Module 3 for David Suzuki’s Queen of Green Coaching Families focuses on toxic substances in our care products. I’m helping my coaching families find ways to reduce and/or eliminate their exposure to such substances, a practice I have almost perfected at our house!
You know what my best friends and I used do for fun? Go shopping at London Drugs! We could spend ages in just the shampoo aisle, mulling over which “new formula” or which vibrant new packaging we would choose, opening caps and deciding which bottle had the best scent to attract our latest crush.
Oh, how times have changed.
I started hearing about toxic ingredients in personal care products within the last 10 years, and, for a long time, took the ostrich approach: if I don’t know about, it won’t hurt me. It’s only within the last five years that I’ve actively starting changing what products I put on my body, and only within the past two years that I’ve gotten really serious about eliminating all toxic ingredients from my bathroom.
If you don’t know about the Dirty Dozen, it’s a list put together by the David Suzuki Foundation of the most common toxic chemicals found in personal care products. You can print out the list here and carry it in your wallet for reference.
When I first started referring to the list, I honestly just got frustrated. There was almost nothing available in my local pharmacy that didn’t contain at least one of the dirty dozen ingredients. It’s only recently that I’ve noticed shops even in my (decidedly NOT granola) neighbourhood carrying alternatives to the big-name brands. I also find that Well.ca carries a vast line up of Dirty-Dozen-free brands, and until I started making most of my own products, I often bought them online.
I’ve really simplified my own beauty routine, which makes it easier to avoid the unsavory ingredients found in so many cosmetic and body care products. I don’t wear make up or perfume, and rarely use nail polish. We don’t use any hair-styling products.
- I have mastered DIY recipes for shampoo, conditioner and liquid hand soap, and we only use bar soap by The Soap Works, made of ingredients I understand and recognize!
- The DIY deodorant I’ve tried is too oily, leaving stains on our clothes, but we’re happy with Jason and Kiss My Face brands.
- I cleanse my face with pure jojoba oil, moisturize with Green Beaver, exfoliate with Snap (although I won’t buy more once it’s empty, I’ll make my own) and moisturize my body with almond oil, coconut oil or shea butter.
- I usually turn to sugar wax and reusable cotton strips for hair removal, but if I do use my razor, I just lather up with bar soap. My husband uses The Copper Hat shaving soap.
- We grown ups brush our teeth with Green Beaver, and I’m loving Logona Kids for Cub. We also use Radius brand toothbrushes.
- As for Cub, I make his bottom balm, and we really like Live Clean brand when we need something with a bit more oomph and some zinc oxide (but not petrolatum).
- For sunscreen, this summer we discovered Goddess Garden, and it is divine!
- Jamberry nail wraps, for the odd time I want to fancy up my nails, are a great, non-toxic option.
The results of cutting out the Dirty Dozen and paying more attention to what personal care products I buy? Well, for one thing, it’s meant huge savings. I’m a total sucker for marketing, and a trip to the pharmacy for one item always resulted in an armload of new-fandangled-make-me-beautiful potions and lotions. Now, I barely ever go down any of the personal care aisles! Secondly, I’ve come to be keenly aware of artificial fragrance in products, and I can’t stand it. Thirdly, my skin and my hair look great and are lower maintenance. Using my homemade shampoo, I don’t have to wash my tresses every day; I wash twice a week. Lastly, LESS STUFF. This is all that’s in our shower:
Do you keep ingredients in mind when shopping for personal care products?
EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database (find out how safe your favourite products really are, and download the mobile app!)