Friday, June 1, 2007

Finding Safety: Body Care, Hair Care, Skin Care, and Cosmetics

Are you fully aware of what types of chemicals are being absorbed into your body? Probably more than you realize! Not to mention what these personal-care toxins are doing to damage the environment. Men though they may use less personal care products over all, are subject to this commercial ingredient lunacy as well as women. Even babies are being born with high counts of toxins in their bodies.

Last fall I decided it was time to start switching over to more all-natural/organic personal care products. Many of you may want to do the same. But, with the host of companies trying to sell you on their brand of organic or natural items, how do you know what’s best?

After doing a year’s worth of research, trying various products, and using the Environmental Working Group’s sub-site Skin Deep (a personal care product rating system based on ingredients and known toxins) to determine what products have the safest ingredients and still work well, I have come up with a number of products that I love.

My biggest piece of advice? Check out the Skin Deep website above. It has a catalogue of not only gazillions of commercial personal care products and cosmetics, but also a number of organic and all-natural ones as well. Visiting this site will give you an idea of how products are rated and what ingredients to avoid. This is a fantastic place to start. Do a quick search to see how your products rate. Here is Skin Deep’s link to “what not to buy” due to very high-risk ingredients. Also, here is a link to their recent news reports.

Here is a list of ingredients I avoid:
Propylene Glycol
Artificial Colors (such as FD&C)
Hydroxyl Acids
Retinoic Acids
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Isopropyl Alcohol (made from petroleum)
Phthalates, Dibutyl Phthalate, DBP (on label: “fragrance”)
Fragrances (this does not include essential oils)
Mineral Oil in all its forms (see below)

Various Names of Mineral Oil:
Carnea 21
Hydrocarbon oils
Triona B
Bayol F
Crystol 325
Bayol 55
Primol 355
Primol D
Tech Pet F

It is important to ALWAYS read the labels—even for all-natural and organic products. Not all companies that advertise their products as all natural and/or organic actually avoid the ingredients listed above. So it is essential that you become aware of what ingredients to avoid. This will make your shopping experience much more efficient. I keep a list of ingredients to avoid in my wallet for when I shop (either online or in-store).

In addition to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website, there are plenty of other helpful websites:

One of these is Dr. Bronner’s. Not only does Dr. Bronner’s sell some of the most pure soap available on the market, but in addition, their website provides some wonderful information on how to read the labels of organic/natural skin and body care products. Make sure to check it out. (And you wouldn’t believe what some companies put in soap these days. Try switching to Dr. Bronner’s. It’s safe, it’s economical. You can get it in bulk. It’s available at most health food stores and through the Organic Food Depot)

If you are one of those people who needs convincing about switching your personal care products, view this article about the toxins and cancer-contributing ingredients found in everyday beauty products. I can’t believe the government can allow the use of some of these things.

Another great website is This website is a wonderful resource when scoping out what products are available and what products are safest. It provides a large list of options on alternative cosmetics and personal care products. Wonderful stuff!

Another fantastic website is Here you can read articles on the latest issue regarding organic food ratings, what to look for when buying organic food (how companies can trick you) and personal care products as well. You can even find a list of ingredients to avoid in personal care products and a survey you can submit to be a part of petitioning for healthier restrictions.

Without further ado, here is my personal-care list of Top Safe Favorites:


Meow Cosmetics
Pure mineral foundation powders, blush powders, eye shadow powders, eye liner powders. This company is at the top of my list. Check out their website. Need I say more? I don’t think so.

Ecco Bella
Ecco Bellas products are available through the Organic Food Depot online catalogue or via other sellers online. I endorse their lipsticks, lip glosses, eye liners, eye shadows, blush powders, face powders, concealers, mascaras etc., but I DO NOT purchase their lotions, skin care, liquid foundation and a few other products because they contain parabens (estrogenic chemical preservatives). Make sure to double check on this when viewing their webpage, but the last time I checked these few products were not paraben-free.

