Post Christmas Splurge!

So, I couldn’t resist…I bought some more shampoo, hairspray, and toothpaste.  They were all on sale!

First, Everyday Shea Shampoo in Vanilla Mint.

Vanilla Mint Everyday Shea Shampoo

This came in a gigantic size (32 oz.) for $13.99 (about $0.44/oz).  I’ll use it for body/hand soap, too, to justify the cost.  The mint (spearmint), in my opinion, overpowers the vanilla, but it’s still lovely and makes me feel all happy.  It produces a nice lather and doesn’t leave hair feeling…shall I say… TOO clean?   If you’ve ever washed your hair with Dr. Bronner’s you know what I’m talking about.  It’s not like that at all.

Shea butter and oil, as well as coconut oil, are the saponified fats in this product, so it should be quite moisturizing.  I’ve only used it for a few days, but so far, my hair seems manageable and not greasy and not crunchy.  So far so good.   The company uses fair trade ingredients, no synthetic fragrances, no parabens, and does not test on animals.  The fragrances are created with essential oils (and they have unscented versions of their products, too).  This means no phthalates!

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss an ingredient: cocamidapropyl betaine.  This is a surfactant that is synthetically made by chemically manipulating coconut oil and it can be an allergen to some people.  If you know you have skin reactions to surfactants, you may want to avoid this product.  If I notice anything strange, I’ll report back.

Second, Giovanni L.A. Hold Hair Spritz!

Giovanni L.A. Hold Hair Spritz

Okay, so I delayed getting hairspray after my purge, thinking I didn’t “really” need it and most brands cost about $10/bottle.  Unfortunately, this meant I couldn’t wear my hair up, because I can’t stand the falling-down fly-aways that happen without hairspray.  And, honestly, I’m one of those people who like my hair to be neat and without the hairspray, all of those little pieces that wouldn’t lay flat after midmorning drove me nutso.

THIS hairspray to the rescue!  Giovanni products are vegan with a few exceptions of beeswax in their lip balms and milk in some of their products.  They do not test on animals, they do not put phthalates in their products, most fragrances are created naturally from essential oils and plant extracts, and many of their ingredients are certified organic.

This hairspray smells slightly floral, and holds lightly all day without being stiff (although this is touted as “maximum hold,” I don’t think it can be compared to the hard/crispy hairsprays we remember from high school).  At least the hairspray holds enough that I don’t have to fuss with my hair in the  mirror at work with those crazy fly-aways.  I haven’t tested the up-do hold, yet, but I’ll do more homework and get back to you on this.  It also hasn’t had to stand up to any crazy humidity yet.  I’m happy with it so far, so I hope it works for the occasional bun or ponytail.  It cost $7.95 for 5 oz…which will probably last about 4 months for me.  Not bad. And yes, ANOTHER toothpaste:  Now XyliWhite Cinnafresh Toothpaste Gel.

I have decided for my own health concerns to avoid fluoride.  This toothpaste doesn’t have any fluoride, but it does have xylitol, which works to prevent cavities by killing bacteria.  It also contains papain (a fruit enzyme) for whitening effect.  The paste itself is very much like gel, but it has the same color as beeswax, which I suppose could be a bit off-putting at first, but at least it’s not full of fake food dyes.  Here are the other ingredients: water, hydrated silica, glycerin, sorbitol, sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate, sodium coco-sulfate, carrageenan (Chondrus crispus), cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) leaf oil, tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) leaf oil, potassium sorbate.   Keep this FAR away from dogs, because the high quantity of xylitol could be fatally toxic (this is true for anything containing xylitol, obviously).  I like the cinnamon flavor, but it certainly isn’t as powerful as Jason’s Powersmile pepperminty-blast of fresh.  It does foam up nicely even though it doesn’t have any SLSes, and the slick-clean sensation is about a 9/10 for me.  I feel like my teeth keep that quality longer than with regular toothpaste…like it’s 11 pm now (I brushed my teeth around 8:30 am), and there’s no noticeable plaque-y feel on my teeth like there normally would be.  I find this amazing!  It  cost about $4.39 for a big 6.4 oz tube.  On www.iherb.com, you can get other flavors, and it is on sale for $3.81 right now.  It’s a definite thumbs up, and I am happy to feel un-conned on fluoride with this one. AND…although I haven’t tried any of their products, the Yes To Inc. company that creates Yes to Carrots and Yes to Cucumbers (and other vegetables)…have passed the no phthalate test!  They have a wholly organic line of baby products, which of course are good for adults to use, too.  They also avoid the use of parabens and SLSes.  They try to use as many organic and non-synthetic ingredients as possible, so just read the labels to see if there might be anything objectionable in it.  They do not test on animals and most products are also vegan…those that aren’t contain only beeswax and honey.  This is another brand that is widely available at WalMart and drugstores, but you might find a better selection at a “natural” store.  You can also shop at their online store, of course.  So, huzzah for finding another good and easy to find natural brand.  Options are awesome and variety is the spice of life!  Next time…the deodorant test continues.  Spoiler Alert!  I am breaking up with Tom’s of Maine forever!

Categories: hair products, toothpaste, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Ways You Can Go Green, Too!

If you don’t want to be green because you think it is too hard, and you’ll have to give up too many things you don’t WANT to give up, remember it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  Make the changes that you feel like you can, and when you feel like you are ready to take the next step, take it.  I promise the sense of accomplishment you’ll have will make you feel like doing more.  And knowing that you are becoming part of the solution in a variety of efforts (improving your own life, your environment, preventing future health issues in your life and maybe your kids’ lives, maybe your parents’ and friends lives, maybe even your pets), is its own reward.

A warning, though:  No one likes a scolder or a nag, even if you mean well (I apologize to my work friends who have taught me this lesson).  But try leading by example, or pointing your friends to this blog or others like it so they can decide for themselves or at least start asking questions about the way we live and why so many products on our shelves and in our houses are not good for us or the planet.

1.  Recycle.  This seems obvious, but if you don’t have curbside recycling (like I don’t) or if you live in an apartment, it takes much more effort to do.  If you get some dedicated bins, it might help you start thinking about where your trash is going…to a landfill? or to a place that it can be used again?  If we are talking about aluminum, you can get money back.  If you take that money to buy some replacement earth-friendly products, it technically pays for itself.  Glass is one product that is not only the safest to consume products from, it is one of the most efficiently recycled.  Texas doesn’t have a program anymore to pay bottle “deposit” returns, but some states pay 5 – 10 cents per bottle recycled…you could really clean up, literally (pun intended).

2.  Only buy plastic products with 1, 2, or 5 recyling numbers on them.  These plastics are least likely to leach chemicals into your food and they are also the most often recyled products.  Still, do not heat up anything in plastic, but you can use it for cold storage and transportation (like refilling a water bottle to use again).   Better yet, try buying some glass storage containers for your food/drink.

