I had my first realization regarding the potential long-term and visible short-term damage my personal care products were doing to my body back in High School. You know, when you realize that the main ingredient in your shampoo that gives it a great lather and leaves you hair with a great unnatural shine is the same ingredient that’s in the detergent used to clean your canteen floor or wash your car?
It’s not particularly disgusting per say, I do feel ‘clean’ after using such products, but it’s cheap. Not wanting to be stuck-up or selfish, but I know my body that some higher being gave to me would appreciate it if I wasn’t putting this toxic stuff on it to later be absorbed into my blood stream (As anything you put on your body is absorbed into your blood stream via your skin/nails/gums in your mouth/scalp.
Since that realization in High School, I got rid of all of the products in my bathroom that had, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate…Basically anything with sulfates or phosphates. I even stopped using Anti-Perspirant deodorant (Oh my gosh, perspirant isn’t even a word recognized by Microsoft Word!)…I mean, isn’t it natural to perspire? Why not just fan yourself off instead of sticking synthesized chemicals under your pits?
Anyways, that marked the first of my personal care product epiphanies. I went to Body Shop in Singapore (Because I was living there at the time) and bought non-aluminum containing deodorant (which worked quite well, actually), in addition to shampoo, conditioner and face wash that didn’t contain sulfates or phosphates.
For some reason, when I left Singapore and moved back to the United States for college, I forgot not to buy personal care products that didn’t contain sulfates, phosphates etc. First week of college I was using AXE brand 2-1 Shampoo and Conditioner (What was I thinking?!). It smelled manly, looked nice glittery and metallic, but no. It was drying out my hair.
Now after being lost and confused my first two years of college, the true realization happened just two days ago. How did this realization come to be after a gap of such ignorance between the end of High School and now? How could I have forgotten such a sentiment to take care of my body by not letting it absorb cheap harmful chemicals from my personal care products? I saw a video by ‘The Story of Stuff’ (http://www.storyofstuff.org) from a UWC alumnus on my newsfeed. After the video, it all came back to me: The trickery of the private corporate sector just selling me things for my money, and the government’s reluctance to let it do so.
The blindfold was lifted again, this time more dramatically. I couldn’t even trust more luxurious brands such as Kiehl’s! For the past 6 months I had so much loyalty and trust in Kiehl’s. Having it now broken is as aggravating as realizing that you’ve been in love with the wrong person all this time. They brand themselves as being ‘safe’ and ‘natural’. They say, regarding their choice of ingredients, ‘Our intent is to utilize only the gentlest and most efficacious ingredients and that is why a great number of natural ingredients are used’. Read more here http://www.kiehls.com/Product-Information/product-information,default,pg.html. Sure, it’s their intent to do so, but I knew for a fact the minute I read on the back of my Kiehl’s face washes (Facial Fuel and Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleanser) ‘Sodium Laureth Sulfate’ and ‘Sodium Benzoate’ that their intentions weren’t reality.
I feel like I’ve been conned. Companies such as Kiehl’s aren’t actually legally bound to be completely honest with the messages on their packages or other marketing materials. Hence, be particular with their wording. Kiehl’s fooled me, Organix fooled me, Giorgio Armani fooled me, Gatsby (Mandom Corp. Japan) fooled me…even Deep Sea Cosmetics fooled me, who would think their cosmetics contained cancerous chemicals from their recent ad. campaign? http://deepseacosmetics.com/index.php/vidoe2012 . Ridiculous.
You may argue that preservatives such as sodium benzoate are OK in small doses as they are in my face wash, but I was planning on buying that same face wash for at least another 2-3 years and using it every day, daily-as listed on the product itself. In that time, the chemical would theoretically build up in my body and very well become a hazard to my health.
I haven’t come across any long-term studies regarding the use of such products containing harmful chemicals in small doses such as sodium benzoate, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. And I’m 90% certain that using such monetarily cheap preservatives in personal care products over time will cause life threatening illness in the future…Why else is cancer such a large epidemic in this century? To be blunt, it is because large companies have lost their human morals and have decided to fool innocent consumers that their products are safe in the long run and short run. Don’t be fooled.
I feel that such companies are maybe even the reason why my grandmother died of cancer before the age of 70 in 2003. She was a beautiful woman, a royal queen. She would go to the hair salon almost everyday and would rarely be seen in public without a painted face. I remember the smell of her perfume. Of course, not knowing any better at the time, the majority of the products she used throughout her lifetime contained such long-term cancer causing chemicals.
