So you've heard all this hype about chemicals in your bath and beauty products, it's caught your attention... but seriously, could it really be that bad? Yes my friends, it is...
What am I talking about here? People, this is serious! Did you know that only 11 percent of the ingredients in personal care products are tested for safety? How many products do you use in a day, a week, a year? How about your children? Toxic chemicals are hiding in your products, and accumulating in your body with each and every use! Sometimes these chemicals are not disclosed on product labels because they're contaminants, not ingredients, and therefore are exempt from labeling laws!
We're talking about carcinogens (proven cancer causing chemicals) in our babies shampoo, lead in our lipstick (they've taken it out of paint and put it in lipstick!? Hello??), and neurotoxins (chemicals that are toxic to the brain) in our fragrances... chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other health problems... and that's just scraping the surface!* (Read more about "Why This Matters" at http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/research/whythismatters.php)
This is not my opinion. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics "is a coalition effort launched in 2004 to protect the health of consumers and workers by securing the corporate, regulatory and legislative reforms necessary to eliminate dangerous chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products".*
So, you're concerned, you want to rid yourself of these products, but you don't know where to start? Well, let me tell you that it takes a lot of time and effort to educate yourself on these issues. I have researched claims, products, companies, ingredients, and so on. I have spent hours upon hours deciding what absolutely needs to be avoided, what is safe, and what is hyped up. I have been able to find trustworthy companies with exceptional products to fit every budget. I would love to share what I know with you!
What to keep, what not to keep...
Look at the ingredients, my number one red flag is a list of things I cant pronounce. Take label warnings seriously, they indicate hazardous chemicals.
Top 10 Ingredients to Avoid (via Organic Consumers Association, Thanks OCA!)
1. Imidazolidinyl Urea and Diazolidinyl Urea — These are the most commonly used preservatives after the parabens. They are well established as a primary cause of contact dermatitis (American Academy of Dermatology). Two trade names for these chemicals are Germall II and Germall 115. Neither of the Germall chemicals have a good antifungal, and must be combined with other preservatives. Germall 115 releases formaldehyde at just over 10°. These chemicals are toxic.
2. Methyl and Propyl and Butyl and Ethyl Paraben — Used as inhibitors of microbial growth and to extend shelf life of products. Widely used even though they are known to be toxic. Have caused many allergic reactions and skin rashes. Methyl paraben combines benzoic acid with the methyl group of chemicals. Highly toxic.
3. Petrolatum — I see this on lip products from time to time, which is humorous to me because they're usually advertised as protecting the lips from sunburn, chapping and so forth. Petrolatum is mineral oil jelly, and mineral oil causes a lot of problems when used on the skin photosensitivity (i.e., promotes sun damage), and it tends to interfere with the body's own natural moisturizing mechanism, leading to dry skin and chapping. You are being sold a product that creates the very conditions it claims to alleviate. Manufacturers use petrolatum because it is unbelievably cheap.
4. Propylene Glycol — Ideally this is a vegetable glycerin mixed with grain alcohol, both of which are natural. Usually it is a synthetic petrochemical mix used as a humectant. Has been known to cause allergic and toxic reactions.
5. PVP/VA Copolymer — A petroleum-derived chemical used in hairsprays, wavesets and other cosmetics. It can be considered toxic, since particles may contribute to foreign bodies in the lungs of sensitive persons.
6. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate — This synthetic substance is used in shampoos for its detergent and foam-building abilities. It causes eye irritations, skin rashes, hair loss, scalp scurf similar to dandruff, and allergic reactions. It is frequently disguised in pseudo-natural cosmetics with the parenthetic explanation "comes from coconut."
7. Stearalkonium Chloride — A chemical used in hair conditioners and creams. Causes allergic reactions. Stearalkonium chloride was developed by the fabric industry as a fabric softener, and is a lot cheaper and easier to use in hair conditioning formulas than proteins or herbals, which do help hair health. Toxic.
8. Synthetic Colors — The synthetic colors used to supposedly make a cosmetic "pretty" should be avoided at all costs, along with hair dyes. They will be labeled as FD&C or D&C, followed by a color and a number. Example: FD&C Red No. 6 / D&C Green No. 6. Synthetic colors are believed to be cancer-causing agents. If a cosmetic contains them, don't use it.
