Many of you have told us that you want to avoid chemicals, but aren’t sure where to start. Simple changes in our everyday personal care routines can reduce our long-term exposure to low levels of potentially harmful ingredients.
We have some easy ideas for cleaning up your daily personal care regime.
1. Simplify Your Routine
Do you have skin toners, night creams, moisturizers, serums, hair smoothers or waxes, soaps, deodorants, and cosmetics packed in your bathroom drawers? These products expensive and many are simply not needed. More alarmingly, according to the Environmental Working Group, many contain toxic chemicals like mercury (often listed as “thimerosal” on labels), lead, phthalates, parabens, and petroleum byproducts.
Tip: It’s better to opt for a handful of tried and true products. Scan for baddies like BHA/BHT, DEA-related ingredients, phthalates, petrolatum and ingredients ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone.” Another trick is to pick personal care products that are “multi-taskers” – for example, pure argan oil works as a makeup remover, moisturizer and even conditions your hair.
2. Back to Soap and Water Basics
We’re coming into cold and flu season and many people are pulling out the hand sanitizers and antibacterial soaps. Studies show that regular soap and water works just as well for killing germs. Triclosan, a known endocrine disruptor, is commonly used in antibacterial soaps, hand sanitizers, toothpastes and deodorants (and at terra20, triclosan is on our Baseline Banned Ingredients List. It’s also bad for the environment as the chemical ends up in our waterways when it’s washed down the sink.
Tip: To avoid germs, wash your hands frequently with soap and water for a minimum of 15 seconds, lathering all surfaces. Natural soap without harsh additives and chemical fragrance is an effective way to clean your whole body!
3. Care for Your Hair, Naturally
Of course, opting for all-natural shampoos and conditioners is Step 1, as many mainstream shampoos have parabens, sulfates, propylene glycol, fragrance and a whole litany of potentially harmful ingredients. If you dye your hair, consider opting for a henna option instead. Why? Over 5,000 different chemicals are used in hair dye products, some of which are reported to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing) in animals. As well, you could build a tolerance to chemicals and eventually suffer an allergic reaction.
Tip: Opt for shampoos made from plant-based materials, such as oils from citrus, nuts, seeds or vegetables.
4. Opt for an Aluminum-free Deodorant
Aluminum compounds commonly found in deodorants and antiperspirants. Some research has implied that the skin could absorb aluminum compounds, potentially triggering changes in breast cells’ estrogen receptors. Other studies have shown an association between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease, but a definitive link has not been established. Aluminum compounds work like a plug, preventing the flow of perspiration from the sweat duct to the skin’s surface, blocking our body’s natural ability to remove toxins.
Tip: Reach for an aluminum-free deodorant to help reduce skin irritation that can be caused by antiperspirants. You also eliminate the chance of aluminum-based compounds being absorbed by the skin near the breast.
5. Switch to a Natural Toothpaste
When it comes to toothpaste, the ingredient most of us consider is fluoride. It helps reduce tooth decay, but is toxic in large amounts, particularly for young children who may swallow toothpaste.
Fluoride is just the tip of the iceberg in regard to chemicals in toothpaste. As mentioned previously, triclosan is often a toothpaste ingredient, and they may also contain SLS (a foaming agent that can irritate the mouth and gums), propylene glycol (a solvent that’s the active component in some antifreezes) artificial colours, and others.
Tip: witching to a natural toothpaste means that you can sidestep the chemicals, artificial colours and other potentially harmful ingredients. As well, toothpaste manufacturers are not required to list ingredients, so look for companies that are transparent about them.
What are your best tips for reducing chemicals in your everyday personal care routine?