Real Purity
Wonderful blushes. My favorite is Pearl Mocha. They offer lots of other cosmetics and skin care that is safe and pure as well, even toothpaste! These products are also available through

Anise Cosmetics (Nail Polish)
What a find this has been! Nail polishes that are formaldehyde-free, phthalate-free and toluene-free. I can personally vouch for how amazingly healthy and long my nails have gotten since I stopped using highly toxic, commercial nail polish. Instead I use Anise nail polish a couple times a month. My nails no longer discolor when using their polish, and my nails no longer peel, break and chip so easily. For those of you living in Virginia Beach or Chesapeake, you can get Anise nail polishes from DSW Shoes in Greenbrier, across from the mall. Otherwise, you can order them online.

Gabriel Cosmetics & Zuzu Luxe Cosmetics
I have not yet had a chance to try these products, but many of them look wonderful and have gotten good reviews from other consumers. Not all of the products are the safest on the Skin Deep rating list, but take a look and be sure to review the ingredients. You can also do an assessment of your own on the Skin Deep website be inputting the ingredients of a product not listed in order to see how it will rate. Gabriel and Zuzu offer skin care and cosmetics.

Jane Iredale Cosmetics
These products are especially made for women who have sensitive skin or who have undergone plastic surgery of some kind. Most of these products rate quite well. Again, be sure to check Skin Deep for ratings and look at the ingredients. (When visiting the site, click on “Jane Iredale direct” to view products.) My favorite Jane items are the daytime eyeshadow kit, the 24-karat gold shimmer kit and the lip liners. The lipsticks and glosses are nice too and have a 3 out of 10 rating.

Organic Makeup Company
Foundation, powders, lipsticks, lip liners, eye shadows, etc. I have tried their eye shadow liners, their lipsticks and their glosses, all which I love. Their products are available through and, as well as other websites. The latter site is also a good place to find other safe brands of cosmetics. But once again, read the labels. There are some products on that don’t rate as well as others and contain talc and other ingredients that are best avoided. Organic Makeup Company’s main site does not actually sell its products, but it does provide a wonderful guide of ingredients to avoid in cosmetics.

i.d. bare minerals
This is a mainstream, commercial mineral makeup company. As such, they do not post their product ingredients on their website (generally a sign that they are hiding something). Through doing some research, however, I found that ONLY their eye shadow powders, blush powders, and select foundation powders are safe, pure minerals. Some of their products are not completely pure such as Mineral Veil, as well as their lipsticks, lip glosses, mascaras, etc. The Mineral Veil, for instance, contains parabens (estrogenic chemical preservatives). So, if you choose to purchase product by i.d. bare minerals, make sure to read the label, or simply stick with the eye shadows and blush powders.

Honeybee Gardens
Nice products: lipsticks (not as few ingredients as Real Purity and some others, but still non-toxic), mascara, lip glosses, eye liners, eye shadow powders, etc. I have not tried any of these products yet. I have only tried their water-based nail polish and deodorant powder—neither of which I was thrilled with. However, I still plan to try their cosmetics, as many of their colors look wonderful. They also carry skin care products, I believe, but not all of them are as pure as other skin care products I’ve seen. Again, read the labels.

Afterglow Cosmetics
Powder foundations, powder blushes, eye shadows, powder eye liners, lipsticks, lip glosses. Afterglow has pure products. I have tried their powders, but not their lip products. Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of their foundation powder and blush. However, I have yet to try their lipsticks, which, if you look at the website, look very colorful. However, of all the mineral pure companies, I prefer Meow Cosmetics.

Skin Care, Body Care, Hair Care

Trillium Organics
This is a recent find of mine, and I am in love with this company’s products, all of which are handmade. Organic body polish, organic body oil, organic body butter, organic body soap, organic face polish, organic perfume etc. All products are made with the purest ingredients. Their organic body polish serves as a body scrub in the shower and a moisturizer. The organic body soap contains pure saponified oils that gently cleans without being harsh. Their products are scented with pure essential oils. The most popular scent is pink grapefruit. I cannot say enough about how wonderful these products are. Their body soap can even be used as a shampoo. All of the oils and other ingredients used are non-comedogenic, meaning they won’t clog your pores.

