When you go to the grocery store, it’s easy to differentiate the organic produce from all of the rest. If you don’t want to eat vegetables with any pesticides or yucky chemicals, avoiding them in the produce section isn’t confusing. We wish we could say the same about personal care products. There are a lot of harmful ingredients in some of the things that are meant to be applied to our faces, lips, under our arms, and even used in the bedroom. Gross, huh?
Here, we’d like to make finding (and crafting!) harmless personal care products a little bit easier for you. We’ll tell you about five items that are probably sitting in your medicine cabinet as we speak, and how you can swap them out with earth- and you-friendly products that won’t do any harm with continued use down the line. We’ve also included some DIY recipes below. The best part about DIY cosmetics is you don’t have to guess (or worry) about what’s in them when you’re playing the part of mixologist.
Here are the top five products that are probably creating a toxic environment within your medicine cabinet:
It stinks, but most common deodorants are made with a slew of toxic chemicals. The worst perpetrator is aluminum. It’s supposed to act as a sort of blockage in the pores underneath your arm to keep perspiration from escaping, but we’d rather not keep our bodies from doing what’s natural. Aluminum in deodorant has been linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Believe it or not, popular brands (think Dove, Degree, and many other brand names you see while browsing the deodorant aisle) often contain some version of aluminum.
- Detoxify: We love The Body Shop’s Aloe Antiperspirant Deodorant. GoodGuide is a great resource for finding safe, ethical and green product reviews. Find their other highly rated deodorants here.
DIY Detox: Coconut oil is all the rage right now, and for good reason. Here’s an amazingly simple home recipe that utilizes the benefits of coconut oil and steers clear of aluminum to keep you smelling fresh.
It’s understandable that one might be unsuspecting of the toxins found in a lot of condoms that are currently on the market. After all, condoms are arguably the most intimate of products, so their manufacturers would never let you come into contact (especially down there) with harmful ingredients, right? Wrong. Most condom companies fail to prevent the formation of nitrosamines when the product is manufactured. Nitrosamine is a carcinogen. We aren’t going to use scare tactics or even suggest that conventional condoms are dangerous products because it’s always a good idea to use a condom, no matter the brand. What we will tell you is that there are toxin-free alternatives to your usual go-to contraceptive and you don’t have to settle for condoms that have harmful chemicals.
- Detoxify: Replace your usual brand with nitrosamine-free, Fair Trade, and sustainably produced natural latex condoms made by Sustain. These fashionably-packaged contraceptives are as earth-friendly as condoms get.
We’re happy to hear that Revlon announced last December it will be removing parabens and formaldehyde-releasing chemicals from its products, including moisturizers. Among the brands you often see in the personal care aisle, lotions are popular hosts for parabens, which can interfere with the body’s hormones.
- Detoxify: We especially love Tata Harper skincare and Acure Organics. We also recommend taking a look at the Environmental Working Group’s list of moisturizing products that aren’t harmful to you, or the environment.
Cosmetic companies would never put harmful chemicals in a product that is applied to the lips, you say. We don’t like being the bearer of bad news, but there are a lot of lipsticks out there that contain phthalates, which are also used in vinyl flooring and car dashboards. Yes, you read that correctly. Phthalates have been linked to birth defects, infertility, and most recently, breast cancer. Yikes. The lipstick in your medicine cabinet may also contain lead, which builds in the body over time. Lead has been removed from paint and gasoline, but for some reason it’s still allowed in cosmetics. That makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
- Detoxify: Check out two of our favorite brands: Tata Harper and RMS Beauty for non-toxic lip gloss alternatives.
DIY Detox: If you’re feeling adventurous, try making this homemade lipstick recipe that uses beeswax, shea butter, cocoa butter and coconut oil as the base - all free of phthalates and lead.
You were most likely appalled to find out that products meant to be applied to your lips contain toxins. It’s also true that most conventional toothpaste brands are guilty of containing an ingredient most people would rather not brush their teeth with: plastic. Many popular toothpaste brands contain microbeads made of polyethylene, a commercial polymer that’s widely used in plastics. The kicker? The microbeads don’t have any cleaning purpose; they’re solely used to give the paste color. Another fun fact: Polyethylene is used to manufacture bulletproof vests and grocery bags!
- Detoxify: There are plenty of ways to clean your teeth that don’t involve plastic microbeads. Here are 12 alternatives that we highly recommend.
Happy detoxifying! Your medicine cabinet, your body, and the environment will thank you.