Your guide to healthy living ...

Personal Care Products

You might ask the question, how do harmful ingredients get used as additives in our food, drugs, and cosmetics? One answer is insufficient long-term testing performed prior to FDA approval. FDA defines products as safe when there is “reasonable certainty that no harm will result from the intended use”. But this is little consolation for the growing number of individuals who experience allergic reactions from use of common personal care products. Symptoms may include rashes or skin irritation when using deodorants or other topical products, asthmatic reaction to hairsprays and perfumes, or skin sloughing off the sides of the mouth after brushing.

Just taking toothpaste as an example ... those that have teeth-whitening ingredients can irritate the mouth. Fluoride, while good for your teeth, is unhealthy if swallowed in even the smallest amounts. These and all the other chemicals in toothpaste are also easily absorbed through the membranes in your mouth. If the ingredients sound like substances you haven't heard of since chemistry class, it's ok to have a healthy level of skepticism about what it can be doing to your body. Some dentists say that toothpaste is more for flavor than to prevent plaque and cavities. Given the fact that I'm doing fine with my chemical-free toothpaste and with flossing, I tend to agree with them.

Yet another example of an unhealthy product is antibacterial soap. Recent studies, including 1 performed by the FDA, are finding that it's no more effective at cleaning and killing germs than normal soap. Furthermore, the chemicals in antibacterial soap are harmful to humans and the environment. Experts recommend lathering well with regular soap for a minimum of 20 seconds.

Take a look at the ingredients for your deodorant, toothpaste, makeup, hair products, shampoos and conditioners, soap, lotions, creams, and perfumes. If they have any of the following ingredients, consider replacing them with ones that don’t. Even artificial colors and fragrances can cause allergic reactions.

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
  • Dioxins (for example, 1,4-dioxane)
  • Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
  • Propylene Glycol (PG)
  • Ethylene Glycol (EG)
  • Parabens (for example, propylparaben or methylparaben)
  • Phthalates
  • DEA & TEA
  • Sodium fluoride (good for teeth, bad if swallowed)
  • Talc
  • Aluminum compounds (often found in deodorants; example: aluminum zirconium)
  • Titanium Dioxide
  • Benzenes

Bleach, fragrances, and other chemicals are even found in paper towels, tissue, and toilet paper. These chemicals can irritate the skin. Replace these with ones that are free of chemicals.

The irony is that many beauty products are also bad for your skin. And the ingredients above are so commonplace. However, there are products on the market worth trying which don’t contain these ingredients. Organic makeup, for example, is increasing in popularity and is available at a growing number of retailers and websites. If you’re trying to achieve a more youthful appearance, don’t forget that physical beauty partly comes from the inside out. Eating a healthy diet can make the difference you’re looking for. If you'd like to see how your cosmetics and personal care products rate in terms of safety to your health, an excellent resource on the web is EWG's cosmetic safety database. Just visit and enter a product, ingredient, or company. Another great resource is the Household Products Database, operated by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. This website uncovers ingredients (listed or not) of all household goods and explains their side effects.

Sun Protection

Sunscreen has some of the worst ingredients. But with all the natural products out now, you don't have to compromise your health. 1 of the important things to look for in a sunscreen is that it provides “broad spectrum” protection. SPF only applies to UVB rays. Broad spectrum means that it’s also effective against UVA. Healthy and effective sunscreens can also be found in EWG's cosmetic database.

If you drive a lot, getting a full tint job including a light shade on the windshield will give you additional protection from the sun. Investing in a good pair of shades will also help reduce sun damage to your face. If you have the problem of not getting enough sun, make sure you supplement 1000mg of vitamin D in your diet or as determined by a doctor.