Kiss My Face
Kiss My Face’s “Obsessively Organic” is a great skin care line. But I don’t use any of Kiss My Face’s products that are not in the “Obsessively Organic” line. The ingredients for "Obsessively Organic" rate between 0 and 4 on the Skin Deep site. Most of these products do, however, contain “organic water of ---” ingredients. So, according to Dr. Bronner’s informative website that I mentioned above, these may not be the purest organic products. However, they are relatively safe compared to their more commercial counterparts. I have been using Kiss My Face Obsessively Organic skin care (normal to oil) for almost a year and have noticed a substantial difference in the way my skin feels and looks. The most amazing product they offer is the Break Out Gel. This stuff clears zits like nothing I’ve ever used. It will even prevent and significantly reduce oral cold sores on the lips.

derma e
Derma e carries a variety of skin and body care products. They have a regular line and an organic line. Both are reputable. All products are paraben free. I usually supplement my organic Kiss My Face skin care products with a few anti-aging products from derma e. Their anti-aging products work well and include many of the same ground-breaking components found in commercial skin care lines, but with one key difference--derma e's products don't contain all the additional fillers, chemicals, and synthetic preservatives and fragrances.

Burt’s Bees
This company has achieved a lot of notoriety recently, even to the point that their products are now carried in many Rite Aid pharmacies and Wal-Marts. Most of their skin care products are safe, but always check the label nonetheless and search for the specific product of your interest on the Skin Deep Website to see how it rates. Not all of the Burt’s Bees products are the best choices, but many of the skin and body care products are very nice, especially the lemon butter cuticle cream and hand repair cream. Most of their skin care products are comparable safety-wise compared to Kiss My Face, but not all of them.

Giovanni Hair and Body Care
I love this company’s shampoos, hairspray, root booster, etc. Wonderful organic products. Do look at the ingredients. I know a few of their products contain parabens. You can purchase the hair care products at your local Vitamin Shop. All of their products (hair care and body care) are available via the online catalogue through Organic Food Depot for those of you living in the Virginia Beach/Chesapeake area.

Aubrey Organics
Aubrey offers great organic hair care. It is very pure. They pride themselves on providing truly pure, non-toxic products, while avoiding fillers that even some other organic companies/labels use. They also offer some cosmetics and perfume, none of which I have tried yet. But I have been very happy with their Clarifying Shampoo. Some of their products, as with most companies I suppose, contain a few too many ingredients for my taste, but on the whole they have very pure ingredients and rate between 0 and 4 on the Skin Deep website (with the majority of those ratings being 2 and 3). Some of their products do contain benzoates, so do look at the labels.

Aura Cacia
I can’t vouch for all of all of Aura Cacia’s products, but I do love their Pure Essentials Aromatherapy Spritz and their essential oils. The Pure Essentials Spritz can also be used as a perfume (I have not tried their actual line of perfumes yet). I am someone whose asthma flares up at the slightest commercial scent, and even some “organic/all-natural” ones, but this particular brand has given me no problems. The vanilla scent is my favorite. The spritz simply contains pure essential oils. Watch out for those ingredients, though. Some of their other products contain things I don’t want to use.

Other companies I have looked into but haven’t tried yet include:
EO and Terressentials.

Menstrual Care & Personal Lubricant

It’s important when getting rid of toxic products in your home to remember that commercial tampons and sanitary pads are not healthy, nor safe. The rayon used in commercial tampons and pads is bleached with chorine, creating dioxins (a toxic byproduct). And the cotton used in commercial tampons and pads is filled with insecticides and pesticides—not a healthy combo for sensitive regions. Here’s another link with more info.

Organic Cotton Tampons & Pads
One solution is to switch to organic 100% cotton tampons and pads. Here are some reputable companies: Natracare, Organic Essentials (this is not a direct link to their site, but rather to a separate seller), Seventh Generation. A number of these companies also sell organic cotton balls, organic cotton nursing pads, etc. In addition, the Organic Food Depot sells Natracare and Organic Essentials products via their online catalogue as well as a few in store.

