In my last newsletter, I shared a portion of the available information from one of my favorite resources, The Environmental Working Group. If you missed that post, you can find it here.
After finding the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists that they collate each year, I started purchasing much more organic produce, which eventually led to purchasing 100% organic produce. I rarely stray from this commitment.
The next step I took with EWG was to use their Skin Deep Database. Here in the US, the personal care product industry is “industry regulated”. My translation = ZERO regulation.
Personal care product manufacturers are not required to test their ingredients for safety or any potential increase in toxicity when individual ingredients interact with each other. They don’t even have to list all their ingredients on product labels! So even a master chemist, with a full understanding of all the listed ingredients, could easily be fooled into purchasing something less than optimal due to this option of omission.
Another aspect that really upsets me is that many companies in other parts of the world have to adhere to stricter standards than here in the US. So they know how to make better quality products but often choose not to when it’s not required. Why? It costs more to make better quality products, which means companies make more money when they use cheaper, lower quality ingredients.
Why should you care? After all, millions of Americans use numerous personal care products every day and “seem fine”.
However, anything you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body. Toxins contribute to a whole host of potential health problems, including cancer. Exposing yourself to toxins can slowly decrease your body’s ability to properly detoxify. Toxins build up over time, little by little, weakening your vital functions and slowly creating health conditions that can take years to fully manifest. Feeling fine today is not a good measure of whether or not something is safe to use.
I changed all of my personal care products many years ago. It was quite a revelation to realize what I was exposing myself to on a daily basis. I dug into the EWG Skin Deep Database and transitioned all of my products one by one, as my less than ideal products started to run low.
There was definitely some trial and error to this process, to find products that worked well for my unique skin and hair, etc.
Hair care products have been my biggest challenge. My curly hair is very prone to dryness and frizz, and many products strip my hair and make it completely unmanageable. I need lots of conditioner but it can’t be too heavy.
Deodorant is another category that appears to be highly individualized. What works well for one person may be completely ineffective for another.
The first step I encourage you to take is to make a full inventory of what you have on hand. Look up all your products on the Skin Deep Database and note which ones you’re using that rate well and which are loaded with toxins. If you can’t find your specific product listed in the database, you can plug in the individual ingredients and get a sense of the potential toxicity of the product.
Don’t forget to consider what your hair stylist, aesthetician or any other professionals use on you! (Hair color often contains a lot of risky chemicals, one of the many reasons I allowed my hair to transition to natural gray).
Use the database to view healthier alternatives and begin replacing all of your personal care products (haircare, lotions, makeup, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.) with the cleanest possible options.
Their online database is user friendly and they have an app that you can download to your phone. It has a bar code scanner so you can even scan products right at the store. If they’re in the database, the product will pop right up on your screen and you’ll know quickly and easily whether or not it’s well rated and worth your consideration.
You may have to change where you shop, but worth your efforts to do so! I purchase many of the products I use online.
What EWG has undertaken with this database is an enormous task. There are gaps in the information presented, which is indicated within their ratings. But it is still an excellent tool for evaluating and finding non-toxic options in personal care products.
Creating true health requires effort and a deep look into all aspects of your life. Don’t underestimate the importance of choosing high quality personal care products.