When you’re trying to lose weight, experts say the best thing to do is to change your habits-eating habits, yes, but also shopping habits. The same could be said for choosing to live with fewer chemicals. Perhaps you’re now buying more fresh fruits and vegetables, and fewer fattening chips and pastries. You can do the same with your personal-care purchases.
First of all, as when you’re shedding pounds, read labels. If you’ve gone through a few of our posts, you may be starting to become familiar with the ingredients that are potentially harmful or carcinogenic, like phthalates and parbens. Just like you learned to avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup, you can start picking up a few of the undesirable personal-care ingredients, and learn to leave them on the shelves.
To help you, I’ve created an Ingredients to Avoid list of problematic ingredients. It gives you the majority of those potentially harmful and even carcinogenic ingredients like fragrances, hydroquinone, phthalates, sulfates, and petroleum products that have been linked with certain health issues. This is a great first stop in your new shopping routine.
Next, I recommend you look to organic products first when trying to avoid chemicals, but be warned-there are no regulations governing the use of the words “natural” or “organic,” so some products use them simply for marketing value. Sometimes they may have a few organic ingredients, but also have some potentially harmful ingredients. Products carrying an organic seal that says they’ve been certified organic are typically more trustworthy, but always read ingredient lists, no matter the hype.
Another handy feature developed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a customized shopping list. When you go to this site, you can choose which ingredients you want to avoid (like those that cause allergies or are potentially carcinogenic), hit “search,” and the site will give you a list of products that don’t have those ingredients. It’s easy! Give it a try!
Another biggie when you’re shopping-avoid fragrances. They can cause allergic reactions and contain who-knows-what chemicals, as their formulas are not regulated and typically contain several hidden things that aren’t so good for you. Simply look for fragrance-free items. In the store, if the ingredient list says “fragrance,” avoid it. Choose unscented items, or products that use essential oils or other natural sources for scent.
A few more tips from the EWG:
- Use fewer products (can you cut one out a day?)
- Use milder soaps that are less likely to strip the skin of natural oils
- Minimize the use of dark-hair dyes that may contain carcinogenic ingredients
- Cut down on powders-particularly, don’t use baby powder on infants (may contain phthalates and other potentially harmful ingredients)
- Reduce your use of nail polish and polish removers, and choose brands that are free of formaldehyde and toluene, like Peacekeeper Natural Nail Polish or Dr. Remedy Nail Products.
With just a few adjustments, you’ll be living with fewer chemicals, and most likely, you and your family will feel much better. Give it a try and let us know how you do!
Have you become a safe personal-care shopper? Give us the details!
Photo courtesy of barefooter2008 via Flickr.com.