Recently, I have been investigating toxins in common household cleaners, cosmetics, and body care products. My sister was diagnosed with Lyme Disease this summer, and one of the most effective treatments involves a complete lifestyle detoxification. To do so, you have to start paying very close attention to what you’re buying, making sure to read labels carefully. You have to know what ingredients may be toxic to your system.
Until my sister started worrying about detoxification, I hadn’t thought much about how dangerous the products I include in my everyday routine really are. Did you know that shampoo brands such as Garnier Fructis, Herbal Essences, and Head & Shoulders contain about 25 ingredients, most of which are impossible to pronounce, and 30% of which are considered dangerous to human health by the Environmental Working Group? If you start to really look at what you’re putting onto, into, and near your body, it can be pretty scary. There are many questionable substances being put into the products we use on a daily basis.
Luckily, however, there are alternatives out there that work just as well as conventional brands, and will still keep you healthy, clean, and safe. Below is a list of the most dangerous chemicals you will find in many products you probably use every day. Each list is followed by the brands I recommend, which contain few, if any of the toxic ingredients below. Take a read and see what you think.
As a vegetarian or vegan, you probably really only need to worry about the following nutrients: Iron, Magnesium, Selenium, Calcium, Vitamin D, Zinc, and Vitamin B12
Recommended Brands: Alive, Deva Vegan, Sundown
Ingredients to Avoid in Your Shampoo:
Alcohol when listed as one of the first four ingredients
Ammonium lauryl sulfate
Parabens (methylparaben, propylparaben, for example)
Polyethelyne glycol (also called PEG/polyethelyne, or polyoxyethelyne)
Sodium laureth sulfate
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
Synthetic colors (often listed as FD&C or D&C followed by a color and a number)
Synthetic fragrance or parfum
Recommended brands: Andelou, The Honest Company, Avalon Organics, Aubrey Organics
Dangerous Toothpaste Ingredients:
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
Recommended brands: Face Naturals, just the goods, Miessence, Tom’s of Maine*
*not all kinds—read ingredients carefully!
1 cup water, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 3 drops peppermint essential oils. Mix all ingredients in a glass jar and shake well. Swish in mouth, then spit out. Store on bathroom counter.
Ingredients to Avoid in Laundry Detergent:
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)/sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylate)
Sodium dodecyl sulfate
Sulfuric acid, monododecyl ester, sodium salt
Sodium salt sulfuric acid
Monododecyl ester sodium salt sulfuric acid
Myreth,” “oleth,” “laureth,” “ceteareth,” any other “eth”
Linear alkyl sodium sulfonates (LAS), a.k.a. anionic surfactants
Petroleum distillates (a.k.a. naphthas), which have been linked to cancer
Phenols, which can cause toxicity throughout the entire body
Sodium hypochlorite (bleach)
Recommended brands: Ecover, Seventh Generation, Dr. Bonner, Planet 2x Ultra, Green Sheild Organic
DIY Laundry Detergent:
1 bar of soap (recommend Kirk’s Castile, Dr. Bronners, Fels Naptha or Zote)
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
Use a grater to shave the bar of soap into small flakes. Mix well with borax and washing soda until you achieve an even, fine mixture. Store in labeled, air-tight container. This recipe makes approximately 32 ounces of detergent; use one to two tablespoons per load depending on size.
Bad Ingredients in Lotion:
Synthetic colors (FD&C or D&C)
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
DEA – diethanolamides
MEA – monoethanolamides
TEA – triethanolamides
MIPA – monoisopropanolamides
PEG or ethoxylated alkyloamides
Sodium borate decahydrate,
Sodium tetraborate decahydrate,
Recommended brands: Dr. Bonner, Badger, Be Green Bath and Body, Face Naturals
Avoid these Ingredients in Deodorant:
Recommended brands: Crystal, Lafes, Penny Lane Organics, Face Naturals
As you can see, there are many ingredients that should be avoided in commonly used beauty and cleaning products. If you want to improve your health, as well as protect the environment, pay attention to what you buy. Next time you go to the store, take a good long look at the ingredients labels, and choose wisely. There are many more “eco-friendly” options out there, so do your research and pick whatever you like best. My recommendations are just a small selection. Check out http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ to find out how safe your favorite brand is. And remember, if you can’t find a good brand in stores, try making it yourself—DIY is fun!
I hope you found this little article helpful! Be safe, and enjoy!