Our Top 5 Nostalgic Products Of The 2000s + Why We're Better Off Without These Toxic Beauty Products
We all love a dose of nostalgia. It’s music to your senses, right?
We thought it’d be fun to take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of the classic nostalgic beauty products. And while we aren’t recommending you swap over to these products (actually, the opposite!), we love an excuse to reminisce on the good ole days – so let’s have some fun!
It’s safe to say that the 2000s beauty standards were a tiny bit different (okay, a lot different) than the standards of today’s industry – at least the clean beauty standards. There wasn’t much thought about what went into products – they just used what sold well.
And as consumers, we just bought what everyone else did or the items that caught our attention on the shelves or in the magazines, right?
Let’s travel back to the 2000s when fragranced products + toxic beauty products abounded without a care in the world…
1. St. Ives Apricot Scrub
St. Ives Apricot Scrub was the bomb, right? Or so we thought.
It was at the top of everyone’s list for 2000s skincare products. It’s what everyone was using. Exfoliation was a fairly new concept and felt like a luxurious at-home spa experience.
They nailed it with packaging designs, and the fresh apricot smell was a unique scent with curb appeal.
Why St. Ives Apricot Scrub Is on Our List of Toxic Beauty Products
First, a note about deceptive marketing:
→ The little “100% natural badge” on today’s version of St. Ives products is a classic greenwashing example. In small print (they hope you won’t read), it says “natural exfoliant,” but without a closer look, it’d appear the whole product is made from 100% natural products. So please, when you’re shopping, read the label every time.
Besides the greenwashing, here are our biggest reasons this lands under toxic beauty products:
- Ingredient: “Fragrance” – it’s pretty high on their ingredient list, meaning “fragrance” makes up a significant portion of the formula. Fragrance is always a no-go – too many chemicals can hide behind this vague term.
- Ingredient: Triethanolamine – a highly alkaline substance used to strip and “cleanse” the skin. It’s a harmful way to cleanse + damages the skin barrier (which you need for healthy skin). It’s also linked to concerns with toxicity in skin, respiratory and immune systems.1
- Ingredient: Benzyl Alcohol – a known toxin and allergen. And as EWG points out, it’s not an ingredient you want around your mouth because it increases the chances of ingestion/absorption into your bloodstream.2
- Function: Harsh Exfoliation – not the way to heal your skin or resolve acne. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence to prove that over-exfoliation causes skin inflammation.
Your swap for toxic beauty products like St. Ives: A facial dry brush for gentle exfoliation that restores balance and circulation.
2. Teen Spirit Deodorant
This one really hits home. They had us with the fun, catchy tune in the commercials that spoke directly to teen girls. The brilliant packaging that made deodorant feel like an experience – dare we say even an exclusive club?
And with ties to Nirvana’s song “smells like teen spirit,” which played off our desires as a teenager to rebel, it’s no wonder we all went flocking to our closest drugstore to buy this!
Why Teen Spirit Deodorant Made It on Our List of Toxic Beauty Products
Deodorants have come a long way since the 2000s. Still, this deodorant had an incredibly toxic lineup of ingredients we can’t help but point out:
- Ingredient: Aluminum – at 15.9%, this one is a big red flag. As you may know, there are numerous concerns with breast cancer and aluminum in deodorants.3
- Ingredient: Talc – a known carcinogen, often contaminated with asbestos & poses high cancer risks.4
- Ingredient: “Fragrance” – As a non-toxic deodorant brand that prioritizes transparency with ingredients, we just can’t get behind this.
- Function: Antiperspirant, meaning you miss out on crucial detoxing benefits from your sweat.
Your swap for toxic beauty products like Teen Spirit Deodorant: PP’s non-toxic vanilla + citrus deodorant free from toxins, irritants, and synthetic fragrance.
3. Great Lash Mascara
Great Lash Mascara by Maybelline easily set the tone for 2000s beauty standards. It was featured in nearly every magazine you’d pick up, never failing to feature chic-looking models with the most luscious eyelashes you’d ever seen. In fact, this longstanding mascara is STILL winning awards (2021 Allure’s Best of Beauty)!
It stayed at the top because it’s always been an affordable price point, yet felt luxurious with its iconic eye-catching pink and green tube.
Plus, didn’t you just feel like a woman when you sang along with the “maybe it’s Maybelline” tagline? To this day, it invokes the thrill of putting on makeup as a teen for the first time and feeling beautiful + grown-up. Yet, it’s chock full of chemicals + irritants…
Why Great Lash Mascara Is On Our List Of Toxic Beauty Products
Mascara might seem like an insignificant thing to worry about, but since it's applied close to a major opening of your body, we wanted to note the concerning ingredients we discovered in this product:
- Ingredient: Methylparaben – a known endocrine disrupting chemical.5 Although it’s considered to have “weak” estrogenic effects, we know that even small amounts of hormone-disrupting chemicals are dangerous.
