Shop smart: The best — and worst — ingredients in your beauty products


Beauty products

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Beauty productsConsumers today are savvier than ever. We eat organic, we buy local and we look for responsibly sourced products to consume, wear and place in our homes. Why shouldn’t you take the same level of care with your skincare and beauty products?

The problem: Reading the label on a beauty product can often make you more confused than you were before. Find some clarity with this handy “cheat sheet,” which will ensure you leave the store with products that will keep your skin healthy, glowing and beautiful.


Look for:

  • Organic, sustainable and fair-trade natural oils and butters: Sourcing organic and sustainable is both friendly for the planet and your skin. Like your favorite organic fruits and vegetables, there is sometimes a premium in price, but it is a decision that is more than skin deep.

  • Scents created using essential fruit/vegetable oils (as opposed to synthetic fragrances): Why use chemicals created in a lab when nature offers what science tries to emulate? These chemicals are less expensive to produce, but often come with unwarranted attributes that cause allergies and skin irritation.

  • Mineral-based SPF with at least 15+ protection: Protecting your skin is paramount. Natural minerals (like zinc oxide and titanium oxide) provide sufficient barriers to UV rays without harmful nanoparticles.

  • Nutrient-dense antioxidants (fruit and vegetable extracts): Pack a punch with nutrient-dense products that offer your skin the nutrition it needs.

  • Nutrient-rich minerals (natural muds and salts for exfoliation): Natural minerals and salts provide ionically charged particles that provide your skin with electrolytes. Remember, your skin is the largest organ, capable of absorbing nutrients for your skin and other organs.



  • Parabens: Often used as preservatives, parabens have been getting bad press for nearly two decades now. They have been associated with breast cancer and their chemical makeup has been shown to mimic estrogen in the body.

  • Synthetic colors, dyes or fragrances: Synthetic colors, dyes and fragrances are everywhere, but why buy bright pink, blue and green hair gel or shampoo when it is only used to catch your eye? There are a multitude of natural dyes and essential oils to make every color of the rainbow possible and tantalize your sense without filling your cabinet with synthetic products that do nothing for your skin or the planet.

  • Sulfates: Often used in shampoos and detergents, sulfates are responsible for those rich bubbly lathers that cut through grease. The downside? They strip skin and hair of much-needed oils that prevent problems like dandruff and eczema.

  • Pthalates: Pthalates are used as plasticizers in products, but they have been associated with changes in hormone levels and birth defects in rodents. Plus they are easily released into our precious environment, contributing to the growing concern of POPs (persistent organic pollutants).

  • Plastic microbeads: Often found in exfoliants, these micro pieces of plastic have been getting a lot of bad press lately. Why? Because they’re showing up in the Great Lakes and other bodies of water as a major source of pollutants.

Lauren Padawer is a beauty expert and the founder of Alaska Glacial Mud Co., a line of spa-quality skincare created using mineral-rich mud found on the banks of the Copper River in Alaska. The idea for Alaska Glacial Mud Co. was born in the summer of 2001 during an extraordinary journey down the Copper River on a raft. Since that journey and every time a local resident mentioned that "somebody should bottle this stuff," Padawer realized she was the right woman in the right place at the right time. While the playful spa quality of the Copper River mud may have inspired Alaska Glacial Mud Co., it was the river and its inhabitants that gave voice to the importance of sustainability and activism in our company philosophy. In addition to being purveyors of the finest Alaska glacial mineral mud, we are also advocates for the Copper River Watershed through local philanthropy.