This was the most requested topic after last season, so I wanted to get it right. But to be honest, the research left me with more questions than answers (I know, how can something like moisturizer be so puzzling?) Let’s break it down, shall we?

Listen on iTunes here.
Listen on Spotify here.
Listen on Google Podcasts here.





SkinDeep (EWG)




Coconut Oil 

Puur Ingrid Ultra Body Oil

Ingrid + Isabel The Oil



Everyone Nourishing Lotion

Honest Beauty Everyday Radiance +C Moisturizer

Beautycounter Counterstart Cocoboost Moisturizer

Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Moisturizer







Okay, I went down a research rabbit hole with this one… this was the most requested topic after last season, so I wanted to get it right. But to be honest, the research left me with more questions than answers (I know, how can something like moisturizer be so puzzling?) Let’s break it down, shall we?

In this episode, I’m not going to focus as much on what’s wrong with conventional moisturizers… at least not in the sense of toxins and chemicals. I think you got the picture from the skincare episode last week – yes, phthalates are also an issue with conventional moisturizers… also, sulfates, fragrance, formaldehyde, ethanol, PEG, parabens… you get the picture. These can be found in many brands and products and I’ll go through ways to avoid them and some suggestions for cleaner moisturizers at the end of this episode, but first… I want to tell you about something else I came across in my research.

What I discovered is that there is a camp of doctors, estheticians and dermatologists with a pretty convincing argument that, in general, our skin doesn’t need to be moisturized. At least not with man-made lotions that come out of a bottle.

And I don’t know, maybe this isn’t news to you like it is to me, but the more I thought about it and the more I read about it… it made sense. When I see flakey or dry skin on my face or body, do I think – hm, I should probably drink more water? Or, maybe my shower was too hot… Or, maybe one of the products I’m using is drying out my skin… 

No, I automatically assume it’s my skin that’s the problem, so I slather on some lotion and I don’t think twice that maybe it’s the moisturizer I’m using that could actually be doing more harm than good. 

Just because I slather on some cream and don’t see that flakiness anymore, doesn’t mean the flakes aren’t still there and that I’ve solved the problem of dry skin. If anything, I’ve just covered it up. Clinical facialist Kate Kerr says, [quote] “In reality, all you’re doing is compressing down that dead skin, stopping it from shedding naturally, and impacting your skin’s barrier function.” [end quote]

Logically, that makes sense right?

And to take it a step further, is my skin actually becoming reliant on this type of “artificial hydration?” 

Unless you’re dealing with extreme circumstances – like eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis – there are two things going on here: 1.) Moisturizer or lotion out of a bottle reduces your skin’s natural ability to exfoliate – in other words, the ability to shed dead skin cells and regenerate bright, healthy new skin cells on its own and 2.) Moisturizer inhibits the body’s ability to deliver its natural method of hydration to the skin from within. 

It’s kind of like how we don’t actually need soap. That’s right, you don’t need to wash your body with soap. If that comes as a surprise, I’ll do an episode on soap later this season.

From my research, I learned that only ‘true dry skin’ is in need of moisture supplementation. And that ‘true dry skin’ accounts for just 10-15% of the population – these are people who are born with this skin type and are likely to suffer from eczema or dermatitis – or women who are postmenopausal. 

But for the rest of us, it’s worth an experiment to see if you actually need the moisturizers you use every day. The estheticians and derms recommend giving your skin a 12 week break to see if you truly have dry skin or if your skin can start to self-hydrate from within.

For your face, you’ll still want to exfoliate and wear SPF but they recommend a serum over a lotion – hyaluronic acid comes in serum form and is a naturally occurring ingredient in the body.

What about your legs, though? And your hands and arms? Expensive serums aren’t going to do the trick for hydrating the entire body, so if you do find that your skin needs a little extra boost then coconut oil is the best option – just make sure to apply to skin when it’s damp to lock in the moisture. This is what I’ve always used on my kids – even my five year old has yet to be exposed to a shampoo or lotion because coconut oil has always done the trick for things like cradle cap or dryness.

