A few weeks ago we talked about “What’s in a Name?!” where we focused on food labels and what they meant. This week let’s focus on personal care products and how to shop wisely.
First and foremost, don’t be fooled by packaging. Often times the same old players will catch wind of the newest trendy oil or ingredient and simply change the color of their packaging to green and scrawl “NATURAL” all over the bottle (even though we now know that the word natural means nothing). Then they print in bold letters the name of the latest trendy ingredient. Please know that could mean they put a drop of the new thing in a huge vat of their same ole chemical laden formula, make it pretty, jack the price up, place it strategically in the store, and rake in the dough! Don’t fall for it! If “natural” isn’t what that company was founded on, “natural” is likely not what they are really doing….
While working on production for our next lavender based product line a friendly healthcare worker overheard the conversation and belted out “oh that’s that stuff that has all these babies coming in our office with rashes!” I politely asked “what stuff?!” She went on about the big purple bottle of ‘nighttime’ baby wash and lotion that bears a household name. I smiled and thought to myself “I’d bet money there isn’t one drop of lavender in there”. Sure enough we pulled it up online and for starters, the first ingredient is WATER! If you don’t know, that matters because the ingredients are listed in order by volume. That means that water makes up the largest component of what is in that bottle for which you’re overpaying. The rest of the ingredients were nothing that any average person can even read, let alone pronounce! I have a degree in Chemistry and I still paused to dust off those brain cells in the back of my mind that haven’t been used lately to read it! The last and final ingredient was PARFUM! Case closed!! You just bought overpriced, chemical laden water with PARFUM. Parfum or simply (synthetic) fragrance have NO therapeutic effect! so even though it may smell remotely like lavender it will do NOTHING to relax or calm anyone, most especially after your immune system goes berserk trying to process all those chemicals you just slapped on!
Authentic essential oils have been scientifically proven to have therapeutic effect on your mind, body and psyche. Parfum? not so much!
Why does any of this matter? We forget sometimes that the skin is the largest organ in the body and we absorb what we apply. How else would deodorant work if that weren’t the case?
Let’s dive into some of the chemicals and why we should be concerned…
Here are just a few of the usual suspects.
Parabens (paraben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben)
Parabens are VERY commonly used preservatives in cosmetics and personal care products like lotions and deodorants (remember that). It is widely known that they are hormone disruptors but they also STIMULATE CANCER CELLS. Well, remember I just mentioned deodorant? About 90% of breast cancers occur in the upper outer quadrant (the part closest to the armpit). Your deodorant could be a large part of the problem. Then there is also the aluminum factor but that is a topic for another day.
Lead and Heavy Metals (???)
These are typically contaminants and, therefore, may not even be listed in the ingredients but still commonly found in lipsticks and other cosmetics like foundation. Developmental delays and frank mental retardation, hormone and general organ disruption are some of the biggest concerns. Guess what? If you used any of these items before or during pregnancy, then your kid(s) were exposed, too! They absorb what you are exposed to via the umbilical cord while you’re pregnant.
Did you catch that? PETROLeum jelly. PETROL = GASOLINE. You heard me correctly! The same source of oil that creates gasoline for your car is what you are slathering on your lips everyday!
Formaldehyde (Formaldehyde, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, and others)
Used in many industries (including morgues for preserving dead bodies) and can also be found in baby personal care products. Cancer and skin irritation are the major concerns. Also be mindful that it is also used to fix the dyes found in clothes so the colors are brighter so ALWAYS wash new clothes before you wear them the first time – especially for our little ones.
Phthalates (phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP and fragrance)
Commonly used in cosmetics and lotions and can also disrupt hormones, fertility, and contribute to cancer risk and a host of other issues.
Talc (Talcum powder, Cosmetic Talc)
Commonly found in “baby powders”, feminine hygiene products. Recently recognized as a causative factor in ovarian cancer.
So start reading your labels. If you can’t read or pronounce it, you may want to think twice. This is why I went through so much to create products that I feel comfortable using and using on my kids. My husband blinked and I had turned my side of the garage into a literal apothecary! I began reaching out to organic wholesalers and farmers and started concocting personal care products to use so that I knew EXACTLY what sweet little BeBe & Bunny were absorbing. I even started making toothpaste! I’m not playing around! There’s a reason why there has been such an uptick in chronic illnesses that our parents and grandparents generations didn’t see. Check your Pantry and your Powder Room. The culprits could be lurking in there….
Happy Healthy Living!
Until next time…..
Take home Tidbits
- Don’t fall for marketing traps and pretty new bottles or labels
- Your skin absorbs what you put on it
- Water is likely the first ingredient in a lot of your personal care products
- If you can’t read the labels of your personal care products, you probably should be using them