Making the transition to a cleaner, greener and toxic free life can seem overwhelming. Is it expensive? What products should I focus on? How do I choose? Well, it is a process. But one that I feel very passionate about, as many products can directly impact your health. Over the next few weeks, I will do several blog posts for specific categories of your life in which we are heavy consumers and how you can transform those to cleaner living. The categories I will cover are food, personal care, cleaning products, and general home products. Today’s post will address personal care.
Think about the last time you went shopping for lotion, mascara, or a tampon. What attracted you to the product? The packaging? The product claim? The scent? Maybe you had seen it in a magazine or heard about it on social media?
It can be hard to resist the pretty packages and enticing promises found on beauty and personal care products in stores today. Who doesn’t want ageless skin, ultra-shiny hair, and perfect lashes? But underneath those impressive claims and that appealing fragrance, there are usually some pretty scary chemicals.
My general rule is any product that will be left on your body for an extended period of time or enter your mouth should be clean and primarily toxic free. There are four products you need to think about switching to safer versions ASAP: deodorant, toothpaste, feminine care products, and makeup / skin and body care. Makeup and skincare is basically its own category and it’s definitely the hardest one to make an overnight switch, although there are a number of great options. Do what makes sense for you – start with the products you use the most and go from there.
Deodorant/antiperspirant: Ok, this is semi embarrassing to admit, but whatevs – I lost most of my dignity in the delivery room after I had my first baby and things have only gone downhill from there, so consider me an open-book! I haven’t consistently used a deodorant or antiperspirant in 8 years. They TERRIFY me and have for a long time. I am not afraid of sweating and I am not afraid of smelling bad while I sweat. My recommendation is that you learn how to embrace that motto (even a little bit!) as well, especially if you are trying to go toxic-free. Deodorant is a product that inhibits your body’s natural secretion of toxins. And antiperspirant will clog your skin follicles so that you’re not able to sweat as much as your body requires. Both of those things don’t sound very natural to me. Sweat is good! Ridding your body of toxins NATURALLY is very good. We shouldn’t use products that stop either of these things from occurring. On top of inhibiting your body’s natural cleansing and detoxifying process, deodorants and antiperspirants also release tons of harmful chemicals into our bodies. There are SEVEN toxins found in most deodorants. Among those aluminum and parabens are the scariest. Aluminum: This ingredient is in antiperspirants and literally clogs your pores and prevents sweating. Aluminum exposure has been linked with the development of Alzheimer’s disease and interferes with your estrogen levels. When your body can’t process estrogen properly, there’s a higher risk for breast and prostrate cancer. Parabens: This chemical is used in a lot of products these days as a preservative, but it is possibly one of the most harmful additives of all. Parabens can act as estrogen in your body and disrupt hormonal balances and has been linked to breast cancer and prostate cancer.
Product recommendations: Primal Pit Paste – I am a HUGE fan of this natural deodorant. I love the company and I love the website because it’s super helpful. Also so many options depending on your activity level – and you can choose from jars or sticks. I prefer sticks because it’s less messy. I’ve tried at least 10 natural deodorants and this is the only one that I keep coming back to.
Feminine care products: Men, this one you might want to scroll past! It is estimated that we put between 10,000 and 11,000 tampons into our bodies throughout our lifetime. Basically you’re putting pesticides, chlorine, fragrance, and all sorts of harmful chemicals inside you. And there are no long-term studies done on the impact these ingredients have on women’s bodies. Another important factor to note? Toxic shock syndrome isn’t necessarily from just leaving your tampon in for too long. TSS is caused by toxins produced by bacteria—and studies have concluded that using high-absorbency tampons increase the risk of TSS. Synthetic additives make tampons more absorbent. Until the industry cleans up its act, you should be aware of common chemicals in feminine care products that could be doing your body harm. And with all the emerging healthy tampons on the market, there’s just no need to put your body through that.
Product recommendations: Natracare – this is for traditional disposable tampons and pads. It’s been a while for me (almost two years!) since I’ve had my last period, but I am a huge fan of the menstrual cup. There are plenty of options out there, but I have used the Blossom cup and it seems to have plenty of rave reviews!
