What this blog is about!

Now that we know most of our department store cosmetics and household products are full of harmful, cancer-causing and hormone-interrupting chemicals, what can we do about it? This blog is to help us all share ideas on what products we have tried, what products are relatively safe, what is affordable to the general public and what we have found to REALLY WORK! We are in this together!

It probably makes the most sense for you to start with the first post, and work your way up to the current one! We welcome your comments!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Researching toxic chemicals in everyday products

Just stumbled on a great website - www.healthystuff.org. They independently research everyday products and test for toxic chemicals. This includes household products, clothing, items for children, items for pets, etc. Check it out! And just for the record, they tested Halloween face paints and 100% of the items they tested were positive for heavy metals which, of course, were not listed on the ingredient list. Be careful out there!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Beware of Pinkwashing

With another breast cancer awareness month almost behind us, let me just make an editorial comment about all of the pink ribbon items for sale. Unfortunately, many companies use the pink ribbon and pink packaging to lure customers to purchase their products. At the same time, it is very common for these same manufacturers to be producing products with cancer-causing ingredients. I know! It makes no sense! Please continue to read your labels and don't be encouraged to buy unnecessary and potentially unsafe products just because the packaging has a pink ribbon or label on it. If the manufacturer is claiming to donate a portion of the proceeds to a particular breast cancer organization, do your homework! It might make a lot more sense for you to just send a check to that organization as a donation! Let's face it, donating 50 cents out of a $20 retail purchase is really not much. That manufacturer may have just raised their price 50 cents on that item for breast cancer awareness month. Buy smart!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Natural Joy Beauty Discount

Just thought I would remind you that naturaljoybeauty.com is still offering a 15% discount to Christi's Rack Pack followers during the entire month of October. When you check out of her online shop, just enter RACKPACK in the coupon code box and enjoy 15% off all of her amazing SAFE cosmetics and skin care products. Joy is extremely picky about the products that she carries and does a ton of research on the safety of their ingredients. Do yourself a favor and go see her at her Sandy Mall location or order something online!

Pump Spray - love it!

Just a heads up - Naturally Fresh now has a deodorant in a pump spray and it is awesome. I still love the roll-on form, but the pump spray is great, too. And this awesome company just sent us 120 samples of their roll-on FREE to use in our care bags. You have to look a little harder for this deodorant in the stores - I have found it in Walmart (on the top shelf of the deodorants) and I'm sure other stores will be carrying it soon. I usually wipe out the entire stock of it when I find it!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's summer finally - don't get burned!

Who has been sunburned already this summer? Knock it off! Guess what your very best sunscreen is? A long-sleeve shirt and a hat! And staying out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. especially. There is an amazing website to help you choose an effective sunblock. Go to www.bodysense.com. They have an entire 2011 sunscreen guide you can look at for free online. It gives you tons of choices and lists (in table form) all the important info for each product: price, ounces, what it smells like, what the ingredients include, the EWG rating, whether it makes your skin white or not, whether it is greasy or not, if it is water resistant. There are tons of mineral-based products to choose from. We've had e-mails asking what on earth people can just grab really quick at WalMart for sunblock at the last minute -- pretty much nothing, if you want something safe. If you can't wait to get a safe one online, at least choose a product with the very least oxybenzone (5% or less). The main ingredients you want to avoid in sunscreen are: benzethonium chloride, DEA and oxybenzone. Go ahead and order a safe sunscreen online (non-aerosol of course), and use your stinky, chemical-laced grocery store bottle only in an emergency until the safe one arrives! Happy Summer! And here is a little insider tip -- if you go to www.naturaljoybeauty.com and type in Rack Pack for your coupon code, you will get 15% off of any sunscreen she carries through August!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Check out this website!

Wow - Just looked at a great website -- www.bodysense.com. They carry personal care products, home cleaning products and even pet products! They display the EWG's rating for these products, which is extremely helpful in selecting the item you want with the lowest toxicity number (EWG uses 0-10 as their scale -- 0 being the safest). Their shipping rates seem really reasonable, and their prices are looking really competitive, also. Take a look!

