I did a Powerchat for the Tigerlily Foundation last Wednesday about toxins in body products and as promised, here are my top 10 tips for transitioning to natural body products. If you missed the Powerchat and are not on my newsletter list, sign up for my newsletter here. After you’ve signed up, email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send the recording to you. I urge you to check out the recording as I talked about two of the most dangerous chemicals found in almost every single conventional body product.
1. Toss your antiperspirant. This might be the most difficult step, but there is really no way around it. You just have to get rid of your antiperspirant and the troublesome aluminum compounds that it contains and switch to a deodorant instead. Many natural markets will allow you to return deodorants (even after you have used them), so I encourage you to keep trying until you find one that works for you.
2. Read the Back Label. You’ve definitely heard me say this before, but you have to read labels. Manufacturers put so many chemicals in products (food, body and cleaning products) and you absolutely have to read the back labels. You might be wondering why it’s not sufficient to just read the front label that might say “paraben free”. The reason is because the words on the front of the package are used to convince you to buy the product whereas the words on the back label are there to inform you. You cannot simply rely on the front label. I’ve bought products that say “paraben free,” but they contain phthalates or fragrance. I’ve also seen instances where a product does not have a list of ingredients. I take that as a red flag. I prefer to buy from companies that are transparent. The fact that a product does not have a list of ingredients is not an absolute reason not to buy from them, but I would recommend that you do some research before purchasing the product.
3. Just because it’s at Whole Foods or another natural foods store doesn’t mean that it does not contain chemicals. Many “natural deodorants” I’ve bought contain “fragrance”. So again, read the back label!
4. Proceed with caution when buying “organic” body products. The word “organic” is only regulated as to food and food grade quality ingredients. I am all for eating organic good, but unless a personal care product has food grade ingredients in it or has the USDA organic symbol; you can bet that the word “organic” is probably being used as a marketing term.
5. Look for plant based products made with ingredients that you recognize like, shea butter, essential oils, coconut oil, corn starch, probiotics, etc. If an ingredient has a long scientific name, it’s most likely a chemical. That’s my mantra, plain and simple – choose products, whether food or body products, with ingredients that you can read!
6. Use oils to moisturize your body. If I’m not using a natural moisturizer, I use coconut oil, shea oil or sesame oil. I’ve even used almond oil that people use for cooking! Hey, it works and doesn’t contain chemicals ;-).
7. Use oils in other unconventional ways. I haven’t used make-up remover in years. Using jojoba oil is a great way to remove eye make-up and I have friends who use coconut oil to remove their foundation (I normally just use my face wash to remove my make-up though). Jojoba oil is also a great oil to moisturize your cuticles.
8. Research products on the “Skin Deep” and “Think Dirty” Databases. The Environmental Working Group (“EWG”) is a non-profit organization that focuses on educating the public about toxins in body products. They publish guides to “Clean Water,” “Healthy Cleaning,” the “Dirty Dozen” & “Clean Fifteen” (lists of produce with the most and least pesticide residue, respectively) and the “Skin Deep” Database which rates personal care products according to their toxicity. EWG also has an app with the Skin Deep Database. I love it because you can download it on your phone and scan the barcodes for products right there in the store as you shop for body products! I did this several months ago and discovered that the face wash I was using was rated a four out of six in terms of toxicity. I used the app as I shopped for my next face wash and scanned several products at Whole Foods before I found one with fewer toxins. Think Dirty is also an app that works the same way. I strongly suggest that you use these apps the next time you go shopping.
9. Exfoliate your skin with one of my natural body scrubs made with food based ingredients! Our bodies produce dead skin cells every day and we need to exfoliate the skin to remove them. Exfoliating our skin also makes it softer and more supple. My body scrubs are made with sugars, salts, certified USDA organic oils (coconut & olive), spices & certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils (essential oils that can be ingested). They’re made with food so you can even eat them if you want to! (I don’t envision that you’ll actually do that, unless that’s just your style :-), but if you exfoliate your lips (the citrus sugar scrub is great for that!) and some gets in your mouth, there is no need to worry.) They are packaged in 8-ounce glass containers, that don’t have bisphenol A, an endocrine disruptor found in hard plastics, and they come in three flavors – coconut peppermint salt (great for rough feet), citrus sugar & brown sugar ginger. You can read more about them here and learn how to place your order.
10. Read the labels! I know that this is on the list already, but I cannot reiterate it enough. Reading your labels (especially the back label) is the only way that you will know what is in a product. Even if you use the “Skin Deep” or “Think Dirty” databases, I still encourage you to use the knowledge that you learned during the Powerchat and read the labels.
I’ve just shared 10 tips with you and would love to hear from you. Which three tips resonated with you and which one do you plan to implement first?