Toothpaste: Whiter! Brighter! Fresher breath! These empty promises and more scream at you from fancy packaging, and while you may be distracted by all that marketing jargon, it’s important to know that it’s what’s on the inside of those packages that actually counts. Turns out, there are a lot of superfluous — and dangerous — ingredients in most conventional toothpastes. Triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), artificial sweeteners, diethanolamine (DEA) and fluoride (yes FLUORIDE!) are examples of toothpaste ingredients that may be toxic. There’s a reason all fluoride-containing products come with an FDA warning: According to the Fluoride Action Network, even small amounts of fluoride can cause acute toxicity, characterized by nausea, vomiting, and headaches in its earliest stages. But the most shocking news about fluoride is probably the fact that no over-the-counter toothpaste formula contains enough of the substance to actually remineralize teeth, and manufacturers can’t add more because of FDA regulation. Your mouth is highly absorbent, so chemicals lurking in your toothpaste get a fast-track into your bloodstream…which is why toothpaste is a biggie for me. Make the switch.
Product recommendation: I honestly think this is a very personal decision and one I’ve been playing around with for many years. My favorite natural toothpaste is David’s, but recently I tried The Dirt toothpaste powder and was a HUGE fan.
Makeup/skin/body care products: In the US there’s no governing or independent body inspecting chemicals and ingredients that go into personal care products. We repeat: No one is looking at the ingredients in your moisturizer or makeup to make sure they’re safe and won’t cause health issues. Safety of skin-care products is something many of us have just assumed. A survey of 800 general election voters this year by The Mellman Group and American Viewpoint found that nearly seventy percent of consumers believe that chemicals in personal care products have been “cleared” by the government. Clearly there’s a disconnect.
Here are a couple facts on the state of the beauty industry: The Food & Drug Administration, which plays a role in approvals for prescription drugs, doesn’t have the legal authority to approve cosmetic products and ingredients before they go on the market.
And no major law has been passed to regulate the hundreds of thousands of products that we use daily since the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which required companies to deem their product as safe before it was sold to consumers.
So that just means it’s up to beauty companies to use the honor system and do the testing. And we’re simply supposed to trust their judgment despite there not being a set standard to follow or specific tests to conduct (except in the case of sunscreen). Unsettling, to say the least.
Meanwhile, across the pond, the European Union has banned more than 1,300 toxic ingredients from use in personal care products. Canada also has strict laws surrounding their cosmetics, currently prohibiting over 500 ingredients on what they call a “hotlist” of toxic chemicals.
In the US thirty harmful ingredients are banned from cosmetics. THIRTY.
You probably know by now that I’m a consultant with Beautycounter. And the reason why I became a consultant with the company is because this fight that I’ve gone through over the last 7 months is one I’m never interested in doing again…but something that I will have to think and likely stress about for the rest of my life. This fight is one that I cannot watch my children experience. It’s a fight that has left me sad, mad and scared and I want to do everything in my power to prevent anyone else I know and love from ever having to experience it. This is so much more to me than selling a lipstick or a face wash – it is extremely personal. At Beautycounter, I am part of a movement to change the entire landscape of personal care products and we’re starting with those we care about through education. It is also a major pillar of our business to advocate in Washington for more health protective laws. Beautycounter is so committed to a health and safety standard that goes well beyond what’s required by U.S. law as they have prohibited the use of more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals through “The Never List™” — all while ensuring our products perform and that they’re as indulgent as any other luxe shampoo, lipstick, or oil in the market.
Product recommendations: It should come as no surprise that I recommend any and all products Beautycounter creates and sells. Check out my website and if you have any questions, please email me: anniecrock(at)gmail.com. I also wrote a blog post about some of my favorite Beautycounter products, which you can find here.
Going clean isn’t for everyone and this blog post is not intended to make anyone feel bad about the products they use or have at home for their family to use. I am only trying to help educate. My biggest piece of advice is to strive for progress and not perfection. If you ever have any questions or concerns, I am here to help! Cado on!