There has been a huge consumerism shift towards local, organic, and all-natural products, and I am not immune. I’ve mentioned offhand the dietary issues I’ve been having, and so I am looking to cut out extremely processed foods in my daily diet.
But what I’ve also become interested in, is the chemicals and synthetic ingredients we cover ourselves in daily — deodorant, hand cream, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, even feminine hygiene products are bleached.
Some of the issues that concern me:
- Known chemicals seeping into my body. For example, formaldehyde is in some makeup products. Yes, embalming fluid.
- Chemicals washing into the ocean or other natural water sources, contaminating animal habitats and drinking water
- Sensitivity issues to ‘parfum‘ and fragrance in products
- Unknown effects of chemicals. For example, bisphenol-A (BPA) and parabens have been linked to cancer.
Finding Out What’s in My About Cosmetic Chemicals
First step was to educate myself. This involved a lot of reading from reputable sources. I relied mostly on local health magazines, or websites with a healthy focus. I know that some people feel the “granola-eating, organic hippies” blow things out of proportion, but with proper journalism, you need to credit your information sources. These are not scare tactics, they are just facts.
The David Suzuki Foundation is dedicated to protecting the earth we live on. Such a simple mandate allows them to take a broad approach to activism. They’ve published a report called The Dirty Dozen, which lists 12 chemicals commonly found in cosmetics and beauty products.
A really interesting video is called The Story of Stuff: Cosmetics. And although it only discusses the USA, many things still apply to Canada. They really address the backwards way the personal care industry operates and how we need to change. We need to get the governments involved to regulate the restrictions for companies.
A recent report indicated that kids today are born pre-polluted (which gives a new meaning to Lady Gaga’s song, Born this Way). Tests from umbilical cords showed Teflon, lead, mercury and even pesticides.
These things may seem small compared to the radiation that the Fukushima 50 are being exposed to… but I can’t do anything about that radiation. However, I can begin at home and focus on toxins we willingly allow into our bodies on a daily basis.
Changes I’m Making
This is the part that I’m finding the most difficult; finding reputable and affordable products. Fortunately, I have discovered some gems.
Rocky Mountain Soap Company are my go-to-shop for soap, hand cream, lipbalm and even deodorant. Every product I’ve used has been incredible, save for the deodorant. I find the roll-on crystal deodorant a little hit or miss, literally. I have to make sure I get total coverage and let it dry totally without rubbing any off on clothes or skin. However, when I manage this, I don’t smell at all during the day, yet I’m still able to perspire safely (the difference between deodorants and antiperspirants).
I just picked up some all-natural shampoo and conditioner. Most of the stuff I found online was super expensive. Whole Foods / Capers carries a line called Prairie Naturals that my friend recommended. I ended up picking up the brand Aura at the salon for nearly the same as drugstore prices. One of the co-founders of Aveda started making it after they sold Aveda to Estée Lauder in 1997. My stylist was saying that Aveda has gone slowly downhill in terms of their original all-natural formulas.
More Research Needed
- Laundry detergent. I don’t like fragrances and I want something that is biodegradable once it’s done its job.
- Toothpaste. This is more difficult because my dentist says I need to use ProNamel or Sensodyne. I may have to concede on this point depending on the ingredients in those brands.
- Feminine hygiene products. Some have suggest the DivaCup or all-natural pads and tampons similar to natural/recycled toilet paper and paper towels.
- Shaving gel. I suppose I could just lather up soap, or use the men’s shaving soap that Rocky Mountain has…
Resources I’ve Found
- The Dirty Dozen from the David Suzuki Foundation
- More information on chemicals in all types of body care products
- Want to find out if your products contain a toxic chemical? Check the Skin Deep, the cosmetic safety database
- Read Gill Deacon’s new book, There’s Lead in Your Lipstick: Toxins in our Everyday Body Care and How to Avoid Them. There is even a handy little wallet card that you can download (or pick up at your favourite all-natural store).
- Health Canada report on formaldehyde in hair products
- Sign the petition for smarter regulations of chemicals in cosmetics [On hiatus during Canadian federal election]
- Follow The David Suzuki Foundation’s Queen of Green on Twitter or read the Queen of Green blog
- Check out the Environmental Defence (Canada) or the Environmental Working Group (USA) for reliable information
- Check out the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (one of the supporters of The Story of Stuff video)
Do you have any favourite resources or products? What should I check out?