Detox Your Personal Care Products

Reading ingredient labels on food and bodycare products can be awfully daunting, especially when the list is long and full of impossible, mysterious words. Let’s be honest, you probably can’t even pronounce half of them, let alone describe what they are or what they’re for.

 Organic Minimal Ingredient Personal Care Products by Rawganique

Organic Minimal Ingredient Personal Care Products by Rawganique

If we do (perhaps reluctantly) take the time to read the label, it will most likely be that of a food product. As consumers, we are naturally more concerned with what we put in our bodies, rather than on them. But the fact is, your skin is your body’s largest organ, and acts as a gateway to the rest of your body. Everything that is put on or around you will be absorbed through 20 square feet of permeable membrane. So, it’s safe to say that whatever you put on your body is equally as important as what you put in your body.

Still, reading labels is daunting and unbearably time-consuming. I envy the person that has the time and patience to read every label on every product they pick up. More than that, selecting bodycare and cosmetic products is a deeply personal, almost scientific endeavor. I’ve spent more time comparing shampoos than I’d like to admit. But what does this have to do with the ingredients list?

 Organic Handmade Hemp Oil Soap Bars

Organic Handmade Hemp Oil Soap Bars

When it comes to bodycare, we are picky, and we are attached. We don’t mess around when it comes to beauty. We want the best. We want toothpaste that whitens our teeth, shampoo that suds up in our hair, and lotion that smells heavenly – don’t even get me started on makeup. And once you find your perfect product, you use the same thing for years. We are, after all, creatures of habit. We also like to have options, and reading labels threatens our ability to choose whatever we want.

I used to convince myself that the ingredient lists were long for a reason. Products must need all of those things in order to work, right? Organic products can’t possibly be as effective, can they?

The truth is, the cosmetics and bodycare industries are not as heavily regulated as, say, food. Anything and everything can be added to shampoo or soap unless that ingredient is undeniably and scientifically proven to be toxic or carcinogenic. In other words, beauty companies can (and do) add just about anything in order to make their products smell and look good enough for you to toss in your cart.

As it turns out, organic products can be just as effective - perhaps just in different ways. For example, most commercial shampoos contain something called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). SLS is a chemical that contributes to the suds and bubbles produced when you lather your scalp. It can be found in body wash, shaving cream, toothpaste, and other products. This chemical is also used in cleaning products, and as an insecticide. Did I mention it causes cancer, liver damage, rashes, and depression? Is it just me, or are suds starting to sound overrated…?

So, now that we’re all nice and unsettled, how do we tackle this? How can a reasonable person avoid contaminating their body? I have two perfectly viable options for you.

 Organic Jasmine Rice Powder Scrub, Detoxifying Bamboo Charcoal Mask, Kaffir Lime Shampoo, and Mungbean Powder Facewash by Rawganique

Organic Jasmine Rice Powder Scrub, Detoxifying Bamboo Charcoal Mask, Kaffir Lime Shampoo, and Mungbean Powder Facewash by Rawganique

One: The Abatement Approach. This requires that you obtain a fundamental understanding of the most toxic chemicals and ingredients that may be lurking in your products (i.e. SLS). Once you can recognize a dozen or so of those mysterious ingredients, you can start skimming labels and picking products that lack them.

Two: The Minimalist Approach. Meaning pick products that have the simplest, purest ingredient lists. These products may be harder to find, but they will reward you with transparency and purity.

Option two is my personal preference, but many people are skeptical of single or minimal-ingredient products. However, many of these products are made from ingredients that people have been using for thousands of years. Instead of relying on online reviews to guarantee effectiveness, you can rely on human history.  It doesn’t get much more organic than that. Below is a list of some sustainable, single-ingredient recipes [1] and how they can be incorporated into your beauty routine:

 

Kaffir Lime Shampoo

  • Prevents dandruff, aids eczema, prevents gray hair

Bamboo Charcoal Face Mask

  • Detoxifying - Aids psoriasis, eczema, ringworm

Witch Hazel Skin Toner

  • Itch relief, moisturizing, hydrating
  • Aids ringworm, tinea versicolor, psoriasis, eczema, insect bites

Hemp Soap, Shampoo, & Deodorant

  • Calming, anti-bacterial, moisturizing

Mungbean Powder Facial & Body Wash

  • Cleansing, clarifying

Jasmine Rice Scrub Powder

  • Exfoliating, conditioning, moisturizing

Soap Nuts Detergent, Soap

  • Natural all-purpose cleaning

Neem Oil Skincare

  • Treats psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, chapped skin, wind-burnt skin

Sodium Percarbonate (Salt) Stain removal

  • Removes stains, whitens, disinfects, deodorizes

Lemon Juice moisturizer

  • Aids tinea versicolor, psoriasis

Coconut Oil hair mask, shaving lotion

  • Soothing, moisturizing, prevents irritation, dryness, split ends

Almond Oil cuticle oil, makeup remover

  • Cleansing, conditioning, moisturizing

Argan Oil Nighttime moisturizer

  • Moisturizing, wrinkle resistance

Essential Oils

  • Fragrance, aromatherapy

 

There are tons of products out there with minimal ingredients. In the long run, you’ll save money, time, and stress if you resort to these natural, pure products for all your skincare needs. Mother Nature will take good care of you.

