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!

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!