Monday, April 25, 2011

I love this deodorant!

You won't believe it -- I think there is a safe deodorant out there that is affordable, works great, and is easy to find (got mine at WalMart for $2.97). This just might be a miracle~! It is called Naturally Fresh Deodorant Crystal and is a roll-on. Shake it first and be sure to let it dry for just a minute after you roll it on. You can find it on the top shelf next to the Tom's deodorant. It works -- hallelujah!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Natural Joy

Those of you who live in the Salt Lake area and are looking for safe cosmetics and body care products to try, go in Natural Joy on 662 E. 9480 S. in Sandy. The owner, Joy, is SO knowledgable and helpful and hand selects wonderful products to carry in her store. We will be doing some upcoming product reviews of items from her shop that we personally try, so stay tuned for that. Also, she has a huge online selection at www.naturaljoybeauty.com or see the link at the bottom of our page. Tell her the Rack Pack sent you in. She is awesome and I love the products I've tried so far from her shop!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Nothing Short of Miraculous!

It came to my attention today, through The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, that Glamour magazine actually had the guts to publish an article in their current May issue (now out in the stores) about toxins that are harming us entitled, "The New Toxic Threats to Women's Health." Never mind the fact that this article is sandwiched in between an ad for cologne with a lift and sniff flap and an ad for a chemical to put on your eyelids to help your eyelashes grow! They did, however, sneak in an ad about the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. At least it's a step in the right direction and actually a fairly bold move for a magazine who relies heavily on the advertisements of companies inundating our world with toxins and chemicals that are harming us. Read the article if you get a chance, or pull it up online. Toward the end of the article, there were 8 really good tips, and I quote them: 1. Eat well and exercise. 2. Buy fresh produce if possible (no packaging) and choose foods in glass containers instead of metal cans. 3. Don't put plastics in the microwave. 4. Always buy organic versions of food that have edible skins (to avoid pesticides, etc.). 5. Check the safety of your cosmetics and personal care products on cosmeticsdatabase.com. Here is my editorial comment - why don't YOU (Glamour magazine) check the safety of all of the things you advertise in your magazine!!!! 6. Cut back on cleaning products with fragrance or air fresheners. 7. Filter your tap water (to avoid pesticides which are an endocrine disruptor). 8. Take off your shoes before entering your home (to avoid tracking in pesticides and other cancer-causing substances). There! I hope I didn't make you not read the entire article. Do it! There was actually some great information in there.

Cream Shave - Not Shaving Cream

While on a family beach vacation last weekend, I was so pleased to see all of the organic and toxic-free products that my mom and sister are using! I need to step up my game! I've switched over about half of all of my daily-use products, but after our vacation... I got out the garbage can once again! This time, I ditched my salon shampoo and conditioner (plus some random Pantene I still used occasionally), my bathroom hand soap and my shaving cream. While on our family vacation, I secretively used my sister's Aubrey Organics Pomegranate "Creme de la Shave" to shave my legs.... and I loved it! So, I went to Whole Foods and found that the largest bottle they have was only 4 ounces (Cali girls gotta shave their legs 3 times a week!!!). So, I opted for a larger bottle of Abla Bontanica's "Very Emollient" Cream Shave. I tried it out today and it's FABULOUS! So thick and creamy and it makes your legs feel incredibly soft. 2 thumbs up on that product. I got Whole Foods' "365" hand soap, shampoo and conditioner, which so far seem to be good enough (they're only $6 for a HUGE bottle of each). And I got Tom's brand whitening toothpaste --- which actually tastes pretty decent for being organic. I'm still searching for all of the right organic makeup items ---- But, at least ALL of my other daily-use products are officially toxic-free! One step at a time, people!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A few cleaning recipes

Here we go with a few recipes for "natural" cleaning products - you may have some of these ingredients around your house right now. If not, you can easily get them at your local store: baking soda, washing soda (on laundry detergent aisle), natural liquid detergent, white vinegar.

Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into a bowl and add enough liquid detergent (natural of course) to make a texture like frosting. Scoop the mixture onto a sponge and wash whatever is dirty. This is great for cleaning the bathtub - it rinses easily and doesn't leave that gritty stuff. This can also be saved in a sealed glass jar if you add 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin to it to keep it moist. Probably easier to just make it as you need it.

