogged pores.

If you have a hard time finding skincare products that work, you probably have combination skin. Some products will give you breakouts, while others leave you too dry and dull. Also, your cheeks and neck are likely to be more sensitive to cleansers.

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Combination Skin

Simple lifestyle changes can help balance your skin. These include:

Moisturizing from the Inside Out

Moisturizing this skin type without clogging pores is quite a challenge. Ingesting essential fatty acids helps to moisturize the skin from within. Consider adding salmon, flaxseed, and walnuts to your diet. Fish oil or flaxseed oil supplements are beneficial too.

Avoiding Harsh Cleansers

Ingredients like sulfates and alcohol in facial cleansers can strip your skin of its natural oils. This is counterproductive since it encourages your skin to produce even more oil. 

Working out

Exercise boosts blood circulation, thus distributing vital nutrients throughout the skin.

Lay Off the Stress

Stress isn't good for health in general. As far as skin is concerned, stress can make it more reactive, both the dry and oily areas. Find a release mechanism that works for you: meditation, tai chi, journaling, yoga, music, etc.

Avoid Pore Clogging Products

The best thing would be to choose skincare and makeup products formulated for oily or combination skin. Avoid petroleum-based moisturizers like mineral oil. 

Go Fragrance Free

The dry areas of your skin are likely more prone to irritation. Artificial fragrances and other irritants should be avoided. 

Sunscreen

Hats and shade are not enough to protect you from UV rays. You need a safe sunscreen to keep your face looking youthful. 

DAILY ROUTINE

The main thing you need is to balance what your skin needs in the oily areas with what it requires in the dry ones. 

Most combination skin people have one type that is predominate. If you mainly experience clogged pores, oily skin is your biggest concern. If it's only the nose that is clogged, but the rest of your skin is dry, then dryness is the primary concern. You need to consider this as you craft your daily skincare regimen.

Natural Cleansers

Chemical-based cleansers will cause more problems for your skin. They dry out the dry regions and increase oiliness in your oily areas. Try our Rosewater Wellspring Cleanser. It gently removes oils, dirt, and other impurities while balancing skin oils.

Gentle Toners

Ordinary toners in beauty supply stores contain harsh ingredients like alcohol, fragrance, and menthol. When shopping for a toner, choose one that has natural ingredients which restore pH while nourishing your skin. 

Split Moisturizing

According to some skincare experts, you should use lightweight moisturizers on your T-zone and heavier moisturizers on your cheek area. 

Additions to Your Weekly Routine

Adding these steps every week will ensure more glowing, hydrated skin:

Exfoliating

Just as with moisturizing, use two methods to exfoliate your face. The cheeks only need gentle rubbing motions while the T-zone benefits from firmer scrubs.

Nourishing Masks

Choose a mask that naturally purifies your pores without drying. 

Treatments

Use gentle alpha-hydroxy acids, the same as those recommended for dry skin. We recommend naturally derived ones like sugar cane (glycolic), fruits (malic), and milk (lactic).

REJUVENATE

Environmental stressors cause a lot of damage to our skin and speed up the aging process. Products that contain natural ingredients work best in nourishing your skin. Try a light application of our Neroli Radiance Serum, which contains powerful antioxidants. Follow through with Espresso Bright Eyes cream to revitalize the delicate skin around your eyes, reduce dark circles, and decrease puffiness.

With all these excellent tips, managing your combination skin should be a breeze!

Our skin's needs usually change over time. Taking steps to identify its needs in different seasons is essential for it to function and look its best. Keeping the health of your skin in mind and "checking in" regularly to determine whether you need to adjust your current regimen will keep it balanced and beautiful.

10 Toxic Chemicals to Avoid in Your Skincare

If you've been wondering how to protect yourself and your family from toxic chemicals in personal care products, you have come to the right place. You are probably especially interested in the ten poisonous ingredients to avoid. Our simple e-book breaks them down to bite-sized, manageable chunks.

