When is the last time that you took a good look at the personal care products in your bathroom?  I’m talking make up, lotion, toothpaste, face wash, face lotion, hair spray, shampoo, eye cream, and the hundreds of other personal care products likely hanging out in the drawers, under the sink, or in the shower.  Have you ever taken a look at the ingredients list?

The personal care product industry is a big one.  With over $62 billion in sales each year, we are buying A LOT of personal care products.  What’s scary is that there are just a few pages of legislation to cover this huge industry.  So, it’s up to you to take action and clean up your personal care products.  Even if you aren’t ready to make a clean sweep and replace everything at once, you can start with a few products at a time.  Here are a few ingredients you might want to avoid and 5 swaps to make right now.

Ingredients to avoid…

Parabens

Parabens are used to preserve the shelf life of personal care products, but they have a long list of safety concerns.  They are a hormone disrupter, and they are also suspected of a possible increase in the risk of breast cancer.  Parabens have actually been identified in biopsy samples of breast tumors.

Phthalates

These chemicals are commonly found in nail polish, perfumes, lotions, and hair spray.  Phthalates are known endocrine {hormone} disruptors.  They have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, early breast development in girls, and reproductive birth defects in males and females.  These chemicals are often hidden under the fragrance umbrella, so they can be hard to spot.

Triclosan

Triclosan is a pesticide that is added to many products as an antibacterial agent.  It has been shown in numerous animal studies to disrupt hormones and can also contribute to creating antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.  The FDA has banned the use of triclosan in soap and body wash, but it is still used in many other products.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

SLS is found across the board in many personal care products.  It has been mentioned in over 16,000 studies to have a toxic nature.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) claims that it may cause irritation and organ toxicity.  This ingredient is often listed under names such as sodium salt, sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), sulfuric acid, or aquaria methyl.

Aluminum

Aluminum is the ingredient that is used in anti-perspirants to stop sweating.  However, aluminum exposure has been shown to affect estrogen levels.  

Propylene Glycol

This chemical can cause skin irritation.  It can create issues in concentrations as low as 2%, but many deodorants contain up to 50%.  It’s commonly found in moisturizers, sunscreen, make up, and hair products.

Triethanolamine (TEA) and Diethanolamine (DEA)

Both of these chemicals have been banned in Europe due to their levels of carcinogens.  However, they are still used commonly in the US.

Fragrances

More than 3,000 materials have been reported as used in fragrance compounds found in cosmetics and other consumer products.  However, companies are not required to list these ingredients on their labels.  

Synthetic Colors

You will often see synthetic colors on your product label as FD&C or D&C, followed by a number.  These colors are derived from petroleum or coal tar sources.  They are linked to ADHD in children, and they are suspected to be a human carcinogen.

Why should you care?

The personal care industry is very loosely regulated.  In fact, the U.S. has banned just 30 ingredients from personal care products while Canada has banned nearly 600, and the European Union has banned or restricted over 1,400 ingredients.  

We are often very conscious of what we put into our body.  We buy organic foods because we don’t want to risk ingesting pesticides and we try to avoid chemical laced foods.  While that is great, and I do the same thing, it’s often easy to overlook what we put ON our body.  

The things we put on the skin make their way right into our bloodstream.  Think about all of the medications that are applied on the skin.  A patch that you put on the skin is available to help you stop smoking.  Many bio-identical hormone creams are applied to the skin.  When you lather your body with chemicals found in many cosmetic products, guess what?  Those chemicals make their way through the skin and into the bloodstream. 

As a whole, we use a lot of personal care products.  On average, women use 12 personal care products a day, and men use about six.  Teenage girls average 17 products a day.  Think about this.  Just as you are getting ready for work, you are likely exposing yourself to hundreds of chemicals.

Here are 5 swaps you can make right now.

When you have the option to get a safe product that still works, why wouldn’t you switch?  Here are a few of my favorites.

Toothpaste

Toothpaste, really?  But I want whiter, brighter teeth, and I definitely don’t want cavities. 