3.  Filter your water.  This can be as easy as buying a Brita pitcher or putting a filter directly on your tap and/or shower head.  There are a lot of chemicals used to treat municipal drinking water, and while this is obviously a good thing to keep us from catching diseases, we really don’t need (or want) to be putting these chemicals into our body on a daily basis.  A filter can cut down on heavy metals that may leach from pipes, as well.  It also achieves the simple result of making your water taste/smell better so that maybe you’ll drink more of it instead of buying bottles of water that have to be recycled or something like soda or sweet drinks we don’t really need.  And if you make tea/coffee/soup with this filtered water, I promise it will all taste (and be) so much better.

4.  Change one or two of your products.  So, some of my friends have gone into a panicky “I CAN’T GIVE THIS UP” reaction to some of the products I’ve outed as not so good for us.  So, if you love your shampoo, by all means, please keep using your shampoo.  But maybe try a different body wash (or lotion or perfume) that is free of negative chemicals.  You don’t have to go through a big purge like I did, but just try a few different things.  If you like them, yay! Keep using them!  If you don’t, keep trying!  I promise you will find things you like.  If you HAVE to wear your signature perfume, and you think it has phthalates in it, just compensate by trying to use other phthalate-free products.  Remember that (especially with hair and skin products) your body is going to have to adjust to new products.  Give it a good college try for two weeks.  If it just isn’t working for you, please go back to the tried and true.  You can always be green in other ways 😉

5.  Turn off and un-plug.  How many electronics do you leave plugged in all the time that you do not use on a daily basis?  Your toaster?  Your blender?  A stereo with lots of components?  Your hairdryer?  Your phone charger?  Now, obviously, we leave some things plugged in because we don’t want to crawl back behind a big piece of furniture to unplug them.  Why care about unplugging stuff?  Even if you aren’t actively using it, a plugged in appliance draws electricity that is often referred to as “standby” or “vampire” electicity use.  If you’ve had to live through “rolling blackouts” because the demand for energy surpassed that of the electrical grid, this is one of the reasons to unplug.  But what is worse, most of us get power from combustion-based power plants that use coal or natural gas.  Both of these types of combustion produce green-house gasses, but also take a significant toll on the environment to get and transport.  So, unplug appliances and your cell phone chargers when you aren’t using them.  For things like stereos, think about getting a “smart” power strip that shuts down unused electronics via its own monitoring sensors.  This will also cut down on your electricity bill.

6.  Buy organic.  Buy local.  Eating organic food eliminates a large number of toxins from pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones that we don’t need or want in our bodies.  Most grocery stores have organic options these days, but they tend to cost significantly more than non-organic varieties of the same product (and sometimes look uglier).   Don’t worry about the little blemishes or lack of shine on some of your fruits and vegetables…this means they haven’t been artificially dyed or coated with things to keep them artificially perfect.  A spot won’t hurt you.  You can often find organic products at local farmers markets for better prices and you (usually) also get local products there.  Local products reduce the impact of transportation and ensure that things are much fresher, and therefore much better for you.  Again, you don’t have to go whole hog all at once, just make changes as you can.

7.  Change your lightbulbs.  I know it’s a pain to go through the house changing out those old incandescent lightbulbs, but I promise it is worth the money and energy savings to get compact fluorescent bulbs or similar new, energy-efficient bulbs.  Not only do they save significant energy in consumption, but they are cooler (making your AC work more efficiently) and last much longer.  I have some that I think are 5-years old already and work just like the day I bought them.  Not like those annoying incandescents that seem to burn out every six months.

8.  Compost, if you can.  For apartment dwellers, this is a little harder, but not really.  Compost is basically throwing out your plant-based food scraps and yard cuttings/leaves into a dedicated location that will allow it to naturally break down into mulch.  If you live in an apartment, you can get a compost bucket, and either find a “natural setting” to dump it, or think about getting together with some neighbors to ask the apartment complex to designate a spot for a compost pile.  Avoid putting meat and droppings from dogs/cats in your compost pile, but egg shells are okay.  I have a big flower pot next to my back door that I dump this stuff into…I think it is 50% coffee grounds, and with natural filter paper, it all breaks down into stuff that is good for your flowerbeds.  This is nature’s recycling, and obviously it keeps this stuff out of the landfills.

9.  Be old-fashioned.  Now this one is broad in its potential, but I feel like half of the “improvements” we’ve come up with in our lives are not improvements but wasteful.  My grandmother (who was my babysitter when I was a child) grew up in the Great Depression,and she was the mother of 6.  She did not waste a thing.  She cooked in uncoated pans, made coffee in a percolator, and saved and ate all the left-overs until they were gone.  There were only paper bags from the grocery store when I was a kid, and these became trash bags.  She used rags to clean the kitchen and bathroom, not papertowels or other one-use throw-aways.  She hung clothes and sheets out on a clothesline to dry when she could.  She patched and mended clothes when they got  a little worn, and when they were worn beyond use or fashion, she cut them into scraps for other things like quilts or altered them into something else.  It doesn’t take a lot of ingenuity, it just takes thinking, “how did we do this before?”  What am I wasting?  You’ll also find yourself saving money.

10.  Start asking why.  If you are as befuddled about some of our products as I am, start contacting the customer service departments of these companies via e-mail or toll free phone numbers and ask why products aren’t recycleable (like K-cups),  if their products contain BPA and/or phthalates and why, if they do.  Ask about other toxic ingredients.  Ask about their sustainability practices and what they are doing to protect the environment.  If enough people start asking, they WILL listen.  Especially if you stop using toxic products.  Companies will feel it in their finances, which is really the best way to communicate to a big company.  I can’t do it alone, but if everyone starts asking, more people will know and eventually changes will begin.

I don’t want to preach to anyone, but if we want this planet to last for future generations, we have to start taking care of it.  And if we look at how the chemicals are impacting us, you can imagine what is happening to other creatures on this planet that have no choice in the matter.  It doesn’t have to be a complete lifestyle overhaul (but it can be, if you want to)–little changes do add up.  Just start.  You’ll be happy that you did.

Categories: being green, recycling | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Natural Toothpaste Taste Test (and research)

So, hey, everyone…I know you are dying to hear about TOOTHPASTE!  That’s right toothpaste is on the board today, and I have spent about two weeks testing 3 different brands.  First, though, a little lesson about toothpaste (okay, it’s kind of a big lesson, but bear with me).

I think it is safe to say that the things we want toothpaste to do are:  clean the tooth surface, prevent cavities, bad breath, and gingivitis, and whiten the tooth surface (or at least reduce the staining that can happen with food, drink, smoking, and age). 