Chemical names can be confusing.  This book will help you familiarize yourself with them, so you can recognize the ones to avoid while just glancing over product labels.

Our goal is to empower you to make informed choices as you purchase beauty products. It's scary to think that something you use on your face could give you cancer or complicate your hormones. But when you know better, you can do better and protect yourself and your family.

Realistically speaking, we might not manage to eliminate all toxic chemicals from our lives, but we can certainly reduce them by using organic products.

  1. Parabens

These are a group of chemicals that have earned their place in the 'notorious ingredients' list. That is why these days, you see many skincare products labeled as "Paraben-free." A brief history:

  • The 1920's: Pharmaceutical companies began using a group of chemicals referred to collectively as 'Parabens' to preserve products. Soon food processing companies also started using them to preserve food products.
  • 1981: Findings from an FDA report indicate that parabens are used in over 13,200 beauty product formulations.
  • 1998: A study is published in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology (a scientific journal), which reveals that some Parabens are estrogenic. This means they affect hormonal balance by competing with estrogen for binding sites in the body.
  • 2002: A report in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology sheds light on estrogenic effects of parabens, particularly the inhibition of specific estrogen receptors in the presence of high concentrations of parabens.
  • 2004: According to a study published in The Journal of Applied Toxicology, parabens are detected in 19 or 20 human breast tumors sampled.

Beyond Skin Care:

Why are Parabens commonly used in personal care products?  They suppress microbial growth in shampoo, conditioner, perfume, toothpaste, soaps, and other hygiene products. Apart from topical products, they're used in food products as well. An excerpt from a 1998 study: "The average daily intake of parabens in food is estimated to be 1–16 mg/kg for infants and 4–6 mg/kg for persons aged two years or older."

As you can see, Parabens can (and are) making their way into our body systems in various ways. Don't be alarmed. By adopting a whole foods diet, you can eliminate or at least reduce your Paraben exposure from food. Go for organic produce, nuts, seeds, dried beans and grains, without additional flavoring. Avoid food that's sold in boxes and cans as much as possible.

On the labels, look for:

  • methylparaben
  • ethylparaben
  • propylparaben
  • butylparaben

Phenoxyethanol: Not a Good Alternative

There is no doubt that Parabens have been proven to be harmful. As an alternative, companies are now using Phenoxyethanol to preserve their products. It's supposedly safer, but several studies have already shown it to be toxic, even in moderate concentrations. Some of the adverse effects include:

  • Reproductive and developmental complications
  • Contact dermatitis (skin irritation)
  • Brain and nervous system damage

In Japan, Phenoxyethanol has been outlawed as an ingredient in all cosmetics, while most other countries have limited its use to 1% concentration.

What Should You Do?

There are several natural preservatives available! We use naturally derived Sodium Benzoate to preserve our products to help keep them fresher, longer.

It's awesome that instead of endocrine disruption, brain damage, and reproductive complications, you can use natural Sodium Benzoate to keep your products fresh. Of course, the shelf life may be shorter than products that use synthetic preservatives, but we think that's okay. Your health comes first!

  1. Phthalates

Interestingly, Phthalates are often not listed on labels. When companies indicate "fragrance" in their ingredients, they're not obligated to disclose what the constituents of that fragrance are. Why? This is classified as 'proprietary information'. If you want to avoid this harmful group of chemicals, stay away from products with 'fragrance' on the label altogether.

Which Products Contain Phthalates?

It's difficult to say for sure. A wide range of products contain phthalates such as your everyday body lotion, deodorant, nail polish, and scented lip balm.

Mimicking

Phthalates are pretty good at mimicking human hormones, with disastrous effects.

Males are at risk of infertility, reproductive system issues, and decrease in testosterone levels as reported in a study by the University of Maryland. 

Women are prone to endometriosis and premature delivery when exposed to Phthalates.

Alternatives to Fragrance

Given these nasty health effects, there's no reason to buy products that list "fragrance" on the ingredient label. Nature already provides so many things that smell lovely!

