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What is clean beauty—and how to get started, mama

Here's what you should know about the ingredients you're putting on your family's skin.

clean beauty

Clean beauty is a buzzword that has a certain appeal everyone wants to be associated with. "I like to eat clean," or "I only use clean products in my home," are as common nowadays as a toddler temper tantrum. Butclean beauty has no legal definition so it can take on a different meaning for each person. .

Currently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no authority to recall a cosmetic, which is very troubling when you consider the average woman uses 12 products every day, averaging 168 total ingredients, according to a survey by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Additionally, there are thousands of personal care products in the United States that have not been reviewed for safety by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, an independent company that reviews chemical compounds found in cosmetics.


These numbers become even more concerning when we factor in what we're potentially putting on our kids..

In December, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (New Jersey) introduced the Cosmetic Safety Enhancement Act of 2019 in an effort to better regulate the FDA. If passed and signed into law, it will require cosmetic manufacturers to register their facilities and the list ingredients with the FDA. But until then, mamas are responsible for doing their own research.

What makes a product "toxic"?

Toxic can be tough to really define. In the U.S., less than a dozen chemicals and chemical classes are prohibited or restricted for use in personal care products—Europe has banned or restricted about 1,400.

What some beauty brands and people think are toxic may not be the case for others. To bridge the gap, individuals should investigate ingredients that are linked to health and environmental harms; ingredients that can potentially affect our health and the health of our families.

"Due to outdated and inadequate laws governing personal care products, there are hundreds of these worrisome ingredients used in personal care products sold in the US," says Carla Burns, a research and database analyst at EWG.

It's important to know what's in the products you use on yourself and with your family, try to limit exposure to those that contain ingredients linked to harmful health effects to help reduce your overall body burden.

What is the difference between natural + organic products?

Organic products that have a USDA Organic seal means that the product complies with the USDA Organic requirements, largely indicating that toxic synthetic pesticides were not used during the production of agriculturally based ingredients. But organic isn't necessarily an indication of a product's overall safety.

"There is no legal or standard definition of natural, so there's no way to determine what a 'natural' product is just from that term," says Burns. "Your interpretation of this claim may not be the same as the product manufacturer. However, natural does not guarantee that a product is safe. There are many natural ingredients that are poisonous. The best way to know what is actually in a product and if it may contain ingredients of concern is by not relying on marketing terms and to check the ingredients on a product label."

So what are the harmful ingredients to be concerned about?

While many of the ingredients in personal care products likely pose little risk, exposure to some has been linked to serious health problems, including cancer. According to EWG, the following ingredients should be banned:

Don't panic, mama. Here's what you can do:

The best way to protect your family is to know exactly what you're putting into and on your bodies. Just because your favorite skin care product contains one (or more) of the above items, doesn't mean you should stop using them completely. Do your research and figure out what's best for your and your family.

"I have seen the market shift over the past few years by consumers wanting ingredient transparency and for products to be both effective and formulated without chemicals of concern, and in my eyes that is clean beauty," says Burns.

Need help getting started? These places help you shop smarter:

Think Dirty App: Scan the barcode of cosmetics to find out its ingredients.

Cruelty-Free Company Search: Use this link to research cruelty-free products.

EWG SkinDeep Cosmetics Database: Research the ingredients of over 69,000 products.

Skin Cleanse: The Simple, All-Natural Program for Clear, Calm, Happy Skin: This book by Adina Grigore offers all-natural skin solutions you can find at home.

If you're still unsure, start with these clean items below:

Trades for Good hand soap

Trades for Good hand soap

We're obsessed with this sweetly smelled hand soap made with organic ingredients, that's packaged in a 100% recyclable aluminium can.

$33

Volition celery green cream

Volition celery green cream

Celery isn't our favorite vegetable, but when it's in this oil-free face moisturizer that helps improve our overall complexion, we're all for it!

$55

Esker oils

Esker oils

Aside from the variety of formulas for pregnant and postpartum mamas like belly oils, and clarifying, restorative and firming, these essential oils are plant-based and not super greasy so you can apply them all day without feeling sticky.

$40

Vivaiodays rose geranium cleansing water

Vivaiodays rose geranium cleansing water

This gentle, soap-free cleansing water comprised of 98% organic rose geranium floral water is great for you and baby.

$14

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Products that solve your biggest breastfeeding challenges

Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this

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5 brilliant products that encourage toddler independence

Help your little one help themselves.

One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

$29

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

$18

Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

$29

BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

$20

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have kids—so here’s what I did

We asked our three most pessimistic friends who have kids whether it's worth it or not

As told to Liz Tenety.

Around the time my husband and I were turning 30, we had a genuine conversation about whether or not we wanted kids. I was the hesitant one because I was like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's just hold on. Okay, let's talk about this. Because we love our life. We like traveling. Is this what we want?"

My husband said, "Let's ask our three most pessimistic, crabby friends who have kids whether or not it's worth it."

And every single one of them was like, "Oh, it's unmissable on planet earth."

So when I got pregnant, I was—and I'm not ashamed to say this and I don't think you should be—I was as connected with the baby in my belly as if it were a water bottle. I was like, I don't know you. I don't know what you are, but you can be some gas pain sometimes, but other than that, we're going to have to meet each other and suss this relationship out.

But all the cliches are true that you just know what to do when the baby comes out. Some of the times are hard, some of them are easier, but you just gotta use your gut.

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