After a post about the worst 10 chemicals in our personal care products, I had family and friends asking me questions about making the switch to natural products and how to do it on a budget. The key is to pick and choose the products based on some practical criteria. Here are 5 products I no longer buy from the drugstore and why. Once you start paying attention to this it can be a little shocking how many product we really use. According to Environmental Defence Canada, the average Canadian woman slathers and soaks herself in 126 chemicals before she heads out the door in the morning! 126! Eeekkkk! This is how I brought that number down for myself. Personal care products made from natural and organic ingredients can sometimes cost more than their conventional counterparts. So how do you decide which products are worth switching? Here is my criteria and I hope this will help you navigate your journey to cleaner products too!
- Where is the product being applied? If something is being applied where the skin is sensitive and/or has a lot of pores, then it might be time to switch. For example, the skin under our eyes, on our lips and neck is extremely sensitive and also absorbent. Our underarms are also another area where we need to be careful as there are a ton of lymph nodes there and they are a major part of our immune system and white blood cell regulation.
- How long is this product sitting on my skin? Think about if this product is being washed off quickly (like a cleanser, shaving cream or shampoo) or is it sitting on your skin all day long (like lotion or makeup). If the answer is the latter, then consider looking for a natural alternative.
- How scary are the questionable ingredients? Although all chemicals can add to the toxic load in our body, some are scarier than others. If the products you are using contain heavy metals, parabens or phthalates, then seriously re-consider these brands. Read my post about the top 10 chemicals to avoid to find out the dangers of these chemicals.
Based on these 3 considerations, I started to go through all the products I use from the minute I wake up in the morning to my nighttime routine. Although I am continuing to switch over more and more of my household and personal care products, here are the 5 I started with.
Boys and girls, this is a big one. Our gums and the mucosal lining in the mouth are highly absorbent. In fact, sublingual absorption is one of the fastest ways to get drugs into the bloodstream which is why it is used by health practitioners. Modern day toothpastes contain everything from abrasive detergents, thickeners, gelling and foaming agents. Did you know that fluoride toothpaste actually carry a warning that swallowing anything larger than a pea-sized amount of a fluoride toothpaste is considered poisonous, and you should contact poison control? Yes, that sounds totally safe given that according to some estimates, we swallow a tube of toothpastes a year! Can you imagine how much little kids swallow that haven’t properly learned how to spit it all out? I am slowly making the switch to Green Beaver toothpaste. They are a wonderful Canadian company, and their toothpastes have no fluoride, artificial flavours, dyes, chemical preservatives or chemical whiteners. They have 6 cool flavours. My favourite is frosty mint. Although it’s hard to get used to no foam when brushing, my mouth does feel super clean when I am done, and I know that my body is better off without the extra onslaught of chemicals!
2. Face Cream
Ok so I am a typical girl with my day time cream and my night time moisturizer. When I started reading the list of ingredients on my fancy and expensive creams, I was shocked! Parabens! Fragrance! 1,4-Dioxine! PEG! Wowza. So I decided to make the switch to natural products as theses products are literally sitting my face 24/7! I now use Green Beaver’s Green Tea moisturizer for day time. At night I alternate between the Soothe Essential Oil blend from Skin Essence or the Derma E’s Serum . To be honest these products are around the same price as a good quality cream from the drugstore (I used to use Aveeno products which were around the same price). The Skin Essence line of products has really captured my little nutritionist heart! The list of ingredients is ALL organic essential oils and extracts. I bought my Skin Essence Soothe Oil last May, and I still have about a third of the bottle left! The Green Beaver cream lasts me 2-3 months and I bought the Derma E night time serum over 6 months ago, and it’s still got a little left. So you don’t need to use a lot, and they can last you a long time!
3. Eye Liner
I went on to the ewg.org website and literally entered all my cosmetics. The results were scary. I was unknowingly putting Lead right next to my eyes, for years! My eyeliner was one of the worst on the market and contained parabens and heavy metals. It was rated 7- which is pretty bad folks! A rating of 7-10 by the EWG means ‘high’ health hazard. I didn’t want to spend a stupid amount of money and time trying to source all-natural cosmetics. So I did some more research and found a L’oreal eye liner that was rated 1 (1-3 is considered low hazard). So while this is still a drugstore brand and the hunt for an all-natural eye liner continues, at least I know I am not putting Lead in my body everyday.
No one likes the smell of body odour, present company included. I will admit that I am a pretty sweaty girl. You should see me in hot yoga, sweat just dripping off my face on to the mat. It’s not a pretty sight folks. So this sweaty girl needed some major BO defences! I had read the research about deodorants and antiperspirants (there is a difference!) containing aluminium salts that lead to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s, but my trepidation regarding natural deo’s being strong enough was always holding me back. So at first I decided to alternate days, and now I am happy to report that I have fully switched over and guess what- the natural deo’s (that I have tried) do work! So the first switch to make is to a deodorant, if you use an antiperspirant. An antiperspirant actually works at a deeper level to stop your sweat glands from producing sweat. I don’t agree with that at all, as it suppresses one of the most important mechanisms in our body to rid itself of toxins! I used Tom’s of Maine for a while, but found out that their ‘long-lasting’ version contains Zinc Oxide. However, if you don’t need the long-lasting kind, you can try their regular deo– it works well. I am now trying out Green Beaver’s Wild Yam Deodorant, and it works like a charm. As a bonus, it smells great too!
5. Body Oil
Ok, it’s time to come clear. I am a little obsessed about having soft skin, and I have always been in the habit of using a little oil after a shower to rub all over and get soaked up like a sponge when the pores are still open. I used to use Johnson & Johnson’s baby oil (yes, I was literally aiming for as smooth as a baby’s bottom!). Then I realized that it mainly contained petroleum by-products. Another scary one for me considering this was being applied all over my body, on a daily basis. I have switched to Now Solutions Lavender Almond Oil. I don’t need to use as much as that J&J, and a bottle lasts me months. The smell of lavender first thing in the morning ain’t so bad either.
I really do believe that our bodies are being subjected to a ton of chemicals on a daily basis, and that is contributing to disease in the body, once are our body can no longer get rid of these toxins effectively. This ‘toxic threshold’ is different for different people. Some folks have stronger livers and immune systems to fend off pathogens and get rid of toxins, while some don’t. We can only change what is on our control: our diet and lifestyle. Switching to healthier personal care products is certainly part of that journey.