As parents, we spend a lot of time thinking about giving the best to our children. There’s been a major shift in the past few years in making better, cleaner choices in the food we feed our families. Organic has become so popular, grocery stores that never carried organic anything are now offering more and more options when it comes to organic. The important thing is we’re paying attention to the types of food we’re feeding our family and that’s a really good thing. However, how often do we think about the products we put on our skin and that of our children? Our skin is the body’s largest organ. It absorbs what goes on it whether it’s a topical medication prescribed by your doctor or the deodorant/lotion/shampoo we use every day. The reality is, as parents, we need to educate ourselves - what is safe and who can we trust? Sadly, in the US today, that is not an easy task.
There have been growing concerns about the ingredients found in cosmetic and personal care products in recent years and rightfully so. Consumers are overwhelmed by the possible risks involved from using them. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no standards or regulations put in place that monitor unsafe and toxic ingredients. Cosmetic and personal care companies are not required to list their product’s ingredients nor any “trade secrets”. The United States, compared to other parts of the world such as Canada, Europe and Australia, has some of the lowest standards when it comes to protecting the consumer in the cosmetic and personal care industry. There are an astonishingly high number of chemicals banned in these countries thatare still being used today in the US.
We receive conflicting opinions on what is safe and what isn’t. Can’t we just trust when a label says “all natural”? Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding no. The front label of any product is where all the marketing “hooks” live. The job of the front label of the product is to look good, stand out among all the rest of the competing products and tell you what you want to hear. However, the truth only lives on the back of the label in the ingredient deck. It is there you’ll find out if the product is truly natural and whether or not it contains any of the dirty chemicals you’re trying to avoid: coal tar dyes; triclosan and dioxane; petroleum byproducts (PEG compounds/polyoxyl 40 stearate); mineral oil/waxes; lead and mercury; formaldehyde-releasing preservatives; phthalates; sulphates or sodium laurate (or lauryl) sulfate; parabens; BHA and BHT; siloxanes; and DEA compounds -also known as the “Dirty Dozen”.
So what can we do about it? Instead of being so overwhelmed with it all, try taking baby steps instead. As the proverbial question goes: How do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time. As you begin to gain the knowledge, you’ll become more confident in your choices. Not sure where or how to begin? Try following these simple steps:
- Be your own advocate.
Don’t ever rely on what’s on the front of a label. Instead, turn to the ingredient list and read it. If it’s a clean ingredient deck, it will read like one. To get you started in the simplest way possible, if it sounds like a chemical, it’s more likely to be a chemical. For example, coconut oil is listed as: cocos nucifera (coconut) oil. It has both the Latin botanical name with its English name in parenthesis. By comparison, anything with a prefix such as: Ethyl, Methyl, Butyl or Propyl such as Propylene Glycol are synthetic parabens created in a lab. Chemicals have varying degrees of toxicity and risks to one’s health. Using valuable tools such asThinkDirty orSkin Deep® Cosmetic Database can be helpful in revealing just how toxic the ingredients in your products are. When in doubt, look it up.
- Know who you are buying from.
What do they stand for? Are they transparent on their ingredient deck? If they don’t list their ingredients or only give a partial list, ask them why.
- Look to buy from smaller, local companies that are open to communicating with you about the ingredients they use.
We offer truly clean, natural, and organic handcrafted personal care products for the whole family. Our ingredients are listed on every product.
- Think about the purpose the product will serve.
Anything you apply in large areas or in areas that absorb easily into the bloodstream like your underarms and scalp you’ll want to make sure contain only clean ingredients. Try switching yourdeodorant, shampoo and body lotion to ones only made with clean ingredients; that’s a good place to start.
- Anything you put on your baby, child, tween or teen should always be made with the cleanest ingredients whenever possible.
Their bodies and brains are still developing. If using chemicals over a long period of time show higher risks to your health, imagine using them over a lifetime starting at birth. If, however, you’re only starting to make these changes and your child is now a teen - don’t panic! UC Berkeleyconducted a study that “...demonstrates how even a short break from certain kinds of makeup, shampoos and lotions can lead to a significant drop in levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals in the body”.
Maya Angelou said: “When you know better, you do better”. We all want what’s best for our children and ourselves. Be aware of the products you’re using and what’s in them. We need to work together to protect the health of our children, our planet and ourselves. Baby steps are all that’s required to start and when you learn something, share it. Let’s be the village it takes to raise healthy kids.
Kathryn Holdforth is the founder of JK Naturals. She writes about her experiences of running a business, being a mom of a preteen and teen and the products she creates. She’s been making clean natural and organic skincare and personal care products for over 20 years. Find her on Facebook and Instagram.