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
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Laura aka Simply Green says
Fantastic. With all this information in one place, you can easily compare the differences. I personally use very few personal care products, and most of them are edible 🙂 Great post!
Jackie @ Crest Cottage says
Great info! I’ve started switching the few personal products I use over to home made ones. I’ve been no-poo-ing for almost a year, and using coconut oil as deodorant for nearly as long. I don’t use too many other products, but my husband always uses shave oil. That is the next thing I am experimenting in making, because he goes through it like crazy.
Thanks for the post!
I tried the “no-poo” method this summer and it worked beautifully for a few months. My hair had never looked better! BUT out of nowhere one day it started to get really really oily and I never felt like it was getting clean. I endured this for a month and gave up. Any suggestions?
I definitely know what you mean – I went through a period this summer where my hair was not looking good at all, it was greasy and oily and almost felt sticky. I tried switching to a lemon juice rinse instead of the ACV and that worked really well for me for the rest of the summer. Once the weather started getting cooler, I switched back to the ACV rinse and that worked well again. Just in the last few weeks though, I’ve noticed that my hair has started looking gross again – oily and greasy, and never looking or feeling clean, so I’m back to experimenting again to see if I can fix the problem.
I think sometimes you have to adjust the amount of baking soda you use, or try using a different type of rinse. Do a google search for ‘no poo – there’s tons of information out there about it – and see if you can find a solution that will work for you. I think the key to successful no ‘pooing is being able to try different things when it’s not working like it should – I think it requires a little bit of trial and error sometimes. Hope that helps! And if you find something that works for you, let me know, because maybe it will work for me too!
Glad I’m not the only one! I’ll try the lemon juice. Thanks a bunch 🙂
Erin aka The Humbled Homemaker says
Great suggestions! My husband and I have bought felt convicted about not using natural body products lately. I have more and more no make-up days at home :), and I’m hoping to start making our own body wash/shampoo since we really can’t afford organic brands at this time. I’m excited about the change! 🙂
Good for you guys Erin! Let me know if you have any questions!
I got sick to my stomach when I realized what my personal care products were capable of doing to my body. formaldehyde? fragrance? PEG-compounds? GROSS! I switched to Chartreuse products then ended up so addicted to them I just decided to sell them. There was no sense in NOT sharing these safer products with my family and friends. I’m so happy to find a page where other people believe in greener, safer living as well!
Love your sight and all the great content and information. I too am making conscientious efforts to look for and try all natural remedies. I am in my 50 and have hereditary deep wrinkles that drive me nuts and I found a natural way to relieve or plump my deep wrinkles and that is with Anti Aging LED Light Therapy. It does not give immediate results but over time does help repair elastin and helps produce collagen at the cellular level plumping my skin to a more youthful state.It is completely safe, natural and non invasive. Thought I would share for anyone else fighting deep wrinkles like me.
Cheers to health and vitality!