Let’s be honest about some things: about our personal care habits, and the fact that our personal care habits have evolved differently for each of us. Those habits likely evolved from one of two ways, or a combination of both. Either our parents taught us how to manage and take care of our bodies, or we learned it from television and magazines, from watching commercials or articles that told us the “right” way to do so.
And let’s be honest a little further. Even among those of us who had amazing parents who taught us secrets of how to attain beautiful soft skin and healthy hair, many of us gave up those secrets for the easier way of life of buying newer products to accomplish the same goal with less work. To the point where now we teach our children to use those very same products to attain the same shortcut results.
But there’s a hidden cost associated with many of these products that do wondrous things to our skin, hair, nails, and everything else. And that is the hidden cost of our future health.
It is no secret that a good portion of the personal care products found in the stores are full of synthetic ingredients to make them behave a certain way. Many people believe that just because a product is sold in the store, that it’s been tested and it’s safe. But that is far from the truth. FDA has little authority and there are almost no regulations on ingredients that go into personal care products. EWG wrote a great article on Myths on Cosmetic Safety if you want to learn more.
We’ve previously written about the large number of preservatives found in skin care products, everything from parabens to formaldehyde, triethanolamine, phenoxyethanol, polysorbate 20, phthalates, and many more (part I, part II, endocrine disruptors), and their effects on health. Cancer is just not the way I want to go. It’s painful, expensive, and only pains everyone involved.
But because there are minimal regulations in the US for restricting harmful chemicals (many of which have been banned in Europe), manufacturers continue to add these ingredients to personal care products because we expect the products to behave a certain way, and we continue to buy them. Well, I don’t, but most everyone else does.
These chemicals are added for the following reasons:
1. Cost – cheap thickeners will allow a higher revenue
2. Look – adding dyes, colors, and other coloring agents makes a product look more pleasurable
3. Feel – Adding certain chemicals will change the way a product feels, and how a person’s body responds to it initially.
4. Smell – People judge the quality of a product based on smell, and well, people want to smell a certain way too.
5. Stabilizers – oils can go rancid, unless you stabilize them.
6. Preservatives – Food products spoil, and so do creams for your skin unless preservatives are used or they are handled properly.
7. Consistency – once a person trusts a product, they expect it to behave a certain way, and the same way, every time.
8. So it can do what it says it does – no one would buy a product if it didn’t perform.
It is so common now to add this chemical soup to products that standard recipes exist. No one has to figure out how to create something original, they just follow a recipe, pay a manufacture to produce it, put it in fancy packaging, invest in commercials/advertisements to fool the consumer, and the profits roll in.
But there is no regard given to the long term health effects of all these chemicals in such products, or even the vast amounts used and in combination of each other. The very same chemicals that we lather on ourselves, lotion in, then add cosmetics, perfume, cologne, and the list goes on and on. On average, men and women put between 85 and 160 chemicals on themselves EACH day. Yet, in the US, there are no restrictions on these chemicals, even though REACH, which is a law in the EU, has banned a large number of these chemicals to date. But somehow when these chemicals cross the ocean to the US, all but 11 of them are no longer toxic? That’s right, the FDA has only banned 11. That’s 11 out of over 1,300. I’m sorry, but cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm and/or birth defects don’t stop occurring because a border is crossed.
But now even in the US studies are showing that skin care products do indeed penetrate the skin and get in our blood stream. And more and more studies are being completed that show the associated cancer risks, and other inumerable health risks that add up. The more that this information reaches the public, the more and more people try to find alternatives.
But what happens when you skip these ingredients in your personal care products? Are you ready for what happens?
Well, the products do not look like, do not feel like, and sometimes don’t even act like the products you see on television. Why? Because they’re truly natural products without all the dangerous chemicals that make them behave a certain way.
For instance, dish soap is often filled with thickeners to make the soap appear thicker, which is what the average consumer now expects. There are also added dyes, to make products look unnecessarily colorful. There are often additional chemicals to prevent the soap from spoiling, such as polysorbate-20, because adjusting pH to prevent spoilage is actually a lot of work, and takes a real scientist. And let’s not forget fragrance – aka the over 4,000 chemicals that could be in the secret fragrance recipe. But that’s assuming your dish soap is even made from real soap. Instead it might be a detergent, and a detergent is not a soap.
So what does real all natural dish soap behave like? Well, it’s usually clear to lightly beige unless colored with natural ingredients. In our case we use either astaxanthin or witch hazel in our dish soap and only because our testers reported that being able to see the soap was of importance. It’s also more runny, as in not as thick, because it doesn’t have the added thickeners that are unnecessary for the purpose of cleaning, but instead are only there for the look/feel of the soap. All natural real dish soaps also don’t bubble as much. Bubbling is not an indication of the strength of the soap. However with any dish soap there may be residue left over on your dishes. Which means you’re putting this in your body when you’re eating. Just some food for thought, or in this case, chemical for thought, depending on what dish soap you’re using.
When it comes to skin creams, if you take oil mixed with water (which is what makes a cream), you will have spoilage rather quickly if not properly preserved. To help alleviate that in real natural products, natural preservatives are used in combination with proper pH, along with sterile manufacturing procedures. Having the consumer be involved is important here too, refrigerating the product when not in use, and making sure to only use clean hands when dipping in to the cream will contribute greatly to the life of the cream. However, the other issue is that sometimes the creams will be different in color according to ingredient composition. Not because the formula has changed, but because natural oils used in creams, when not filtered or colored with added chemicals, are not perfectly consistent. But that doesn’t mean the product is subpar, it just means that you’re getting a product that has real natural ingredients (with real natural variability).