Choose products that use natural essential oils to make them smell amazing. Apart from a beautiful scent, essential oils also have aromatherapeutic benefits. 

  1. Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is the most common prescription to clear up acne. It deals with breakouts by killing bacteria on the skin and reducing oil production.

The downside is that your skin uses oil (and some of the bacteria) to function normally. Using benzoyl peroxide long term is extremely drying and damaging to most skin types.

It works basically like a bleach. If this product happens to spill on your towels or clothes, they change color over time. You don't want such a product on your skin!

Naturally, our skin's pH should be between 4.5-5.5, but benzoyl peroxide is alkalizing. Your skin will revert to its naturally acidic balance if you stop using it. For most people this means more oil production. People who stop using products like Proactiv will often have skin issues (like increased breakouts) for a short period. This condition is known as skin detox.

 Benzoyl peroxide is linked to growth of tumors and causes irritation to the eyes and respiratory system.

  1. Triclosan

In 2014 the FDA announced that it was reviewing the safety of this ingredient commonly found in hand sanitizers. Why would they do that unless it's harmful?

According to Scientific Studies:

  • A 2006 study published in Aquatic Toxicology proved that this agent interferes with hormones that stimulate thyroid production in bullfrogs.
  • Another study in 2007 showed that this chemical affects the production of thyroxine (a thyroid hormone).
  • Wistar rats were studied in 2008. Results from experiments proved that upon exposure to Triclosan their thyroid hormones were affected.

Considering this information, you definitely need to be on the lookout for Triclosan when choosing products. 

Contrary to what many think, repeatedly removing bacteria from our hands isn't necessarily healthy. Certain types of bacteria are vital to our health. Eliminating bacteria from our bodies too often by using antibiotics, hand sanitizers, etc. is not a health-promoting habit.

  1. Resorcinol

If you're a fan of dyeing your hair, you need to watch out for this harmful ingredient.

This hazardous and combustible chemical causes abdominal pain when inhaled. It also causes nausea, unconsciousness, and skin irritation. It's also an environmental pollutant which dissolves easily in waterways, posing health risks to fish and other aquatic animals.

That's not all. Reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that resorcinol affects the nervous system, adrenal gland, and thyroid function. This ingredient is highly toxic when ingested and applied topically. 

The effects of this chemical tend to sneak up on people over time. You could possibly color your hair regularly with no issues for several years, only to randomly start reacting negatively to it.

Color is one easy way to have fun with your hair. Nothing brings confidence like having shiny, vibrant hair color. If you love switching up your hair color, here are natural options to choose from:

  • Henna - for brown and red shades.
  • Black walnut powder - to darken.
  • Honey and Lemon - to lighten

If you have the patience for it, try out herbal hair rinses. These improve color gradually over time. For blonde color, chamomile tea works best while black tea yields dark hair colors. After rinsing out your conditioner, use the herbal hair rinse and leave it in.

Both natural hair dying techniques and herbal rinses are a safe alternative to using products with Resorcinol and they get the job done.

  1. Hydroquinone

It is the most common ingredient in skin lightening products. It gets rid of acne scars, age spots, and sun damage.

Why Not Use Hydroquinone?

  • FDA Warnings. In 2006, the FDA announced that more testing was needed to verify the safety of using this chemical. A proposal was drafted to withdraw their earlier ruling- that it was safe when used at a concentration of 1.5-2%. Ultimately this concentration was authorized for use in over-the-counter products. However, levels over 2% were to be available only by prescription. Outside interests Probably influenced this final decision.
  • It Affects Skin Elasticity. Long term use of hydroquinone can decrease your skin's ability to bounce back.
  • It's Carcinogenic. Scientific studies done on animals have produced evidence that it could be carcinogenic when ingested. Topical use isn't safe either since hydroquinone penetrates deep into the skin. 

Are There Natural Options for Evening Out Skin Tone?

Herbs and nutrients like licorice root, vitamin C, and turmeric can help even out the look of your skin tone naturally.