Cleaning and whitening are usually accomplished with detergents and abrasives. 

The most common detergents in toothpaste are sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate, and no doubt, if you are reading my blog you may already have seen it listed as things that companies are removing from their products.  Why are these bad, you may wonder?  Why the heck are they in everything from shampoo to…toothpaste?  Well, as a surfactant, it makes things slippery and disassociate from surfaces (helps get things unstuck) and it also emulsifies, keeping things in solution (those unstuck particles stay unstuck).  This is ideal for cutting through grease, dirt, and for your teeth…plaque and bacteria.  Not a bad thing.  For hair, these surfactants can be too strong, stripping hair, and leaving it feeling like straw.  They’ve been officially labeled as “human irritants,” with the “laureth” version being much more irritating than the “lauryl” variety.   If you want to avoid these, it’s not hard to do these days…do as you like, but I wouldn’t call them “toxic” or “dangerous,” just irritating.  If you are prone to “canker” sores or “gum boils” (as my grandmother called them), it may be the SLSes to blame.

Abrasives can be any variety of particles meant to polish your teeth with the physical action of scrubbing.  These should be mild, obviously, to prevent damaging your tooth enamel.  Common abrasives are aluminum hydroxide, calcium carbonate, calcium hydrogen phosphates, silica, mica, zeolites, and hyrdoxyapatite.  Based on my research, the only one you should try to avoid is aluminum hydroxide for its suspected toxicity.  Most whitening-action toothpaste, as it turns out, whitens more than regular paste due to “more polishing” and therefore more abrasiveness.   Be mindful of these varieties as they may end up doing more harm than good in the long run. 

If you want a quick listing of abrasive ratings for common toothpastes (it even includes some Tom’s, straight baking soda, and some brands, like CloSYS, that come in fluoride-free versions) check out this link:  http://dukeslc.wordpress.com/2008/11/20/toothpaste-abrasion-ratings/

Prevention of cavities

This is probably the most controversial topic I’ve written about yet, because if you start looking, you will find whole websites dedicated to the vilification of fluoride, while others (like most of us have been taught) promote fluoride as THE ingredient that prevents cavities.  There are so many studies about this, and so many things that people claim are fact without any references, so I don’t want to promote a culture of reactionary assumption.  Honestly, you are going to have to decide for yourself on this one, but I’ll summarize my findings.

First, let me explain that there are three different versions of fluoride used in toothpastes:  sodium fluoride, sodium monofluorophosphate, and stannous fluoride (which is actually a naturally-occurring salt).  My research has turned up evidence that only one version of fluoride actually helps harden teeth and this is stannous fluoride.  The only toothpaste brand using this version of fluoride today is Crest Pro-Health.  There are also “fluoride treatment gels”  like Gel-Kam, OMNI Gel, and Flo-Gel  that use stannous fluoride, but these aren’t intended for daily use and aren’t “toothpastes.”    If you leave stannous fluoride on your teeth too long, it can discolor your teeth (but usually it’s not permanent), which may be why most companies don’t use it.  Usually the discoloration is as white flecks (not that bad), or a golden brown (pretty bad).   I could get into other chemical reactions, but let’s not.

The research I am citing is from the American Journal of Dentistry, August 2011; 24(4) 205-10, from an article called: Enamel Protection: a comparison of marketed dentrifice performance against dental erosion.  Note: dentrifice is just a fancy word for “toothpaste.”  The authors, Faller, Eversole, and Tzeghai, compared our three previously mentioned forms of fluoride on actual cores of human teeth and with human saliva (okay, kind of gross, but at least it is realistic).  The results were that stannous fluoride protected enamel the best against citric acid and phosphoric acid (common acids we consume in food and drink), while sodium fluoride and sodium monofluorophosphate were not significantly different than the control nor each other.  So, long story short, if you want to use fluoride, you should go with the stannous fluoride.  That’s Crest Pro Health.  Have at it.  It gets a 3/10 from EWG’s database.

NOW, why might you want to avoid fluoride altogether?  A summary of reasons goes like this:

  1. Fluoride accumulates in the body.
  2. Some people are more sensitive to fluoride than others, and this usually applies to children…the impact goes beyond tooth enamel discoloration, as described below

(Specific to fluoride in your water, but also applicable to fluoride’s impact on the body)

  1. There has never been a single randomized clinical trial to demonstrate fluoridation’s effectiveness or safety.
  2. Fluoridation’s role in the decline of tooth decay is in serious doubt.
  3. Fluoride may damage the brain, lower IQ, and may cause non-IQ neurotoxic effects.
  4. Fluoride affects the pineal gland, thyroid function, causes arthritis symptoms, and damages bone.
  5. Fluoride may increase hip fractures in the elderly.
  6. Fluoride may cause bone cancer.
  7. Fluoride may cause reproductive problems.
  8. The chemicals used to fluoridate water are not pharmaceutical grade, but are usually the byproduct of the phosphate fertilizer industry and may be contaminated with a variety of other impurities that may include substances like arsenic.
  9. Many scientists oppose fluoridation.  As of July 2011, over 3700 professionals have signed a statement calling for an end to water fluoridation worldwide (this statement and a list of signatories can be found on the website of the Fluoride Action Network (see: www.FluorideAlert.org)).

So, like I said at the beginning of this section, there is so much research you can go hunting for yourself and make your own decisions.  Another site you might want to check out is www.fluoridation.com

Other things you may find in your toothpaste

Xylitol – you probably recognize this from some sugar-free gums and candies, but it works to prevent bacterial growth and therefore prevents cavities and gingivitis; it also makes your toothpaste sweet and comes from natural sources.

Stevia extract – a not so new to natural-living proponets, but new to most of us mainstream people, this is a  natural non-caloric sweetener. 

Saccharine – less natural, used for zero-calorie sweeting, associated with cancer in rats, but is generally accepted as safe in small quantities…this is the sweetener in Sweet-n-Low.  It only gets a 2/10 toxicity rating.

Essential oils and plant extracts – in some natural toothpastes, this is another bacteria-fighting and additional cleaning ingredient.

I would obviously read other things on the ingredient lists of the toothpastes you use and avoid those things that are otherwise harmful.  The EWG Skin Deep database does contain a large number of toothpastes, so you can check out their toxicity ratings per ingredient.

NOW, lesson over.  Sheesh, I apologize.  On to the taste tests!

