Stop what you’re doing and participate in a quick experiment. Think of your morning and evening routine, and the number of personal care products you use on a daily basis. This likely includes shampoo/conditioner, hair styling products, body wash, body lotion, toothpaste, floss, facial care (wash, serum, lotion), sunscreen, perfume/cologne, deodorant, and makeup. Now add up this total. Does the amount surprise you?
Next, think about the ingredients in each of these products. Do you even know what they are? Can you pronounce them? Do you have any idea if they are safe?
Learn how to understand what your products are made of, and how they are affecting you, in this month’s Wellness Roundup: Why + How to Choose Safe Products.
Wellness Roundup: Why + How to Choose Safe Products
Photo by: Alysa Bajenaru
Why Choose Safe Products
Everything we put on our bodies gets absorbed in some capacity. Skin is our largest organ, and although it acts as a layer of protection, it is permeable and relatively thin. So nearly every single ingredient, in every one of those products you counted, are entering your system.
Most of the personal care products on store shelves are loaded with toxic chemicals. Unfortunately, if you are also based in the U.S., our government does not regulate personal care ingredients. This means any product can to go market without proper testing or oversight. This is a sad truth that affects hundreds of thousands of unknowing customers.
Europe has banned 1,342 ingredients, and the U.S. has only banned 10. Yes, you read that right, 10. What does this scary statistic mean? Unless we live in an area of the world where our products are regulated, we need to be educated consumers.
The main toxic offenders impose a host of health implications. Everything from endocrine disrupters, which can lead to reproductive disorders and hormone imbalance, carcinogens, to organ toxicity. This isn’t to say that the less severe allergies and skin conditions caused by these ingredients are any less damaging.
In addition to affecting adults, these same ingredients are found in children’s products. While scientific research is still pending, experts urge parents to avoid the same risk factors.
How to Choose Safe Products
You may have noticed a movement towards “natural” products the last several years. In fact, organic personal care is one of the fastest growing industries.
This has become a trend and one that every company is trying to jump on. But don’t be fooled friends, “natural” doesn’t necessarily have any bearing on quality.
Read Labels, Carefully
There are dozens of harmful ingredients in products, but you can easily educate yourself on the most dangerous and frequent offenders. Although labels are misleading, if you do your research and know what to look for, you can and will find safe products.
Organic standards in personal care work much like those in the food industry. You can confirm a product is organic as follows:
- 100% organic products will have a USDA Organic seal on the label.
- 95% organic products will have an organic seal, just not a USDA seal.
- Products with 70% or less organic products will include a reference to being made with organic ingredients.
Save An Ingredient List
Keep a reference list of unsafe ingredients on your phone, and in your purse or wallet, then refer to it when you are looking for new products. Also, use this list to eliminate the products you already have in your home.
On the other hand, high-quality non-toxic brands will clearly label their products as such, and specifically, list what they are without. Things to look for include:
- Paraben free
- Fragrance free
- Phthalate free
- Sulfate free
Do Your Research
Before purchasing a new product, do your research to confirm it is safe. Reference your dangerous ingredient list as noted above, and you can also search products in the EWG’s Skin Deep Database. This comprehensive guide has everything you ever need to know, and you can also search specific brands and products by name.
Find Trusted Brands
We have, and continue to, research products extensively before we invite them into our home. Below are the brands we purchase most often.
When trying a new product for the first time, we highly recommend purchasing it from a store that accepts returns. Just in case you don’t like the product, or it doesn’t work for you, it is easy to get your money back. When you go to repurchase the product you can use an online site with more competitive pricing.
This is an old brand with a loyal fan base, and all their products are amazing. Their all-in-one soap can be used for nearly anything (including personal and home cleaning), and they also have great toothpaste.
Dr Bronners is available at nearly every major retailer, including Whole Foods, Target, Amazon, and Thrive Market.
We adore Andalou Naturals and many of their products. They have a wide range of options, but we most often use their shampoo/conditioner, body wash, eye creams, sunscreen, and I personally love their CC and BB creams.
Andalou is available at Whole Foods, Ulta Beauty, Amazon, and their direct website.
On their way to becoming a market leader, they are an impressive, rapidly growing company. Recognized by the healthy living/wellness community as the go-to brand for safe skin care and makeup, you will find BC fans everywhere.
Beautycounter is available through individual consultants, directly on their website, and a portion of the products are sold at select Target locations for a limited time.
Juice Beauty is available at Whole Foods, Ulta Beauty, Amazon, and their direct website.
Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques
Lauren Brooke makes a wonderful array of mineral makeup and skin care. I love the foundation powder, eye shadow, and eyelash moisturizer.
Their products are available on Amazon and their direct website.
Fortunately, there are many products you can safely use at home. You can even make your own personal care products from a few simple ingredients. Here are some additional resources to help you kickstart your safe product transition.
Save the infographic below for future reference and use as another quick guide to product safety.
Crunchy Betty is the DIY skin care guru and has a wonderful e-book with homemade product recipes.
EWG’s Skin Deep Verified Product Guide will become your product reference go-to.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is another great all-around resource for safe products.
How do you feel about safer products? And what brands do you use?
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