When it comes to toothpastes, I’ve tried a lot of them.  So far, my favorites are Tom’s of Maine, and the Onnit MCT Oil toothpaste.  If you are accustomed to traditional toothpaste, I would start with Tom’s and maybe work your way to the Onnit brand.

Skin Care

I look back to the products that I used to apply to my face every single day.  The ingredient list is so scary.  I dealt with adult acne a few years ago, and out of desperation for something, I applied chemical after chemical.  Guess what?  It didn’t help my acne.  However, cleaning up my diet and switching to safe products made a world of difference.

Beautycounter is my go-to for all skin care when it comes to my face.  I absolutely love the cleansing balm, charcoal bar, brightening face oil, and the nourishing regimen.  Beautycounter is a B corporation, and they have made it their mission to change the cosmetics industry.  Their Never List means I don’t have to go looking through the products…I know they don’t contain any harmful ingredients.  I also like the Acure brand as well as Thayers and Dr. Bronner’s for skin care.  Primally Pure is anther option for great products. Websites like Thrive Market carry many of these brands.

Companies like Sephora also have made a push toward making safer products easier to find. Look for the Clean at Sephora label on many of their products.

Deodorant

I don’t think anyone wants to walk around with nasty body odor.  However, deodorants and anti-perspirants are home to many chemicals.  How many chemicals are you willing to apply to stop the sweat when there are other options available? 

For deodorant, the brands that I trust are Schmidts, Tom’s of Maine, Primally Pure, and Primal Pit Paste.

Make Up

I am not a make up artist, and I honestly don’t wear make up all that often.  Since make up is not an everyday product for me, switching my make up was probably my last swap.  After switching my foundation and mascara, I slowly changed my eye shadow and blush, then lip gloss and eye liner.

Again, Beautycounter is by far the best brand that I have found for make up.  The make up goes on beautifully.  In fact, many celebrities and make up artists are making the switch too.  What an awesome push towards actually caring about the products we use.

Tampons

I’ll be honest here.  I never even thought twice about my tampons.  However, it’s worth taking a look.  See, the vaginal wall is very permeable, so the chemicals in a tampon can make their way into the blood stream.  Tampon manufacturers are not required to fully disclose what is in their products.  Many are full of fragrances, odor neutralizers, dyes, and cotton treated with pesticides.

If there wasn’t another effective option, I would get taking the risk of putting this product full of some unknown substances into your body.  But, there are great options.  Check out companies such as Lola, Cora, or even the Diva Cup.

Let’s look at a few facts.

The facts are there. More and more research is being done regarding the safety of many products used in our everyday personal care products. Here are just a few short bits of information from a variety of studies.

A study by the Red Cross found more than 200 industrial chemicals in the cord blood of newborn babies.

It is legal for cosmetics companies to use known carcinogens in the products we use everyday.

Women who used more personal care products, particularly those with fragrance, had higher concentrations of several phthalates in their urine.

More than 200 synthetic chemicals—many of them known to be toxic—were found in the bodies of nearly all Americans, including newborn infants, who are exposed to these chemicals in utero.

More than 80% of the 163 infants tested had at least seven phthalate metabolites in their urine, some of which correlated with the use of shampoo, lotion, or powder.

16 different known hormone-disrupting chemicals (including phthalates, triclosan, parabens, and musks) were found in the bodies of 20 teenage girls.

A study found that teens who switched to safer products had a 20-40% drop in harmful chemicals in their blood.

Make the switch.

A wide variety of safer products is now available.  As you make the transition to safer products, I recommend starting with products you use the most.  If you use something every single day, you probably want that product to be free of harmful ingredients.  If there is a product you only use every few weeks, maybe switch that product last.

Either way, it’s time to clean up your personal care products.  A great resource to check out if you don’t know about the safety of your products is the Skin Deep Database from EWG.  You can search over 80,000 products and see the risks associated with each.

If you want more information, check out this video. It’s got some incredible information about the personal care products industry, and it’s one of the driving reasons that I switched my personal care products a few years ago.

**Disclosure: I truly love Beautycounter products.  I am a consultant for Beautycounter, so I will receive a commission if you purchase any products through the links in this post.**

Clean up!

~KP

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