Archive | 2009

Quick Reference Guide When Shopping For Personal Care Products

When you’re out shopping and trying to remember what products are safely recommended or what ingredients are best to avoid, all while the kids are acting up in the cart…it starts feeling impossible to start reading through confusing ingredient lists.  Well the kind folks at EWG (Environmental Working Group) have produced a printable wallet card listing ingredients to avoid while shopping for cosmetics and personal care products so you have something to quickly refresh your memory.  I printed off something similar in the summer when searching for non-toxic sunscreens for my kids and found it very handy!

I also found this list of products to avoid very interesting from the EWG site..hmmmm off to check if my liquid hand soap contains triclosan…

Cosmetic products to avoid:
• Anti-aging creams with lactic, glycolic, AHA and BHA acids
• Hair dyes with ammonia, peroxide, p-phenylenediamine, diaminobenzene, and all dark permanent hair dyes
• Liquid hand soaps with Triclosan, aka Antibacterial hand soaps
• Nail polish & removers with fermaldehyde
• Skin lighteners with hydraquinone

I just checked my liquid Softsoap (common brand of liquid hand soap) and although it doesn’t contain Triclosan, it does contain an ingredient on the ‘naughty’ list: DMDM Hydantoin.  This ingredient is listed on EWG as a toxic contaminant.  To think I started the de-tox of toxic household products 8 months ago to discover stuff like this is very frustrating.  Makes me realize I haven’t even scratched the surface.  You can’t trust the big names in the beauty industry since my Softsoap is manufactured by Colgate-Palmolive.  The only name bigger than these two companies is Johnson & Johnson and many of their personal care products for babies contain phthalates and chemicals.  Yuck!

One large store that is North American, UK wide that I’m really impressed with is Whole Foods.  I’ve heard they conduct secondary testing of products they carry.  This means they do not just trust what companies tell them blindly so they run testing in-house.  They also have a list published on their site of unacceptable body care ingredients.  It’s great to know that every ingredient the Environmental Working Group listed on their printable wallet card is included in this ‘unacceptable’ list from Whole Foods.  They can’t guarantee that none of their products will contain these ingredients, but at least they’ve publicly announced that they are taking ever effort to source products not containing them.  To view the ingredients on this list, click here.  Hmmm I see a large forum on the Whole Foods site too.  Hard to find forums talking about natural topics…might be worth checking out.  For a list of Whole Foods locations, click here.

We all know I’m a big fan of EWG, but it’s nice to see there are other companies looking out for our health by carrying natural products, minus the chemicals. One Mommy Footprint reader recently told me that Whole Foods carries their own line (365 Everyday Value brand) and the prices are very reasonable. (Thanks Sabrina!) Shopping for natural products no longer needs to break the bank!  

January will be the month of talking about ways to rid your home of toxic products and link to places to find healthy alternatives here at Mommy Footprint.  Next up is natural nail polish….I’ve been looking to paint my twin’s nails since the summer and I’ve finally found a safe, biodegradable brand!  Stay tuned.

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Are Cosmetics Killing Us?

It’s such a harsh title for an article, but the Environmental Working Group posted a similar title ‘Beauty Secret: Your Make-Up Can Kill You’ and not only did I sit up and read it, I agree.  I’ve long wondered why so many young people seem afflicted with disease and problems that used to happen later in life, and weren’t so common.  Why are 30 year old woman getting breast cancer, why are so many couples struggling with fertility problems, and why the high rate of immune problems?  The list goes on and even to a lesser degree…why have most children you know at one point been diagnosed with either eczema or asthma and why do girls in Grade 6 look so overdeveloped?  Most will agree it’s environmental.  Well what if it’s the chemicals that leech from our plastics, the body care and household products we use to ‘clean’ with, the air freshener we spray around children and pets, or the make-up we apply to make ourselves beautiful?  Even people’s pets these days seem to have higher rates of cancer. 

I’m not a scientist or at all educated on environmental issues, but I do believe much of what watchdog groups like EWG have to say.  After all, they’ve been bang on about bpa and phthalates.  We spend so much time checking labels and ingredients for our children, take a few minutes and review what scores your own body care products receive using the skin deep cosmetic safety database.  If the rating isn’t low, make it a New Year’s resolution to take a trip to Whole Foods, Planet Organic and surround yourself with some natural products.  My Noxzema scored a 4 on the cosmetic database and it’s really the only beauty product I use.  That score doesn’t impress me, so I’ll need to replace with one of the many solutions out there that scored 0-2 which is low level of concern for hidden chemicals, etc.

What are a few easy things you can do today that will remove many chemicals from your home/self immediately?

Use only natural personal care products on yourself and family.  Either that or use nothing at all (when I run out of natural soap and shampoo for my kids, I just use water).  Products purchased with the rest of your groceries (Johnson & Johnson, etc.) contain phthalates and this is not good news if you have boys.  Phthalates attack their reproductive systems and you can’t search for this in an ingredient list…it’s a chemical that manufacturers sneak into products masked with the word ‘fragrance’ on the bottle.  So steer clear of anything with fragrance for your entire family….yes even Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo contains phthalates! Read more here: Protect Your Family From Phthalates In Your Home

Get rid of fabric softener or dryer sheets.  One of the most toxic things in your home…they release chemicals two ways:  through the skin and in the air.  Just stop using them and find out natural ways to help with static cling. Read more: Dryer Sheets & Fabric Softener – A Household Toxin

Don’t spray febreeze, air freshener, or plug-in room deodorizers… they are only masking odor with chemicals released through fragrance for your family to ingest.

Replace your cleaning supplies.  Ever wondered why your head is pounding after cleaning the bathroom or glass windows?  If you are spraying traditional cleaning agents, your headache is from inhaling toxins. Your children, family, and pets are also inhaling and touching those products. Eco-friendly cleaning products are sold everywhere these days and not only are they much better for the environment, but it’s much easier to clean thanks to companies like Norwex! Read more: Norwex – Cleaning Without Chemicals

I still find my children bathing or mouthing soft plastic toys.  PVC plastic is dangerous to human health…it’s proven that it releases the most potent synthetic chemicals ever tested, which can cause cancer and harm immune and reproductive systems.  Remove any soft plastic toys that might contain PVC from your home.  Something that still makes me sick is the Vancouver Aquarium gift shop sells isles of soft plastic toys, dolphins, whales, snakes, etc.  Every time I would take my boys there as toddlers, I would buy one of these figures so they could play in the tub with them.  I even bought an octopus for my girl’s to teeth on because the tentacles on the toy felt good against their gums when they were cutting a new tooth.  Last time I was at the aquarium, I noticed a sign under each bucket of these toys that read “PVC”.  It upset me for two reasons.  I had purchased these toxic toys for my kids to mouth, bath, and play with.  I also wondered how many parents know exactly what PVC means and why would they continue to sell them?  If you want to warn people about a product, write the word TOXIC underneath, not an acronym that most people don’t understand.  Sorry to start a rant, but I really suffer from guilt about the world of plastics and how much exposure my family had before the chemicals came to light for parents.

I look forward to highlighting companies in 2009 that are offering natural alternatives to traditional products that we grew up with.  I think we can look around and see that the cleaning agents, cosmetics, fragrances, and world of cooking with plastic, just isn’t working for us anymore.  If you don’t know where to start, check out the wonderfully natural site Nayla Natural Care.  A great place to start to find replacement products for your home.

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