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon natural liquid detergent
3 tablespoons white vinegar
2 cups water
Put above ingredients in spray bottle and shake it up a bit. Ready to clean!

1/2 teaspoon washing soda (get this on the laundry aisle at WalMart, Target, etc.)
Small squirt of natural liquid detergent
2 cups hot tap water
Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and shake until washing soda has dissolved. Apply and wipe off with sponge or rag.

Immunity Lemonade

OK - I am completely stealing this from an awesome website I have been ordering natural skin care products from - simplyjen.com. Jen's blog has the "recipe" for a lemonade type drink that can help us make it through this last little bit of winter. Here we go:
2 lemons (juiced or squeezed)
2 tsp REAL maple syrup (none of that imitation stuff - the real thing)
1 C. filtered water
2-3 drops of liquid cayenne (or 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne powder if you can stand it)
Guzzle this concoction and it should help you stay healthier! Go to her blog and read about the beneficial properties of the ingredients. Cheers!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Try Ava Anderson Non-Toxic !!

We thank a kind reader of this blog for bringing the awesome company of a very enterprising teenager to our attention - check out avaandersonnontoxic.com if you want to try some great skin care products and cosmetics with ingredients that are SAFE! We are anxious to give them a try ourselves, and will report back afterwards! Fair warning - the items are a bit pricey!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Check Your Cleaning Products

While we're checking out our cosmetics and personal care products, read those labels on the following things in your home:

Air fresheners (spray or plug-in): These are really bad news - usually contain naphthalene and/or formaldehyde (both known carcinogens). Instead of masking a bad smell in your house, find out what is causing it and take care of it! You can try baking soda and natural essential oils for a fresher smell.

Art and craft supplies: Watch out for lead in paint, glazes, enamels. Also avoid rubber cement, solvent-based markers and paint thinners. Use water-based paints, glues and markers.

Antifreeze, brake fluid and windshield wiper fluid: These are all very toxic and so is used motor oil. Keep all of these things out of the reach of children (lock them up - not the children, the chemicals) and avoid contact with skin. Dispose of properly according to hazardous waste facility recommendations.

Dry cleaning: There's a reason for that nasty smell that sticks around for days after you pick up your dry cleaning -- numerous carcinogenic chemicals are used in the dry cleaning process including formaldehyde. When you are looking for a dry cleaning establishment, ask if they can use a wet cleaning method, use liquid CO2 or citrus juice cleaners.

Wall paints and varnishes: According to the EPA, some VOCs used in paints are known human carcinogens. They are released in the air and can continue to emit harmful gas for years after being applied. Always use low or no VOC paints and varnishes.

Mothballs: Come on now, you must have guessed why those things smell so bad. You are inhaling insecticide! Don't use mothballs - ever! Just buy a new sweater!

Cleaning products: OK - here are the very worst offenders - mold and mildew products. They very often contain formaldehyde. Try getting rid of that mold/mildew with straight vinegar or 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil mixed in 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Hope you like the smell of tea tree oil -- it may linger for a couple of days.

Most carpet and upholstery cleaners use very noxious chemicals. Try using a steam cleaner with a water-based product.

Furniture polish = bad! You can make your own using 1/8 cup olive oil mixed with one tablespoon vinegar and one tablespoon vodka (I knew that stuff had to be good for something - just not ingestion)!

I've got some recipes for simple cleaning products you can make at home with items you may already have on hand. They are safe and natural. After I make some myself, I will let you know how they clean!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Vapour Cosmetics

On Chelsea's recommendation, I tried some of the vapour product line. I totally love the Stratus II Instant Skin Perfector! I've been using it as a moisturizer and primer. It has light reflecting pigment and makes your skin look so yummy! I really love the Trick Stick too. I use it in the corners of my eyes, under my brow bones and in the bow of my lips. I didnt love the blush as much. It was really sheer and not a very consistent coverage. They're all a little pricey, but I think I'll always use the skin perfector.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

More skincare and makeup

Here is another great site/shop for makeup. If you live near Sandy, this is a great little shop and the owner, Joy, is VERY helpful. She will make you small samples of any of her products so you can try them at home first and see how they work for you...Also, you can order anything online. www.naturaljoybeauty.com.

