Skin care products are not discussed as much when it relates to health, but it's just as important. When you think about it, you use at least 10 products in the morning - shampoo, conditioner, face wash, soap, toothpaste, deodorant, lotion, perfume or cologne, hair products, face products and then makeup for females. There's lots of opportunity for a huge, toxic load of chemicals to infiltrate your system! Here are some tips that might help you in making better decisions when at the drugstore or the makeup counter.
These are ingredients I look out for and do not purchase products that contain these items - start reading your labels, and you'll be surprised at what you find:
- Parabens - These are preservatives that act as a hormone disruptor. You often find these in lotions, conditioners, soaps, makeup (eye liner, mascara, eye shadow, foundation). At least 70% of cosmetic products contain parabens! You will often see parabens listed as methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben, polyparaben and isobutylparaben. I have a no tolerance policy on parabens. They are banned in Europe, but they're in everything here in the US. Parabens act like estrogen, and are especially dangerous for people who have had breast cancer or at risk for breast cancer.
- Petroleum - This is a by-product from oil refining. Not something I want to put on my skin! Just as with parabens, petroleum is banned in many European countries. Petroleum can contain carcinogens, which are known to cause cancer.
- Phthalates - A type of chemical that is used to give skincare products a flexible, plastic feel. These chemicals are also hormone disruptors, and can cause reproductive problems, especially in males. Not only this, phthalates can make you fat! Studies have shown they increase belly fat and increase insulin resistance. You will most commonly see these listed on labels as di-2-ethyl hexyl phthalate (DEHP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), butylbenzyl phthalate (BBP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), diisononyl phthalate (DINP), and diethyl phthalate (DEP). There are many more than this. Check your labels for anything ending with phthalate, butyl ester or plasticizer.
- Fluoride - I'm guessing about 99% of people have toothpaste or mouth rinses containing fluoride in their bathroom. Throw it out! Fluoride is toxic. Why do you think the toothpaste labels say not to swallow and to call a poison control center if too much is ingested? I can't even begin to list all of the negative side-effects of fluoride. Do yourself a favor and get fluoride-free toothpaste. No, you don't need a fluoride rinse or treatment at the dentist. The fluoride in our water supply is bad enough!
- Triclosan - This product is found in Colgate Total, and many other "anti-bacterial" products. You can find it in some hand sanitizers. This horrible product was first developed as a pesticide, yet Colgate puts it in toothpaste!! Triclosan is also a hormone disruptor, messing with your endocrine system and thyroid.
- Anti-bacterial - If you see "antibacterial" on the label, put it down and walk away. There is no need for antibacterial soaps. All they do is create "super bugs" which become more resistant to antibiotics. The anti-bacterial chemicals only kills the weak bugs, and the ones that stick around become stronger, so it just makes things worse. Not only that, but it's harsh on your skin. All you need is plan soap and water, and it will get your hands or dishes plenty clean.
- Artificial/synthetic fragrances - Most of those lotions and perfumes you layer all over your body are filled with hundreds of chemicals! Those chemicals are made out of petroleum, and have been shown to cause allergic reactions and hormone disruption. The problem with these artificial fragrances is that they are not disclosed on labels. I try to stick with essential oils if at all possible. The same goes for home fragrances. All those air fresheners, Febreeze spray and all that other junk is just filling your air with aromatic hydrocarbons!
- Sulfates - These make your shampoo and soap foam. You can also find sulfates in toothpastes. Sulfates are harsh detergents that can irritate skin, and are also carcinogens. Ingredients to look for include: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Myreth Sulfate.
- For facial care products, I use Origins and The Body Shop products (but you have to check some Body Shop labels - they are phasing out parabens, and not all items are in the clear).
- For lotions, I like Avalon Organics and Origins.
- For makeup, I use Origins, Tarte and Rejuva Minerals. Some Bare Minerals items are also safe. I also like Physicians Formula Organic Wear. They are free of parabens, synthetic and colors fragrances, no GMOs, etc.
- For shampoo and conditioner, Kiss My Face, Burt's Bees, Avalon Organics and Jason are good bets. I use a sulfate-free shampoo from my hair salon, so I haven't looked at labels in the store for quite a few years, so be sure to check before purchasing!
- For body wash, I use the Kirkland Natural Citrus body wash from Costco. It smells great, has no sulfates, parabens or other junk in it, and it's very reasonably priced!
- For toothpaste, Tom's of Maine, Jason and Kiss My Face all make fluoride-free toothpastes. I also like Tom's of Maine mouthwashes.
- Perfumes are tough. I get mine from The Body Shop. They generally use essential oils for their fragrances. You can also just buy essential oils and dab those on for fragrances. I also buy essential oils for home fragrances. I like lavender and peppermint. You can put a few drops on cotton balls and put in a glass jar or vase to make a room smell nice. You can do the same thing with vanilla extract.
A great resource for information about the safety of personal care products is the Environmental Working Group's site, Skin Deep: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/. This is a huge database of thousands of products and an analysis of the ingredients. If you're looking to replace a product, this is a good place to look for new alternatives.
I hope this information helps you to be a savvy shopper and start looking at labels when you're buying your toiletries. If you have any questions about a product or looking for other recommendations, let me know. Remember, what you put on your skin is just as important as what you put in your mouth!