Everyone’s skin is different so whether you do a 12 week detox experiment or keep slathering on that lotion, the point (at least for me) is to start to rethink how many products our skin actually needs. The body is really good at regenerating itself so I can’t help but be convinced that the artificial products we’re adding to our skin barrier could be doing more harm than good.

For those of you cringing at the idea of going product-free or tossing your beloved Aveeno from your daily routine, there are better products that we can reach for (even if it’s not coconut oil). I mentioned this in the skincare episode from last week, but I really want to drive the point today. Because again, everyone’s skin is different so what works for me isn’t necessarily the right protocol for you. And that’s where SkinDeep from the Environmental Working Group comes in again.

They are not a sponsor, I don’t even think they know this podcast exists, but I genuinely want us all to get into the habit of running new product purchases through the SkinDeep filter. I’ve gotten into a routine now – whether it’s buying new makeup or a new exfoliating cleanser – to first search for the product name in the SkinDeep database. It’s so easy to use – you can search by brand, product or ingredient – and it gives you peace of mind that you’re either buying something EWG verified (the best option) or something that’s ranked a 1 or 2 in terms of ingredients. 

As always, I’ve linked to my sources and product recommendations on The Clean Living Podcast website – for this episode it’s And while you’re over there, do me a favor and subscribe to my email list. This is an easy way for me to send you more info on new episodes, as well as product recommendations, so you don’t have to go over to the website every time. It will just go straight to your inbox.

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of The Clean Living Podcast — I’m your host Shannon Lohr. If you learned something from this episode, share it with someone else who might be interested – maybe your sister or a friend who loves her Lubriderm ritual. And keep an eye out for next week’s episode which is a hot topic. Yes, I’m going there… tune in next week for a deep dive on… Botox.




 I was recently at my annual dermatology appointment – I come from a long line of skin cancer history, so I get a full body scan once a year to make sure there aren’t any unusual marks – and at the end of the appointment, the doctor asked if I have any questions.

So I asked the thing that’s on every mid-thirties, closer to 40-year-old, woman… In this first episode of Season 2, we’re talking about… skincare.

Listen on iTunes here.
Listen on Spotify here.
Listen on Google Podcasts here.





SkinDeep (EWG)



Kleem Organics Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Moon Juice Plump Jelly Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retional Serum (plant-based)

MyChelle Dermaceuticals Perfect C Serum

Honest Beauty Calm + Porefect Serum





 I was recently at my annual dermatology appointment – I come from a long line of skin cancer history, so I get a full body scan once a year to make sure there aren’t any unusual marks – and at the end of the appointment, the doctor asked if I had any questions.

So I asked the thing that’s on most mid-thirties, closer to 40-year-old, woman’s mind… “If there’s one thing you’d recommend (besides sunscreen) to slow down the natural aging process, what would it be…?”

In this first episode of Season 2, we’re talking about… skincare.

So what was my dermatologist’s answer? In a surprise twist, she actually didn’t try to sell me on Botox… and her answer was the exact same as an esthetician I talked to a few weeks earlier. They both said: Alternate using a retinol and Vitamin C serum at night, and use hyaluronic acid and SPF 30 during the day.

Yeah, so I asked for one recommendation and got four recommendations but I guess, doctors do tend to be overachievers.

Being based in Southern California, I was already using a daily SPF on my face, but that left me in research mode for the other three products I needed to be applying to my face at least once per day – presumably for the next I don’t know 50 years? Will I still be trying to slow aging when I’m 88, probably not…

Fast forward to me scouring the internet for a retinol, vitamin C serum and hyaluronic acid – and sifting through the hundreds of products on the market, ranging from $6.00 to $320 per bottle.

But then of course, being me, there’s a whole other level of complication that comes with this research, because I don’t want to start putting any questionable ingredients on my face – every single day. The thing about the skin care industry, whether it’s makeup, sunscreen or yes, anti-aging serums… is that conventional skin care products can contribute to hormone imbalance, infertility, as well as breast, ovarian and uterine cancer in women.