Toothpaste #1:  Tom’s of Maine Whole Care with fluoride in Spearmint flavor.  The fluoride is in sodium monofluorophosphate variety.  The other ingredients are glycerin, water, calcium carbonate, hydrated silica, xylitol, carrageenan, spearmint leaf oil and other natural flavors, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and zinc citrate.  It’s not animal tested, and Tom’s is committed to sustainable practices, recycling, being as natural as possible, and giving back to the community.   So, it was not too gritty, and seemed adequately paste-y in a way that sort of reminds me of my childhood Colgate.   It foams up like a “regular” paste and has the same level of refreshing minty-ness.  It seems like the clean-lasting factor is about 3 or so hours, which is decent.  Basically, this is your average paste with average results with natural ingredients.  I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Toothpaste #2:  Burt’s Bees Natural Toothpaste:  Multicare with Fluoride in Peppermint flavor.  The fluoride here is also sodium monofluorophosphate.  The other ingredients are glycerin, hydrated silica, xylitol, calcium sodium phosphosilicate, sodium cocoyl  glutamate, titanium dioxide, cranberry fruit powder, stevia extract, carrageenan, xanthan gum, silica, natural flavor, lecithin, and maltodextrin.  So, this is free of SLSes, and you can tell since it is less foamy.  The paste is noticeably grittier than average, and it looks slightly off-white and speckled from the cranberry fruit powder.  The peppermint flavor is refreshing but doesn’t last.  If you don’t get enough paste on your brush, it does seem to “go away.”  When you DO get enough on your brush, the clean-feel lasts longer than Tom’s, which may imply more abrasiveness.   I’ve already chatted up Burt’s Bees in other posts, so I’ll refrain now.  And I also noticed a saltiness that isn’t extreme in any way, but noticeable.  I would give this one 2.5 stars.

Awesome stuff!

 
 
 

Toothpaste #3:  Jason Powersmile All Natural Whitening Toothpaste in Peppermint flavor.  There no fluoride in this toothpaste and I’m going to count that as a good thing.  The other ingredients are calcium carbonate, purified water, vegetable glycerin, sodium cocoyl glutamate, peppermint oil, carrageenan, aloe vera leaf gel, bamboo stem powder, parsley extract, perilla seed extract, baking soda, silica, stevioside, grapefruit seed extract.  I’m just going to come right out and say it.  I love this toothpaste!  It is strong on the peppermint side, so maybe that makes me “feel” like it is cleaning better?  Very refreshing and lasting in flavor (think Altoids), as well as in that clean feel.  And I’m not joking.  On days when I used this paste, in the afternoon, I was still thinking, “wow, my teeth feel clean.”  Again, this may be due to increased amounts of abrasives, but it may also be due to the increased amount of plant extracts that act as anti-bacterial factors.  The paste color is a little tiny bit on the gray side and less paste-y in texture…more like a white gel, which I guess is the aloe.  I’m giving this one a 4.5 out of 5.

Now, interestingly, as I was doing all of this research I found this:  “Most of the cleaning is achieved by the mechanical action of the toothbrush, and not by the toothpaste. Salt and Baking soda are among materials that can be substituted for commercial toothpaste.”  So, you know me, I went and brushed my teeth with the magical baking soda.  It seems to foam up on its own…this is the reaction of the basic pH of the baking soda with the acidic pH of the saliva.  From an abrasive point of view it is mild, and it seems my brush alone would do a fairly decent job, and without the zing of peppermint or cinnamon, I’m left feeling just…salty.  And it’s not very pleasant.  And it’s drippy…like you can’t walk around the house brushing your teeth this way…at least I couldn’t.  I would use baking soda if I ran out of Jason’s, but I’d prefer something like paste.  1 out 5 stars.  Sorry baking soda.

Categories: toothpaste, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reporting Back, Finally!

Found this bag by Credo Bags today...love!

 

I have updates! 

I was asked to contact Aveda and Philosophy specifically by friends and I contacted each company and finally received responses from each company.

First, Aveda. 

Verbatim from their e-mail response:  “Aveda’s plant-based mission and principles, on which the company was founded, have always steered us toward using plant-based or plant-derived ingredients whenever possible.  In keeping with this mission, Aveda products are developed using pure flower and plant essences and are phthalate-free. Aveda does not use phthalates in its formulations.”  So, this is good to know, however, I have learned to go ahead and take a look at the other ingredients to make sure that nothing is listed there that might be harmful in a different way. 
 
Secondly, Philosophy.  Also, verbatim from their e-mail: “thank you for contacting philosophy! we do have many different products that are phthalate free. please reply to this email with any specific products you are interested in and we would be happy to verify if they are phthalate free.”  Yes, the e-mail contained no capitalized letters.  Weird. 

Anyway, this is more of a “skirting the issue” response to me, because while Philosophy does have some phthalate-free products, they are not committed to using natural products, and so, don’t.  This means that phthalate-free products may have different harmful chemicals in them.  I confess to completely crushing my sister-in-law’s favorite lip gloss from Philosophy by letting her know that it contained three different ingredients that are considered to be carcinogenic, bio-accumulating, and/or endocrine disrupting.  Whoops.  So, I am debating crafting a doozy of an e-mail in response, listing every Philosophy product I can find, also asking pointed questions about the oxybenzone, octinoxate, and benzyl benzoate they put in their lip gloss. 

Thirdly, Thymes.  This is a fancier-than-usual product line that they sell in my fancy grocery store, but you can also find them in gift shops and on-line.  I wanted to buy my mom some of their candles/soaps, but decided to see if they were “okay.”  Their response, also verbatim, was:  “Thank you for your reply. No, we no longer use SLS/SLES, propylene glycol, DEA, TEA, formaldehyde donors, or phthalates in our products. I hope this is helpful and if you have any further questions, please let me know. Thank you!”  Similar to my Aveda research, it would be wise to check out the other ingredients they use to make sure they are “good enough.”

So, if you want to hunt down info about specific chemicals, you can either read up on wiki or head over to EWG’s Skin Deep database.  They have a big databank of products that they grade based upon ingredients.  There are a couple of caveats with the EWG database, though…some of their listings are outdated and therefore do not necessarily have the current product formula in the database.  They also score heavily for potentially harmful side-effects that don’t necessarily affect people in the same way.  For instance, I am not allergic to fragrances.  Anything with an undisclosed fragrance (possibly because fragrances can contain anything from phthalates to synthetic fragrances that do not occur naturally) gets a high score of 8/10.  Hence my research that entails actually contacting the companies and asking for clarification.  However, if you want info about a particular chemical, it’s a good source. 
 
And my own review of the ridiculously cheap, homemade baking-soda-based deodorant spray that I wrote about last time:  Day 1, I wore a wool sweater over a long-sleeved tee and jeans, the temperature high for the day was 50 degrees, and I did not do much in the way of exercise. Day 2, I wore a loose jacket over a t-shirt with a scarf (and jeans again), the weather was a little warmer, and I matched the same level of effort for the day.  I am not a sweaty person, usually, so I’m not really concerned about wetness, but on the funk-level, I am more concerned.  In all honesty, I have to say that at the end of each day, there was surprisingly *almost* no stink.  I think this works better than Tom’s for me.  And when I say almost, that means, there wasn’t zero odor, but I’d say it was at about 97% funk-free even the next day. 
 
