Would you eat your soap?
How about your shampoo, your makeup, or your body lotion?
Sometimes some of the products we use smell good enough to eat, but what’s really lurking in the stuff that we use to wash our hair, our faces, our bodies, our hands, moisturize our skin, or tame our tresses?
Basically, the personal care products we use have a similar effect on our bodies as the things that we eat. They are absorbed and enter into our bodies, and even our bloodstreams. The reality is that our skin is not a barrier. It is not an impermeable layer that we just slather stuff on and it doesn’t get any deeper than our first layer of skin. On the contrary, our skin is a porous and permeable layer of our bodies, and everything that we put onto our skin enters into our bodies.
Okay, so, I’m not saying that I would actually eat my lotion, or my makeup, or anything like that, but I think it’s really important to be aware of the the ingredients that are in our personal care products and the effects that they can have on our bodies.
According to the Environmental Working Group the average American is exposed to over one hundred chemicals in our personal care products every day. And of those chemicals used as ingredients, 89% of them have not been tested for safety! A few months ago, I watched The Story of Cosmetics, which is produced by the same people that made The Story of Stuff, and it reconfirmed for me the need to make sure that I am buying and using safe and natural personal care products for myself and my family.
Buying and Using Safe and Natural Personal Care Products
1. Check the EWG’s Cosmetic Safety Database. The first step you can take to see how safe your personal care products are, is to check them out on the Cosmetic Safety Database, which rates products based on the toxicity of their ingredients. If you find that many of the products that you use everyday score high on their scale (personally I would consider a score of 5 or more as high) then you probably want to think about making some changes to the products that you use.
2. Switch to more Natural or Organic Brands. So, once you’ve checked out your products on the cosmetic safety database and you’re not comfortable with the score they receive, you need to start thinking about switching your products. One way is to find similar products made by safer brands.
I don’t want this to sound like a commercial, but I often get asked what brands and products I use, so some of my favorite brands, that I have tried and use, are Jason, Kiss My Face, California Baby, Alba and Say Yes To Carrots. Even though these are generally safer and more natural brands, it’s still important to check individual products on the database to make sure you’re comfortable with the score they receive before deciding to use the product for yourself. I try to make sure that the products we use receive a score of 4 or less.
The downside to this option is that often natural or organic brands come with a higher price tag. Buying safer personal care products may not be the most frugal option, but in this area, for me, being green is more important than being frugal. And that’s also why I try to do as much of #3 as I can.
Photo by soapylovedeb
3. Use Homemade Natural Alternatives. The other way to make changes to your personal care products is by using natural and homemade alternatives to typical products. You can find all kinds of recipes for making your own soap, lotion, shampoo and conditioner just by googling.
Depending on the ingredients, these options can often be less expensive, or at least equal, to buying mainstream brands of personal care products. I figure that I can use the money I save making my own products to offset the cost of buying the more expensive natural brand products.
I recently finally got around to making a all-purpose salve from the ebook Herbal Nurturing by Michele at Frugal Granola and love knowing exactly what’s in it, and the simplicity of three ingredients. I’ve been using it on my hands and my kid’s hands, as lip balm, and on my kid’s faces, which have all been dry and chapped and it is helping to heal and smooth our skin.
We’ve also already talked about several other examples of natural alternatives, like the no ‘poo method and homemade deodorant. Recently I started using the oil cleansing method to wash my face, and will share more about that in an upcoming post. Also, later on this month, I’ll be sharing natural changes you can make to your beauty care routine over at Simple Organic, so be sure to check back for that.
4. Simplify by Using Fewer Products
Another great way to change the products you use is to simply cut back on the number of personal care items that you have. It’s important to take a good look at your bathroom cupboard and ask if you really need all of those different products? I used to have mousse and defrizzer and hairspray and shine serum and on and on just for my hair, but since I started no ‘pooing my hair, my need (and desire) for those products has disappeared. Next week we’ll talk about purging our personal care products and only keeping those items that are safe and effective, and that we actually use.
You can find lots of great products and brands that I mentioned above at drugstore.com and thenaturalstore.com, and right now new customers can save $5 off your order of $30 or more, or $10 off your order of $50 or more, at either store!
Source and further reading – The Safety of Personal Care Products at planetgreen.com