If you decide to take the Abatement Approach, I can provide you with a basic list of chemicals to keep an eye out for [2]. I would highly recommend familiarizing yourself with these names. You’ll be surprised by how many of them you’ll be able to locate on products you use every day.


 Parabens

What are they?

Synthetic compounds widely used as a preservative to stop the growth of damaging microbes such as fungus and bacteria.

On the ingredients label, they look like:

  • Methylparaben
  • Ethylparaben
  • Propulparaben
  • Butylparaben
  • Isobutylparaben

 Where will I find them?

 Deodorants, toothpastes, shampoos, conditioners, body lotions, makeups.

Why avoid them?

Parabens disrupt hormone function and reproductive health, which could lead to increased risk of breast cancer. [3]


 Synthetic Colors

What are they?

Essentially a hodge-podge of synthetic chemicals that are used to dye our products and make them pretty.

 Where will I find them?

Soap, lotions, shave gels, toothpastes, shampoos, styling cream, face creams, toners, cleaners, bath gels…. A simpler question would be where can’t you find them.

On the ingredients label, they look like:

  • Red 3
  • Blue 1
  • Green 3
  • Yellow 5
  • FD&C Yellow 6, etc.

 Why avoid them?

They are linked to cancer, allergic reactions, neuron damage, and tumors in the thyroid, adrenal gland, and kidney (depending on the dye). [4]


  Fragrance

 What is it?

 The problem with “Fragrance” is that no one really knows exactly what it consists of. Companies are not required to disclose the [chemical] makeup of their products’ fragrance. If that’s not terrifying enough, I’m not sure what is.

Where will I find it?

Shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, body wash, deodorant, body lotion, makeup (why??), facial cream, serums, and PERFUME (who knows what’s in this stuff!).

On the ingredients label, they look like:

  • Fragrance (informative, I know)

Why avoid it?

Fragrance is once again a giant mess of chemicals that makes the scent of your product unique and desirable. Many of these chemicals have health concerns such as links to cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies and sensitivities. Some have no health data at all, which is arguably more frightening. [5]


Phthalates

What are they?

Chemicals (surprise!) that are used as binders and plasticizers (to increase products’ flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity).

Where will I find them?

Color cosmetics, fragranced lotions, body washes and hair care products, nail polish and treatment.

On the ingredients label, they look like:

  • Phthalate
  • DEP
  • DBP
  • DEHP
  • Fragrance

Why avoid it?

They are linked to endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and cancer. [6]


Triclosan

 What is it?

 Used as an antimicrobial bactericide and a preservative.

Where will I find it?

Antibacterial soap, toothpaste, deodorant, aftershave, lotions, bath products, cleansing products, hair shampoos and conditioners, makeup, and skin care products.

Why avoid it?

Triclosan has been linked to disrupted muscle and hormone function, heart disease, heart failure, and caused skeletal muscles to fail. [7]


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

What is it?

A very common surfactant. As I mentioned earlier, it contributes to the sudsy/foaming component of your personal care and cleaning products.

Where will I find it?

In everything ranging from engine degreasers, floor cleaners, and car wash products, down to your toothpaste and shampoo.

On the ingredient label, it looks like:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
  • Sodium dodecyl sulfate
  • Also avoid: Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Also avoid: Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

Why avoid it?

They are known to cause skin irritation, eye damage, diarrhea, breathing difficulty, and damage to the immune system (which leaves the body more susceptible to disease and disorders such as cancer). [8]


Formaldehyde

What is it?

A preservative that helps prevent microbes from growing in water-based products.

Where will I find it?

Nail polish, nail and eyelash glue, hair gel and smoothing products, shampoos, body wash, cosmetics.

On the ingredient label, it looks like:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Quaternium-15
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Diazolidinyl urea
  • Polyoxymethylene urea
  • Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
  • 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol)
  • Glyoxal

Why avoid it?

Formaldehyde is linked to cancer, skin irritation, and allergic reactions. [9]


Toluene

What is it?

A toxic chemical that is used as a solvent to dissolve other substances.

Where will I find it?

Nail polish, nail treatment, hair dyes

On the ingredients label, it looks like:

  • Toluene

Why avoid it?

Toluene is linked to developmental, reproductive, and organ system toxicity, respiratory complications [10]