Day 3-4 were spent on the weekend doing not much.  Then came Monday, which was, notably, the first day I wore synthetic fabrics.  And this was the first day of funk.  I thought maybe I had not applied enough.  So, of course, like the good little researcher I am, I made sure I put enough on the next day, and wore another outfit of synthetic fabric.  Same result.  I switched back to cotton, and voila, no stink!  And then, I did go to the gym.  And I did sweat.  But I did not stink.  So all those health classes touting natural fabrics to allow the body to breathe weren’t lying!   Natural fabrics allow any moisture to wick away.  Synthetic fabrics?…not so much, therefore encouraging funk-causing bacteria to grow.   So, at least for me, I will continue to use the non-aluminum, baking soda and water “deodorant” on those days when I wear natural fibers, and someday, when I splurge on the La Vanila stuff, I’ll use that when I wear the synthetics.  In the meantime, though, I have stumbled upon a reason to buy more natural-fiber clothes.  Oh, dang.
 
 P.S.  The only drawback to the baking soda and water formula is that the spray pump seems easily clogged by the baking soda in the solution, so I now I just “splash” it on.  Maybe less baking soda or more water will reduce that problem? Next batch I’ll tinker with the amounts.  But, definitely a thumbs up.    Try it!
Categories: deodorant, endocrine disruptors, phthalates, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

To Sweat or Not to Sweat? That is the question.

I have promised to write about a subject that is near and dear to my heart…sweating. And not so much the sweating part as the stinking part that usually happens along with sweating.  Because, when you do ask the question, to sweat or not to sweat?…the answer is obviously to sweat, because humans eliminate toxins from their bodies via the sweat glands (why do you think they have saunas in health clubs and gyms?). Sweating, of course, is less than comfortable when you are wearing nice clothes or just any clothes that reveal obvious sweat-marks. Perhaps we need to take a page from the rest of the world and just, well, be sweaty and okay with it as a natural thing our bodies need to do. But, in our American society, this just isn’t okay, because although we may be able to overlook your embarrassingly sweaty pits in a meeting, we will not forgive you for bringing your stanky funk with you.

So, what’s wrong with anti-perspirant? Aside from not letting your body eliminate toxins from your underarm sweat glands? 1. These products can make you just sweat more in other parts of your body…this happens to me. So while my pits might be lovely and dry, my whole back will be drenched to compensate for it…this is even worse than sweaty pits in my experience, especially when you go sit in the air conditioning afterwards…freezing!  Since it isn’t summer, this may be less of a concern, but keep it in mind when summer rolls around again. 2. Not sweating causes toxins to accumulate in your body and this has been associated with cancer of the lymph system and possibly breast cancer.  Enough said.  3. Aluminum is one of the main ingredients people want to avoid, but alas, this is the key ingredient for keeping the sweat glands in check. There is already a lot of aluminum in the world, but applying it directly to one of the most absorbent areas of the body gives one pause when you consider that an increased risk of Alzheimer’s has been associated with increased levels of aluminum in the body. Most anti-perspirants (even the “natural” crystal ones) use some form of aluminum salt to keep those sweat glands in check. Your cells literally swell from the aluminum salt application enough to close up the sweat glands. Depending on the strength of the anti-perspirant, you may only need to apply once a day.  However, the other problem I have with these products is my tender, sensitive skin begins to react to this application of salt in my underarms every day so that they hurt and feel…well…crusty. Even the pretty, made for a woman anti-perspirants do this to me. So…deodorants for me!

But wait. What’s wrong with deodorants? If any of you have been paying attention to my blog you can probably guess…it’s phthalates and other endocrine disruptors. And I thought I was being so clever and healthy. I replaced my Secret solid for some fancy Bath & Body or Victoria’s Secret body spray about five years ago. I rationalized that the alcohol would be killing the bacteria that are actually responsible for making sweaty pits into stinky pits, and then the fragrance would cover up anything that may develop throughout the day. Well, although that worked pretty well except for during the deepest Texas summer and trips to the gym, I was still applying harmful chemicals to my skin, half the time on freshly shaved skin, no less.

No doubt, some of you may have already tried the natural crystals. I suggest that you read your package ingredients and see if it contains an aluminum salt. If it does, I would also suggest looking for a different type. It just doesn’t seem worth the risk to use a product that may impact your brain function in later years, and since it runs in my family, I am absolutely concerned and will not use aluminum-based products if I can help it.

Some of you may have already tried Tom’s of Maine deodorant. I have tried three different scents over the years, and I don’t know if they have been tinkering with the formula or if the essential oil used for scent makes that much of a difference, BUT…the only kind that kept me from being stinky was the lavender version. This product is not powdery or silky, but rather on the sticky/goopy side. I have applied, then blotted before putting on clothes to keep the white-marks from getting everywhere. You must remember that Tom’s is only a deodorant and not an anti-perspirant, so you are still going to sweat. This brand is easy to find in most places you can buy personal products at about $5/tube.   Tom’s is also all-natural and never uses phthalates. You might want to give it a shot just to see if works with your body chemistry or well enough for you to be happy. I can live with it until I find a replacement that is better…and these are the ones I think I am going to try in the near future.

The gold standard seems to be La Vanila brand Healthy Deodorant. These babies cost $18/50g (1.7 oz) unless you buy a three-pack for $44 (that’s a $3.33 savings per tube). La Vanila swears by natural perfumery (they also have some apparently to die for fragrances/lotions/soaps) and science that exclude “petrochemicals, phthalates, propylene glycol, mineral oils, silicone, synthetic dyes, sulfates, or parabens” and additionally, since we are talking deodorant, they also have eliminated aluminum from the mix. You can buy these at Sephora and according to the reviews there, these are actually even acceptable for men to use (and they like it and don’t complain about smelling girly). If Santa Claus doesn’t bring me a gift card to Sephora, I might have to splurge and go get this anyway.

Options to consider. Honestly, you have decide for yourself on this. Do you care more about being sweaty or being stinky? If you care more about being sweaty, you are probably going to have to opt for some form of aluminum containing product. IF you choose this route, I suggest Lafe’s Natural and Organic Deodorant Spray. It uses potassium alum, which is a mineral salt containing, you guessed it, aluminum! It contains less per content than many other brands and works decently to keep you dry AND stink free. It only contains water, potassium alum, and aloe vera juice. I’m not sure about the plastic bottle it comes in, because it seems to have no recycle symbol on it, so that’s something of a question (I’ll contact them and see what they say about that). This brand is made right here in Austin, too, it seems, and you can get it on-line for about $6/4 oz. bottle, but I think I got my last bottle at the local fancy grocery store for about $4-something. On the up-side, it is unscented and therefore if you have found a natural perfume/body spray you like, it won’t clash with it at all, and you can share it with the men in your life without complaint. I confess that if need be, I might use this again during the high heat of the Texas summer if La Vanila or the recipe below can’t cut it.

