Let’s start this post with a little experiment. Humour me. Take a walk to your bathroom, vanity or for some women, even your purse. How many personal care and cosmetic products do you have? I’m talking about shampoo, lotions, skin care, hair spray, serums and makeup. Probably a lot. Do you know what’s in those products?
Now don’t feel bad if you don’t and don’t feel bad if you never even looked at a label before. I know that in the past, when I purchased something, I made my purchasing decisions based on endorsements from friends, claims on the packaging and (gasp!) even the mere look of the product. When I was looking for a good shampoo, for example, I would read the claims on the back of the bottle and stop there (okay, maybe I looked at the price tag too), but my eyes never veered down into the ingredients section.
Every day we put tons of products on our body and could inadvertently be exposing ourselves to harmful chemicals and toxins. Today I want to share some tips with you on how to reduce your toxic load and be a more informed shopper.
Don’t get wowed by claims of “hypoallergenic,” “natural” or even “organic.” Did you know that in Canada a product can be labelled hypoallergenic even if 4 out 10 people get an allergic reaction? Also keep an eye out for claims like, “Dermatologist recommended”. This means that a company has paid this professional for their recommendation of this product. When shopping you should be looking for the claims like “Dermatologist tested” instead. If a product has been tested that means that it has actually been tested by a professional and not just recommended by someone who is getting paid.
There are a number of ingredients that should be avoided when shopping for personal care products. Here are a few to keep an eye out for when shopping:
Parabens- Parabens are widely used in cosmetic products as a preservative, but have been linked to cancer. Pay particular concern to deodorants, whose parabens have been strongly linked to breast cancer.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS)– SLS is a foaming agent and can be found in personal care products like shampoo, soaps and even toothpaste. Not only has SLS has been linked to cancer, but it is also a major irritant and is actually used in clinical studies to deliberately irritate the skin so other substances can be tested.
Mineral Oil – Mineral oil is found in most personal care products and it is the one that I now avoid 100%. Mineral oil is a by-product of the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline. It is cheaper to sell this oil to cosmetic companies than to dispose of it properly. It is basically used as a cheap filler. In addition to containing toxins, mineral oil is also one of the fastest accelerators of the aging process. Did I mention mineral oil is found in most “anti-aging” skin care lines? Mineral oil also acts like a barrier, preventing your skin from breathing, clogging pores and keeping toxins in.
Make Smart Choices
Now that you know what to avoid, you are equipped to make smarter choices when it comes to shopping for your personal care products. The best part is this doesn’t mean that you have to take a minimalist approach to personal care products. There are many great companies out there that are leaders when it comes to safe and healthy products.
You should aim to avoid buying your personal care products from big box stores where products are made to have a shelf life of up to ten years. Also, look for companies with strong core values such as not testing on animals, reducing their carbon footprint and providing high quality ingredients. Be willing to spend a little more to get a little more. The famous saying “You get what you pay for” couldn’t be more true and sometimes you need to invest in order to ensure you are not only getting safe products but also products that live up to their claims.
I personally use Arbonne products because I know they are vegan, free from harmful ingredients and work really well. With over 450 products, from skincare to makeup to nutrition products, there is something for everyone and you can rest at ease that the products you are using are safe.