Things I really like so far: Real Purity Mascara, Wild Willow lip balm, mineral eye shadows, Lauren Brooke concealer.

Things I have tried and wasn't crazy about: Lip-liners and eye-liners (these are tricky to find healthy replacements that stay on long and go on smooth), foundation with enough coverage (I tried both of the ones they offer and if you just need light coverage, they are great).

What I LOVE is that Joy is SUPER helpful, knowledgable and willing to make you samples so you don't buy a whole bottle of something, hate it and end up stuck with it.

Check it out!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Online shop for skincare stuff

Hey peeps-
Here is a link to an online shop I'm checking out of a girl named Jen who makes all of her own skincare/body products.....she is sending me some stuff to try out, but check out her site and she has products for kids/babies too, which is so important, seeing that there are terrible chemicals in a lot of the baby wash and lotions. http://www.shopsimplyjen.com/ I'll let you know when I try out some of her stuff what I like so far.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Please read this book!

For a little light, I mean heavy reading, pick up "Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry" by Stacy Malkan. Stacy is the cofounder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. I read the book all in one sitting and it was very informative and scary! What an eye opener.

Eating healthy while you're chucking out chemicals

If anyone is local to the Salt Lake City area, check out www.muirfreshharvest.blogspot.com. Every couple of weeks, they offer a "harvest bundle" of delicious produce, fresh breads, specialty import items and of course recipes to pull it all together. They have two pick-up locations in the Salt Lake valley and you can't beat their prices. Do yourself a favor and check in with Mike and Laura Muir. We all know that healthy eating goes hand in hand with disease prevention and overall wellness, so what are you waiting for?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Another helpful list

OK - here is another good website with some lists of harmful ingredients in our products we use: www.nontoxicalternatives.com. When you start searching around on the internet for more information (now that I have you all riled up), make sure you check the dates of the articles, if available. You want the most current information. If you are looking at articles from 2008, things could have changed since then. Some manufacturers are actually attempting to take a step in the right direction by actually REDUCING the amount of harmful chemicals they put in their products. On the other hand, an ingredient that may not have been looked at very closely 3 years ago may have been scrutinized since then and found to be very harmful. Let's keep our eyes and ears open -- and please pass on any good websites or useful information you may find. Comment about brands and products you have tried. And I don't know about you, but when the research is saying that certain chemicals tested on lab rats caused cancer, lung disease, hormone interruption, or anything else I don't want ---- I tend to draw the conclusion that it probably isn't good for humans, either! Not that we are rats, but I'm just sayin' .......

Body wash, soaps and shampoos - oh my!

Isn't it pleasant to know that the European Union has forced many manufacturers to omit tons of harmful chemicals in their formulations of personal products for Europe, but the United States gets left with all the garbage! Read, read, read your labels. When it comes to body wash, soap and shampoo --- watch out for sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), propylene glycol (which is an antifreeze actually), dioxin, and another thing called 1,4 dioxane (yes, that's a comma between the 1 and the 4). If you really want to freak out, check out the body wash, shampoo and lovely smelly stuff you have probably been slathering on your kids for years. All of that Baby Magic stuff by Johnson & Johnson, Johnson's Moisture Care Baby Wash, Johnson's Baby Shampoo, Baby Magic Soft Baby Scent -- chuck them! Formaldehyde has been found in many of these products (which is a probable carcinogen). They don't INTENTIONALLY add formaldehyde to their products, but it is released over time as preservatives break down in the containers of these products. It can cause an allergic reaction that will cause children to become more sensitive to other products in the future. The skin of infants and toddlers is about 30% thinner than the skin of an adult, so products absorb very quickly and deeply. Japan and Sweden have already banned formaldehyde in personal care products. What is OUR problem? Also watch for anything that says phthalate or paraben. They can interfere with the hormone system. You can print out a Dirty Thirty list from http://www.teensturninggreen.org/ on their Get Educated tab page. Keep a copy in your purse, so when you are at the store buying products, you can check this list. Here are some shower gels and shampoo/conditioners I have tried recently:

