Watch out for these carcinogens in your shampoos and makeup

The worldwide movement to go green is very evident in the global spa community. Spa operators have been taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint by making a conscious effort to save water, maximize the use of recycled and organic products, and use natural light as much as possible.

Similarly, beauty routines in spas are also going green. More and more spaholics are realizing that going green is more than just a fad.

The green movement in the spa and beauty world equates looking after nature with taking care of one's natural beauty. Today, there are spa and beauty products that may contain potent skin irritants-chemicals that break down the skin's protective barriers and, in effect, damage the collagen, thus causing blemishes, wrinkles and other skin breakouts.

Read the labels

The environment advocates among the spaholics carefully consider their purchases. For them, living green is not just about giving back to Mother Nature, but also keeping one's well-being.

Even with industry regulations, there is still a ton of products on the market containing damaging ingredients that can cause skin problems, from a simple rash or irritation to something as deadly as skin cancer.

This could cause a big scare, considering that more than 60 per cent of what we apply on our skin is quickly absorbed in the body.

Know what are these harmful ingredients and check the labels of the products you are buying.

For shampoos, go for sulfate-free or no-sodium laurel sulfate. SLS is a cheap, harsh ingredient used in shampoo for its cleansing and foam-building properties. It can cause skin allergies and is considered a carcinogen.

No parabens (isobutylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben). Go for paraben-free cosmetics to avoid the risk of breast cancer and other fertility problems.

Another possible carcinogen that may contain impurities or breakdown products is petroleum distillates. Banned in the European Union, this ingredient is found in some mascara, perfumes, foundations, lipsticks and lip balms.

For hair dyes, lead acetate is a common ingredient that has been banned because it is a known human reproductive and developmental toxin.

Go natural

Natural and organic are the way to go. These products do not contain chemical preservatives and synthetic colors and fragrances. Not only do these products bring healthy benefits to the skin, but, equally important, they are far better for the environment when they're rinsed off your face and body, down your drain and into your wastewater.

There's an indescribable bond between a consumer and organic products. The natural scents and purity of these products bring one closer to nature, creating a sense of serenity and balance. Just observe how good you'll feel after a warm bath using organic soap, and following it up with a dab of essential oil.

As caretakers of the earth, we should do our part to put a smile on Mother Nature's face. Leading a green lifestyle does not only make us healthy. Our collective efforts in developing environmentally sound habits will eventually lead to more people becoming more responsible in their choices-choices that define true beauty, inside and out.