The Diva Cup
Ladies, let me tell you the truth about this, while we’re on the subject. I am a convert of the Diva Cup! I will never go back to using tampons, organic or not. Do you want to experience a period that doesn’t feel like a period? You’ve got to try the Diva Cup. Not only is it economically and environmentally friendly, but also you can reuse it for a long time—one Diva Cup can last up to ten years! It’s made of silicone and is safe and easy to use. Check it out. Warning: after using the Diva Cup you may never try using anything else! Here’s a link to the least expensive seller of the Diva Cup that I’ve found online. The Organic Food Depot also sells it through their online catalogue.

Personal Lubricant
This is another important topic, although no one really discusses it. Ever think about what kind of ingredients are in those commercial lubricants? Well, let me just say it’s stuff we don’t want to be using! Take a look at the label on your KY Jelly or Astroglide sometime—whoa, there are a whole lot of toxic ingredients there!

Instead try Firefly (all natural) or Flutterby (organic), lubricants that feel better, last longer, don’t contain toxins and don’t dry out.


There are a number of aluminum-free deodorants on the market, most made by organic/all-natural companies. I have tried a lot of them, and the only one I’ve found that really works is Crystal. Their product comes in the following forms: rock salt, roll-on or spray on. The one that works for me is the roll-on. I have learned that in order for these products to work, you have to use a lot of them, sometimes even a couple of times a day. But at least you’ll be toxin-free in doing so! You can get them at most local pharmacies, some grocery stores and even Wal-Mart.

However the best natural deodorant that I have found yet is available through an online-based company called Oyin Handmade. Their deodorant, called Funk Butter, is handmade just for you each time you order, so it can take up to to three weeks for you to receive your products, but the wait is well worth it. Funk Butter is available in two scents as well as unscented. I strongly recommend the unscented. Their scented versions both contain fragrance oils rather than essential oils. The unscented version works just as well.

I hope this information has been helpful. Remember, become an expert label reader and know your ingredients! That is the only way to really keep yourself safe as you shop for these kinds of products. All of the information I’ve noted here is not necessarily the “hard and fast” rule for personal care products because companies can always change their products or the ingredients in their products. So again, become a savvy label reader and you’ll do a lot to keep yourself healthy.

Also, feel free to experiment by making your own skin care products and cosmetics. There are recipes on the web (Skin Deep’s campaign for safe cosmetics section has some as well as Really Raw Honey, etc.)


Estreitta said...

Thanks for posting this. i appreciate your detailed information. it is important to take control of not only what goes in your body but also on your body. I am only 32 and was diagnosed with estrogen positive Ductal carcinoma. I am consciensously looking for products, food and restaurants are wholistically organic. thank you again

Estreitta said...

Thanks for posting this. i appreciate your detailed information. it is important to take control of not only what goes in your body but also on your body. I am only 32 and was diagnosed with estrogen positive Ductal carcinoma. I am consciensously looking for products, food and restaurants are wholistically organic. thank you again

Bettina Colonna Essert said...

Hi, I'm a Tidewater native and homeschooling mom who hand crafts natural skin care products. I would like it if you'd consider adding a link to my blog or Etsy to your page! I am also convert to the Diva cup. It takes a little to get insertion down pat, but it is so worth it.
My dad opened the first health food store in Norfolk in 1963, before I was born and I grew up learning a lot about 'health foods' by osmosis. Haven't always been faithful to it but the older I get, the more serious I am. We are even considering following B. Kingsolver's 100 mile radius eating plan, to see if we can do.
Here's a link to my skin care line:
Organic bath and body products
and at

Thanks for the great post!

Anonymous said...

I like all the info you have listed in here. I am interested in trying the Anise polishes-you mentioned to order them online, but I can't find anywhere to do so. I'd also like to mention Eminence Organic Skincare. It's certified organic and fabulous!

Organic Fanatic said...

The Anise polishes are wonderful and long-lasting, but as you've noticed, there's no order form online. You have to call and order them over the phone. They offer very friendly service and fast shipping.

Sidonie Ledoux said...

Nice Info.
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