And that’s because of three main ingredients – can you call them ingredients? – three main components: BPA, parabens and phthalates. If you Google it, you’ll find dozens of studies drawing a similar conclusion about these toxins but the one I’m going to highlight is from 2018 when researchers at George Mason University discovered links between the chemicals widely used in cosmetic products and changes in reproductive hormones. 

The researchers analyzed the urine samples of 143 women aged 18 to 44 who had no known chronic health conditions and did not use birth control.

 Those with chemicals such as parabens (which is a preservative widely used in makeup and skincare), and bisphenol A (BPA) in their urine were found to have abnormal amounts of the reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone.

So, there was the presence of parabens and BPA in their urine. As well as “abnormal” levels of estrogen and progesterone.

And granted, 143 women is admittedly a small sample size for a research study, but this is only one study.

Additional studies indicate that too much estrogen has been linked to fibroids, irregular menstrual periods and breast cancer. Too much progesterone is associated with breast cancer, while it is thought BPA, known as the ‘gender-bending’ chemical for its effects on male breast growth, could cause infertility.

 For the purposes of this episode, it’s not parabens or BPA that I want to focus on – I talked quite a bit about both in Season One. It’s the third component, phthalates, that I want to zoom in on here.

I have talked about phthalates before in the Fragrance episode that I’ll link to in the show notes below, but believe me when I say, they’re worth bringing up again.

Phthalates describe a group of chemicals used to make plastics more durable. They are often called plasticizers and they’re added to everything from cleansers to household goods to vinyl flooring to personal care products to water bottles and takeout containers to make them durable, flexible and/or fragrant. The reason that phthalates, in particular, are such a threat to our health is because, even if you aren’t putting them on your skin, they easily escape from these products as vapors or particles in the air that we inhale.

In fact, phthalates can be found in the urine of nearly every American, as well as in blood, sweat, breast milk and semen.

They’re also found in makeup, hair spray, deodorant, and perfumes from brands you may have in your medicine cabinet and makeup bag right now: Revlon, Procter & Gamble, Calvin Klein, Johnson & Johnson, the list goes on.

As I learned in reading both animal studies and human studies, hormone-disrupting chemicals like phthalates change how reproductive organs develop in the womb. So, it’s not just your own fertility that’s being affected – the harmful effects of these toxins end up playing out over a lifetime and even across generations. In fact, scientists think prenatal exposures to phthalates may set the stage for gynecological disorders like PCOS and may make women more sensitive to other chemicals that impair fertility. So basically, exposure to phthalates can cause a pregnant woman to pass on fertility problems to her female baby.

According to a separate study, children and babies were shown to have higher exposure to most phthalates than adults do. Prenatal exposure to phthalates is correlated with greater social deficits, as well as impaired social communication, social awareness and social cognition in children – this particular study specified children 7 to 9 years old.

I’m just going to pause here with a quick thought: The hardest part about doing this podcast is sharing the type of info I’ve just spent the last five minutes talking about. I hate the idea that you’re on your daily walk, pushing your sweet baby in a stroller, and I’ve just completely freaked you out. I can completely empathize with a racing heart and sweating palms as you mentally survey all of the products you used while you were pregnant. I’ve been there and I don’t want anyone to go into panic mode. The format of this podcast is based on the idea that knowledge is power – it’s about progress over perfection, knowing that if you breathe air, drink water and eat food, then there’s no way to completely avoid the things I’m talking about. 

So, that’s all to say – don’t panic. I will never end an episode without showing you a better way and empowering you to make small changes that will benefit you and your family in the long run. The amazing thing about the human body is that it’s regenerative and restorative – we can heal it from the inside out just by slowly reducing exposure and slowly introducing better options. Okay? So stick with me here.

Alright, so now we know, phthalates: not good for you, found in a lot of things, impossible to avoid but one area where we can avoid them is in our skincare.

So, how do you know if there are phthalates in the current skincare you use? Maybe you’re thinking, “Shannon, I just checked the label on my face wash and it doesn’t say phthalates as one of the ingredients. Does that mean I’m in the clear?”

