Green Beauty 101

We gave up plastic water bottles long ago, but we are still trying to get used to non-foaming natural shampoos and powdery toothpastes. Going green isn’t easy, and it’s tough to know where to start. We called on expert Caitlin Conn, the skincare director at the eco-chic Exhale MindBodySpa, for advice. Conn is constantly auditioning new lines and she’s incredibly picky – “I can usually just tell from the ingredients whether I’ll use a product or not.” Here, your no-stress primer to natural beauty.

Define Green

According to Conn, it’s only green if it uses pure botanical ingredients. She says, “It's not enough to just be labeled natural, organic, or hypo-allergenic because those terms are not regulated by the government.” Sounds confusing? It is. Start by reading product labels and educating yourself about ingredients.

Red Flag Ingredients

Conn only uses products that are free of chemical preservatives, mineral oils, and artificial fragrance and color. She avoids Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS), a widely used, inexpensive chemical that dissolves oils. “It’s the same stuff that is in car-engine degreaser,” Conn says, “and has a really harsh effect on skin.” In addition, look out for parabens, which have been linked to cancer and interfere with the body's endocrine system.

Bye-bye SLS and Other Villains

Swap our products with SLS, usually your cleansers, toothpastes, and shampoos. “Toss any exfoliant with polyethylene beads,” Conn says, “which are tiny bits of plastic that never break down — they go straight into the waterways, where they destroy marine life.”

Conn’s Green Picks

Sircuit Skin produces very small batches every six weeks, eliminating the need for chemical preservatives. “The Molecular Mist is perfect for traveling, and I use Sircuit products in Smart Peels at Exhale Spa,” says Conn. She also loves Shaffali Skin Rituals. “It’s one of the most beautiful and thoughtful lines I have come across,” Conn says. They use natural ingredients like tumeric, which reduces inflammation and hyperpigmentation, and fights free radical damage.

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