When a woman looks at her reflection in the mirror, she sees more than just herself.
She sees the nose of her father, the cheekbones of her mother, the creases in her forehead from thinking too hard, crows feet at the corners of her eyes and wrinkles above her lips from a decades-long bad habit.
And whether she looks at her face with disliking, favor or ambivalence, she'll usually tend to the most precious part holding it all together: her skin.
A woman's skin is home to her identity: It carries the burden of worry; the stamps of time; the light of pride and joy. There are scars from clumsy mishaps and past bouts of acne; there are both freckles and sun spots, huddling together so as to be indistinguishable.
The skin is the body's largest organ, and yet, we disregard its fragility, often mistreating it with harsh chemicals that do more harm than good.
Between gases, pollution, sun damage and UV rays, rarely do we stop to consider the overwhelming damage we subject our skin to every day simply by stepping outside.
What can we do to avoid doing further, unintentional damage to our skin? We can start with the everyday products we use in an effort to stay youthful, maintain a clear complexion and even skin tone.
Because, ironically, we are introducing a number of harmful ingredients to our skin every morning when we wake up, shower, moisturize and apply makeup.
Beautycounter CEO and Founder Gregg Renfrew speaks passionately about the importance of using skincare products and cosmetics that are free of harmful chemicals.
The number one ingredient to avoid? Renfrew says it's fragrance. Elaborating on why we should skip fragrance at all costs, she tells Elite Daily,
Fragrance is protected under international [Intellectual Property] law; it is known as a beauty and trade secret, so people don't have to disclose the ingredients that go into [it]. There are certain types of chemicals that are particularly egregious and one is phthalates, which are used as binding. So when you think about fragrance in your shampoo or perfume, those are chemicals you would never want on your body.
In addition to fragrance, there are a number of ingredients to steer clear of when shopping the market for skincare, health and beauty products.
In fact, Renfrew says,
The European Union has banned or restricted 1400 ingredients [in personal care products] of which the United States has banned 11.
The US has banned less than 1 percent of all ingredients deemed harmful to humans in 28 other countries.
Those ingredients, many of which are listed below in Beautycounter's handy "Never List," include the aforementioned phthalates, which can do extensive damage to a person's endocrine system and even cause birth defects.
If you simply can't bring yourself to forgo your lifelong loyalty to Herbal Essence, or if your addiction to Chanel No. 5 is almost as potent as your most tempting vice, start with baby steps.
Check the labels on your skincare products, and if you find a common denominator that appears on "The Never List," pledge to try something new.
For the first-time shopper, Renfrew suggests going for the Routine Clean Cream Cleanser or the Every Day AM Hydrating Cream, both of which are a gentle, harmless step in the right direction for those who want to lead a cleaner, healthier lifestyle.