Personal Care Products Primer

 
 
safer personal care products
As winter approaches, out comes the lip balm!  Not just for me, but the whole family.  We have it everywhere – bathrooms, backpacks, purses, cars.
 
Lip balms are just one of several personal care products each of us uses daily.  These include shampoo, conditioner, soap, makeup, deodorant, moisturizers and the like.  They get us clean, make us smell and feel good.  

Now for the bad news

  • There are no real regulations for personal care products.  Companies are NOT required to test for safety before they hit the shelves. 
  • All ingredients do NOT need to be disclosed.  This is especially the case with fragrance and flavorings.  You just don’t know what is in there.
  • Three common ingredients used in many personal care products have been linked to cancer, reproductive issues, and hormone disruption to name just a few.  These are parabens, phthalates, and triclosan.
  • Our skin is the largest organ on our bodies and is really good at absorbing stuff.  How many medicines now come in “patch” form?
 
Especially disturbing with lip balms as they are applied to our lips!  How much do you think you eat in a day? The more I learn about conventional products, the more I don’t like.  Bottom line for me – they have not been proven safe so I would rather be safe than sorry.  There are so many great alternatives that are easily obtained and very affordable.
 

How To Find Safe Alternatives    

So, how do I find these alternatives?  I go to Skin Deep and GoodGuide.  The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database rates more than 69,000 personal care products for safety.  GoodGuide rates over 175,000 items including toys, food, electronics and personal care products.
There are sooo many products out there and it can be very frustrating and confusing to weed through everything, finally pick a product only to get to the store and not find it on the shelves.  Take it one product at a time.  I also recommend downloading good guide’s app to your smart phone.  You can scan the bar code of the product while you are at the store and instantly obtain the safety data.  Not all products are in the app, but it helps.
 
If you are at the store trying to decide, keep these in mind when looking for any personal care product: 
1) opt for no flavoring/scent
2) Look for a short ingredient list you can read.
3) Avoid -parabens, phthalates, and triclosan for starters
 
Another thing you can do – use fewer products and/or use them less frequently.  Many hairdressers and dermatologists recommend washing your hair every other day (or less) so as not to strip your hair.
 

Homemade Options

There are also loads of homemade recipes online and here.  Try them out.  I am all about simple and easy DIY so no need for super special ingredients or lengthy methods in these.
 

Take Action

Do you think it’s unfair that you have to research personal care products yourself?  Feeling at times like you need a chemical engineering degree to make the decision on which soap to purchase?!  I do!  If products are being sold on store shelves, there should be some level of testing done to ensure they are safe.
 
Several groups are trying to shift the burden of proof to the companies that make the products.  To make the manufacturers prove their products are safe BEFORE they can appear on store shelves, instead of consumers having to prove they are harmful to get them OFF the shelves.
 
  1. Get educated at The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database.
  2. Tell your Senators you want them to support the Safe Chemicals Act
  3. Switch or eliminate ONE product you currently use.
 

Have you switched to safer personal care products?  Any you haven’t been able to switch?

This post has been shared at Tiny Tip TuesdaySmall Footprint Friday

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2 Responses to Personal Care Products Primer

  1. srambach October 12, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    Thanks, another useful column! What I am stuck on is hair styling products. I have really fine, thin, straight hair, and I have to have something in it to give it some body. A quick search gives you things like egg whites, which I’m not sure I want to smear in my hair!

    • Kristina (The Greening Of Westford) October 12, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

      Thanks! Yeah, not sure I’d want egg whites in my hair either! I’ll have to look around. My hair is pretty thick, so I have the opposite problem.

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