You’ve probably heard the adage that if you can’t pronounce something, you probably shouldn’t eat it. The same might be said of personal care items–shampoos, lotions and soaps. If you can’t pronounce what’s on the label of your soap or shampoo, you probably shouldn’t be using it. Your skin is filled with pores that allow many of the chemicals we come in contact with to get inside our bodies. And, as you’ll see, sometimes even if you can pronounce it, it still may not be very good for you.
What’s going into your body?
Many of the ingredients found in most personal care products may not be as benign as you think. Here are just some of the ingredients that you may want to pay attention to:
1) Fragrances– These are associated with infertility, allergies, and respiratory issues and most likely contain phthalates.
2) Phthalates- This is a HUGE group of chemicals used to make plastic more pliable and soft. They are added to body care products to help make their “proprietary” scents stick to your skin longer. These
are a known endocrine disruptor and have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, earlier development of girls, and birth defects.
3) Parabens- These are preservatives. They possess estrogen-mimicking properties have been found in breast tumors…need I say more?
4) Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)- These can be found in more than 90% of personal care and cleaning products. They make soaps bubble and toothpastes foam. What makes them so bad is that they can combine with other ingredients to double or treble the harm they do.
This is just the beginning of a long list of ingredients that could wreak havoc on your heath. There are so many that I actually put them into a reference chart and included it in my eBook The How’s and Why’s of Homemade Beauty Products.
Once you have this reference chart, check the labels on what’s in your home. Then ask yourself if you really want these things on your skin and in your body.
So what can you do?
I’m a big advocate of Buy Local and lucky you! There are lots of cottage industries producing chemical-free, all-natural personal care products. You can buy them at craft shows, health food stores and off the internet. One of my local favorites is Honey B, which sells in local stores (like my favorite store, Tochi’;s) and craft fairs.
Instead of using a whole bunch of potentially harmful chemicals look for products that use ingredients such as:
1) Essential Oils instead of petroleum-based fragrances.
2) NO phthalates…ever. The soap’s scent is shorter lived and so won’t “stick” on your skin very long, but you are not exposing yourself to a laundry list of health problems.
3) NO preservatives, not even the organic preservative phenoxyethanol. These products contain Vitamin E to stabilize the oils in the Whipped Body Butters, Oils and Body Scrubs. We probably should be leery of things that do not mold.
3) Mineral Pigments instead of artificial colors.
5) Clove essential oil as a natural alternative to an antibacterial substance like triclosan. It is used in Clove Soap, but because of FDA regulations, there is no claim that it is antibacterial.
6) Coconut Oil to produce natural suds. This is what makes Honey B soaps lather so well. Please keep in mind that water hardness and mineral content does contribute to the effectiveness and lather of soap.
7 & 8) There is no need for these in any products. I simply added them to the list for awareness and something to avoid.
9) It’s hard to find natural alternative to sunscreen because the FDA are such sticklers on this one. You can find recipes for home-made sunscreens, some which may use Zinc Oxide with non-nano particles (you don’t want the zinc to be able to enter your cells like it does in commercial sunscreen). Or you might try a brand like Badger as a natural alternative. This is one of those things you have to decide if the chemicals are more dangerous than the sunburns.
I’ve been using Honey B’s shampoo bar for over three months, now and I LOVE it. (Orange Patchouli Beer Bar is my favorite!) But my hair was horribly chlorine-damaged from daily swimming and while the Honey B Shampoo Bar cleaned well, it didn’t help with the chlorine damage. So I started using this shampoo a couple months ago. After swimming I first wash with the Honey B shampoo bar to get the chlorine out and then use this Moisture Repair Shampoo to repair the chlorine damage. This shampoo has none of the parabens or phthalates that are so common in most shampoos. The results are shiny clean and healthy hair.
For hair rinse, I make an herbal rinse to restore pH balance and sooth the scalp. Using recipes from this site, I developed my own hair rinse: I make one quart of a strong tea (chamomile, calendula and comfrey, which are good herbs for healing and reducing inflammation and irritation) For the rinse I mix 1/4 C tea, 1/4 C apple cider vinegar and 1/2 C warm water. Rub into the scalp and let it sit for a minute or two before rinsing out.
For detangling hair, I love, love, LOVE Argan Oil. I’ve been using it for over a year now and I can’t tell you how much I love what it does. A 2-oz jar lasted me about 14 months, so it’s really a bargain. A little goes a long way: just 5-8 drops does the trick. Put a few drops in the palm of your hand and rub the oil into wet hair and comb.
Clean hair and healthy teeth shouldn’t make you sick. Being aware of the ingredients in your personal care products is the first step to protecting your health.
P.S. Honey B‘s owner, Brittany, has a degree in Chemistry. Her input was essential to creating the reference chart in my eBook I hope you’ll check it out.
P.P.S. I do not get any compensation from Honey B or any other business I mention on this blog. I give them my endorsement because I know the owner, have used the products and really like them. I hope you can find a soap maker that you like and trust.