Author Annabelle Blythe
It is safe to say that if you are reading this, you likely use multiple personal care products every day before breakfast. According to the Environmental Working Group, the average woman uses 12 products containing 168 different ingredients daily. We are slathering lotions on our skin, massaging shampoos into our scalps, dusting powders on our faces and rubbing balms into our lips. Have you ever stopped to think about exactly what it is that you are putting in your body through your personal care products? That’s right, in your body. 60% of what we put on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream. The reality is, conventional personal care products are usually not something you would want to sprinkle on your cereal. Curious as to why this is the case?
1. Toxic Ingredients
The cosmetic world is largely unregulated when it comes to ingredients and ingredient safety. Whereas in Europe, more than one thousand ingredients have been banned, the FDA has limited less than ten ingredients. Toxic ingredients can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled through our mouth and nose and swallowed through our mouths. Many of the chemicals in cosmetics are known hormone disrupters and can increase the risk of fertility issues and cancers, and are showing up in blood and breast milk samples. According to the Environmental Working Group, some major ingredients to watch out for include:
Parabens - Parabens are preservatives used in cosmetics that mimic the effects of estrogen in the body, which can disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive disorders.
- Triclosan/Triclocarban - These antimicrobial pesticides are found in soaps, and are extremely toxic to the environment. Yes, your personal care products end up in our water! Triclosan disrupts thyroid function and reproductive hormone function, and overuse can promote the development of bacterial resistance.
- Pthalates - These industrial plasticizers have been found to cause damages to the male reproductive system.
2. Mystery Ingredients
With cosmetic ingredient labelling being so unregulated, companies are able to get away without listing many ingredients and claim it is due to proprietary reasons. For example, a company can simply list “fragrance” as an ingredient. “Fragrance” is typically a chemical cocktail and can be hiding thousands of unlisted chemicals! Stick to products that are listed to be “fragrance free”, as “unscented” can still contain fragrance. It is also important to note that the use of the terms organic and natural are not regulated, so even if it says “natural fragrance”, it’s best to steer clear.
3. Environmental Impact
The reality is that what we wash off, drain through the sink or pee out will ultimately end up in our water. You may have heard of, or even used, products containing “microbeads”. Microbeads are essentially tiny pieces of plastic and have been used in many body and face scrubs as well as toothpaste. These tiny pieces of plastic are so small, water filtration systems cannot filter them out. The result? They end up in our ocean. Yes, washing your face can mean polluting the environment. In addition, a lot of cosmetics are packaged in plastic containers that are often disposed of and not recycled or reused.
Convinced to go green? There is a big myth that natural, even DIY products, don’t work as well as conventional products. This is simply not true! Just like conventional products, you are going to have to find the natural one that works for you. Every body is different! With so many amazing products out there, it is easier than ever to switch. With databases such as the Environmental Working Group, it is easier than ever to discover the impact the products in your bathroom and home have on your health and the health of the environment. Apps like Think Dirty provide tools to scan barcodes as you shop to ensure you are buying safe personal care products, as decoding labels and natural claims can become tricky. Even simpler? Making your own products at home. Here are three natural DIY recipes courtesy of For the Love of Body:
Natural tooth care really works!
3 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp calcium carbonate (can be purchased at health food stores)
1 tbsp xylitol (grind this in a blender or spice grinder)
Peppermint essential oil
Mix together powders then add unmelted coconut oil and mash with a fork. Add essential oils. Store in a glass jar, and if it is warm in your home mix with a spoon before using.
This deodorant is the unicorn of all natural deodorants. It works better than any conventional or natural deodorant I have ever tried, and I know countless people who have found the same results.
1/4 cup baking soda
1/3 cup arrowroot powder (or organic cornstarch)
20 drops teatree essential oil
20 drops lavender essential oil (or other preferred oil for scent)
5 tbsp coconut oil
Mix together baking soda and arrowroot powder, then add the essential oils. Allow to sit overnight for the oils to infuse. Mix with gently melted coconut oil, store in a dark glass container in a cool place.
This body scrub smells good enough to eat…
1/3 cup organic brown sugar
3 Tbsp coarse sea salt
2-3 Tbsp organic ground coffee
2 Tbsp castor oil
2 Tbsp shea butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
15 drops peppermint essential oil
10 drops vanilla essential oil
Soften coconut oil by emerging container in hot water. Meanwhile stir sugar, salt and coffee together in a medium-sized bowl. Add castor oil and stir. Add shea butter and softened coconut oil and use a beater to mix together until combined and fluffy. Stir in essential oils. Transfer to containers.