Thursday, April 28, 2011

Are Your Personal Care Products Toxic?

Have you ever taken a moment to read the ingredient label on your shampoo, lotion or makeup? Most of us haven't. If you pick it up and look at the label now, is the list of ingredients long? Are there words you don't recognize and can't pronounce. Sadly, so many personal care and beauty products out there contain toxic chemicals.

It has been about 3.5 years since I started my green journey and it all started with EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetic Database. A friend of mine had shared a link to the site and I decided to check it out. This site has a database of over 65,000 products like toothpaste, make-up, shampoo, etc. You can search for your item and it will tell you the toxicity level. Products are rated on a scale of 0 - 10, 0 being not toxic at all and 10 being extremely toxic. It also gives you a beak down of each ingredient and the concerns associated with it.

So I visited the site and typed in the baby wash that I was using on my then 6 month old twins and 2.5 year old toddler and I was floored. I want to say at that time I was using a Gerber baby wash but honestly I don't remember. Then I stared looking up other things I was using on the kids and myself and at that moment made a decision to change. One by one I started replacing our products with more natural skincare options. I started with the kids and then worked my way to me because really, no one can afford to just go out and buy all new personal care products in one shot.

For an example to show you I looked up two different baby washes. The first is Baby Magic and I selected this because the hospital where all my kids were born gave me free samples and I have used it in the past. Below that you will see Burt's Bees which I am currently using for my little guys.

So for starters the Baby Magic rates a 6 out of 10 which I do not like at all. If you click on the image you can read some of the details and you will see that there are moderate cancer concerns with this product as well as high developmental and reproductive concerns. In contrast the Burt's Bees rates a 1 which I am much more comfortable with. I was not able to fit it all in the screen shot but on the actual site if you scroll down it also breaks down the ingredients for you and rates those individually as well.

At this point you might be thinking, "So what if it is a 6? That is still better than a 10." This is true of course, there could be worse options out there. However if you think of everything you might use on your child like body wash, lotion, baby wipes, sunscreen, toothpaste and if all of those are a 6, well then all those toxins add up. I try my best to keep things on the low end of the scale but I am far from perfect. I am still struggling to find a natural, kid friendly sunscreen that I like so my current one is a 6.

Here is also a quick peak at the shampoo I used a few years ago (Biolage) versus the shampoo I am using now (Desert Essence). This is what the search results look like and you would click for more details. Obviously a 3 is not perfect, but its a huge improvement from a 7.

So my very long winded point is take the time to know what you are putting on your body and your family's body. Think about how much "stuff" we put on ourselves every day and if each of those contain toxins, it will keep adding up and the end result cannot be anything good. The Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is a great resource to use in order to get started. I am in no way telling you to throw out everything you own and by new, that is not practical nor affordable at all. With the exception of lipstick, which I wear maybe once a month, I have changed out all of my make-up, beauty products and personal care products for less toxic natural ones. But it literally took me years to do it. My suggestion would be to look everything up and start replacing the most toxic ones first. Is it completely overwhelming? Absolutely. But it can be done and even changing out just one of your products is a step in the right direction.

Now I challenge you to go look up at least one of the products that you use regularly and comment on how it scores. Maybe either myself or another reader can suggest a safe alternative for you. :)


  1. I know that the body wash I use is toxic. I use head and shoulders on my skin because I have a fungus that grows on me and it's the only way to get rid of it. Grose right, I know! But it was what the doctor told me to use, of course my hair dresser told me not to use it on my hair because it has ingredients in it used as poison. So, I wonder if it really is ok to use on my skin, it's still going into my body even if it is killing the fungus. TMI for you probably. ;-)

  2. I'm going to go get a bunch of my products, bring them to the computer and check them out. Thank you!

  3. I switched to no poo (no shampoo) about a year ago and am switching my kids to more natural or no shampoo and more natural bubble bath/soaps. It's amazing what they put in these products.

  4. Wow good to know! Im gonna have to take a second look at my products.


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