Seriously, Would You Eat Your Personal Care Products?
I’m not kidding when I ask this question. Maybe I should ask “Seriously, would you eat your personal care products?” If you can answer yes, then you win brownie points!
I admit to sometimes cringing when I visit friends and family and see what’s in their bathrooms. Not that I’m snooping…
I know we love our familiar products. And, oh, the smells! Our olfactory sense memory is incredibly strong. Maybe not like some other animals, but it is our oldest and strongest sense.
In a perfect world, there is nothing I would rather slather on my body than Jergen’s Lotion (reminds me of my mother) or Coppertone Suntan Lotion (reminds me of the summers of my childhood). But those days are gone.
We are what we eat. And we eat what we put on our skin. Or in our hair. Or even what we put in our mouth but don’t swallow (toothpaste, mouthwash).
We seem to want to tune out this connection and the fact that literally hundreds of toxic chemicals are in many of these products doesn’t seem to be enough to nudge some of us to seek other alternatives.
“Cosmetic ingredients do not remain on the surface of the skin. They are designed to penetrate, and they do.” – EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database
That lovely smelling lotion we cling to might contain hormone disrupting or cancer causing chemicals.
That don’t even have to be on the label.
Cosmetics companies are for the most part self-regulating. Read these myths on cosmetics safety.
“The Food and Drug Administration has no authority to require companies to test cosmetics products for safety.” EWG
Think you’re doing well by buying all organic products? How about this fact –
“Products labeled “organic” or “natural” can contain petrochemicals, and those certified as organic can contain as little as 10 percent organic ingredients by weight or volume”. –EWG
My God, what’s a person to do?
To start with, gather up the products you use on a regular basis and visit the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database where you can type in your product and see just how toxic it is. Or maybe you’ll get lucky and see that it’s pretty darn clean!
You won’t find every product listed (let’s face it – there are a gazillion personal care products) and so this is where you need to take responsibility and check the label (bearing in mind all the ingredients might not be listed).
The fewer ingredients, the better. Some sound scary and are, while some may actually be quite harmless. The bottom line is – know what you’re putting on your skin, and on your children’s skin.
It was only recently (after consumer pressure) that Johnson & Johnson removed FORMALDEHYDE from their ‘No More Tears” Shampoo. Formaldehyde in a baby shampoo. Need I say more? Read the article in the New York Times if you don’t believe me.
The reality is that we live in a super-toxic world. And the effect these toxins have on our body is cumulative. Add to that a mixture of stress and a compromised immune system and it’s a recipe for disaster, i.e. disease.
If you’re depending on the government to keep toxins out of these products – don’t.
“To date, the EPA has only reviewed a few hundred chemicals for safety. There are nearly 85,000 chemicals currently approved for use that the federal government and consumers know little to nothing about” –EWG
Personally, I have simplified my routine so much that my kitchen and bathroom products seem to have merged.
- Coconut oil (this is my favorite brand and they often have two-for-one sales) – I cook with it, add it to smoothies, moisturize my skin, remove eye makeup, shave legs, oil pull, heck – you can even brush your teeth with it! It’s a cooling oil so it’s excellent for use in hot weather.
- Ghee is equally versatile for both cooking and body care. People with a lot of heat in their body (Pitta) can benefit from massaging their body with ghee. Yep. You’ll smell like buttered popcorn. 🙂
- Baking Soda’s alkalinity makes it perfect for soothing the skin. Add it to your bath or use it to rinse your face. Brush your teeth with it. And yes, you can use it to wash your hair. Then rinse with apple cider vinegar, another healthy kitchen staple.
- Raw honey, lemon, eggs – All foods that can be used on your skin. Lemon can help fade age spots, honey and eggs make great face masks.
- Essential Oils are not only healing but smell divine. In the summer, I put a couple of drops of frankincense and myrrh oils (sometimes lavender) in coconut oil and use as a daily skin lotion. Both the essential oils and the coconut oil help protect my skin from sun damage.
