beauty product detox

I’ve been slowly trying to evaluate the household products (including personal care items) that I use to determine my level of exposure to endocrine disruptors. It’s been almost two months since I started doing the research and realized what was actually in the products I use (many for more than 10 years). Here’s an update on what I’ve done so far. (For the record, none of these companies know I exist. These are just my own opinions about the products. I’m linking to the products I recommend so you can see what they look like and look at the ingredients for yourself, not because they are affiliates.)

Household products:
We had already switched to Method cleaners for our bathroom and kitchen surfaces awhile ago and we continue to like them for those purposes. With cleaning supplies, I’m mostly concerned about toxic fumes and residue, as these products aren’t being applied to my body directly, so I am okay with some chemicals being in these products that I am spraying on my bathroom or kitchen counters. Method also has this handy list of disclosures about all possible ingredients in their products. I am always a big fan of companies that value transparency.

We just switched to Seventh Generation dishwasher detergent, and we’ve only done a few loads, but so far so good. I actually like that there isn’t the strong fake scent of lemon coming out of the dishwasher after washing, and I did notice that my Camelbak didn’t have that funky dishwasher smell after cleaning.

Beauty products:
The big three that I wanted to address for beauty products were deodorant, shower gel and shampoo, since I use those most frequently, especially at the rate I work out. I first compiled a list from my research of the big things I wanted to try to avoid. This is what I came up with:

perchlorate/chlorate
phthalates
DMDM hydantoin
imidazolidinyl urea
nitrates
phenol derivatives
PBDE
PEG
triclosan
triclocarban
TEA (triethanolamine)
sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate
parabens
thiocyanate
sulfates
benzyl salicylate
methylchlorosiothiazolinone
fragrances and dyes
aluminum (in deodorant)

Deodorant

I looked at the ingredients of several deodorants to try and choose one that might meet most of my criteria. I settled on Tom’s of Maine Long Lasting Women’s Deodorant in the Beautiful Earth scent. Well, it did its basic job, keeping odor away when I was sitting at work or at home in the air conditioning. But because it wasn’t labeled an antiperspirant, I wasn’t surprised when I noticed much more sweat than usual. This deodorant doesn’t contain aluminum, which is the main antiperspirant ingredient in these types of products. So it worked when I wasn’t concerned about wetness. But when I worked out for the first time with it? Fail – on both the odor and wetness fronts. Definitely not a product that was designed for heavy sweating, whether in hot weather or exercise (and definitely not hot weather exercise). So I will probably use this product from time to time, but it won’t be a long-term solution for me for daily use. 

Shampoo and shower gel
I was having major problems even finding a shampoo to try because so many of them are advertised as “natural” but only remove a few of the most toxic substances. That’s good, but not good enough for me for the amount that I shower. I happened to read about the Honest Company from another blog and decided after looking at the list of ingredients and the breadth and depth of their product lines to take a chance and order the sampler pack of the Essentials. It came with hand soap, lotion, shampoo/shower gel, laundry detergent, and healing balm. I tried not to let myself simply be enchanted by their lovely graphic design and really test them out to see if they worked. 
  

I immediately loved the shampoo/shower gel hybrid. It has a very faint orange/vanilla scent that doesn’t linger long, but it is very clean. It also doesn’t leave a film in my hair or on my skin. It’s also kind of nice to use the same product in my hair and as a shower gel, since the scents don’t compete with one another. It also has one of the cleanest ingredients lists I’ve found in any shampoo/shower gel.

The hand soap smells very clean as well, with a hint of lemongrass. When you use it, you don’t feel like you’ve taken a bath in perfume. The lotion seemed like any other lotion, and the healing balm was particularly nice to use on my blistered right foot that has been battered by running this summer.

The laundry detergent is fragrance free, which is something I will have to get used to, since I’ve been a Tide girl since college. But the clothes still smell clean after use.

I am definitely a fan of all of the products I got in my sampler, so we decided to go ahead with a subscription. You can choose your delivery date for each shipment, everywhere from 4 to 8 weeks, and each time you choose 5 products from their very large line and can add up to three extra products at a 25% discount. Buying it in the bundles saves money off of the list price. In the first bundle I’ll be getting some of the other beauty products, including some conditioning hair products that should hopefully help tame my humid weather frizz.

