Pure & Local

Jennifer Freitas
owns and operates The Truth Beauty Company

Spring is the season for renewal — cleaning our yards of all the winter remnants, spring cleaning our homes and even sloughing our skin of all its dry and dehydrated winter scales.

Why not also take a look at what lurks in your medicine cabinet? Everyday personal care products contain thousands of chemicals that affect hormones and may be linked to other maladies.

Manufacturers aren’t required to list all ingredients and terms like “organic” and “natural” are not regulated, so it can be hard to tell what’s in products and if they’re safe.

For example, an ingredient like petroleum is derived from natural sources, yet it is a beauty offender for a variety of reasons: it’s harvested from the same crude oil source as the stuff that goes into your car engine and it doesn’t break down for thousands of years (and that’s just the
tip of the iceberg).

Petroleum is a foreign substance which is non-digestible by the human body. Our body naturally rejects it. It can often be linked to contact dermatitis (which is a form of inflammation) and this inflammation can cause cellular damage, stress and even premature aging.

That’s just one ingredient you should be looking to rid from your personal care products. There are now a number of studies that discuss the dangers of using cosmetics that contain synthetic chemicals and many lists can be found that outline the dangers of these beauty culprits. Here are the most common products found in our homes with the ingredients that I consider the worst offenders:

Want to know how that deodorant stick keeps itself from drying out? It’s called propylene glycol or butylene glycol. Not only are these associated with dermatitis, eye irritations and organ system toxicity, they are also a component of anti-freeze. I don’t know about you, but what I put in the engine of my car doesn’t really have a place in my beauty care regime.

If it contains avobenzone, PABA, oxybenzone, or ethoxycinnamate, you should just leave it on the shelf. These ingredients have been linked to skin irritations, allergies and endocrine disruption. You are way better off using a sunscreen that uses a mineral block, like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Nail polish
Many formulations contain toluene, which is a petrochemical solvent that’s also used in paint thinners. It is a known irritant that causes breathing problems, nausea, and organ system toxicity and it is possibly a carcinogen. What to do for some colour on your digits? Look for a water based polish.

Antibacterial hand soaps
The agent that companies add in order to throw on that ‘anti-bacterial’ label is the ingredient triclosan. It is a known endocrine disruptor and has also been associated with skin, eye and lung irritation. Scared of germs? Wash your hands for the entire duration of your favorite song.

Body lotion
Often lotions (among many other personal care products) contain an ingredient called parabens (methyl, propyl) and it is added as a preservative. Yet, this ingredient can wreak havoc on your body. Parabens mimic estrogen; in fact, intact parabens have been found in breast cancer tissue growth. Parabens have also been shown to be an irritant for skin, eyes and lungs.

Want clean hair? Well, it isn’t the dirty little ingredient called sodium laureth sulfate contained in your shampoo that gets it clean! So ditch the SLS as it is a known skin irritant and strips the natural oils from your skin and hair. It has also been linked to organ toxicity. Really, SLS is nothing more than a great foaming agent but who needs bubbles anyways?

Think you are never going to remember all these scary ingredients? You can download a handy pdf from the David Suzuki Foundation that folds up wallet size at: davidsuzuki.org/publications/downloads/2010/whats-inside-shoppers-guide.pdf.

Still too much work? Here are some super simple tips to keep that bathroom cupboard clean: choose fewer products, look for plant based ingredients, look up DIY recipes that use food grade ingredients found in your kitchen, avoid fragrances, avoid antimicrobials.

At the end of the day, spring is a great time to refresh and renew and minimize the footprint of the products you use from packaging to their pumps to their process.

Our lifestyle can have style and sustain life when we pursue better choices and consume with consciousness.