“Anybody can put anything in a bottle and call it natural. And they do.”
~ Annie Leonard, Executive Director, Greenpeace
Your skin is a porous organ that acts like a sponge. Skin absorbs 60% of EVERYTHING we put on it. It’s hard to control everything we come into contact with, but there are things we do have control over…like what we put on our skin.
Ironically, some of the products we use to keep our bodies healthy are actually doing more harm than good. We all use some kind of body care products like shampoo, toothpaste, face cleanser, body soap, and lotion multiple times a day to keep clean. But often these products are laden with toxic chemical ingredients.
Head into your bathroom and take a look at your conventional body care products. You will likely find a list of unpronounceable, untested toxic chemicals, colors, and fragrances like Diethyl Phthalate, Triclosan, Cocoamidopropyl Betaine that are not good for you, your body, or the planet. Many of these synthetic ingredients came from the WWII chemical revolution. Sodium lauryl sulfate, for example, is an industrial cleanser and “foaming agent” that’s also common in engine degreasers. It has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation, and is a known hormone disruptor. That’s all for a little extra foam in the shower!
According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of the Breast Cancer Fund, women use an average of 12 personal care products a day, while men use an average of 6. With this kind of regular product use, it means we potentially expose ourselves to hundreds of individual and potentially toxic chemical ingredients daily.
So, with all of the products on the market it makes sense to wonder who is at the front lines, ensuring products like shampoo, soap, and deodorant, are actually safe for our bodies?
In the United States, the answer may be surprising: no governing body conducts pre-market safety testing or reviews the ingredients companies are using. Nope, not even the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). In contrast, in Europe almost 1,400 harmful chemicals have been banned from cosmetic and personal care products through their governing bodies. In the U.S., only 11 of these toxic ingredients are banned.
And even when we try to buy safer alternatives, we still have to be diligent consumers. The claims on package products don’t always match up with what’s inside the product. Without governing oversight, words like natural, herbal, and pure can be meaningless when they are placed on a product that contains toxic ingredients. This is greenwashing. Greenwashing is when a company markets their products as natural and ethical, but a quick glance at their ingredients and business practices tell an entirely different story.
The good news is that ethical brands are out there, like today’s partner Acure Organics. Companies like Acure are formulating affordable, healthy products that are great for you and the planet and available at at stores like Whole Foods and Target. Non-profits such as MadeSafe are also doing their part by raising awareness and stepping in as third party reviewers, working to verify company claims and ensure that products that claim to be non-toxic, truly are.
When greening your body care routine take a minute to read the labels, understand what’s going on your skin, and opt for a healthier alternative.
When you are buying personal care products, what are you looking for? Probably a way to look and feel your best, but how often have you flipped the package around and looked at the ingredient list? And even then, do you know what the ingredients mean? Let’s take a look…
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Even if you read the ingredient labels before purchasing products, you may not be getting the whole story. A single ingredient, like “synthetic fragrance”, can actually contain hundreds of different ingredients with proven health risks. In fact, in the United States, no government mandates require that the ingredients found in “fragrance” or “parfum” be listed on the package or anywhere else for that matter – which translates into a serious lack of transparency to the consumer, YOU!
Find a sustainable alternative for your conventional product at a local green grocer or online retailer. Look for brands like Acure Organics, Dr. Bronner’s, and Everyone. You can also check out Made Safe’s Certified Products list for some more ideas.
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Now that you understand the impact of the choices you make daily, spread the word to your friends and DIY your own products! Making your own bath and body products ensures total transparency – you get to know exactly what is in your product because you made it! Plus you’ll be creating less waste by reducing packaging. The cherry on top? You’ll probably end up saving some money.
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