365 Herbal mint shampoo from Whole Foods
This brand carries the "Whole Foods Market Premium Body Care" little leaf design label on it, meaning it is guaranteed to be as "close to nature as possible." The price is VERY reasonable (sometimes on sale for $2.99 for 16 fl oz). I liked the smell, but felt like it didn't get my hair clean. I had to suds it twice to get it to even suds at all (granted, I have very hard water where I live, but also have a water softener). I used the whole bottle, then decided to chuck it - only because I didn't like the way it performed.

365 Herbal mint conditioner from Whole Foods (same as shampoo above - felt like it didn't work very well).

365 Citrus grapefruit shower gel from Whole Foods
Same as above, but felt like its performance was tolerable. Doesn't lather very well if you are using it for shaving, but it seemed to clean the skin OK.

** I just purchased a new brand of body wash, lotion, shampoo and conditioner at Whole Foods called Mineral Fusion. It is much more expensive than the 365 brand, but I really like all of the products so far. Two drawbacks - the price (almost $10 for an 8.5 fl oz bottle), and I just noticed after reading the ENTIRE list of ingredients at home that it includes titanium dioxide (toward the end of the ingredients list - I obviously didn't have my glasses on when I read it at the store). Titanium dioxide is receiving some bad press lately. It is an ingredient in almost every sunblock, also. I will most likely go back to the drawing board and find something without the titanium dioxide. By the way -- save your receipts from Whole Foods when you buy personal care products. You can return them if you don't like them and either get a refund or store credit to find something else. Nice benefit!

You might ask yourselves WHY manufacturers are using garbage chemicals in our products? Well, they are cheap for one thing -- and they DO what the manufacturers want them to do -- soften, lather, emulsify, smell, cleanse, etc. It would cost the manufacturers a TON of money to reformulate their products, and many of them are not willing to do it until we scream loud enough, bust them wide open to the general public, educate ourselves, and refuse to purchase harmful chemicals knowingly. We all need to smarten up, people! We didn't know any better all of this time, but we do now. Pay attention!

Stinky Pits

I first learned about harmful cosmetics about 6 months ago when I started working on a documentary film about breast cancer and breast cancer prevention. It was so shocking to me to learn that the 12-18 products I was using PER DAY were incredibly harmful and contain cancer-causing chemicals. I did the same thing as my mom... only not as drastic. :) But, I threw away over half of the products I was currently using. A good place to find natural and organic products is Whole Foods. (Yes, you're going to pay a bit more.... but maybe you won't have to put money into chemotherapy later.) Even though Whole Foods is an "organic" store... Make sure you still look up the products on www.cosmeticdatabase.org before you buy anything. Some of them still have the yucky stuff in them.

I decided to start with the things I put all over my body.... lotion and body wash. I found a body wash brand called In Kind. I actually found this one at my local grocery store and it's great. The lotion I found is actually a Whole Foods' brand called 365. They have a whole line of natural products. I got the unscented one so my boyfriend and I can both use it. But, they have smell-good products, too.

I also found a deodorant called KissMyFace. I tried it for 3 days, and I've never had stinkier pits in my life. haha. So, I ditched that one and went back to my Lady Speed Stick. Which, doesn't rank too high on the toxic list. But, I'm still on a search for a non-stinky deodorant.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Step One - How About Toothpaste