As much as a lot of my personal care products come from my kitchen, there are still times when I need/want to buy ready-made products. Most days I’m makeup-less, but some days I like to jazz things up.
Thankfully, there are more and more clean products making an appearance. I am really particular and have scrutinized ingredients and company practices (such as animal testing) and so I offer you a few options that I personally use and love.
Annmarie Gianni – Wildcrafted, organic skincare. Truly organic and seriously clean cosmetics, and a great company. The products smell divine from the pure essential oils that are used. I became an affiliate with Annmarie and added her products to my online Shop because I wanted to include some clean skincare choices. My two favorite products are the Aloe-Herb Facial Cleanser and the Earth Minerals Makeup. There are lots of sample options and frequent sale promotions.
Pratima Skincare & Spa – I have been using Pratima Raichur’s Ayurvedic skincare products for years. Ultra-pure and healing from the outside-in. If you’re lucky enough to live in NYC or you come for a visit, treat yourself to an abhyanga massage at this little serene oasis in SoHo.
Note: Most days in the summer I just use coconut oil but if I need more sun protection both Annmarie Gianni and Pratima have excellent sunscreens. No nasty chemical additives.
Ecco Bella – I just started using their mascara which I love. Another company with super-clean products and ethical practices.
Jane Iredale – I’ve used a few of her products over the years that I really like. Especially her lipsticks. There’s a full glossary of the ingredients on her website which can help clarify what the heck everything means. If I really wanted to be ultra-pure, I would just stain my lips with beet or strawberry juice, but it’s nice to have a real lipstick (without stuff like lead and cadmium in it). 🙂
BOOM By Cindy Joseph – I’m pretty new to this line but I was taken by the sheer honesty of this baby-boomer model who has pared down skincare/makeup to the bare necessities using very few ingredients. Her BOOMSILK contains only: purified water, organic extra virgin olive oil, beeswax with propolis and pollen, and raw Pupekea wildflower honey. Love BOOMSTICK Color also. Great for travel.
I remember the first time I had a massage, I was well into my 40’s. All that oil grossed me out. Remember, I was a Jergen’s lotion girl.
Of course, now I’m totally on board with Ayurveda’s love of oil, especially for abhyanga massage. After a lifetime of dry skin, using oil on my skin has changed that. And applied properly, there’s no oily feeling at all.
Here are a few of my favorite Ayurvedic oils
Banyan Botanicals has a whole slew of organic massage oils, whether you’re Vata, Pitta, or Kapha, whether you want to stimulate hair growth, soothe painful muscles and joints, sleep soundly, or just have a massage. There’s an oil for you.
Pratima’s Herbal Body Oils are also ultra pure. Her Vata Rejuvenating Body Oil smells divine. I should know – when I had fibromyalgia I would make an almost weekly trip to Pratima’s Spa and get slathered in Vata oil. It was one of the most healing things I did for myself.
SVA Vata Abhyanga Oil with Magnesium and Vitamin D – Another pure, sweet-smelling oil that I treat myself to occasionally, especially during the winter months.
So, would I eat my personal care products? Some of them, probably not (I don’t think my mascara would be too tasty, or the sunscreen, but at least I know they’re free from nasty chemicals).
But most of the other products I use – raw honey, coconut oil/milk, ghee, lemon juice, eggs, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, I most definitely can and do eat.
I love that when I’m cooking with coconut oil or ghee and I’ve scooped out a bit too much, I can just rub it on my skin.
These days my kitchen and bathroom products seem to have merged. And that’s a good thing. It’s rare that I even set foot in a drugstore anymore.
Do you have any clean product recommendations that you’d like to share?
P.S. Full confession – I keep an old bottle of Coppertone Suntan Lotion in my cupboard for a nostalgic sniff of my childhood days at the lake. 🙂
And, last but not least, a sobering look at how babies are born pre-polluted with as many as 300 industrial chemicals in their bodies.