You use them everyday, but do you know what’s in your personal care products?
Today’s post explores that question and how you can find natural products without being overwhelmed by tons of information.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), American women use an average of 12 personal care products containing 168 chemicals each day. Men use about half of that, averaging 6 products and 85 chemicals a day.
You’ve probably seen these chemicals listed on the back of your shampoo or lotion bottle, but have you ever looked up what they do to your body once they’re in it?
Yes, in your body, not just on it. Products you put on the outside of your body get absorbed into your bloodstream through your skin. Once there, they can wreak havoc on your skin and other organs.
Most people don’t realize what’s in their personal care products, but these products can lead to acne, infertility, cancer, and more.
We’re so used to putting these concoctions on our bodies every day that we don’t even think they could be the cause of our issues. However, if we really look into the research (that’s not from the companies trying to profit off these products), we see that many ingredients hidden with scientific-sounding names on the ingredient label have been shown to be toxic to our bodies.
Why are most personal care products bad for us?
Most conventional personal care products, including shampoo, condition, lotion, shaving cream, facial toner, mascara, lipstick, foundation, and concealer contain chemicals that mess with our body’s natural chemistry, wreaking havoc on our health.
Many of these chemicals fall into one (or both) of two camps, in addition to being toxic in general to our bodies. These two camps are: hormone disruptors and carcinogenic.
Hormone-disrupting chemicals imitate other hormones, which causes our hormone-producing organs to either slow down or speed up their own hormone production to level things out. However, since these chemicals are not the actual hormones they’re imitating, our bodies are left with imbalances.
Hormonal imbalances have been linked to various brain-related disorders as well due to the interaction between the brain and the hormones that send signals to it.
What toxic ingredients are in personal care products?
Though many companies have caught on and you can now find some “paraben-free” products on the shelves, parabens remain in most personal care and beauty products.
(Although, beware, because just because something is “paraben free” doesn’t mean it’s free of toxic ingredients.)
A hormone disruptor, parabens exhibit estrogen-like properties and have been tied to breast cancer.
They are listed on the EWG’s “Toxic 12” list containing toxic contaminants found in personal care and beauty products.
Formaldehyde in a known carcinogen that can contribute to developing cancer. Like parabens, formaldehyde and its various forms are listed under the EWG’s “Toxic 12” list.
Glyphosate is found in many feminine hygiene products such as pads and tampons. These products are often made with cotton, which sounds pretty natural, right?
Well, the cotton is sprayed with glyphosate containing herbicides when it’s being grown and it remains in the finished products.
Upon being absorbed into our bodies when we use these products, glyphosate harms our bodies’ natural microbiomes, killing good and bad bacterias alike. These can weaken our immune systems by killing off their good bacteria.
Phthalates can be found in pretty much all personal care and beauty products and are hormone disruptors. They have been known to lead to early menopause and infertility.
They are often hidden in “fragrance” at the end of the ingredients list so they are hard to find.
Why are these ingredients in these products if they’re so bad?
Due to how long companies have been making their products, many have been grandfathered into the legislation that prevents toxic chemicals from being used in something that is meant to come into contact with human skin.
These chemicals also sneak their way in via “fragrance” since companies’ fragrance blends are considered proprietary and don’t have to be disclosed for fear of another company stealing them.
How do I switch out my personal care products? It’s all so overwhelming!
When you first start learning about all the toxins that make their way into your home via the personal products you use and the food you eat the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming.
You may have lots of questions, such as:
- How do I switch out the products I already use?
- How do I know whether or not an ingredient is bad? They have such long names!
- What are trusted sources to find information about ingredients?
- Where can I find quality products on a budget?
Switch out products as you run out of them
If you try to empty your bathroom cabinet and switch it to all natural products in the next couple days, you will be overwhelmed and your cabinet will probably still be mostly empty.
If you take your time to switch products, you can focus on researching one product at a time to find an affordable, effective alternative (say that 3 times fast) that fits your needs.
When something is close to running out or expiring, research natural alternatives and read their ingredients and reviews.
Make sure you can mostly understand what types of ingredients they contain and keep an eye out for the types of toxins I listed above.
Utilize product comparison apps and reviews
While you won’t be able to tell firsthand how a product will work and you might not know what all the ingredients on the list are (scientific names can be tricky), you can use the internet to see the research others have already done.
Try to keep your research to one item type, such as shampoo or toothpaste, at a time. Then you will be less likely to be sidetracked by everything else you could research.
Use apps such as EWG’s Skin Deep app or Think Dirty’s app to see how products rate based on their ingredients. These apps can give you a rating from 0-10 at a quick glance to see how toxic a product is.
Disclaimer: these apps have been bought by larger companies and may not be as accurate on some products (usually the larger brands owned by those companies), but for the most part they can give you a pretty good idea on the ingredients how toxic they are.
Find a company you can trust that uses quality ingredients
If don’t have the time or energy to spend researching all sorts of different products, there are many companies out there that pride themselves on providing you with quality products made with wholesome, nontoxic ingredients.
Once you find a company you know you can trust, it will be easier to switch over some products you use to their versions.
Below are a few of my favorite comapnies that use good ingredients.
Note: I do not sell any of these products. I do have a membership with Young Living to get their wholesale discount and I use Monat for shampoo and conditioner, but I don’t sell these products and don’t plan on doing so. However, I do know people who sell them if you’re interested in them and want to know how to do so.
Shampoo, conditioner, soap, makeup, toothpaste, supplements, vitamins, kids’ products, cleaning products, lotions, facial wash, oils, and more! I love Young Living’s products and use multiple different ones each day.
Young Living has such a wide variety of products that it’s possible to switch over pretty much all your personal care, makeup, cleaning supplies, and baby products over to their products if you decide to!
I haven’t used Doterra’s products, but I know they have quality products that many people love! Like Young Living, they have a wide variety of personal care products, supplements, and more!
Again, I haven’t personally used these products, but a lot of people I know love their products and trust them because of the high level of research they put into every ingredient they put into their products. They have lots of makeup, lotions, deodorants, and more, all with quality ingredients.
I love Monat’s shampoo and conditioner, as does my whole family. My sister also love their spray for helping mend your split ends, which I want to try but haven’t done so yet.
Monat’s products can seem a bit pricy as first, but they are so concentrated that you only need a tiny amount and their small bottles can last you months depending on how many people in your house are using it.
Will something natural work for me?
You’ll have to try it for yourself to see if it works for you personally, but there are things you can do while you research that can help you find products that have already worked for lots of people.
Find an established company
With the companies I listed above and others that make natural personal care products, I tend to trust the ones that have been around for a long time and who haven’t sold out to the major conventional companies.
If a company has been able to grow, avoid being bought out, and has a loyal customer base, to me that signals that they are good at what they do. You might be able to get someone to buy you products once with advertising, but repeat customers come with quality products.
Look at reviews
Ask you friend or sister or someone in your moms group on Facebook what she thinks of a product or company.
While this doesn’t necessarily mean that same product will work as well for you, it can give you a jumping off point by finding products a real live person (who hopefully isn’t trying to sell you something) can recommend.
You can also search a brand and its product with the word “review” to see if anyone other than the company has reviewed the product.
Don’t switch it all at once
Well, in writing a post about how to switch over toxic personal care and beauty products without being overwhelmed, I hope the length of this post didn’t overwhelm you.
I tried my best to distill information and resources from a variety of places down for you so you have some actionable steps as you work to transition your bathroom cabinet to more natural alternatives.
If there are more topics like these (What’s in your…) you’d be interested in me writing about, let me know!