Your bathroom routine could make you sick.
This is shocking to most people, but I am not exaggerating or lying. The products that are most accessible to us these days almost all contain a doozy list of carcinogenic dyes, fragrances, alcohols, and synthetic compounds- and most of us have no idea. Unfortunately, you really can’t trust stores that stock these products, marketing that throws out the word “natural” much too frequently, and even the FDA to protect you. That’s why, after months of making the switch to natural products I decided to compile a handy guide to help others in their transition to natural products. Just as I believe in the importance of clean and organic food, I believe it is highly crucial to our long- term health that we do not coat our bodies with carcinogenic chemicals that absorb into our bloodstream and impact us in ways we may never realize until it’s too late. For finding the right products, Environmental Workings Group (EWG) is a lifesaver- literally!- in that it rates products in terms of risks for cancer, reproductive effects, allergic reactions, etc. and gives a concise rating so consumers are able to assess the risks of the products they use and compare them to others. I have provided my recommendations, as well as some of the alarming toxins in the conventional versions of each products. Hope this helps you make better decisions for your well- being in the future!
What I use: Baking soda. You can also add peppermint oil and bentonite clay, and find many natural formulas in stores and online.
Why? Regular toothpaste contains fluoride, which actually wears down the enamel on your teeth over time. Studies have shown that baking soda is far less abrasive on teeth then conventional toothpaste, and without the actually toxic fluoride (note the warning labels on most toothpastes- they call kill a small child within 2 to 4 hours!), artificial colors synthesized from petroleum, the irritant sodium lauryl sulfate, the abrasive hydrated silica, and the carcinogenic triclosan. Not a list of things you would want anywhere near your pearly whites!
What I use: I use Mill Creek Botanicals biotin shampoo and conditioner but there are many options at your local health store. Castile soap is also a great alternative. I advise you to try shampooing less too, because shampooing daily strips your hair of natural oils and most people shampoo more often that they need to.
Why? Conventional shampoo and conditioner contain artificial dyes, parabens which are linked to reproductive disorders and cancer, phthalates (fragrances) which become trapped in the body forever, and are linked to cancer, organ toxicity, birth defects, neurological disorders, and are hazardous to the environment, sulfates which are toxins that strip the skin of natural oils, EDTA which is linked to allergies, kidney damage, reproductive effects, and environmental effects, and dioxane which is common in foaming products (including peg, laureth, and polysorbates) retinyl palminate, Proplene glycol (antifreeze), and PEG-6- all linked to cancer.
What I use: Right now I am using bars of natural soap, but I also bought a giant bottle of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, which has 18 different uses. It is truly a lifesaver for cleaning basically anything, including yourself! For those of you that don’t know, castile soap is the most natural soap that exists and it’s typically made with coconut oil and some essential oils. It’s moisturizing and can clean just about anything without harsh, damaging chemicals.
Why? Body wash basically contains most of the same harmful products as shampoo and conditioner, and is notoriously awful for having dyes, fragrances, and all that foamy stuff. Your skin is the largest organ on your body- it is so important to treat it right!
What I use: I personally don’t wear deodorant currently and I’ve survived the hottest days of summer in Michigan without it. That being said, there are many wonderful natural products on the market made with baking soda, shea butter, and essential oils that help with odor. You can also make your own at home with simple ingredients! Here’s a recipe my friend uses: https://agirlonthebrinkofadventure.wordpress.com/2015/05/09/natural-deodorants-dun-dun-dun/
Why? Stopping sweat is not natural and not healthy, and conventional deodorants do this by using aluminum chloride that is linked to cancer (especially breast cancer). They also contain triclosan, parabens, silica, talc, and steareth-n (all carcinogenic!) Yikes! I previously used the 21% aluminum Certain Dri, and I am SO grateful I learned about this cancer risk soon enough!
What I use: Essential oils work wonders for bug spray. You can make one with citronella, peppermint, and tea tree oil, plus witch hazel and distilled water.
Why? Most people know that bug spray is highly unnatural and dangerous, especially with the chemical DEET which may be linked to cancer. You don’t have to tell me twice; I’m not willing to take the chance on that one.
