The bathroom is often regarded as a sanctuary of the family home: a place to unwind in a hot shower, pamper oneself with a spa treatment, or simply take care of business in relative privacy. Unfortunately, however, the average American bathroom has become a haven of chemical exposure, housing a variety of personal care products that may be harmful to your health.
Just how toxic is your bathroom? To date, 89% of the 10,500 ingredients used in personal care products have not been evaluated for safety by the FDA, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (an in-house panel appointed by the cosmetics industry), or anyone else.Of particular concern are ingredients such as phthalates, parabens, formaldehyde, and mercury that are showing up in a variety of personal care product formulas. Current scientific research shows that many of these ingredients present a serious risk to human and environmental health. FDA officials and health experts throughout the world are particularly concerned about the “cocktail effect” that may occur when different chemicals and toxins are mixed in the body and then subsequently in the environment.
A 2004 survey by the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research group, found that the average adult uses approximately nine personal care products each day, for a total of 126 unique chemical ingredients.While some products are tested for reactions such as skin redness, rashes, or stinging, there is little to no information about the long-term safety of these chemical cocktails for either humans or the environment.
The good news is that you don’t have to give up washing your hair or smelling good in order to protect your health and be nice to the planet.There are safe, non-toxic alternatives to virtually every personal care product your family needs. Here’s how to look and feel clean and beautiful without indulging in the chemical cocktail.
Read The Labels: Take five seconds to read the label and put down any product that contains phthalates, mercury, toluene, lead, formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, parabens (hormone-disrupting preservatives such as methylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, and propylparaben), or BHA. These chemicals are considered the most detrimental to human and environmental health.
Use A Little Less: Reevaluate your beauty regimen to see if you can get by with a little less. Do you really need all of those beauty products in your cabinet? For each product you eliminate, you’ll save money and reduce the chemicals in your body and in the environment.
Be Kind To Animals: Animal testing is unnecessary, unethical, and just plain cruel. Look for the “Leaping Bunny” label to make sure your beauty products are “cruelty-free.” This symbol, created by the The Coalition For Consumer Information On Cosmetics, is the only international standard for personal care products indicating that they have not been tested on animals.
Don’t Leave A Carbon Footprint On Your Face: O.K., so you’ve cut back on the amount of oil and gas you use in your car, now how about reducing the carbon footprint of the chemicals you use on your body? Petroleum derivatives are found in a surprising number of personal care products such as lip balm, lotions, and lubricants, as well as the plastics used in sanitary products. Pass on products that use petroleum or its derivatives (paraffin oil, propylene glycol, and ethylene) and look for alternatives such as beeswax, cocoa butter, and vegetable oils instead.
Skip Disposables: According the environmental news website Grist , 2 billion disposable razors end up in United States landfills each year. Invest in a reusable and refillable razor to save money and take a knick out the waste stream.