What are you feeding your skin (and ultimately, your body)?
Although we as a nation are becoming more aware of the benefits of supporting and eating locally produced, organic foods from small family farms, we tend to forget about what we put ON our bodies as much as we obsess about what we put IN them. But in the same way that our bodies absorb and process nutrients ingested internally, our skin cells are also a conduit to (and from) our internal organs.
As a company that is passionate about making safe, natural products for you, your pets, and the environment, we thought we’d share some information on the “Campaign for Safe Cosmetics” – a great effort launched in 2004 to secure regulatory and legislative reforms to eliminate dangerous chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products. Much in the same way that the “organic” label on foods used to be unregulated, and as a result, largely meaningless; currently, phrases on personal-care products like “natural,” “organic,” “herbal,” and so on mean little to nothing. However, since food bearing the “organic” seal is now highly regulated by the FDA and now requires a stringent adherence to growing and harvesting guidelines, the hope is that the same level of regulation and safety guidelines will be applied to bath and beauty products.
You may be surprised by the “Dirty Details” in the ingredient lists of most conventional cosmetics and beauty products on the market today. Our recommendation would be to be safe and only use earthbath shampoos and conditioners on yourself, as well as on your pets, as ALL earthbath products are natural and non-toxic!
In case you didn’t know, earthbath products are made only with pure essential oils and natural ingredients, and are completely paraben-free, phthalate-free, fake-fragrance-free, and phosphate-free. After all, there’s no reason for your dog to be using higher-quality, more natural shampoos and conditioners than you! We say, natural, for all! However, earthbath won’t be manufacturing doggie makeup anytime soon though; so if you’re a cosmetics and perfume wearer, it’s up to you to read the labels on your cosmetics and user your consumer power to “vote” for safer cosmetics!
Here are four key (and sometimes sneaky) ingredients lurking in your bath and beauty products which you would do well to keep an eye out for, and avoid.
Synthetic preservatives are found in a huge majority of cosmetics, beauty, and grooming products. The most common class of preservative used in deodorants and cosmetics are parabens, thought to mimic the hormone estrogen, which some studies show plays a role in the development of breast cancer and other reproductive abnormalities. This scary chemical is found in most of the nearly 25,000 cosmetics and personal care products manufactured for human use, including shampoos, commercial moisturizers, shaving gels, topical pharmaceuticals, spray tanning solution and even toothpaste. According to the Environmental Working Group, parabens can disrupt the hormone (endocrine) system, and were found in the breast cancer tumors of 19 of 20 women studied. The FDA doesn’t believe that we should be concerned about the use of parabens in cosmetics because of their very low levels in products. However, with parabens appearing in so many cosmetics and skincare products, it is possible that greater exposure to the chemicals through using multiple products in which they appear could offset their lower potency. We think it best to be safe, and avoid these nasty synthetic chemicals as much as possible! After all, there are wonderful and effective products on the market that don’t contain parabens: earthbath is a shining example!
Check out the fine print of most personal-care ingredient labels and you’ll probably find the innocuous-sounding “fragrance”, usually at or near the end of the long list of unpronounceable names. “Fragrances” are covered by a huge loophole in federal law, since they are regarded as trade secrets, that doesn’t require the potentially hundreds of chemicals and ingredients in the scented formulas to be disclosed. As a result, this innocent sounding term can obscure a massive amount of substances which can be tied to everything from allergies to endocrine disruption. In 2002, three-quarters of the 72 products tested by the Environmental Working Group contained phthalates: plasticizer chemicals linked to birth defects, feminization of infant boys, liver and kidney damage, and infertility. However, none of the products, which included brands like Cover Girl, Pantene, Dove, L’Oréal, and Revlon, had the word “phthalates” listed on their bottles. Scary! I’d say a good rule of thumb to live by is this: ingredient lists should all contain pronounceable, recognizable, and specific ingredients, and the fewer ingredients, the better.
Triclosan is an antibacterial substance that was actually hyped up a few years ago, as the latest and greatest ingredient to fight the “war against bacteria” (didn’t know we were in one…), that became ubiquitous in its inclusion in many cleansers, soaps, deodorants and other personal-care products. This ingredient (which before its nearly permanent residence in our hand soaps, was actually known as a pesticide) is so dangerous that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency actually classifies it as a probable human carcinogen. That means it’s linked to cancer, developmental defects, and liver and inhalation toxicity. It doesn’t help that triclosan tends to be absorbed through the skin and accumulate in the fatty tissues of people and animals, building up and creating toxicity from within. New research also shows that triclosan in tap water can react with residual chlorine from water disinfection to form myriad chlorinated byproducts, including chloroform. Thankfully, companies are starting to phase this ingredient, along with other “anti-bacterial” formulations, out of manufacture, because overuse (and over-prevalence within our society) has resulted in strains of drug-resistant superbacteria.
Ah, good ol’ Vaseline. Remember when mom used to slap some on your winter-chapped lips and send you out the door, ready to face another sub-zero windy day? Petroleum jelly, the old standby, was the remedy for cracked heels, beauty-contestant fixed smiles, even keeping stray hairs in place, among many other things…! However, petrolatum/petroleum jelly is derived from crude oil. Its popularity was/is likely driven by its very low cost, but in fact has been banned as an ingredient within both the European Union and Canada due to its carcinogenic effects. In case you need more reasons as to why slathering crude oil on your body could be a bad thing, there are many: The oily residue that sits on the skin’s surface can aggravate/cause acne and slow down cell turnover, causing premature aging. In addition, petrolatum is also particularly susceptible to contamination by terrible chemicals like 1,4-dioxane, a probable human carcinogen, thanks to unregulated manufacturing procedures.
In case you believe a good product must contain a laundry-list of multi-syllabic ingredients, all ultra high-tech outcomes from the wonders of science, check out the ingredient list of our very own Clear Advantages Shampoo – there are four; none of which are petroleum-based, soap-based, or synthetic: Purified water, renewable coconut-based cleansers, aloe vera gel, olive oil squalene (natural preservative).
And what about the ingredients in one of our most popular scents: Mango Tango? To the ingredients in in the Clear Advantages Shampoo, we simply add aloe vera (real!), essence of mango (also real!), and an natural and gentle-conditioning agent.