Take a deep breath -- today you can tackle one item. Maybe you can handle one item a week or one item a month -- just as long as you are making progress and moving forward! Keep in mind that your skin is your largest organ, so what goes ON your skin goes IN your body. And nobody is in charge of watching out for what ingredients go in personal care products. What? Didn't you assume the FDA was watching out for us? Wrong! Manufacturers of personal care products can use pretty much anything they want in their products and list (or OMIT) anything they want on their labeling. Not too comforting, is it? That's where we come in. It's about time we reclaim our health by sending a message (go to www.safecosmetics.org) that we are not stupid and we DEMAND that these harmful chemicals be removed from our personal care products. Guess how you can do this? DON'T BUY THEM! Find a healthier alternative. Just so you know, there is now an organization (www.cosmeticdatabase.org) who is purchasing just about every personal care product on the market and having them independently tested. What an eye opener! Many of the manufacturers make claims that they do not have harmful chemicals in their products, but testing proves otherwise. Listen to this -- ANYONE can claim that their product is "all natural" or "100% organic" and that pretty much means nothing if they are still using garbage in their products. Anyway, don't get me started on that one. It is not necessary that you do what I did - take several Hefty bags into my bathroom and just start dumping hundreds of dollars of personal care products in them. I really did! I can't read all of those little tubes of "make you look 20 again" creams from Lancome's free gift with purchase! So out they go. But, I digress. We need step one for you to accomplish right now. What is the first personal care product you use when you get up in the morning? For me it is toothpaste. These are the ingredients you want to avoid in your toothpaste: triclosan (classified as pesticide by EPA), sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate, propylene glycol, DEA. Those are the main offenders. And many people these days are wanting to avoid sodium fluoride. If you want an excellent run-down on these harmful ingredients, go to http://www.livestrong.com/ and do a search for "harmful ingredients in toothpaste." So now you are looking at your tube of toothpaste (put your reading glasses on if you need to) - I would be willing to bet that tube has at least 2-3 of the harmful ingredients listed above. Chuck it! Here are the two "natural" toothpastes I have tried, where I got them, and what I think of them:

Nature's Gate Natural Toothpaste (at Whole Foods, WalMart)
Results: Taste is weak, cleans teeth but no whitening effect at all
Don't like it --kept it on hand just in case

Burt's Bees Natural Toothpaste (fluoride whitening)
Burt's Bees is carried at most grocery stores
Results: Much stronger/better taste, some whitening effect
Does contain fluoride, however

Let me know what brands you have tried -- Read your labels!

I will keep you posted on what else I end up trying. Keep in mind that the non-harmful products cost a little more money. If you were buying your toothpaste at the Dollar Store, stop it! Your health is worth more than that. You are going to end up paying $3-6 (possibly a little more) for safe toothpaste, but as the L'Oreal commercial says, "I'm worth it." Speaking of L'Oreal, many of their products are FULL of harmful chemicals, so don't get me going on that one, and who is worth what. And yes - I do fully intend to name drop on this blog. What's the point if I don't? Just pat yourself on the back for accomplishing one small step toward better overall health today. Don't just keep using your same old toothpaste because you have used it for a million years. Check that label and if it contains harmful chemicals, CHUCK IT! Make sure you check your kids' toothpaste, too -- and after you settle down from freaking out, CHUCK IT!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Head in the sand ......

OK -- one of us is obviously getting the discount at Ross on Tuesdays. I have very sensitive skin and am postmenopausal. My daughter (with the pink streaks in her hair) is 31 and will be another person contributing posts to this blog, as well as my 26-year-old daughter (with the hat on). I have used department store brands of makeup since I was 13 years old, and grocery store brands, too. I hate to say that I have been extremely distracted in the past couple of years, but I have just recently been made aware that there is a huge campaign going on to demand that cosmetic companies take all of the harmful chemicals out of our makeup and skin care products. No wonder everyone is getting cancer, young women are having trouble getting pregnant, we all feel toxic. We are being bombarded on every front by inexpensive garbage that is making us all sick. Now that you are all sufficiently depressed, let's do something about it. If you haven't already, please go to our breast cancer website, http://www.rackpackfoundation.com/, and go to the Links page. Please check out all of the information available from Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, then start looking at the labels on pretty much everything you use from the minute you wake up in the morning to the time you plop down on the pillow at night. I challenge you to find one single item that doesn't contain at least one (and probably more) harmful chemical on the Dirty Thirty list mentioned on our links page. Some of the very worst offenders are baby wash (gasp!), toothpaste and scented body lotion. Go read a few labels right now, if you dare! Then post a comment on here! Get mad -- then let's get busy!