Now, I’m a stubborn person. And I choose not to use such products sold by scheming companies that only want my money and only have superficial interests in the well being of greater humanity and our planet. I should have known Kiehl’s was trouble the moment I sensed something fishy about their expanding to countries all over the world like wildfire…
Now onto the hunt for wholesome personal care products…
-Petrol derived chemicals
(Google for yourself the characteristics of these chemicals)
It was more challenging than I thought. I texted my sister for advice, and there was only one place left to go: Whole Foods. I stepped in to the personal care items aisle. It was heaven. And I’m not being modest. All of my needs were met, my worries resolved, and wallet not abused.
You may think that Whole Foods is a posh place to shop, but no- it is actually competitively affordable. The shampoo and conditioner I bought from Whole Foods is more cost effective than Pantene, Head and Shoulders, or whatever else Proctor and Gamble sells.
I will list the prices and volumes of my worry-free personal care products. My toiletry kit went through a complete revamp, much more in depth than the first, back when I was in High School. I didn’t just read the labels on the shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and face wash, I went to the moisturizer, eye cream, acne spot cream, cologne, even to styling wax I use for my hair!
– Whole Foods 365 brand herbal mint conditioner $3.29, 16 oz
-Whole Foods brand organic peppermint castile soap, (I can’t find the receipt but it’s definitely less costly than Dr. Bronners, I think it was $8.00) 16oz
(For daily face wash…not pictured here)
-Every Man Jack Face Scrub $7.99 5 oz
(Every other day exfoliating scrub)
-Every Man Jack Face Lotion with SPF 15 $7.99 3.2 oz
(Daily moisturizer after washing the face in morning)
-Burts Bees Radiance Eye Cream $18.00 0.5 ounce
(Lasts about 6 months, use in morning and night before bed)
-Alba Botanica Acne Dote $9.99 0.5 oz
(1/3 the price of Kiehl’s 1 oz Acne Blemish Control Daily-Skin-Clearing Treatment, without the unknown harmful chemicals! Alba Botanica says clearer skin in 4 hours…Take that, Kiehl’s!)
(Smells great and keeps odour away-could still smell it even after my sweaty workout at the gym today, plus the Whole Foods price is less costly than the Amazon price!)
-Eloge Du Traitre Etat Libre d’orange cologne $80 1.6 oz
(Woody citrus scents, as with most colognes, this bottle will last quite a while- I only use it on special occasions-purchased from Amazon whilst in college, found on AskMen.com when looking for ‘natural’ colognes)
-Aura Cacia Citronella Java essential oil $3.80 0.5oz
(Nice to keep handy for an aromatic refresher, especially whilst travelling or whilst in a closed space for a long period of time, also nice to smell just before bed, or when stressed).
-Gold Bond Body Powder $2.99 1 0z
(My nighttime hair oil when my hair feels dry-can find this at your local Asian or Indian grocery, you may want to wash it out in the morning).
-Giovanni wicked texture pomade $7.99 2oz
The question is…what I am going to do with all of the products I previously bought that aren’t used yet? I don’t want to just throw them away and pollute even more…I was thinking that perhaps I’d use them for cleaning things (like shoes, bags etc.)
Once they’re all used up I’m never buying them again.
P.S. I’m thinking of using castile soap to replace my laundry detergent some day but need to look further into it as to whether not it will actually be cost effective versus using detergents like Tide and the like.
P.P.S. With regards to toothpaste (not listed above) I recommend using one that also doesn’t contain any of the above. Even if it’s ADA approved, dentists (my family is soon to have 3 of them) recommend toothpastes without SLS (Sodium Laureth Sulfate + similar chemicals) as it dries the mouth and promotes bad breath. I recommend using Sensodyne- it’s easy to find, use it even if you don’t have sensitive teeth. It may not be as bubbly as your Colgate toothpaste, but that’s a good thing (A sign that it’s SLS free).
Also, apologies in advance to anyone who works for any of the companies named above that I have decided not to purchase certain products from anymore.
An update: I have been recently using a hair styling product by Kevin Murphy that does contain Sodium Benzoate. However, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has ranked Sodium Benzoate as a chemical posing a low hazard to human health. Read more here.