- Ingredient: Triethanolamine – known to be a respiratory, immune, and skin toxicant with significant risks.6
- Ingredient: Butylparaben – as if one paraben wasn’t enough, they’ve added more for good measure. This chemical rates a 9 out of 10 concern on EWG’s Skin Deep database – so it’s not good news. It’s an endocrine disruptor that negatively affects the reproductive system and is toxic to your skin.7 To make things worse, it’s also believed to interfere with gene expression (aka your on/off switch for how your cells respond to the environment).8
Your swap for toxic beauty products like Great Lash Mascara: ILIA Beauty’s Limitless Lash Mascara, that’s also won Allure’s Best of Beauty award – the best of both worlds!
4. Cucumber Melon Bath & Body Works Lotion
No one can deny that the light, airy, and fruity smell of Bath & Body Works Cucumber Melon Lotion was intoxicating. The refreshing scent, even today, is reminiscent of summers as a carefree teen. Plus, Bath & Body works catered to us well, creating EVERY product in this scent so you could be doused in its aroma 24/7. And the mix & match sales made our obsession a no-brainer.
The store was a must-do if you found yourself in the mall. It had everything – friendly staff, free samples and scrubs to try, and more scents than you could imagine – overwhelming you all at once. But we loved it, right?
Why Bath & Body Works Cucumber Melon Lotion Is on Our List of Toxic Beauty Products
Well, for starters… the ingredients aren’t accessible on their website…
If that’s not telling of the toxicity, we’re not sure what is.
We had to connect with a customer service representative to get the ingredient list and the results were not good news:
- Ingredient: Fragrance – the 5th ingredient out of 31 ingredients – yikes. That means there’s quite a bit of this ingredient inside the product (ingredients are listed from greatest to least volume).Yes, this is a fragranced lotion, so it’s not surprising, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that this term has lots of room for hidden chemicals.
- Ingredient: Phenoxyethanol – though somewhat debated, some records classify it as an irritant and toxicant, with possible ties to neurotoxicity.9
- Ingredient: Chlorphenesin – while this ingredient is widely used in personal care products, it’s arguably risky with toxicant, allergen, and irritant concerns.10
Your swap for toxic beauty products like Bath & Body Works’ Cucumber Melon Lotion: PP’s Lemongrass Body Oil for a naturally fragrant moisturizer.
5. Lip Smackers
Lip Smackers were all the rage when it came to 2000s makeup products. Talk about nostalgic beauty products! There were always new designs and “flavors” coming out – partnering with our favorite brands like Hello Kitty, Coca-Cola, Skittles, and Starburst.
As a young teen, who didn’t want a candy-flavored lip balm, right? Lip Smackers were fun to pull out of your purse around your friends, + it felt like the cutest pick-me-up mid-day. Why would we even think about toxic beauty products with a lip balm like that?
Why Lip Smackers Is on Our List of Toxic Beauty Products
Though Lip Smackers probably felt harmless at the time, it’s clear now how much our lip products need to contain non-toxic, healthy ingredients. We now know that we (unintentionally) ingest our lipsticks throughout the day, either by licking or eating.11 Here are the major concerns we found in lip smackers:
- Ingredient: “Flavor/Aroma” – no thank you. What even is “flavor/aroma” in something you aren’t eating? We have lots of questions.
- Ingredient: Mineral Oil – derived from petroleum (aka what we make gasoline with… don’t want that around your mouth!). This is also linked to the development of cancer.12
- Ingredient: Colored Food Dye – these synthetic dyes are cheap ways to make products seem more appealing. Beyond that, the scary truth is many of these dyes are linked to behavioral issues in children and disruptive brain function.13
Your swap for toxic beauty products like Lip Smackers: PP’s Rose + Mint Tinted Lip Balm for a fun, flirty swipe of color.
Closing the Chapter on Toxic Beauty Products
Just like baby products, the effect of toxic beauty products on teens and adults can’t be overstated. And while it’s fun to go down memory lane for the sake of the good ole days and the times when you didn’t have a care in the world, it’s essential to understand what you were putting in and on your body.
The best news is that we have the power to choose healthier products to clean up our environments + toxic loads. If you’re still using any of these nostalgic beauty products or are curious about how to swap to non-toxic beauty products, we’ve got plenty of resources for you in the Pure Life Blog. Start your journey here.
Understanding the toxic beauty products we were exposed to as teens, and young adults will push us to create healthy boundaries for ourselves and future generations.
Here’s to thriving health,
- EWG Skin Deep | What is Triethanolamine
- EWG Skin Deep | What is Benzyl Alcohol
- National Library of Medicine | Aluminium And Breast Cancer: Sources Of Exposure, Tissue Measurements And Mechanisms Of Toxicological Actions On Breast Biology
- American Cancer Society | Talcum Powder and Cancer
- Harvard Health Publishing | By The Way, Doctor: Are Parabens Dangerous?
- EWG Skin Deep | What is Triethanolamine
- EWG Skin Deep | What is Butylparaben
- Your Genome | What is Gene Expression?
- EWG Skin Deep | What is Phenoxyethanol
- EWG Skin Deep | What is Chlorphenesin
- UC Berkley | Poison Lips? Troubling Levels Of Toxic Metals Found In Cosmetics
- NIH National Cancer Institute | Mineral Oils: Untreated And Mildly Treated
- Amen Clinics | Brain Health Guide To Red Dye #40
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