As parents, we have the challenge of ensuring the products we use on ourselves and our babies are safe and that isn’t always easy.
Everywhere we turn, there are marketing words like organic, pure, and natural. What does it all mean?
Well, these three words don’t mean much because when it comes to personal care products they are NOT regulated. Companies can use these words to market products as they please, there currently are no legal standards.
This doesn’t mean companies are trying to fool you. Instead, it means as parents it is essential to be committed to making a conscious effort to find and use safe products.
These tips can help.
How to Protect Your Family From Common Toxic Products
1. READ LABELS
How many times have you quickly grabbed a product and thrown it into your cart, without reading the label? All the time right!
I get it! We are busy and standing in Target for 10 minutes to read a label takes time. BUT consider this– if the product has tons of ingredients you can’t pronounce perhaps we shouldn’t be using them.
People often forget that the skin is an organ; in fact, it’s the largest organ of the body and it deserves to be treated well.
Slathering creams, deodorants, and lotion with fragrances, phthalates, and aluminum can be detrimental to our health and the health of our children, over time.
We must do our due diligence to learn what’s in our products AND what things we should try to avoid. We can start by reading labels.
After you’ve decided that reading labels is a good idea, the next challenge is knowing which ingredients should be avoided.
2. RECOGNIZE INGREDIENTS THAT SHOULD BE AVOIDED
Reading labels shouldn’t be complicated but it can be. Sometimes, the ingredients that appear uninteresting can be harmless. Here are some examples:
Fragrances + Parfums
If you use scented products you will likely to see the ingredient “fragrance” or “parfum”, they represent a term used for chemical cocktails that often contain hundreds of chemicals. These chemicals can negatively affect your health and often contain hormone disruptors and allergens.
You may think you are safe if you use products with the “fragrance-free’ label but this does not mean it lacks the ingredients found in the fragrance chemical cocktails it just means the product is odorless.
Tip: Look for products labeled “without perfume”.
Resource: Companies are coming clean about fragrance, but is that enough?
Phthalates + BPA
According to the CDC, phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make products flexible and difficult to break. BPA is Bisphenol-A is another common plasticizer. You may be wondering how we expose our families to phthalates and BPA:
- They are used in personal care items like soap, shampoos, hair-spray, and nail polish.
- They are in the toys made of plastic that we give our children.
- They are also responsible for helping fragrances stick to the skin.
The concern with phthalates is that they aren’t chemically bound to the plastics which means they are ingested, inhaled, and absorbed by our families.
- Children ingest them when they put objects and contaminated toys in their mouths.
- We ingest them from food contaminated by food packaging and plastic bottles.
- We absorb them when we add products with the ingredient to our skin.
- We inhale them from dust, fumes, and air fresheners.
You can find a list of common phthalates here. However, manufacturers aren’t required to list phthalates on labels and often the term ‘fragrance’ may be used.
As parents, we can be mindful of the packaging used on the products we buy and choose products without phthalates or the word ‘fragrance’.
Tips: Use glass and stainless steel bottles. Choose not to microwave food in plastic. Avoid vinyl and PVC products, avoid air fresheners, and choose plastics labeled #2, #4, and #5 (thought to be safer). You can usually find the numbers on the bottom or back of most plastic containers.
Resources: Phthalates: What you need to know, BPA and Phthalates in Packaging
Aluminum is found in many deodorants and antiperspirants. It is absorbed into the body and enters the bloodstream where it is believed to build up in the brain and contribute to aluminum toxicity that some researchers link to Alzheimer’s disease.
Tips: Use natural deodorants, use aluminum free products and cookware.
Resources: Toxic Substances Portal: Aluminum + Aluminum Toxicity: 4 Ways to Detox Your Brain & Body
3. BE PROACTIVE & AWARENESS
I don’t pretend to be a guru on green beauty or toxins. I’m just a mom trying to make my home safe for my family. The first step I’m making is education. I read. I learn. I share.
Do some research and find out if the products you are using and giving to your children have nasty toxins you don’t know about.
4. START REMOVING TOXINS AS YOU LEARN ABOUT THEM
You may be tempted to begin throwing lots of stuff away all at once but that may not be the answer. The best advice I read was to take this green beauty/living thing one step at a time.
Take your time to learn about the products you are using and then decide if it’s time to swap the item for a non-toxic alternative.
- Educate yourself about common toxins.
- Reading labels can help you reduce the toxins in your home.
- Reduce or eliminate fragrances, phthalates, and aluminum.
What toxins have you eliminated from your home?