Last year we were on vacation and my daughter and I entered into a store that advertised itself as being a “natural” bath and beauty store. Being that we use all natural products I was actually very excited and the colors and smells were delightful. First clue that it really wasn’t natural. As we entered the store there were soaps, shampoos, bath salts, bath sugar scrubs and oils. The word natural on the wall in big bold letters was just shouting out to us, “try me, I’m safe to put on your skin”. Well, we obliged and began testing some of the products. The salts and sugars that you rub on your skin were amazing when you washed them off. Our hands felt like silk or like the skin of a newborn.
As my daughter looked around, she came upon a cream that she really wanted. The smell was fantastic and the cream itself was more of a butter texture that was smooth and felt nice on the skin after the salt scrub. We turned the jar around to look at the ingredients, which we should have done the minute we walked in the store, and let’s just say it was far from natural. The ingredient list was long with great big long words that needed a dictionary to pronounce. One of the ingredients I recognized and I told my daughter that I read about it on a list of things to avoid due to cancer. She of course, being the beautiful smart 13 year old she was at the time, informed me that I was paranoid and needed to quit looking at lists like that and enjoy the fun smelling creams and toiletries that could only enhance the aroma we were already putting off. (Not really, after all it was over 85 degrees at the time.) That being said, I whipped out my phone and told her I would enjoy how I smell, enjoy my life without the product, and gave her my phone with the product description. I told her that if she wanted it, she needed to read about the ingredient first, and I was not going to buy it for her. She politely read it, of course this is after the long drawn out sigh, gave me back the phone and put the cream back on the shelf. I asked her why she wasn’t buying it and she informed me she wasn’t putting that on her body.
What did she read? Well, my daughter got an education about much more than just creams that day. The information I pulled up said that tumors and fast growing cancers were detected in trials using this particular ingredient. It also said that anyone handling the ingredient should not breath it in, nor touch it with bare skin. It went on to say that in small amounts this particular ingredient has been used in various consumer products for adults and children, as a preservative. Yes, it really said that. Used as a preservative, even though in the first paragraph it advised upon protecting ones self from direct contact. My very smart 13 year old, turned around, looked at me, and a discussion ensued about how natural doesn’t always mean natural. That you have to read ingredient lists. We also discussed how even in small amounts, ingredients that are known to cause health issues, can harm us just for the mere fact that we don’t use small amounts of those products nor do we use them just occasionally. After all, a dime size dollop of cream will not cover your body once a month. Between cancers, endocrine disrupters, learning disabilities in children, neurological disorders, etc., I think avoiding unnatural products is the way to go. So, the end of our shopping in the “natural” bath and body store ended when we found one sugar scrub in the store that had only 3-4 known ingredients in it, and that is what we purchased. As for the cream, we went home and followed up the scrub with some coconut oil.
Over the years, I have switched out all of my cosmetics from toxic to more green and safe alternatives. There are websites online that will list the toxicity levels of all your favorites. It’s not easy finding products that match the colors you like or the coverage you like, I admit, it takes time to find a pleasing alternative.
Although I still color my hair, I try to choose healthier alternatives in the products used. Talk to your hair dresser and see if he/she is willing to work with you using more natural organic hair care products. It’s been quite a while since I’ve used products to keep my curls and shine my hair.
As for creams and astringents, there are organic and inexpensive items that work great. For people with skin that has acne or that is oily, a great facial wash is a bar of black soap. You can buy it by the pound online very inexpensively. Make sure you get it from a fair trade company. Black soap is made in Africa and takes days to make. It’s made of leaves and plants that are non toxic. If you find black soap in a liquid, beware, it’s not the same and it’s likely made of some form of chemical.
You can safely use apple cider vinegar as an astringent, yes it smells nasty yet it works for bacteria. You can also use it under your arms to help cut down on the bacteria in the arm pits. Apple cider vinegar is a safe natural alternative to cleaning as well. Great for sinks, tubs, counters, floors.
Coconut oil has so many uses. You can use it on your skin as a cream, you can use it as a mouth wash as long as you expectorate it into the garbage not your sink, or you can use it on a babies butt as an alternative to diaper creams. Coconut oil is a healing alternative that helps with burns and skin irritation as well. Nursing moms will find healing that is more natural as well. Coconut oil can also be used as a conditioner for the ends of your hair. Claims are made that it helps with taming the hair in the summer.
Baking soda is also great as a toothpaste, powder under the arms, and an alternative to chemical cleaning solutions. It also is a great wash for vegetables. I’ve read that you can also use it for a shampoo. (I’ve tried making my own out of other products, and was very disappointed. I buy organic shampoos now.)
Essential oils are great for shining up your granite counter tops, great for helping the laundry to smell nice, and are great alternatives to any chemical spray that is supposed to help your home or car smell better.
Did you know you can make your own laundry soap? It’s less expensive, easy to make and cleans just as well as the commercial brands without the chemicals. There are many “recipe’s” out there. For the most part they are all the same. The only thing to remember is that you need to stir it up before using it. Use an essential oil in addition for a clean smelling load. Some of the ingredients used for the laundry soap will also do well for your dishwasher.
If all else fails and you don’t have the time yet can afford it, buy organic. Stay away from “natural” and go for certified organic. There are food co-ops available all over that are more affordable than the local grocery store.
Lesson of the day: Read your labels! Learn about the products you use daily and see how they can affect your body. Always remember that whatever you put on your skin, does soak in and enter into your blood stream. If there is something you can change and have the ability to change, then take a chance and see if you notice a healthy improvement.