  1. Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is a by-product from crude oil manufacturing. That's something which shouldn't be on our skin! But since it's costly to dispose of, oil companies are highly incentivized to find a use for it. Skincare companies can obtain mineral oil cheaply and use as a humectant (draws hydration to the skin).

Mineral oil has a long shelf life because it never expires, but it does nothing to promote healthy skin.

Cheap, But Not Beautifying

  • Human skin isn't designed to absorb synthetic mineral oil very well.
  • It's comedogenic (it clogs your pores).
  • It can be contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals because it's an oil production by-product.

Avoid Mineral Oil

Fortunately, it's easy to avoid mineral oil as there are plenty of natural moisturizing ingredients. On the ingredient label look for the term "non-comedogenic" because that means they lack mineral oil and won't clog your pores.

What are some Moisturizing Oils I Should Use?

  • Grapeseed Oil - High in linoleic acid, this oil is suitable for oily skin and gives a good dose of non-greasy moisture.
  • Coconut Oil - This oil soothes and moisturizes dry skin deeply.
  • Avocado Oil - It penetrates the skin deeply and is high in vital antioxidants and omegas.
  1. Methylisothiazolinone

Also known as MIT, this is a biocide (meaning it kills microorganisms). This makes it a powerful preservative but it's not something that belongs in the human body.  MIT has been shown to cause brain damage.

The Full Story

In September 2002, the Journal of Neuroscience published a disturbing study that tested the effects of MIT on rat cells.

 After only ten minutes of exposure to it, the neurons in these cells were damaged. They recommended that the safety of MIT be reevaluated because few or no studies before had looked at the effects of this widely used chemical.

How did the cosmetics industry respond? The European Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products Intended for Consumers suggested that companies limit the concentration of this ingredient to 100 parts per million. U.S. companies, however, are not required to follow this guideline.

Which Products Have MIT?

This chemical is found mostly in rinse-off products like shampoo, conditioner, hair color, body wash, laundry detergent, liquid hand soap, bubble bath, and dishwashing soaps. If you don't see Methylisothiazolinone on the label watch out for any of these synonyms:

  • 2-METHYL- 3 (2H) -ISOTHIAZOLONE
  • 2-METHYL-2H-ISOTHIAZOL-3-ONE
  • 2-METHYL-3 (2H) -ISOTHIAZOLONE
  • 2-METHYL-4-ISOTHIAZOLIN-3-ONE
  • 3 (2H) -ISOTHIAZOLONE, 2-METHYL-
  • 3 (2H) ISOTHIAZOLONE, 2METHYL
  • 2-METHYL-3 (2H) -ISOTHIAZOLONE
  • 2-METHYL-4-ISOTHIAZOLIN-3-ONE
  1. Oxybenzone

This sunscreen ingredient makes us wonder if it would be better to ditch sunscreen altogether. (Luckily there are natural versions, so we don't have to make that decision.)

Oxybenzone is called a chemical sunscreen because it absorbs rather than blocks UVA and UVB rays. The bad news is, harmful compounds are produced when it reacts with sunlight. Oxybenzone also penetrates deep into the skin, potentially interfering with internal processes.

In 2008, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that nearly all Americans were contaminated with oxybenzone. 

Oxybenzone disrupts body systems in the following ways:

  • Once it penetrates the skin, oxybenzone causes rapid production of free radicals in skin that is exposed to light. In simple terms, using oxybenzone could promote conditions that lead to cancer.
  • Studies done on animals suggest that oxybenzone mimics human hormones. Hormone imbalance is linked with infertility, improperly developed sexual organs, and decreased sperm count in men.

Better Options for Sun Protection

Sometimes we think of natural alternatives as being less effective in the short term, but zinc oxide is a case where that isn't true. Zinc oxide has been used for years, as the safest and most effective physical protection against UV rays.

It offers broad-spectrum protection, meaning it protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are those responsible for premature aging and cancer, whereas UVB rays cause sunburns.

Newsflash: SPF rating only pertains to UVB rays. So, when your sunscreen says SPF 30, that's no indication of whether that sunscreen protects you against the cancer-causing UVA rays.

