You don’t have to be super sensitive or allergy prone to have adverse
reactions to many of the personal care products out there. The ugly
truth is, from foot scrub to toothpaste, personal care products can
contain chemicals that cause a lot more than a gnarly rash. Scouring
jargon-filled labels for hazardous ingredients sucks, especially if
you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. For a totally
comprehensive, printable wallet-sized list of chemicals to avoid,
check out www.gilldeacon.ca. If you want to check out how safe
the stuff you already have is, www.cosmeticsdatabase.com is a
super helpful database where you can type in the name of your products
and it will give you a rating out of 10 how healthy / hazardous it is,
and a detailed run down of the chemicals in it. In the meantime, keep
an eye out for these 6 additives that have managed to sneak into your
daily hygiene routine. When you’re sufficiently horrified, dump them
for natural options. It’s a filthy world out there, and we care about
Offender #1: Parabens (could also be hidden under the names Benzoic
What it’s in: Shampoos, body lotions and creams, as well as cosmetics
like mascara and foundation.
Why it’s trouble: The FDA has tried to play it off like Parabens are
harmless, but they have been found to mimic estrogen and mess with the
finely tuned estrogenic activity that goes down in our bods. They’ve
also been found in breast cancer tumours.
Alternatives: LUSH’s (312 Queen St.) products are 100% preservative
free, as well as ethically sourced, raw, against animal testing, and
all around PHENOMENAL. The only downside is, of course, they don’t
last forever. Buy small portions at one time and keep them stashed in
the fridge to preserve freshness. Otherwise, scour product labels for
natural preservatives like grapefruit seed extract, oregano, thyme,
and goldenseal root.
Offender #2: Aluminum
What it’s in: Anti perspirant.
Why it’s trouble: The same aluminum that’s in sheet metal and tin
foil, aluminum in deodorant blocks up your pores to keep sweat from
getting out. It’s been linked to breast cancer and Alzheimers. You
don’t want to be rubbing that all over your pits, where your glands
are heavily concentrated and your skin is super sensitive. A lot of
anti perspirants also contain alcohol and formaldehyde. (Remember the
rats you dissected in high school? Better believe they were preserved
in this stuff.)
Alternatives: Most deodorant crystals only contain two, totally
natural ingredients – mineral salts and alum – that work together to
kill the bacteria that make you smell in the first place. So it
doesn’t clog up your pores and stop you from sweating (a natural,
totally necessary process. Whodathunk?) but it does a great job at
stopping you from smelling like a barnyard animal. Plus, it’s about 4
dollars for a hunk of crystal that will last you about 5 years. I
really dig Lafe’s brand, from Grassroots Environmental Store (408
Bloor St, 371 Danforth Ave.)
Offender #3: Parfum.
What it’s in: Lotions, body butters, cleansers, and hair products.
Why its trouble: Although it sounds kind of romantic and French-ish,
“parfum”, as it is often listed on labels, can cause allergies and
asthma. Some are even linked to cancer and neurotoxicity, and harm
fish and wildlife.
Alternatives: Go for products infused with essential oils for a
natural, aromatic substitute. Sigrid is a line of homemade, local and
in season salves and body butters made in Northern Ontario. You can
cop her dream-like goods at Better Bulk (2035 Danforth Ave.) Essence
of Life (50 Kensington Ave.), Noah’s Natural Foods (322 Bloor St.),
Herbie’s Herbs (556 Queen St.)
Offender #4: Triclosan
What it’s in: Triclosan is a preservative and anti-bacterial agent in
hand sanitizers, mouthwash, toothpaste and deodorants.
Why its trouble: It interferes with endocrine processes and
contributes to antibiotic resistant bacteria. It doesn’t degrade in
the environment and bioaccumulates, even long after it is washed down
the drain. It’s also harmful to fish and other wildlife.
Alternatives: Look for alcohol free hand sanitizers that have thymol
as their active ingredient. Thymol is derived from the thyme plant,
used for its effective antiseptic properties (and fresh smell!)
Benefect is a brand that has a handy little hand sanitizer fueled by
thymol, and has no mercy on germs.
Offender #5: Diethanolamine, AKA Dea, and its two ugly stepsisters Mea
What it’s in: Creamy and foaming products like moisturizers and shampoos.
Why its trouble: Diethanolamine is a skin and eye irritant, and can
also affect the immune and nervous system. When absorbed through the
skin, DEA accumulates in organs, and repeated application has been
found to cause liver and kidney damage in animals.
Alternatives: Natureclean is a Toronto brand that carries
hypoallergenic soaps, lotions and cleaning products. You can find it
in most commercial grocery stores these days in the city. Druide,
Canada’s largest organic personal care supplier, carries everything
from hairspray to massage oil – all organic and made for
hypersensitive skin. They have a vegan body lotion called Pur and Pur
that kicks any DEA soaked lotion any day. Hunt it down at Baldwin
Naturals (16 Baldwin St.), and Qi Natural Foods (710 Bloor St.)
Offender #6: Phthalates (could be disguised as DBP, DEHP, or benzene)
What it’s in: Everything from sex toys and lubricants to nail polish
Why it’s trouble: This suspected carcinogen is also linked to
reproductive birth defects, hormone disruption, and has weaseled its
way into 80% of cosmetics are personal care products to date.
Alternatives: Phthalates are so common that we are exposed to them on
a regular basis. We can’t help that, but you can make sure you’re not
rubbing them all over your body / bringing them into the bedroom with
you. Come As You Are’s website shows a little P with a crossed out
circle around it beside each toy that is Phthalate-free, for your