I should note that this is more money than I’m used to paying for cleaning or personal care items, even with the discount, but I’m impressed enough with the products that I’m willing to pay the extra cost. If I’m willing to pay more for healthy foods to put IN my body, I should be willing to pay more for safe products to put ON my body. I want the satisfaction of knowing I’m doing the best I can to limit my chemical exposure.

 
  

endocrine disruptors in your bathroom cabinet

I am not the type of woman you’d classify as a girly-girl. I don’t wear makeup more than a few times a year, and I don’t wear it to my every day office job. I only recently had my first manicure at age 30, and I’m not one to preen in front of the mirror for hours a day. In addition to a general personal hygiene regimen, I also have unruly, thick hair, which I try to tame down on a regular basis so as not to wander the earth looking like Mufasa from the Lion King.

That being said, you’re probably wondering why on a blog about food and sustainable living I’m talking about my grooming habits. The Environmental Working Group is a watch-dog organization dedicated to environmental health and research. They compile straight facts using a lot of publicly available data about many areas that impact the environment, including water, food and chemicals. They also have a database called Skin Deep which creates safety profiles for personal care and beauty products using data from nearly 60 toxicity and regulatory databases. As they say on their website, they “fill in where industry and government leave off.” 

One of the things that first started me to research clean foods was my diagnosis of a thyroid disease. I had read that exposure to chemicals in food over time and other chemicals in food containers (like BPA) could have a cumulative effect on my endocrine system. My diagnosis only made me more committed to removing toxic chemicals and hormones from my diet. So why wouldn’t I think of the chemicals that surround me in my house, from hand soap to toilet bowl cleaner and laundry detergent?

The simple answer is, I like my shampoo and my perfume. I am brand loyal when it comes to personal care products – once I find something that works, I stick with it. I saw “natural” personal care products as a marketing gimic designed to get someone who cared about clean eating to also buy $8 hippie deodorant. I was afraid that natural personal care products would make me smell terrible after a work out or leave my hair a frizzy nightmare. So I chose to block out what I was hearing about chemicals in those products and just plug my ears and shake my head.

Well, I’m ready. I took the leap and decided to get educated. I looked up my primary personal care products in the Skin Deep database, and I was not pleased with what I found. Carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, allergens, organ system toxins, nervous system toxins and more. Here’s a sample of just two of my most frequently used products: shampoo and deodorant.

Dove Damage Therapy Intense Repair Shampoo

Ingredients: Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocomidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Chloride, Fragrance, Glycol Distearate, Dimethiconol, Glycerin, Carbomer, Gluconolactone, PPG-9, Guar Hydroxy-propltrimonium Chloride, Citric Acid, TEA-Dodecyl-benzenesulfonate, Adipic Acid, Sodium Sulfate, Trehalose, Tetrasodium EDTA, TEA-sulfate, DMDM Hydantoin, PEG-45M, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Yellow 5, Red 33 



Listed concerns: allergies, skin damage, cancer, nervous system toxicity

That’s a cocktail of chemicals to do a simple thing like wash my hair. Nervous system toxicity, cancer risk and allergies? From shampoo? My deodorant – the deodorant I have used for more than 10 years – was even worse.

Secret Invisible Solid Shower Fresh

Ingredients: Aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex, Cyclopentasiloxane, Stearyl Alcohol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, PPG-14 Butyl Ether, Hydrogenated castor oil, Petrolatum, Phenyl Trimethicone, Talc, Cyclodextrin, Fragrance, Mineral Oil, Behenyl Alcohol 

Listed concerns: organ system toxicity, endocrine disruption, cancer, allergies, nervous system toxicity, neurotoxicity

For me, the item of the largest concern is endocrine disruption. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.   

The other products I checked, which I use on a regular basis, were not much better and some were worse.

I think it’s time I acknowledge that exposure to these chemicals on a daily basis is not a good idea, long-term. While science may not yet know everything there is to know about chemical exposure and the body, my common sense tells me that we are exposed to too many chemicals, as the changing disease profile of this country indicates. 

Phasing these products out will be a long process of trial and error, but I’m ready to commit. I’m going to start with hand soaps in my home, as well as shampoo and deodorant for me, when my current products run out. 

Check out Skin Deep and see how your products stack up. You can also take advantage of a feature that lets you create your own report from lists of ingredients. If you have experience with using more natural personal care products, I’d love to hear about it.