Go Green in 2017: Step 1 - Know the Ingredients

January 03, 2017 0 Comments

Go Green in 2017: Step 1 - Know the Ingredients

Go Green in 2017 by Malachite + Elephant on Pantone Greenery Background

Pantone got it right this year by choosing Greenery as their 2017 Color of the Year and with their quote : "Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate and revitalize, Greenery symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose."

Malachite + Elephant could not agree more and this being the new year, we thought it was the perfect time to start a new blog series: Go Green! where we will share steps to 'greening' your beauty routine.

Disclaimer: I usually try to keep things light and fun since we are in the business of beauty.  While I think it's important to inform you I also believe that you should also do your own research to find out more about the claims made below and the studies mentioned.  Although M+E prides itself on providing all-natural, plant-based and non chemical health and beauty products we understand that it's ultimately your choice and your knowledge that will guide you in these very personal decisions - i.e. our intention has never been to be 'preachy' but rather to promote 'greener & cleaner' products. So if you're interested in knowing more....read on.

You may already use all-natural, chemical-free, organic, plant powered products or you may be new to the Green game. Wherever you are on the Green scale, the tips in the next few blogs should help you and your loved ones go Greener! 

So let's start with ingredients...

Step # 1 - Know the ingredients

David Suzuki Dirty Dozen in the Cosmetics Industry

If you are a child of the 80's like me then you know Environmentalist David Suzuki (that's him on the left) - a lot of the information below is based on his Dirty Dozen Cosmetic Chemicals list as well as other studies.

One of our sayings and part of our principles at Malachite + Elephant is "We read labels so you don't have to", these are a few ingredients you will NEVER find at M+E. 




Parabens is one of the biggest offenders on the list (it's so bad that my auto correct always changes it to Paragons). These days a lot of cosmetics companies are avoiding all types of parabens and the good thing for us is that when they do, they state it clearly and proudly on their labels making it easier for us to avoid them.

Parabens are used as preservatives in cosmetics, to give them a longer shelf like. Studies have shown that these ingredients may interfere with hormone function, they can mimic estrogen (female sex hormone) and can interfere with male reproductive functions (ouch). On top of that, they have been shown to increase skin aging and have been detected in breast cancer tissues.

Related chemicals to avoid also have the term 'paraben' in their names, look out for methylparaben, butylparaben and propylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben, etc.


Parfum or fragrance

Parfum or Fragrance is a tricky one  since 'fragrance' can include a mixture of dozens or more ingredients which companies in North America don't need to list...they can just list the word 'fragrance". What is even more misleading is that  products labelled as 'unscented' sometimes include fragrances to mask other odours.

Fragrances are, of course, used in highly scented products such as perfumes and deodorants but also in soaps, body creams and baby products. Fragrance and its ingredients can trigger allergies in some people - which is why we often see signs such as "Odour Free Area" or "Scent-Free Zone" in hospitals, schools and offices. They have also been known to trigger migraines and asthma symptoms in some people.



Petrolatum aka mineral jelly, petroleum jelly oil is used as a barrier to lock in moisture in the skin or hair. Petrolatum is widely used in hair products including hair greases, pomades, glosses, finishing sprays since they also make hair shiny.

Studies suggest that petrolatum exposure over long periods of time is associated to cancer and that it can also cause skin irritations and allergies.


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

SLS' and SLES' are used in Cosmetics as a cleansing agents and to create bubbles, so they are common in bar soaps, shower gels, bubble baths...and dish soap!

If you've ever felt the burn of shampoo in your eyes, then you are familiar with sulfates. Not only can they irritate the eyes and skin, they are also bad for the environment since they take so long to degrade. They also pollute water streams doing harm to fish and other wildlife which is one of the reasons a lot of campgrounds and beaches ban their use.



Microbeads are tiny plastic particles added to products as exfoliators, they are commonly used in toothpastes, soaps and facial scrubs. When these particles are washed down the drain, given their tiny size, they can pass through water filtration systems and make their way into rivers and other water streams.

In North America, major steps have been taken towards banning microbeads. The US Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 prohibits microbeads by July, 2017. In Canada, a Bill was introduced which would ban the sale of microbes in the future.

Alternatives to microbeads include coffee grains, salt, sugar, rice bran all of which you can find in products sold here (wink, wink).



Aluminum is a common ingredient in most antiperspirants. It has been linked to Alzheimer’s and brain disorders and is a possible risk factor in breast cancer. Aluminum-based ingredients in antiperspirants temporary plug sweat ducts to stops the flow of sweat to the skin’s surface.

One way to avoid aluminum is to stop using antiperspirants altogether and opt for natural non-sweat stopping deodorants which do not block your sweat glands but that's a topic for another blog.


Honorable mention...

Finally as a nail polish freak (which is painfully apparent by the number times my hands are shown on IG), I'd like to give kudos to nail polish companies that have been listening to consumers' desire for cleaner products by offering x-Free Nailpolishes...at last count we are now at 9-FREE. See my lovely graph below ;) 

Nail Polishes 3-FREE to 9-FREE Image by: Malachite + Elephant


Hope this has been informative but know that I barely scratched the surface here so I'd like to leave you with this bit of advice. The best rule is to choose beauty products with fewer ingredients (avoid ingredients lists that look like paragraphs or require a separate label) and to stick to plant-based ingredient names you can actually read and recognize.


À bientôt! ....and wishing you a very Happy New Year!





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