This is part 2 of my series about the little known toxins lurking in your everyday beauty products, and the safer alternatives to buying the cheap, big brands that are harmful to your body. If you missed it, here’s Be Beautiful Inside & Out, Part 1.
And here’s a quick reminder of why it’s important to buy cruelty-free products.
Toothpaste – Most people use toothpaste multiple times every day and never think there may be some serious toxins in a paste this is supposed to keep teeth healthy. Unfortunately, all the big brands contains a plethora of chemicals that do harm to the body. For years fluoride was touted as the end-all-be-all for strong pearly whites. I remember getting the fluoride foam treatment every time I went for a check up at the dentist. New studies show that sodium fluoride may be a possible neurotoxin, and the Food & Drug Administration now requires all toothpaste containing fluoride to label this warning on their product:
WARNING: Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately.”
Ummm, great. So glad I swallowed so much of that foam treatment when I was a kid. In fact, it takes a very small amount of sodium fluoride to cause symptoms of acute fluoride toxicity. If there’s a warning label on something as simple as toothpaste, I’m going to assume I probably should find a better option. Aside from that, big brands also contain sodium hydroxide (the chemical name for lye and a toxic drain cleaner), titanium dioxide (a possible carcinogen), and PVM.MA copolymer (a highly irritating binding agent). Don’t forget about 2 chemicals I discussed in part 1 – triclosan (classified as a pesticide) and sodium lauryl sulfate or SLS (used in products like garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers). Oh, and those pesky dyes and additives, like FD & C Blue Dyes 1 & 2 are made from coal tar oil and synthesized from petroleum, and can still be absorbed into your body even if you don’t swallow your toothpaste. Scary! I currently use Xyli-White from Now Solutions. It’s free of fluoride, SLS, gluten, parabens, and all the other chemicals we just discussed.
Mouthwash – By repeatedly trying to destroy bacteria using a strong chemical anti-bacterial such as a big brand mouthwash, you may actually be causing the bacteria in your mouth to develop a resistance to the mouthwash, which completely erases it’s purpose! Conventional mouthwash is often alcohol-based, which can contribute to cancers of the tongue, mouth, and throat when used regularly. Other ingredients to watch our for: fluoride, formaldehyde, SLS, polysorbate, cetylpiridinium, methyl salicylate, hexetidine/oraldene, thymol, benzalkonium chloride. My suggestion? Make your own natural mouthwash by mixing warm water with baking soda or sea salt, and a drop of peppermint and/or tea tree oil.
Baby Wipes & Facial Wipes – Both baby wipes and facial wipes contain pretty much the same ingredients, and the same chemicals as well. Even though I don’t have kids, the thought of using chemical-laden wipes on a baby or newborn infant makes me cringe. Whether it’s a baby or an adult, the chemicals from the wipes are still being absorbed into the body through the skin. Look at the ingredients list before you buy! Be aware of wipes containing parabens, phthalates, PEGs, propylene glycol, phenoxyethanol, alcohol, cholorine, dioxin, and fragrance or perfume. You also want to choose wipes that do not test on animals (remember that cute leaping bunny symbol?). WaterWipes Baby Wipes scored a perfect score on EWG’s Skin Deep rating system; it only contains 2 ingredients: water and grapefruit seed extract. In fact, sounds super easy to make your own homemade WaterWipes, doesn’t it? Some other good brands are BabyGanics Thick n’ Kleen, Bum Booza Bamboo, and Elements Natural Baby Wipes. As far as adult facial wipes go, it was really hard for me to find a brand with zero to no chemicals. The closest I came was Alba Botanica Good & Clean Dual Textured Exfoliating Towelettes. It’s 100% vegetarian with no animal testing, artificial colors, synthetic fragrances, parabens, phtalates, or SLS. I saw a couple of questionable ingredients but overall it seemed like the best option. However, next time I’d like to buy WaterWipes and use them as my facial wipe.
Make-up Brushes – I’m posting about make-up brushes and not make-up in general because I plan on dedicating an entire post on how to choose the best make-up brands for your skin, for animals, and for the environment. For now, I’m just sticking to a part of cosmetics that tend to get looked over – the brushes we use to apply our make-up. You don’t so much have to worry about chemicals in your brushes, I just want to remind you to make compassionate purchases and find brushes that do not use animal hair. Synthetic brushes are actually better! They are easier to clean, they shed less (if at all), you can use a powder or cream product with them (cream products stain animal hair), they repel bacteria and dirt better than animal hair, and some people can be allergic to animal hair. Most importantly, animal brushes support the fur trade industry. Most of those brushes use squirrel, mink, raccoon, and horse hair. I do NOT want to rub that on my face! That is definitely not attractive in the literal and figurative sense. Or the moral sense. Here are some better, synthetic brands for make-up brushes: E.L.F., Nvey, EcoTools (what I use!), Alima Pure, Klix, Bdellium Tools, Urban Decay, and the Body Shop. So many options!
Face Wash – This is a very important product to me because my skin is extremely sensitive, but stubborn, and it has taken me forever to find the right facial wash. My skin used to be a lot more durable but now I have to strictly stick to super gentle cleansers that use all natural ingredients. Here are some of the most harmful ingredients to avoid: SLS, fragrance, parabens (methyl, ethyl, propyl, butyl), alcohol, synthetic colors, DMDM Hydrantoin (petro-chemical used as Antifreeze in cars), TEA or DEA, titanium/zirconium/bismuth/antimony (all cause breast cancer), barium, aluminum, tin, chromium, benzene, and PCBs. And don’t forget that there are good oils like plant-based ones such as coconut or olive, and then there are bad oils such as mineral, paraffin, propylene & butylene glycols, isopropyl alcohol, and petrolatum. Your best bet is to head to the natural foods section at your grocery store and look for soaps made by small, organic companies that use plant-based products. Etsy.com is a fabulous place to find homemade facial soaps with all natural ingredients. Me, I use the Calming Zinc Bar Soap by Dr. Cythina Bailey Skin Care, which you can find on her website. It’s gentle while treating common skin conditions like rosacea and acne. It is made with 4 ingredients: pyrithione zinc, olive oil infused with calendula, shea butter, and oatmeal. Stay away from big brands and products with lots of ingredients. Your skin will thank you.
Here is a glossary of common chemicals to watch out for from safemama.com. This one page glossary would be perfect to print out and have handy in your purse when shopping for beauty products. Be on the lookout for the third and final post in this series!