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Lotions, Potions, Perfume, Oh My.

Personal care products have come under scrutiny in recent times for “all natural” claims in spite of their not so natural ingredients.  The cosmetics industry is, for the most part, unregulated… creating a breeding ground for untested chemicals.  These chemicals make lotions silky smooth, while promising a tear-free bath to boot!  What manufacturers don’t tell you is those very same chemicals may cause cancer, disrupt your thyroid, and cause general havoc throughout your hormone system.

You’re thinking…”great, another uplifting article by Kula Mama.”  Am I right?  Don’t fear readers!  I will not only IDENTIFY the problem, but I will also give you resources to SOLVE it.  A full service article!

I’m not going to lie.  I love the smell of Johnson and Johnson’s lavender baby wash so I understand why manufacturers spend time creating yummy products for our babies.  Babies are so cute so why not make them smell extra cute?  I fully support the theory of nice smelling baby products.  Here’s my one request: MAKE THEM SAFE.

Should be simple, right?

Are Personal Care Products Safe??

Apparently not.  According to the Environmental Working Group (they should be on your parental web speed dial by the way) children are exposed to over 27 chemicals in personal care products DAILY that have not been tested for safety.  Because the cosmetic’s industry lacks sufficient regulation, there are huge loop holes allowing companies to slip in an array of ingredients without testing them for safety first.

Here’s why this concerns me as a parent: babies have smaller bodies than adults and their skin is 30% thinner.  These factors literally make them “chemical sponges.”   Even scarier?  Babies under 6 months of age have not developed the blood-brain barrier that will protect them from chemicals, so these children are even more at risk of harm from chemical exposure.

What are the Potential Health Risks for Kids?

So what sort of risk am I talking about?  Well, common personal care products for children (and adults for that matter) contain chemicals that are potential neurotoxins (damaging to the brain and nervous system), hormone disruptors, carcinogens, and allergens.  These chemicals have long and boring names.  Odds are you will never remember their names but I’m going to list them here anyway and also give you a link to a great handout for your next shopping trip.

Ingredients to Avoid.

When shopping for personal care products, avoid these chemicals:

2-BROMO-2-NITROPROPANE-1,3-DIOL (or Bronopol)

DMDM HYDANTOIN

BHA

BORIC ACID and SODIUM BORATE

TRICLOSAN

DIBUTYL PHTHALATE, TOLUENE

OXYBENZONE

Yeah, I can’t remember them either.

Your next question might be: “what personal care products are we talking about here?”  Answer: shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, body wash, liquid soap, sunscreen, baby wipes, lotion, diaper cream, etc, etc, etc.  Is your head spinning?  Don’t worry, there are MANY good companies out there making safe products for our children and it’s time we start voting with our dollars to support them!

How about some extra hints from the Environmental Working Group about how to give your personal care product inventory a facelift?

  • Use fewer products.
  • Never trust marketing claims (All natural?  Prove it!) and read ingredients.
  • Buy fragrance free products.

Where to Find Safe Personal Care Products for the Whole Family.

Number one hint?  Check all your products through the Cosmetic Safety Database called Skin Deep.   I am a Cosmetic Safety Database junkie.  This website rates products for safety.  Simply type in the name of your shampoo/conditioner/lotion/potion and it tells you how toxic (or safe) it is.  They even throw in a breakdown of the ingredients list for free!   How would I live without the Environmental Working Group?  Seriously.

Body Care for Kids Book Cover

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