Have you looked into the skin care products you use for yourself and your family members?
Often we forget about ourselves and what we are using on our skin. We think about our babies and children and leave ourselves out high and dry.
In one day, women can put as many as 10-20 personal care in and on their body - bodywash, handsoap, toothpaste, shaving cream, mascara, eye liner, lip gloss/lipstick, blush, eye shadow, cover up, make up remover, sunscreen, bubble bath, moisturizing cream, deodorant, perfume....
Do you know what ingredients are in all these products and what effects they have on your body? Many of these products contain well over 40 + ingredients, much of them causing both short term and long term damage to our bodies, especially after prolonged use.
But why are there products on the market and shelves that are not safe? Aren't they tested?
Most countries have little to no authority when it comes to requiring testing of cosmetics for safety. Canada offers labelling laws that require companies to include their list of ingredients, though there are unfortunate loopholes that allow companies to group ingredients together (such as "fragrance" or "parfum" which can include MANY hidden and unknown ingredients within that heading).
What about products that are hypoallergenic or labelled for sensitive skin?
The FDA says descriptions such as “hypoallergenic” or “natural” can “mean anything or nothing at all,” and while most of these terms “have considerable market value in promoting cosmetic products to consumers… dermatologists say they have very little medical meaning” (FDA 2000b). Be aware of misleading labels and look at the ingredients. The less toxic ingredients in a product the less like you will be to have problems.
I have products are labelled "organic" and "natural", those must be a better choice?
Not necessarily. The same rules apply as above. Labelling requirements are little to non existent in this department. Almost anyone can slap an "organic" or "natural" label on their product. By including approximately 10% organic ingredients, a company can make a claim that their product is organic. Also, just because a product is organic in the cosmetic industry does not mean that it is not toxic. You can have an organic version of an unsafe ingredient.
What should I do now to make a change? How can we make safe choices?
First, you should go through all personal care products in your home and search for the Dirty Dozen chemical ingredients to avoid (from David Suzuki Foundation).
All of the ingredients in the list pose some sort of health and environmental concerns, including cancer, reproductive disorders, asthma and severe allergies.
Here are the Dirty Dozen:
1)BHA & BHT
2)Coal tar dyes: p-phenylenediamine and colours listed as "CI" followed by a five digit number
7)Parfum (aka. Fragrance)
11)Sodium Laureth Sulfate
For a more detailed listing, visit the Dirty Dozen on David Suzuki's website.
Next, we like to refer families to the EWG Skin Deep Database. The Environmental Working Group's mission is to use the power of information to protect human health and the environment. EWG's Skin Deep database gives you practical solutions to protect yourself and your family from everyday exposures to chemicals. They launched Skin Deep in 2004 to create online profiles for cosmetics and personal care products and their potential hazards and health concerns. Their aim is to fill in where industry and government leave off. Companies are allowed to use almost any ingredient they wish. As a result, they have created a database whereby they rate ingredients and products based on their toxicity.
Last, pitch out all the skin care products that are not rated well or include the dirty dozen ingredients. Find new replacements or consider not using those products at all. Do you really need 3 types of moisturizers? Or will coconut oil do just fine? What about face wash? Will body wash or a plain bar soap work instead? Try to reduce the number of products you are putting on your body. Even if they are safe and organic consider reducing the number of personal care products you have in your home. Your body will thank you!
What products do we use in our home?
We use very limited products. We use simple ingredients and very little in terms of cosmetics.
Moisturizer: Coconut Oil with lavender for scent (I just pour the lavender in a bottle with coconut oil and mix it myself).
Shaving Cream: None! We just use our bar soap lathered up.
Make up: I use mascara and that is all. I purchase from a lovely online shop called Lilou Organics. I use the brand Couleur Caramel because I love what they stand for - they even use paper packaging! If you are looking for facial cleansers, serums, etc you can count on local business Shiva's Delight to offer top notch vegan products.
Toothpaste: We use Green Beaver toothpaste. It is made in Canada and what I consider to be one of the safest. I also found an awesome toothpaste and whitener at Simply Well in Kingston called Nelson Naturals Remineralizing Whitening Treatment with Activated Charcoal. It is not recommend for regular use so I pair it with my Green Beaver toothpaste.
Perfume: We don't use a lot of scents in our family. I find they give me a headache, especially the chemically laden ones that are so commonly found in department stores and drugstores. If I do use a "perfume" I will often just dab a couple drops of Lavender or Patchouli oil. Shiva's Delight also offers natural perfumes made locally in Kingston.