*image courtesy of Pinterest
Last week we kicked off our first Wellness Wednesday on my Instagram stories. The topic was Fragrance- a silent killer in my personal opinion and one that is grossly overlooked.
Specifically we talked about Fragrance in our personal care items. Shampoos, cosmetics... anything we are putting on our skin or spraying around ourselves.
Here are a few notes from that conversation-
*The term fragrance is an umbrella term that covers over 80,000 toxic chemicals that can be hiding in our personal care items. Chemicals such a phthalates, octoxynols and nonoxynols. Phthalates are potent hormone disruptors linked to reproductive system birth defects in baby boys. Octoxynols and nonoxynols break down into persistent hormone disruptors, as well.
*Of those 80,00 chemicals the US has banned a mere 11 of them. Canada has regulations on over 650 of them and the European Health Commission has restricted over 1300 of them.
*These chemicals have not been fully tested in the US. WE ARE THE GUNIEA PIGS.
*Government regulations for cosmetics haven't been updated since 1930.
*Manufacturers aren't required to disclose specific fragrance ingredients because fragrances fall into a loop hole. Instead, you'll find the word parfum, perfume or fragrance because fragrances are considered a "trade secret". What this means is that manufacturers can legally hide 1000's of toxic chemicals in the products we use in that one little word.
*Red Flags- any product that has a warning label such as do not ingest, discontinue if rash occurs, or has an age limit on it.
Resources for safe products-
First of all, bookmark the EWG website and download the EWG's Healthy Living app to your phone. The website will help you search for safe products before you buy anything and the app will help you find clean products in the store with the apps scanner. On this app you'll find the toxicity rated anywhere from EWG verified (the best) up to a rating level of 10 (the worst). Best case scenario we are looking for the EWG stamp otherwise we are looking for the color green and as low a number as possible.
Think Dirty is another app I have on my phone that makes it easy to look up a product at home when I'm making my list before I hit the store or buy online and they also have a handy scanner so you can look things up on the spot. You can scan any product that they support and it will give you the run down of what that product is made of. There are three sections that it gives you. The dirty meter, ingredients, and cleaner options. The dirty meter outlines 3 major areas of concern. Carcinogenicity, Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity, and Allergencity and Immunotoxicity. We are looking for a green color and a low rating. It will give you a 0-10 score, with 0 being the cleanest and 10 being the most toxic to your body. I like this app especially because after scanning a product you can check the ingredients and right next to ingredients is "Our Picks" which will list a few safer options. You can also make lists on list app for quick reference later on.
Often you won't be able to find a product on either of these apps and that can be frustrating. Both apps will ask you to take a few photos of the product if they don't have it in their database so that they can evaluate it. Take a second and send in your info. The only way these apps can become more helpful is if we help them out a little.
Here a few articles I found if you are interested in the difference between the two apps-
Another resource I turn to and trust...
just.ingredients on Instagram. Karalynne Call is a certified nutritionist who shares toxin filled products in our home from food to product and she shares the products that you can replace them with all in a quick swipe. She's a great one follow.
What else can we do-
Use your sense of smell and common sense. If your hairspray smells like pineapple but there is no pineapple listed in the ingredients and you find the word parfum or fragrance you can safely assume those are toxic chemicals you are smelling. Look for products that have the scents listed individually. For example- peppermint derived from Pure Essential Oils. In the moment with no apps to rely on these are always a better and safer alternative.
Ignore words like Green, Fresh, and Natural. These words ARE NOT regulated by the FDA. In most cases they are a gimmick to draw you in and make you feel like you are buying something clean. They are also generally more expensive for no reason other than that pretty packaging.
Use your common sense. If a product contains shimmer, color and has a scent but the ingredients don't reflect those things it's clearly toxic until proven otherwise. Choose the most boring option, the plain chapstick with no flavor will be your best bet until you have time to research.
What do those ratings mean-
I went through my house this week and researched every product we use on our skin. The shower, our bathroom drawers and counters, our bedrooms and the lotions and chapsticks next to the kitchen sink, every spot I could think of that gets hit up regularly. Truth be told I didn't find many products that rated very high most of which I owe to my daughter's allergies and the things we no longer use in our house because of them. I did find a few gifted items and a few that slipped by me. I fell for Philosophy's Pure Grace shampoo & body wash for our bathroom remodel because the bottle was pretty and it was expensive and I think I just assumed it was a good brand because it's expensive and has the word Pure in the product name. Maybe they have some cleaner products but this one in particular is 5 on EWG. That rating was especially high for allergies and immunotoxicity. Meaning the ingredients are scientifically linked to chemicals that are known to cause harm to the immune system, a class of health problems that manifest as allergic reactions or an impaired capacity to fight disease and repair damaged tissue in the body. NOT exactly what I want to slather on my body let alone my kids who are busy fighting off those rampant school germs.
The gifted items I found included a bag full of Bath & Body products that all rated extremely high, those that I could find on my go-to apps were 8s and 9s with the major concerns being developmental and reproductive toxicity. Ingredients linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity are a broad class of health effects that range from infertility and reproductive organ cancers to birth defects and developmental delays in children. Again NOT something I want my children or yours using!
Look- things slip by us, we make mistakes because we aren't privy to the harmful products available to us on our everyday shelves. I'm sharing in the hope that we can find ways to fix them together.
What we are doing in our home-
I'm currently working on replacing anything in our home that is rated over a 5. As I said, I went through all of our personal care products and checked the ratings. Anything that I found over a rating of 5 on the EWG and Think Dirty was put into a bag and placed in our garage. I made a list of those products and decided whether or not we actually needed products of their kin and diligently researched the items I deemed necessary on both of the apps/websites I listed above. I placed a few orders for products that we need immediately and I'll share them with you here next week.
Going back to my decor roots there is something to be said about minimizing everything. How many products do we actually need. Is it more affordable to buy cleaner, more expensive products if we minimize the products we are using? That's a personal choice we can make.
Don't throw toxic chemicals away!
I think its also important to note that the products that went in that bag that had a high toxicity level shouldn't just be thrown in your trash can. Especially as we dive deeper and get into harmful cleaning chemicals.
Check Waste Management's website to find a local pick up or drop off location near you.
TerraCycle is another great website for recycling just about everything you didn't think could be recycled.
Next week I'll share the products we have slowly been replacing our toxic products with and a list I am complying of all of your recommendations.