Weleda spray deodorant was recommended by someone online, but a review of its ingredients (via drugstore.com) turned up benzyl benzoate, which is similar to phthalate in the fact that it is an endocrine disruptor. It’s even been used as an insecticide. However, when you go to the Weleda.com website, a different set of ingredients are listed and benzyl benzoate isn’t there. So, there could have been an update to the formula and drugstore.com hasn’t updated that info (or aren’t selling it yet). Read the label and if the benzyl benzoate is there, don’t buy it. This brand is also on the costly side…$13 from Weleda’s online store. It comes in Sage, Citrus, and Wild Rose fragrances. The company is natural certified six different ways to Sunday, so it seems ridiculous that they would put anything crappy in their formulas (like benzyl benzoate or phthalates), so in this instance, although it does not say “phthalate free” anywhere, I think we can assume it is. Or should be.

Now, for the real nitty-gritty hippy version. If you’ve done any sort of “greening up” your house, you’ve surely heard the praises of baking soda already. You can scrub with it like a scouring powder, you can brush your teeth with it, you can wash your hair with it, you can polish your silver, settle an upset stomach, get the stink out of your refrigerator, and, of course, make your baked goods rise. Now, too, you can keep your armpits from being smelly. You can dust it on like a powder using ½ c. baking soda mixed with ½ c. cornstarch. Or you can (and this is what I did) combine about 1 ½ cups of distilled or filtered water with ¼ c. baking soda. Mix well and pour it in a spray bottle. It’s that easy. AND it is ridiculously cheap at probably about $0.15 per batch. You might try adding some witch hazel, alcohol, aloe vera juice, or rosewater to improve your recipe. Witch hazel and alcohol will help kill the stink-causing bacteria, aloe vera will moisturize, and rosewater just smells good (but make sure it’s natural or make it yourself). Essential oils can be added with an alcohol mix, but without alcohol they won’t disperse properly. Spray this on your underarms after you get out of the shower and let it dry before putting on clothes. I’m trying this right now, and I’ll let you know how it goes. 

But I’m still gonna try La Vanila just because I want to.

Sweat on, dear friends, sweat on.

Categories: aluminum, deodorant, endocrine disruptors, phthalates | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Is it Christmas, or is it just me?

Since I have recently been avoiding the pollutant-laden products that I have been accustomed to since…I dunno, BIRTH…I have begun to notice some changes.  I was hoping one of these changes would be some instantaneous weight-loss, but no such luck.  Oh well, I will keep my fingers crossed on that one.

1.        I have always had what I dubbed “sensitive skin” meaning a variety of things seemed to make my oily skin break out in “blemishes,” as my mother calls them.  I saw Dr. Murad on some morning show once where he first clued me in to the break-out evils of “isopropyl miristate.”  This extreme surfactant might as well be labeled “zit maker” for me. 

 So, that’s what first started me label reading.  From time, to time, however, I would break out and chalk it up to stress or hormones or whatever.  But now that I am washing with home-made soap and facial toner, and applying an all-natural moisturizer (Desert Essence Daily Essential Moisturizer), it seems that my skin is having a reaction.  And it’s not from extreme surfactants this time.

I am told, by other natural-product-using friends, that this is just my body re-balancing itself.  All those accumulated toxins are making their way out of my skin, or my body is deciding to expel them.  While this was always the ultimate goal and something I certainly want to happen, it’s not much fun to look at myself in the mirror in the morning and see Rudolf the red-nosed 37 year-old.  I am not gonna let it bother me, though.  I’m getting healthy, and if this is what happens on the way there, whatevs.  Anyone who wants to judge can just…well…stuff it.

2.       I have always had (what I thought was an extension of my oily skin) oily hair.  Oily, fine hair that tangles very easily.  Now, I will confess that I color my hair.  This is a blog for another day, but regardless, my hair has always been something to deal with every morning.  It has to be washed and conditioned at the least.  I have been known to throw it in a bun or ponytail while it is wet and just go to work that way.  If I don’t put it up, though, it has to have some sort of “holding” product like gel or styling cream, be blow-dried, and maybe touched up with a flat iron, and usually hair-sprayed into place for me to feel like it is “presentable” by normal southern standards. 

So, I’ve been washing my hair with Nature’s Gate Awapuhi Volumizing Shampoo.  It is spectacular!  Smells great and contains none of the following:  “artificial color, alcohol, animal-derived ingredients (with no animal testing ), parabens, or phthalates.”  The formula I bought, which may be a newly improved version (check the ingredients if you want to purchase this shampoo), also contains no sodium laureth sulfate.  My hair really used to feel like straw no matter what products I put in it.  Now it is soft, manageable, and shiny.  I’m sold.  And did I say it smells great?  It does.

One of the salvages from my product purge was also Nature’s Gate Sunflower and Pomegranate Conditioner.  It’s similarly lacking in “bad” stuff and is recommended for colored hair.  It doesn’t weigh my hair down and yet leaves it detangled and easy to comb through.   When the bottle is empty, I might have to go get the Awapuhi conditioner just to try, but not until this one is all gone!  No need to have 15 different types of conditioner again.  Cross my heart.

I have been using Aubrey Organics B5 Design Gel for styling purposes.  Now, let me tell you, I have medium length, very fine hair, and I am only interested in keeping it from flying around too much.  Honestly, this product smells…well…“medicinal” at best, but I think most people would say it stinks.  I only use about a dime-sized amount of it, and honestly (I promise), when I’m done blow-drying it, there is no smell of it in my hair.  If you want your hair to be more “gelled,” or if you have courser hair, I’m not sure how it will work.  However, it’s doing the job for me now, so I’ll use it until it’s gone.  This will likely take a while considering I use so little.  I have discovered that if you go to the Aubrey Organics website, you can buy smaller sizes than what is available at the stores…so you can buy a half size to try if you don’t want to commit to a full-size product. 

3.  The oddest thing though—is really odd.  Especially considering all the “blemishes” that are happening on my face right now.  Maybe my awesome hair is compensating for that.  Or maybe, since I’m not covering up the way I smell with a bunch of harsh chemicals, my pheromones are working to…attract the opposite sex.  Now, I’m not looking for anyone, because I have someone whom I love very dearly, but I have noticed complete strangers, like…smiling at me and holding the door open for me and talking to me out of nowhere.  Of course, at first, I thought maybe I had spinach in my teeth or something.  And honestly, maybe it is just Christmas and people are being more friendly than usual.  Or maybe this whole detox is cleansing my aura in such a way that I am more approachable.  I don’t know. 

