PRODUCTS TO AVOID
What this means for you: Reading about the following chemicals for the first time can seem overwhelming and scary. Before you run for the hills or say, “Screw it! Something’s going to kill me why not my bubble-bath?” think about taking small steps. For me, the most important changes were to switch my kids’ products and my own products that get the most skin time. Your skin is your biggest organ, and what you put on your skin might get absorbed into your blood stream. That means that all of these chemicals can potentially course through your body. So for me, I immediately changed my lotion, soaps, and body washes. Skincare (face), shampoos, conditioners, make-up and household products were more gradual. Luckily, I have found natural and organic products that I love just as much if not more than what I was using before. That is why I started this blog, to share my discoveries. There are a few items that I still use that contain some of these chemicals, and most of them tend to be perfume. But it’s sparingly and I have found my comfort zone with their use. And ultimately that’s what we need to do as consumers, educate ourselves, and then decide what we are comfortable with purchasing. Be a savvy consumer, and know that just because a product has “Natural” or “Organic” on its label, does not mean that it is free of petrochemicals, phthalates or parabens. If you read a product’s list of ingredients and do not feel good about them, think twice about buying it for yourself or your family. But above all, have fun greening up your hive! There are so many great products to explore and enjoy. ~Trish
Petrochemicals: Ingredients derived from petroleum. Mineral oil is an example of a ubiquitous petrochemical used in the cosmetic industry and according to wikipedia, “is a by-product in the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline and other petroleum based products from crude oil”. Other examples of petrochemicals are petrotalum, isopropyl alcohol, butylene glycol, propylene glycol, phthalates, and paraffin. Be aware that petrochemicals might not be listed as an ingredient in your products, but may have been used to treat the ingredients in them. The most common example of this is ethoxylation which provides mildness to harsh ingredients and requires the use of the cancer-causing petrochemical ethylene oxide, which generates 1,4-dioxane, a toxic by-product. According to the Organic Consumers Association, to avoid 1,4-dioxane, search ingredient lists for indications of ethoxylation including: myreth, oleth, laureth, ceteareth, any other “eth,” “PEG,” polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, or oxynol, in ingredient names.
Phthalates (Di-ethyl phthalate “DEP”, Di-n-butyl phthalate “DBP”) : these are petrochemicals used as plasticizers to soften toys and added to perfumes, air fresheners, shampoos, lotions, soaps, (you name it) to enhance fragrance. Phthalates have been shown to be endocrine disrupters, which means they have the ability to mimic or block hormones, potentially stimulating, halting or altering the body’s functions and potentially affecting fetal development. Most often phthalates are not listed as a specific ingredient but hidden in the ingredient list as “fragrance”. So if you want to avoid phthalates be sure the label says “phthalate-free”, or “fragrance from essential oils”.
Parabens (methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben): Preservatives used in cosmetics and sometimes food. The concern with parabens is they too have been shown to be endocrine disruptors that have estrogenic activity in the human body. Too much estrogen in the system can result in hormonal mood disturbances, weight gain, fluid retention as well as increase potential risk for breast cancer. And indeed there was a study that found methylparaben in breast cancer tissue.
Other ingredients to watch out for: DMDM Hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, and Diazolidinyl urea: All are preservatives that release formaldehyde. That’s right, formaldehyde! FD&C color pigments: these are made from coal tar.
Also check out this useful resource to learn more about Greening Your Hive: The Green Guide’s Dirty Dozen