Toxin-Free Cosmetics

Do you know what’s lurking in your medicine cabinet?

The average adult in the U.S. uses about ten cosmetics per day, including soap, toothpaste and styling products.  With aisles of choices in the drug store, it‚Äôs not always easy determining which products are safe. Alarmingly, fewer than 20% of products on the shelves have been assessed for safety by the FDA.  In fact, the majority of traditional cosmetics, including baby shampoo and lipstick, contain chemicals linked to degenerative diseases like cancer and brain dysfunction.

The new season is a perfect time to clean out the toxins in your medicine cabinet and replace them with healthier, more eco-friendly alternatives.  Here are a few to get you started:

1. Skin Care, Soaps and Shampoos.   If you check the label on the soaps, detergents, and shampoos in your medicine cabinet, you‚Äôll find they contain toxic chemicals.  For example, phthalates are used to make  fragrances, but are linked to hormone disruption.  Sodium laurel sulphate (SLS) is a cheap surfactant contained in most soaps to create suds, but is commonly used by mechanics to clean engines and tough oil stains. When used on the skin‚Äîthe largest, most absorbent organ on the human body-it can cause severe irritation and allergic reactions.  Look for products made without Phthalates and SLS, like Burt‚Äôs Bee‚Äôs, at any drug store.  

2. Deodorant.  Traditional deodorants contain aluminum chlorohydrate and parabens, which have been found in breast cancer tissue.  Try a healthier alternative, like the Crystal Deodorant, which uses natural salt to absorb odor-causing bacteria.  Or, Jason Natural stick deodorant, which goes on smooth and comes in refreshing scents like lavender.  www.thecrystal.com; www.jason-natural.com.

3. Holistic Dental Care.  Though we‚Äôve all heard that fluoride‚Äôs key for strong teeth, it‚Äôs a toxin that qualifies as a hazardous material.  Ingesting even small amounts on a daily basis can cause learning disabilities in children.  Instead, try all-natural Weleda toothpaste.  Or, visit holistic dentist Dr. Kevin Boehm‚Äôs Shaumburg, Illinois practice.  In addition to giving you a toxin-free cleaning and dental hygiene products, he can also remove your toxic mercury fillings and replace them with non-leeching natural resins. www.rothchild-dds.com.  

4. Natural Hair Color, Relaxers & Make-Up.  Walk into any hair salon and the smell of ammonia, lye and alcohol might overwhelm you.  These chemicals can cause neurological disorders, so why risk it?  Head to an all-natural, eco-friendly salon like Aveda, which uses plant-based minerals to create beautiful permanent hair colors, skin treatments and make-up. Or, head to a Sephora near you for natural cosmetics like Dr. Hauschka mineral make-up and PhytoRelax‚Äôs egg and soy-based, lye-free relaxer, used by stars like Oprah and Vanessa Williams.  www.Aveda.com, www.Sephora.com.

5. Toxin-Free Mani Pedis.  Most nail polishes contain chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate (also known as D.B.P.).  D.B.P. is a toxic plasticizing agent that‚Äôs banned from cosmetics in Europe due to its link to birth defects.  Avoid these toxins by making the switch to OPI, whose nail lacquers don‚Äôt contain formaldehyde, toluene or DBP.  Or, try Sparitual‚Äôs vegan, eco-friendly polishes.  They‚Äôre free of toxins and synthetic dyes, and come in an array of hip colors.  Find Sparitual at Chicago‚Äôs Allyu Spa in River North. www.Allyuspa.com.

Although making the switch to toxin-free cosmetics is a first step to conscious living, there‚Äôs more you can do as an informed consumer: ask your local representative to support The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, which gives FDA the power to ensure our personal care products are safe.  For more information on the bill, or to learn which cosmetics are safe for your body, visit www.safecosmetics.org.

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