9. Synthetic Fragrances — The synthetic fragrances used in cosmetics can have as many as 200 ingredients. There is no way to know what the chemicals are, since on the label it will simply say "Fragrance." Some of the problems caused by these chemicals are headaches, dizziness, rash, hyperpigmentation, violent coughing, vomiting, skin irritation by a cosmetic that has the word "Fragrance" on the ingredients label.
10. Triethanolamine — Often used in cosmetics to adjust the pH, and used with many fatty acids to convert acid to salt (stearate), which then becomes the base for a cleanser. TEA causes allergic reactions including eye problems, dryness of hair and skin, and could be toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time.
What? You cant pronounce those words? So, the easiest way to know whether or not a product is worthy enough to spend money on AND safely use is #1 Avoid scary chemicals, like "mercury" for example #2 If you cant pronounce it or dont know what the heck it is, there's a good chance you should avoid it! You may find some of your allergy issues will suddenly disappear if you discontinue using cosmetics formulated with petrochemicals and other synthetics.
So, that's not too hard to remember, right? Just avoid the above ingredients. Write them down or print them out. Look through all of your products, check the ingredient lists. When you go shopping bring your list (there really is a printable list at Skin Deep's website!) and read every label... I know, crazy right?! Well, that's just what I did.
When I started turning over products and reading labels, I ended up with an empty makeup bag, a bare bathroom, and a garbage bag full of products. Then I thought, shoot I have nothing left, and not enough money to buy more stuff. Well, most of the stores I buy from guarantee their products, so seeing as how I was not satisfied, I returned what I could. With a little help from "The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics", I included a letter to each of the companies, stating my dissatisfaction with their products. I also asked them to commit to manufacturing safer cosmetics. Let me just say that Victoria's Secret is the one of the number one companies and brands of concern on the Cosmetics Safety Database. They were my first stop.
(Want to check your favorite products or brands? Check out www.cosmeticsdatabase.com)
Just tell me what to buy...
Seriously, who has time to read labels? I really don't either! However, when something grabs my attention like this does, I simply cannot ignore it! I HAVE to find out more information, more FACTS! Then, I either dismiss it (if it's just a bunch of hype), or address it. I just have this "thing" (OCD maybe?)... I get passionate about something and it utterly consumes me! But hey, now all of you can benefit from my hours of research! You just want to grab it and go, right?! I've got oodles of recommendations for you, but let's just start with a few reputable companies (I know my list is not complete, I'll be adding more as they come to mind). I have tried or currently use products from the following companies. Want a recommendation for a particular item? Post a comment or send me a message!
Update: Many of the companies we used to recommend are selling out to large corporations, who are then reformulating the products... so you think you're getting your trusted chemical free product because the label looks the same & you had NO idea they were now owned by a different company and the product is NOT what you think it is! Ahhhh, so frustrating! So, we are updating our list & sadly, it is getting pretty short. If you've got any recommendations, let us know by filling out our "contact us" form!
Honestly, since we started researching Young Living, nothing else measures up to the quality & integrity! Essential oils are amazing! We love everything we have tried so far... toothpaste, supplements, Thieves products, essential oils, Ningxia Red...) More about them HERE!
Jane Iredale (Love her mascara!)
Shea Terra Organics (Such YUMMY shea butter products! LOVE them!)
Skin by Ann Webb (Love this skincare, I get mine on Amazon or Vitacost for less!)
Spry Dental (Tooth care products with xylitol)
Weleda (I have used their baby products for years, so gentle and smell yummy!)
So, now you're enlightened...
I know, I know, you're overwhelmed, right?! I was too at first, and the quote "ignorance is bliss"... no, no, don't think like that! You want to be informed, you want safe products, you and your precious family deserve the best! Don't waste your money on cheaply made products, full of toxic cancer causing chemicals! Hey, I'm going to make it easy for you to clean out your closet, er makeup bag! Your skin will feel better, look better, and you will BE healthier once you rid yourself of these toxins! Now go on, toss it out!
*This information is provided by the following:
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics www.safecosmetics.org
Skin Deep's Cosmetics Safety Database www.cosmeticsdatabase.com
The Breast Cancer Fund www.breastcancerfund.org
Think Before You Pink (A project of Breast Cancer Action) http://thinkbeforeyoupink.org/
Environmental Working Group www.ewg.org
Organic Consumers Association http://www.organicconsumers.org/
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