  1. Artificial Dyes and Synthetic Colors

Life without color would be dull to say the least.

Color in our makeup and skincare products is for visual appeal. That cool green color reminds you that your lotion has cucumber in it; the ruby red color of your lip balm emphasizes the strawberry scent.  Unfortunately, these vibrant shades are often achieved using very unnatural ingredients. Let's take a look at some of them:

Blue

Ext. D&C Violet 2 is a synthetic colorant used in a wide range of cosmetics and personal care products like body washes, nail polishes, bubble baths, bath salts, hair products, liquid hand soaps, moisturizers, and antiperspirants/deodorants.  The "Ext." in the name means that it is used for external applications only, while "D&C" means that it is approved for use in drugs and cosmetics.

The FDA determined that this chemical is safe for externally applied cosmetics and personal care products. However, it's not permitted for lip or eye products, as this would create the risk of it entering the body.  The EWG warns that Ext. D&C violet 2 is made from petroleum or coal tar sources—coal tar is a known human carcinogen. It would be in your best interest to steer clear of this ingredient.

Black

Carbon black is an ingredient you may find in your eyeliner. It's linked to cancer and organ toxicity. It may be listed by its other aliases: pigment black 6, pigment black 7, acetylene black, froflow, arotone, arovel, arrow, channel black, atlantic, arogen, and black pearls.

Natural Alternatives - Nature has abundant options for color lovers.

Red

  • Alkanet root - from the borage family, alkanet produces a naturally beautiful red hue (it's sometimes used to improve the color of not-so-vibrant wines). 
  • Fruit pigments like pomegranate are used by some companies to create natural lipsticks. You can even use the fruit directly on your lips to get the effect. 

Black

  • Activated charcoal is perfect for those looking for natural eyeliner. Do a little internet research and experiment with the recipes you find. 

Brown

  • Some people on our team swear by using cocoa powder as a natural brown eye shadow. Suitable for the stomach and the face. Win-Win!

CONCLUSION

It is our hope that you have found this eBook helpful to you.  Sole Toscana believes in a “zero-kilometer” philosophy of using only the nearest, freshest ingredients in our products. We support and celebrate beautiful, strong women. We want to help you to make informed, wise, decisions in all aspects of your health and beauty.

The whole idea behind Sole-Toscana is that “less is more”. The focus is on bringing out your natural beauty by practicing self-care. The idea is to embrace a well-rounded and healthy life and diet. It is being the best you and letting your radiance shine through. 

The best skincare for you is both natural and organic.  They are both made using plant-based ingredients.  Organic skincare has a higher standard of entirely green production, which means avoiding ingredient exposure to chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides.  Formulation is restricted to using organic ingredients.  Production must use organic methods (hand crafting, small batches, and low heat.)

Beauty products absorb into the skin and bloodstream. Women in the U.S. need to be extra careful.  In Europe, cosmetics chemicals are considered potentially harmful until proven safe.  But in the U.S. cosmetics chemicals are assumed safe until found harmful. The U.S. regulates only 11 cosmetic chemicals.  Meanwhile Italy regulates over 1300 potentially dangerous cosmetic chemicals to ensure quality and safety in all products.

This is one of the reasons why, European organic certification is the gold standard. Sole-Toscana is certified by Natrue, a Brussels based international non-profit association committed to promoting and protecting Natural and Organic Cosmetics worldwide. The most important part of skincare is understanding your specific skin type and how it reacts to different seasons and circumstances. The skin is the largest organ of the body. That's why taking time to understand your skin's specific needs will help you choose the right products.

Finally, this eBook aims to help you protect yourself and your family from toxic chemicals in personal care products.  Chemical names can be confusing, and we have tried to familiarize you with 10 toxic chemicals to avoid. 

Of course, we cannot eliminate all toxins from our life, but using natural, organic personal products, being mindful of an organic diet, choosing to be active and making healthy choices can only be beneficial.  When we know better; we do better.