But I noticed.  Maybe it’ll be a nice side-effect for you, too, if you try to cut some of the pollutants out of your life.   You never know.

Categories: hair products | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2.5 out of 3 ain’t bad

It’s been a while since I last posted, and of course I have a hundred new things I want to write about. But let me start where I left off.  I had contacted three companies to ask for information, further confirmation, that their products were indeed phthalate-free.

1. Kuumba Made fragrance oils have been CONFIRMED as phthalate-free. The actual language from the e-mail went like this: “Our fragrance oils are created using the finest oils and resins of flowers, plants, roots and trees. They are free of any dilutants, alcohols, petroleums, phthalates, and animal products. However, they are not 100% natural, some items such as musk is not available naturally.” Good to know they aren’t using animal musk. However in the artificial musk world, there are three types…two are questionable, much like phthalate, and one is considered safe. CRAP! I guess I need to press them further about which type of synthetic musk they are using. That will be a blog for another day. But it seems safe to assume that the non-musk fragrances are 100% good to go. I personally like Water Lily (and Egyptian Musk…so now I have more research to do).

2. Pacifica skin care, including perfume, is, according the e-mail response I received from customer service, “made without: Animal testing, animal bi-products (sic), phthalates, parabens, sulfates, propylene glycol, benzene, GMOs, mineral oil, peanut oil, and triclosan. All Pacifica products are cruelty-free.” So this is more good news. The body butter, in Mediterranean Fig is still quite nice, but once I found out that their perfumes were 100% safe, I went on down to my Central Market and sprayed nearly every inch of my arms with a sample of their fragrances. Now, the selection on Pacifica’s site is much broader, but at my local store, there are approximately 8 scents. I purchased Waikiki Pikake, a light, white floral. But I’ll be going back (or asking Santa?) for Mexican Chocolate and Malibu Lemon Blossom. They are seriously yum! And free of nasty chemicals, which is the best part, I think.

3. After e-mailing customer service at Teva (the maker of sandals and flip-flops and, yes, even more complicated shoes), I got a reply indicating that they didn’t have material details about the products, but they did provide a handy phone number I could call. So I called, I asked my question of the helpful customer service staff, and she put me on hold for quite a while, but eventually came back with good news! Teva uses EVA plastic for the footbed of their products, and polyester for the straps. EVA is a type of plastic that does not require further plasticizers to make it bendable and “squishy,” and is actually considered to be inert enough to make children’s toys from in lieu of phthalate-based “squishy” plastic. This is good news since I live in my Tevas much of the year. By the way, I prefer this brand because they make durable products that can last for years and years. It’s worth the investment over cheap-o flip-flops, for sure. Not only are the straps fashionably cute, they last, and now we know they have no phthalate to absorb through our skin. Yay for Teva!

So, have I had any regrets about pursuing a hippy/natural-product lifestyle? No, because I think I am on the road to being healthier.  When you know better, you do better, right?  There’s really no going back for me now, and actually a broad door of questioning products everywhere has opened, and I am concerned not only for my own health, but the health of my family, friends, and yes, even perfect strangers.

I will confess that overcoming vanity is part of the process. I would still like to look nice (and smell nice) and this has suddenly made that task a little more challenging.  From my purging of grooming products, the product I regretted having to throw out the most (so far, that is, since I haven’t yet culled my perfume collection)? Don’t laugh at me, but it was a stash…yes, a stash…of discontinued Dove Straight and Soft Sleek Styling Cream. I LOVE this product so much that when it was discontinued, I went on ebay.com and bought 10 tubes. I KNOW! This makes me *almost* a hoarder…but it works so well on my hair! When you research its ingredients, this product is somewhere on the scale of about a 5-6 where 0 is pure water and 10 is considered extremely toxic/carcinogenic/allergy-causing/etc.  So I haven’t really found its replacement, but I am trying a styling product I’ll blog about tomorrow.

I do want to extend an offer to research the toxicity of your favorite product and perhaps offer a replacement product of similar qualities. Just leave a comment and I’ll start the search. First up, as requested by my co-worker, is Philosphy products. Tune in next time…

Categories: endocrine disruptors, hair products, perfume, phthalates | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In the Aftermath…A Small Win

After my shopping excursion yesterday (during which I spent way too much money), I had the unsavory task of ridding my house of those products that likely do contain phthalates among other offensive chemicals.  And I was shocked. 

First, in honest admission of my consumer foolhardiness, I was able to fill an entire tall kitchen trashbag with just the hair/body/skin grooming products in my bathroom.  I didn’t get to cleaning products even! Or the kitchen!  And, because I was raised by sensible folks who must use everything before it is thrown out or recycled, I had portions of bottles of shampoo and lotion and hair gel and shaving cream that must have been over five years old…some certainly older.  And what’s worse is that I have numerous products that are not phthalate free that are either a few uses short of new or have never even been opened.  I simply can’t make myself throw these out.  Karmically speaking, I probably should, but if there are people in the world who could use new liters of Dove Nutrium Cucumber and Aloe body wash, I think they should have them.  Ug.  First world problems, I know.

I normally keep a variety of shampoos and conditioners and body wash/soap in my shower for no other reason than the fact that I like options.  I grew up in a house in which my parents would buy the same things for years.  Flex shampoo and conditioner—the balsam and protein type, pink Caress soap, regular paste-form (not gel) of Colgate toothpaste, and Final Net (non-aerosol at least) hairspray.  It got boring.  I am still excited by new products (as you can tell by my whole trashbag worth of crap that got purged), and yes, I will admit that I am excited to try my new purchases.

I will report, thankfully, that I did NOT have to purge everything.  I have …

…Noah’s Naturals “Natural Age Repair Moisturizing Body Lotion.”  It smells marvelous!!  A coconut-vanilla scent that doesn’t smell like suntan lotion.  More grown up, I guess.  However, I don’t know why I’m even telling you about this product because, sadly, the company is defunct.  Sigh.  I think this might be a problem with natural products.  If they can’t compete with cheaper brands, they won’t be able to keep the product on the shelves.  If you feel like scouring ebay for this brand, you can find some things, but they are likely 2-3 years old.  Just fyi.  But Noah’s Naturals did promise to use “no harsh sulfates, no parabens, no propylene gycol, no petrolatum, no phthalates, no animal by-products, and no animal testing.”  Sorry to see you go, Noah.