Well, if you were freaked out before – now is the part where you have every right to become enraged.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (or FDA) does not require the labeling of specific ingredients, including phthalates, in the packaging of cosmetic products.

This is a direct quote from the FDA’s website: “…the regulations do not require the listing of the individual fragrance or flavor, or their specific ingredients … As a result, a consumer may not be able to determine from the ingredient declaration on the label if phthalates are present in a fragrance or a flavor used in the product.”

The statement on the FDA’s website goes on to say: “Under the law, cosmetic products and ingredients, with the exception of color additives, are not subject to FDA approval before they go on the market.”

And then, despite all of the studies indicating otherwise, the statement says: “At the present time, the FDA does not have evidence that phthalates as used in cosmetics pose a safety risk.”

It’s also worth noting that the FDA hasn’t updated its “Survey of Cosmetics for Phthalate Content” since 2010. Think about how many new products have come to market in the past 13 years… 

But I digress, let’s focus on what we can do as consumers to fix this for ourselves and for our families if our leadership won’t take responsibility.

The first place to start is with the skincare products in your own home. If we can’t remove all of the phthalates from our lives, then let’s at least try to remove the ones we put directly on our bodies. 

The most simplified way I can boil it down is to eliminate products that have fragrance, flavor or a big name cosmetic label. At the risk of demonizing every cosmetic conglomerate, if the product comes from a big brand, has a smell or flavor and doesn’t say “fragrance free” or “phthalate-free,” then it’s probably not something you want to use. Again, this is a generalization but an easy rule of thumb to remember when you go to buy new products.

Where things get trickier is with the brands you use that may not be as well known, or they have fragrance but it says it’s an essential oil or it’s labeled as a “natural” flavor. This is when we can get confused by greenwashing and need an outside vetting source, which is why I recommend the SkinDeep website any time you buy a new personal care product. 

SkinDeep was started by the Environmental Working Group and I’ll link to the website below – it’s a free resource where you can search their database of virtually any cosmetic or personal care product, brand or ingredient.

So what I would recommend right now is to whip open your medicine cabinet or makeup bag and search some of the products you use the most using SkinDeep. You’ll get a detailed report about the product, including the problematic ingredients and a ranking from 1-10 of where it falls from Best to Worst. If you find out the beloved Covergirl foundation you’ve been using for 15 years is ranked as a 5, don’t panic. You can then search their database of EWG verified foundations for an alternative. 

For some quick recs, a few of my favorite skincare and makeup brands are W3LL PEOPLE (which you can actually find in Target) and Biossance – I’ll link those in the show notes at As a friendly reminder to any new listeners, links to all of my research sources and the studies I mention in every episode can also be found in the show notes, as well.

What I want to leave you with for today, though, is the SkinDeep website and a five minute homework assignment to search some of the skin care products that you use the most, using their search tool. It’s cliche to say, but knowledge is power and this is one way to start claiming your own power every single night when you go to wash your face or every morning when you get ready for the day.

Oh, and for those of you wondering about my dermatologist’s recommendations at the top of the episode, I didn’t end up buying Retinol. Retinol is a potent form of Vitamin A and is ranked a 9 by the EWG, because of the mix of retinol and sun exposure. I’m also still breastfeeding so until I can do more research, it felt like a safe pass. I ended up buying a plant-based retinol serum instead called Bakuchiol that is ranked a 1 by the EWG and although I’m sure it doesn’t work as well to reduce wrinkles, it feels like a better option right now. I’ll link to the hyaluronic acid and vitamin C serum I bought in the show notes. Again, that’s at

Side note: I’m looking at the recording time right now and I definitely did not stick to the 10 minute episode I promised you… Someone got a little too excited – I’ll try to reel it in for future episodes.

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of The Clean Living Podcast — I’m your host Shannon Lohr. If you learned something today please share this episode with a friend — maybe the person who you know is still using that Clean & Clear facial burst cleanser, remember that? (16 year old Shannon loved her morning burst of microbeads… oh, to be a teenager in 2002…) See you next week.