Top 5 FAQs About Chemicals in Personal Care Products
Are you feeling a little overwhelmed when it comes to shopping for cosmetics and skincare products? Are you trying to read labels, but finding that you’re still confused about what to avoid and what’s okay to use? Do you find yourself coming up blank when looking for guidelines?
If so, you’re not alone. I remember feeling the same way when I first started paying attention to the chemicals in my skincare products. It was like, “All right, this says ‘natural,’ so it should be okay, but wait, it has ‘PEG,’ and I don’t think that’s very healthy…” and on and on as I went from store to store reading label after label.
Many of you have asked me questions about this—here are the top five, with my answers to go along with them!
Q: Is there any substitute for reading labels?
A: No, but it gets easier.
I know this can get tedious, especially after your twentieth product, but trust me—it gets easier. The more you do it, the more familiar you’ll become with all the chemical terms, and you’ll be able to just scan a product and know if it’s one of the good ones or not. To make it easier on yourself, use our Ingredients to Avoid Card. Take it with you whenever you go shopping and avoid those things on the list. Note: As you start to find safe products you like, you’ll be able to use those over and over again, cutting down on how many labels you have to read.
Q: How can I make shopping for safe products easier?
A: Go to the right places.
You can read labels for hours in your standard department store and still come away empty-handed. Unfortunately, most of the manufacturers that produce the biggest brands are still using ingredients that are potentially toxic. You can save a lot of time and frustration by going to the right places to shop—including whole food stores and organic online sites. Read my post for more information on where to find safe, effective products.
Q: If it says “natural” or “organic” is it okay?
A: That depends.
Current labeling regulations don’t require products labeled “natural” to meet any safety standards whatsoever, so just ignore this word—it means nothing. “Organic,” on the other hand, may signal a safer product, but it depends on the manufacturer and how strict they are about their ingredients. If you see an organic seal, that’s another good sign, but you still need to read the label. Simply put: Organic can be a good place to start, but it’s not a guarantee of safety.
Q: If I’m a guy, do I have to worry about all this?
Skin is skin and it absorbs what we put on it whether we’re male or female. You may not use lipstick, eye shadow and foundation, and you may not use as many products as women do on a daily basis. However, you do use soap, shaving cream, cologne, moisturizer, shampoo and conditioner. If you consider all these items, you’re still talking at least six products a day, every day, for years. Read labels and look for safer options.
Q: How can I help make a change in the industry?
A: Let companies know how you feel, and support brands that make safer products.
If you’re currently using a product that has one of my ingredients to avoid, feel free to write a letter to the company expressing your disappointment and that you will no longer support them. Next, look your products up on www.cosmeticdatabase.com. Check the toxic rating for each one. Then start replacing your products one a time. At the end of the day, we vote with our dollars, so spend your money with the companies that are working hard to make healthy and safe products.
Did you find these tips helpful? Please let me know!
Photo courtesy the Helga Weber via Flickr.com.