What I use: I like Babyganics mineral-based sunscreen. It doesn’t leave me as white as others I have tried, and it feels good on my skin.
Why? Conventional sunscreen contains chemical compounds oxybenzone and avobenzone which are linked to… cancer. Aren’t you supposed to be using sunscreen to PREVENT cancer?! Thankfully there are some better natural options on the market. Remember: The best thing you can do is take preventative measures like wearing long clothing and staying out of the sun for long periods of time.
What I use: I use Desert Essentials Thoroughly Clean tea tree oil face wash and bars of natural activated charcoal. I like Burt’s Bees toner and witch hazel for toner, and Aztec Healing Clay for an occasional face mask.
Why? Face wash typically contains most of the same ingredients as every other body product, as well as alcohols which are extremely damaging to skin, benzoyl peroxide which accelerates skin aging from the sun, and the awful triclosan. There are so many acne products on the market that are just absolutely terrible for the long-term health of your skin, so research these extensively. It may take a while to find what works for you, but I promise your face will come around eventually and reward you for treating it right!
What I use: I recently became a fan of the brand Pacifica and I have tried their mascara, highlighting powder, CC Cream, concealer, and lip butter and love them all. They’re the cheapest I could find for natural makeup, but there are other well-rated brands like Inika, 100% Pure (fruit dyed!), Tarte, and Too Faced. You can also make your own makeup- Pinterest has loads of ideas with common household ingredients like cocoa powder and nutmeg, plus ingredients like shea butter and activated charcoal for eyeliner and mascara.
Why? Common makeup products contain a lengthy list of concerning chemicals including lead, mica, formaldehyde, coal tar, benzene, mineral oils ethylene oxide, phenacetin, heavy metals, cadmium, arsenic, chromium, silica, titanium dioxide- basically all of these are related to cancer, allergic reactions, and environmental effects at the minimum.
What I use: I use Every Man Jack’s brand of shaving cream for sensitive skin, but there are many other brands including Dr. Bronner’s.
Why? Guess what comes up again here? Those dreaded phthalates, fragrances, parabens, and sodium lauryl sulfate, as well as triethanolamine which is a skin and respiratory toxicant. Not exactly desired for those gentle shaving areas.
What I use: I haven’t found a favorite yet, but I’ve heard great things about using raw coconut oil and shea butter.
Why? Most lotions contain mineral oil which clogs pores and may be contaminated with carcinogens, retinyl palminate which may speed the development of skin lesions and tumors, as well as phthalates, dyes, and more. Again, your skin is so vitally important to your health, so make it a priority to protect it.
One of the common misconceptions about buying natural beauty products is that it is too expensive, but there are actually SO many options out there that you are bound to find products that fit your budget! (Coming from a college student who works part-time and buys all of her own products!) When in doubt, you can DIY just about any and everything- which saves a ton of money if you buy the ingredients in bulk. Your local health store and ones online are goldmines for natural products. It may take a bit to find what products work best for you in particular, but the rewards are absolutely priceless.
In a world where you basically cannot find anyone without a loved one affected by cancer, it is urgent that we start paying more attention to all of the chemicals we bring into our lives unintentionally. The fact that the FDA doesn’t prohibit the sale of products with carcinogenic chemicals is frustrating, but that means it’s up to us to take the responsibility of our health and our lives, and be proactive about disease prevention. We must also share this information whenever we learn it- it could quite possibly save our loved ones’ lives! The journey to natural living does not end at beauty products either- there are also issues with our cleaning products and even our apparel to worry about. I just hope this consciousness about the substances you allow to be so close to your body expands from here, and you continue to educate yourself and be the wisest consumer you can be. It is true what they say-
“Health is wealth, and without it you have nothing.”
From left to right: Dr Bronner’s pure castile soap, Aztec Secret Indian healing clay, Desert Essence tea tree oil face wash, Mill Creek Botanicals biotin shampoo and conditioner, Pacifica makeup, Desert Essence lip balm, pure organic rosehip oil, Every Man Jack shaving cream, Burt’s Bees toner, Lush shower gel, pure baking soda, and of course- PETA’s free guide to cruelty free cosmetics (be sure to check this out! All of the products I have listed are also vegan and cruelty-free- something everyone should make a priority with their purchases!)