Sami Jo Jensen makes her own all natural beauty products including these cupcake shaped soaps.
Most likely, some really nasty stuff. Once you start mass-producing anything, sacrifices tend to be made. Somehow, we went from making our own soap from nutrient-rich olive oil and volcanic ash to pumping out stuff that foams up before it even gets out of the bottle. We mistakenly judge our shampoo and body wash by how many bubbles they can produce. This kind of thinking typically leaves us with dry and brittle skin. I know, I was guilty once too! But after doing some basic research on the ingredients in my favorite body wash, I did three things: threw out anything with parabens, looked for natural alternatives, and started making my own soaps, lip balms, and lotions.
Para-what? Parabens are the most toxic ingredient in your beauty products and they are in EVERYTHING. Eyeshadow, concealer, shampoo, shower gel, lotion, sunscreen… Sadly, even LUSH uses parabens in their otherwise natural products. Why? They’re fantastic preservatives. So your 95% organic lotion won’t get moldy, but you might pick up breast cancer from regularly using it. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s how the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database rates parabens, on a scale of 1-10, 10 being “high hazard”:
- Benzylparaben – 2
- Butylparaben – 7
- Ethylparaben – 4
- Isobutylparaben – 7
- Isopropylparaben – 7
- Methylparaben – 4
- Propylparaben – 10
Methylparaben and Propylparaben are the most commonly found in cosmetics. Note: These can also be listed as: Benzyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid, Methyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid, Ethyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid, Propyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid, Butyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid, Parahydroxybenzoic acid and Parahydroxybenzoate. Whew! Try pronouncing those!
Even in low doses, parabens have been scientifically proven to lead to endocrine disruption, which can lead to reproductive issues; changes in hormone levels, the first step to breast cancer; early onset puberty; a weakening of the immune system; and more. Here are a few popular beauty products that contain parabens:
Herbal Essences Shampoo – Ingredients List
Other common offenders are Sodium Laureth and Lauryl Sulfates, foaming agents which cause eye and skin irritation. They’re powerful surfactants and detergents, often found in home and industrial strength cleaning products because they’re very effective at removing oil and grease. Unfortunately, this means they’re also good at removing your skin’s own natural oils, thereby leaving you with dry skin. When they’re in shampoo, sulfates will strip hair color and dry out your scalp, leaving you with dandruff.
While Propylene Glycol is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it has lead to skin rashes such as hives and eczema outbreaks if applied to skin and asthma if inhaled. When we went snorkeling in Mexico last summer, my family was surprised to learn that we had to wear all-natural sunscreen — sans Propylene Glycol. Up until this point, they all thought I was nuts for spending sometimes twice as much as them on non-toxic beauty products, but when I explained to them that PG emits high levels of biochemical oxygen demand in water — meaning, it consumes oxygen needed by aquatic life — I think they started to get it.
Let’s talk about Fragrance with a capital F. It seems like a pretty harmless word, but it’s what the word isn’t telling you that’s a problem. “Fragrance” or “parfum” represents an undisclosed mixture of lovely little scent chemicals. Most commonly, they contain dibutyl phthalate, which are so bad for you, California has classified it as a “reproductive and developmental toxicant” and the European Union has actually banned it in cosmetics and personal care products. Unfortunately, most companies don’t have to disclose that they’re using phthalates, and instead just hide behind the word “fragrance.” If your label doesn’t say that your shampoo, body wash, lotion, etc. is phthalate-free, don’t be tricked by “fragrance,” and for the sake of their brain development, do NOT use it on your kids!
Bath & Body Works is famous for its array of fragrances.
I could go on for pages, I really could, but I think you get it. Read your labels. My philosophy is, if I can’t pronounce it, it’s probably not good for me. So who do I trust? For the most part, Aveda, Burt’s Bees, California Baby, The Honest Company (from Jessica Alba), Jason Natural Cosmetics, LUSH (just look out for parabens), method (okay, they’re mostly home stuff), Physician’s Formula, and Yes To (Carrots, Tomatoes, etc.) are a few of the big names. Even so, many of these companies still have nasty chemicals in some of their products. Most of my truly safe bath & body products are ones that I’ve made myself, or have come from very small companies like DressGreen, Green Beauty Cosmetics, Mere’s All Natural, and Sam’s Natural (for men).
If there’s one takeaway here kids, it’s READ YOUR LABELS! And hey, you can have some real fun making your own soap, body scrubs, lotions, even makeup! Check out my blog, Poor & Pretty, for some all-natural beauty recipes as well as my favorite non-toxic products.
Have questions? Don’t miss Sami Jo Jensen at the Hartford Trashion Show on April 19th. She’ll be there to talk about all natural beauty and will teach you how to make your own sugar scrub. You’ll even be able to take home a sample!