Tips and Tricks

Harmful personal care products that we use daily

I always pay close attention to food labels. I spend minutes checking the ingredients list and the nutritious facts label. While, customers are more and more informed about food labels, eating right and dangerous food ingredients, I believe there are no efforts being made to inform consumers about the safety of their personal care products. Two years ago I read an article on Notre Planet that changed my view completely about personal care products.

Each personal care product has a label with ingredients, which I never read before coming across this article. And even if I would have read the label, I would have never understood it, as it looks more like a chemistry lesson. The only thing that I read on personal care products was the effect that it would have on my hair, skin and so on. It was enough for me to see the words: silky, smooth, soft, healthy-looking and the product was mine.

The moment that I understood what those ingredients were and how they could affect me, I started paying very close attention to all personal care products. As the article is in French, I have listed below the ingredients that you are most likely to find in your shampoo, soap, lotion, sunscreen lotion, body wash, and pretty much ALL baby products which you would think are safer.

As an exercise, please pick up your shampoo and see if you can find any of the following chemicals:

Alkylphénols: nonylphénol ; nonoxynol ; octylphénol; O-phénylphénol ; propylphénol ; amylphénol; heptylphénol, dodécylphénol ; méthylphénol (ou crésol); éthylpénol (ou xylénol); 4-tert-octylphenol
Ethers de glycol: 2-phénoxyéthanol (EGphE) ; phénoxytol, benzophenone-3, 2-benzoyl-5-methoxyphenol ; 2-hydroxy-4-methoxybenzophenone ; (2-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl) phenylmethanone; methanone, (2-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl) phenyl-; (2-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl) phenyl- methanone; oxybenzone (benzophenone-3); oxybenzone 6; methanone, (2hydroxy4methoxyphenyl) phenyl; b3; durascreen; solaquin; benzotriazolyl

Formaldéhyde: Formol ; Formalin ; Formic aldehyde ; Paraform ; Methanal ; Methyl aldehyde ; Methylene oxide ; Oxymethylene ; Oxomethane ; DMDM hydantoin ; Diazolidinyl urea ; Imidazolidinyl urea, Methenamine ; quarternium-15, Dimethicone ; Cetyl dimethicone copolyol ; Phenyl trimethicone ; Stearyl dimethicone, Iodopropyl

Parabène: E214 à E219; butylparaben ; methylparaben ; ethylparaben ; propylparaben ; isopropylparaben ; N-propyl p-hydroxybenzoate (E216) ; P-hydroxybenzoate ; N-butyl p-hydroxybenzoate ; Ethyl p-hydroxybenzoate ; Méthyl p-hydroxybenzoate (E218) ; parahydroxybenzoate de propyle ; parahydroxybenzoate de méthyle

PolyEthylene Glycol (PEG): PEG-6 ; PEG-8 ; PEG-40 ; PEG-100 ; PEG-150 …

Phtalates: Parfum ; fragrance ; Diisodecylphtalate (DIDP)

Sodium Laureth Sulfate: Sodium Laureth Sulfate ; Sodium Lauryl Sulfate ; Laurylsulfate de Sodium

Triclosan: Cloxifenolum, Irgasan, Lexol 300, Aquasept, Gamophen, TCL, DP300, éther de diphényle d’hydroxyle 2.4.4; Trichlorine-2

I told you this looks like a chemistry lesson! Well, if these chemicals won’t catch your attention, maybe telling you how these chemicals can affect you will make you think twice. The problem with this “chemical cocktail” which we put daily on our body, hands and hair is that it impregnates into the skin pores and it can accumulate in our urine, blood, umbilical cord and even breast milk. This daily chemical use can cause skin irritations, hormonal imbalances, chronic diseases, allergies, infertility and disorders of neural development like autism.

But wait, this is not the surprising part. The thing that shocked me most is that most of these ingredients are used in the so called “bio” or “natural” products, some of which are well established brands in which most consumers have great confidence. If you think Johnson & Johnson, Nivea, L’Arbre Vert, Roc, Neutrogena, Biafine, Le Petit Marseillais and Sensodyn are safe brands to use, think again! Seeing the word “bio” or “natural” on your product is not enough to guarantee the safety of your product. Only the ingredients list will truly show you how natural the product is.

So, after a long research, I realized that only a few products are actually chemical free. Indeed, Weleda brand offers products that are almost 100% natural with no synthetic ingredients, non-natural preservatives, artificial coloring and fragrances. I buy some of their products and their products are extremely respectful to the skin and hair and you immediately feel the difference. The products contain a lot of essential oils and nutrients for the skin and hair. However, it is very expensive and simply not worth it… So, after talking with different people about this, one of my work colleagues told me about the Aroma Zone website. It is an online shop, run by a family who is passionate about natural products. It is certified by 4 labels and I’ve been using it ever since. It is cheaper than Weleda and I reduced the costs by buying basically only this product, which is a natural shower gel which can be used for hands, face, body and hair. We usually buy 2 bottles of 2 liters and they usually last for 6 months.

And, in order to solve the issue of the hair conditioner, body lotion and face cream which are actually leave-on products, I replaced them both with argan or almond oil. Again, even though they are a bit more expensive, they last for a long period of time because oil is much more consistent than lotion. For the hair, you just need a drop of oil to put at the end of your hair tips and the result is wonderful.

After making all these changes, I reduced my 6 personal care products (shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, lotion, face cream, make-up removal), only to 2 products: the natural shower gel and the natural oils. Every now and then, when I use the old products, I immediately feel the difference. The intense perfume which I once used to love, now bothers me. I notice that even after I rinse the product, there is still an oily layer left on my body and hair and my hands remain a bit sticky after taking a shower. Moreover, my skin and hair get very dry after using these products and I get an itchy skin and scalp. I think these reactions are enough to convince me that I’ve made a good decision changing these products.

If you know any other chemical free products, please share them with me!

Here is my personal take on make-up products, as well as my own recipe for toothpaste.

Photo credits: Aroma Zone


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