Alba Botanica “Very Emollient Cream Shave” in Mango Vanilla scent.  Can you tell I have a penchant for tropical-smelling things?  Anyway…the package indicates a similar mantra:  No animal testing, no artificial colors, parabens, phthalates, SLS, or Sodium Methyl Sulfate.  I love this fragrance…it really smells like mango to me.  They have other bath products in a Honey Mango that smell equally scrumptious.  I can find this line of products at Sprouts and Central Market (Central Market was cheaper, by the way) and probably Whole Foods, too.  You cannot buy directly from the company like you can with some other brands, but I will tell you a secret…www.drugstore.com has (right now) 38 products available at about the same or less cost as the store.  Yes, there is an environmental impact associated with shipping, but if you only order once in a while, it won’t be that significant and you’ll have this wonderful, healthy product in exchange. 

… A collection of Burt’s Bees products.  I can highly recommend the Coconut Foot Crème for rough heels and recovering from long hikes or even sore dancing feet.  Burt’s Bees promises that, “All Burt’s Bees products are paraben free, SLS-free, petrochemical free, and phthalate free.”  If you are interested in trying their products, you can find a collection in most Walmarts these days (as well as many natural grocery stores).  But if you go to their website, obviously you will have the whole range of products to choose from.  They actually have an “outlet” tab on their homepage that will take you to the sale items.  Right now they have a grab bag for $25 (normally $50) if you are feeling lucky.  Based on customer reviews, the contents of the bag are either “awesome” or “disappointing.”  I guess that is the nature of the grab bag, though. 

By the way, since it occurred to me yesterday, I put in another request to a customer service e-mail, this time at Teva.  I prefer Teva sandals for flip-flops (because they are durable and less flip-floppy than cheaper brands), and I wear them year-round here in Austin.  So, I asked:  do your shoes contain phthalates?  I have an answer already on this Sunday morning from customer service!  Customer service doesn’t have that kind of information (boo).  However, the customer service agent gave me a number to call, which I will do tomorrow when the offices are open.  Stay tuned for that update.

Categories: endocrine disruptors, phthalates | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just so you know…

At least in the United States, “There is not a safety standard in place that requires any testing to be done whatsoever in any cosmetic product,” said toxicologist Timothy Kropp, a senior scientist with the Washington-based Environmental Working Group.

from Wash that MIT Out of Your Hair?  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Jennifer Bails, December 6, 2004

Categories: endocrine disruptors | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coming Clean

I recently got struck by a lightning bolt of knowledge when I watched “Bag It,” a documentary by Jeb Berrier.  I mean, I know plastic is not the best thing in the world, as most of us do.  Yes, we should recycle, but do we?  There was that whole discussion/uproar about BPA (Bisphenol A) in baby products a few years back.  And yes, of course, we know plastic persists in the environment and that it’s bad for all kinds of animals, especially marine animals who end up consuming it.  But for some reason, I’d never heard about phthalates

Now phthalates, it turns out, are not just found in plastics.  This is a class of chemicals that is used in all kinds of products.  Parents should be concerned because “squishy” plastics can consist of more phthalate than the actual plastic…they could be BPA-free but still dense with phthalate that can be easily transferred to the human body, especially when it (as kids are known to do) is put in the mouth.  In Jeb’s movie, a rubber ducky is equated to a “phthalate lollipop.” 

Even if you avoid plastics containing phthalates, however, you are probably still exposed to them.  They are commonly used in fragrances as a solubilizer and stabilizer.  Any product with a fragrance may contain phthalates without disclosing them on the label because, as it turns out, fragrances are considered to be trade secrets, and this includes the chemicals used to create the fragrance (like ingredients that solubilize and stabilize).  This is especially alarming for me since I am a perfume hound…I have 18 different kinds of perfume and 15 different kinds of body spray (I know! I have a problem!).

Additionally, here is a list of the other most common places you can find phthalates:

Coatings on pharmaceutical pills and nutritional supplements, adhesives and glues, electronics, agricultural applications, building materials, personal-care products, medical devices, detergents, packaging, toys, modelling clay, waxes, paints, printing inks, food, and fabrics.

Why, you may be asking, do we need to avoid these two chemicals, BPA and phthalate, specifically?  They are both considered to be endocrine disruptors and can affect the body in numerous ways that can include birth defects, disruption of thyroid function, increased incidents of cancer, abnormal obesity, insulin resistance, asthma, potential links to attention deficit disorders and autism, and more.  Anyone notice how there have been increased rates of obesity and autism?

It seems easier to avoid BPA…plastics labeled 1, 2, 5 and 6 are free of BPA (or should be).  Don’t eat or drink anything out of other plastics.  Ideally, you should drink out of glass/ceramics when you can, and try to avoid cooking anything in the microwave even in these plastics.

Phthalates, however, are everywhere.  It’s easy to get paranoid about it.  I have.  I am trying to combat this sense of paranoia, though, by purging offensive items from my house, and replacing them with more natural and hopefully more organic items.  I can’t really do anything about the paint on the walls and the floor coverings, except, I suppose to wear shoes in the house (wait, do my shoes have phthalates in them?).  

As the days and weeks progress, I will be snitching on offensive products and offering up better products.  It is an expensive undertaking, unfortunately to buy the better products, but if you do it bit by bit, you can start to make a dent.

Today’s cheap find:  Bon Ami powder cleanser…to scrub the countertops and the bathtub/shower.  Five ingredients! Limestone, feldspar, biodegradable cleaning agents (from coconut/corn – I suspect this is a powdered soap from the oil of these plants), soda ash, and baking soda. $1.69 at the fancy natural grocery store.

The most expensive thing I bought today:  Pacifica brand body butter in Mediterranean Fig scent.  It is free of animal products (this company does not test on animals either), parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, mineral and peanut oils, and artificial color.  This cost $16.99 at a different, fancier grocery store.  If you go to Pacifica’s website, they clearly indicate that their skin care is free of these things, but they do NOT clearly indicate that their fragrances (perfume spray/solids) are phthalate free.  Which seems a bit suspicious to me.  I have e-mailed their customer service to find out the “word” regarding this suspicion, and I will dutifully report back with any response I receive.  In the meantime, this fragrant lotion will be one of my “perfume replacers.”

The other e-mail I sent today was to Kuumba Made.  These perfume oils are commonly found in the fancy grocery stores for not too much money (about $8) and they smell pretty (I especially like Egyptian Musk).  They claim to be natural, but there is almost no information about ingredients.  I have asked if there are phthalates in their products, so we shall see what they say.

In the future, I’ll probably also reveal other terrible chemicals we’d all be better off avoiding.  And possibly I’ll start petitions and “writing” campaigns to get the mainstream manufacturers to start cutting the crap out of their products to make this place healthier for all.  United we stand, people.

Finally, my Environmental Protection degree is coming in handy!

Categories: endocrine disruptors, phthalates, plastic | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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