Real natural lotions don’t require larger bottles. The lotions bought at the store feel like a great bargain when you’re able to buy a giant bottle for less. But in reality, you’re just buying petrochemical based fillers. Ingredients that either have no benefit to your skin, or are potentially harmful to your skin. When you buy real natural lotion, you’re getting a smaller bottle, but you don’t have to use as much either. Because those bottles are not filled with fillers, a little bit goes a long way. For example, our La Rosè lotion, the 4 oz bottle actually lasts me two months.
If you take an all natural laundry soap without any fillers, thickeners, and colorants, you will have a runny laundry soap. That’s what natural is, it’s a product that is not trying to trick you into thinking it is something it is not.
And any other soap for your body, whether it’s bar soap, hand soap, liquid soap, same thing. The less chemical soup you have in it, the less the product will behave like the commercials say it should. But the important factor here is if it will do the job. And real soap, will do the job without harming the human body in return. Well okay, it will burn the eyes, don’t get it in your eyes, or your kids eyes, or your dogs eyes, but I’ll take a little eye stinging over endocrine disruptors.
A tooth powder will not behave the same as a toothpaste. We decided on a toothpowder instead of toothpaste because you put this in your mouth, which means it can very easily end up in your body! We decided to keep it simple and only include the most important ingredients, and skip the fluff, and therefore skip the paste part. Otherwise we’d have to add other ingredients to keep it from spoiling. To us, toothpowder was the answer, but to the consumer, that is only the answer if they are really ready to use real all natural products. I will also mention, never once did TSA ever question my toothpowder. I know they’ll throw away your tube of toothpaste if it’s more than 2 oz, but they’ve never even gave my toothpowder a second look.
A real all natural reef safe (and human safe) sunscreen will also not behave the same. First, to even qualify for FDA required SPF testing a sunscreen must include at least one of the FDA’s approved sunscreen ingredients (many of which are not safe, and which are not the only effective sunscreen ingredients). Second, in order to be effective as a sunscreen, it must contain a certain concentration of the active ingredient. If you want a product that will actually protect you as claimed, this will require a little bit of extra work to apply. (Since a lot of sunscreen products do not meet the SPF protection claimed on the packaging, you can’t assume what you are used to is “normal”.) When it comes to your health versus the sun’s UV rays, a little extra work is worth it, especially if you can avoid all the chemicals that scientific evidence now shows is systemically absorbed.
Shampoos and conditioners I’ll mention briefly, but they deserve their own article. To state it briefly, we’ve learned to strip our hair of its natural oils (when we use detergent shampoo), then put fake “oils” back via conditioner. This is a process that can’t be replicated with natural products, at least not the way the way that most people practice their hair hygiene. (More on this in a future article.)
Deodorants are a favorite of mine, why? Because there’s so many dangerous ingredients found in deodorants that many people just skip it all together. I however, did not have that option since I am in public a lot, so instead I had to learn how to use a all natural deodorant. We are spoiled by chemicals in deodorants that make them go on clear, smooth, and even prevent perspiration, but when you take out the chemicals, and use natural ingredients to deodorize, such as patchouli or tea tree oils, then you are left with a deodorant that doesn’t go on clear, requires careful application, and a little tissue dabbing to remove excess.
Scent is always important to people. That’s fair, no one wants to smell bad. But sometimes good things for the skin, do not smell the most pleasant, or smell pleasant to some people but not others. But truth is, most products are designed with fake fragrances that do not have to be disclosed, to fool the nose into thinking that it is quality. But real all natural products are scented with properties of plants, such as essential oils, not a chemical soup. Essential oils are not as strong as the fake fragrances and require the nose to have a rest from chemical overload to appreciate. Plus we are so inundated with fragrant chemicals we forget what real natural products smell like.
And then there’s the cost. If you take out all the cheap chemical fillers, you leave behind only real ingredients, which let’s face it, cost money. Sure, there are ways to skimp on natural ingredients too, such as using cheap oils such as peanut oil as a base. But then there are other issues such as a omega 3 and omega 6 imbalance, which will lead to inflammation of the skin. So real natural products will take things like that into consideration, and they will use quality oils as bases. Understanding oils and fats for health is not limited to just food, but skin care too.
So ask yourself, are you really ready to switch to real all natural products? Are you ready to learn how to use products that don’t behave exactly as expected? That require special handling? That sometimes require a little extra elbow grease? Are you ready to change your habits of how you use personal care products? Are you ready to read every ingredient in your products to make sure you know what they are and that they are actually safe?
Switching to real all natural products is only easy if you have done it all your life, and most of us have not. I’ll be honest, some all natural products just don’t perform, or have a mixture of essential oils that do not have a pleasant smell to a particular person. But that doesn’t mean that they’re all like that, or that they shouldn’t be given a second chance.
But if you’re serious about your health, your family’s health, and doing something good for the planet while you’re at it, you’ll learn over time that real all natural products work better at their intended function than the toxic alternatives we’ve all been sold. You’ll learn over time how enjoyable it feels to be chemical free, to know that what you put on your body is nourishment, not chemicals that result in long term health pathologies. It’s like the difference between feeding your body junk “food” and eating natural, organic, healthy, whole foods. Over time your nose will appreciate real scents over fake ones, and over time, your body will thank you for taking care of it through its entire life.
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