If you’re looking for actual product swaps, click below to skip down to that part.
Why should you ditch conventional and go clean with your home & personal care products?
- The FDA has only banned 30 ingredients from personal care products in the US. In Europe, there have been over 1400 ingredients restricted or banned, and 600 in Canada. Yikes!
- Your skin is your largest organ and will absorb some amount of what is put on it, this includes what you put on intentionally, or what you’re stepping on in your home (aka household floor cleaner, air sprays, etc.).
- According to the EWG, studies have shown over 200 toxic chemicals present in the umbilical cords of some newborn babies.
- It is possible that there are ingredients in your products that aren’t listed on the label (hiding under Fragrance, or from contamination), and this includes Phthalates, which are endocrine disrupters that mimic estrogen. Phthalates have been linked to breast cancer as well as reproductive problems in women AND men.
- Keep the air in your home clean. Did you know that many homes are more polluted than the air outside because of all the chemicals in the home? Wouldn’t it be nice to breath fresh air in your own home?
- There are so many GREAT and AFFORDABLE clean products available, so why not?
What you need to know about the toxins lurking in your conventional home & personal care products.
Below are some of top offender ingredients. You may have heard of some already, but these are some you’ll want to steer clear of when selecting new clean products.
Synthetic Fragrance / Parfum
Look out for the word Fragrance (and parfum), as it serves as a loophole to the FDA’s (Federal Drug Administration) labeling requirements for personal care products. It allows companies to hide proprietary information (aka secret formula) in their ingredients list. In short, the word fragrance or parfum is listed instead of the actual chemical ingredients, which can be hundreds. This is done to utilize cost-effective chemicals, which are often toxic, and to use chemicals that make the scent last longer, among many other reasons.
The EWG (Environmental Working Group) discovered that around 75% of products that have fragrance in their ingredients contain phthalates. Why is this bad? Phthalates are a hormone disrupting chemical, something you don’t want in, on or around your body that can be absorbed through the skin.
The bottom line is that if a company isn’t willing to disclose their actual ingredients, then that’s a red flag to me. The cleanest, safest brands just list their ingredients in the list. Transparency is key. If fragrance is listed, then I’m not buying it.
Artificial Colors / Colorants / Dyes
Many are made from coal tar, which means they can include contaminants like lead and arsenic. Typically your body won’t absorb enough to be dangerous, but you can’t be sure how much your body is absorbing based on how much of the product you’re using OR how many products you are layering on top of each other throughout the day.
This is a group of synthetic compounds that are mostly used as preservatives to stop the growth of fungus, bacteria and other potentially damaging microbes. They have been linked to reproductive, immunological, neurological and skin irritation problems.
These are a family of chemicals that make plastic soft and flexible. Certain forms of the chemicals have been shown to possibly affect development of a child if exposed to during pregnancy, can increase risk of cancer, and harm male and female reproductive system.
Sodium Lauryl + Laureth Sulfate
These are foaming agents that can be irritating to the eyes, skin and lungs. When combined with other harsh chemicals, they can become carcinogenic.
Antibacterial agent associated with creating resistant superbugs. It’s an endocrine disruptor and very harmful to the reproductive system. Also known to irritate the skin by causing redness, rashes and elevating the risk of cancer. The FDA has banned its use in antibacterial liquid soaps, but it still remains in some other personal care products.
Typically found in nail polish/treatment and hair dyes. Can seriously affect the reproductive system and cause respiratory complications.
While this may not be listed directly, many products contain formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, and those preservatives are known carcinogens associated with cancer and known to create skin problems and negatively affect the immune system.
This one helps active ingredients penetrate skin. Known to provoke allergic reactions in humans with existing eczema and other skin allergies.
Considering switching to non-toxic, but not sure where to begin? Here are some top tips for how to start your clean living personal & home journey.
First, take a look at the products that you use every day. Then you can narrow it down by products with which you are covering the most surfaces, which could be your body or parts of your home. When you have a list to conquer, just switch out your products one at a time as you run out of your current products. This will allow for baby steps and give you time to pick out which product might be best for you.
Try not to get discouraged if your first switch isn’t what you expected – just like shopping for any new product, you might find a winner right away, or you may need to try a couple of different ones to see what is most fitting for you. If you know this going in, you’ll be more willing to keep going.
Once you start looking at how many products you use on yourself and around yourself in your home on a daily basis, you’ll have a different perspective on your potential toxic load that’s layering up. Taking a closer look might feel overwhelming, but if you remember that you are just switching one thing at a time, your goals should feel much more achievable, and you might even feel excitement for what’s to come!
Here are a few ideas of product switches that you may want to start with and worked for me, but this list might look a little different for you and your lifestyle.
Before we begin, full disclaimer that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Daily Home Product Swap Ideas:
+ All-purpose Cleaning Spray
What I’m using: Thieves Multi-purpose Cleaning Concentrate
I love this product because it comes in a concentrated bottle, so I just dump a small capful into a glass or other reusable spray bottle, add water and it’s ready to go. I only have to purchase one of these about once a year because the purchased bottle makes me around 20 (more for some people) separate bottles of cleaner.
+ Air Freshener/Candles/Plugins (swap for Diffuser + Essential Oils)
What I’m using: Young Living Essential Oils
Who doesn’t love having a clean smelling house, but have you ever thought about the fact that these are chemicals polluting your home? I never did! Once I started eliminating these things, the more I realized how desensitized I had become to them. I had gotten so used to them, that I was having to use more and more to be able to smell them. If you cut these out, it’s like your nose comes back and you start noticing strong scents more. Example: The cleaning isle at the grocery store now smells like I’ve got dryer sheets up my nose and someone is drowning me in cleaner. Sounds intense, but just goes to show how you get used to fragrance over time if you’re constantly exposed to it.
I was VERY skeptical about essential oils, but now that I’ve learned more about them, I feel empowered to use them in so many ways ranging from aromatherapy to home remedies like bug bites to DIY home spray, body spray and even a beachy hair spritzer.
I use Young Living because of their Seed to Seal promise, meaning they are created with conscientious Sourcing, Science, and Standards and they have a rigorous quality control standard. They also have a whole line of clean supplements, cleaning supplies, baby line, makeup and more.
If you decide to use essential oils, please be careful to purchase from a trusted source because they are not regulated by the FDA. Many big box retail stores sell them, and although they may be labeled as pure or as 100% essential oil, they can contain fillers and other gunk, so it’s important to buy from a responsible source who does 3rd party testing for purity.
You’ll also need to spend a little time to educate yourself of oils, or ask me! Lemon, lavender and cedarwood are a few mild & safe oils to start out with. Essential oils are extremely potent and should be used with caution and care. Used responsibly, they can be a game changer.
Other recommended products:
+ Hand Soaps
What I’m using: Seventh Generation Liquid Hand Soap
I have the lemon + tea tree oil scent, but there are a few options. It’s mild and gets the job done, plus very affordable.
Your skin absorbs some of what you put on it, so consider what you are constantly washing your hands with.
Other recommended products:
+ Dish Soap
What I’m using: Seventh Generation Liquid Dish Soap
This one is mild and super affordable, plus you can buy it in bulk on Amazon and have it shipped directly to you.
This is another product where you don’t want chemicals clinging to your dishes, that you then put your food on.
Daily Personal Care Products:
Cumulative exposure to the chemicals from all of your personal care products could be overloading your body and creating or adding to health problems. Think about how many you use each day and consider making some switches.
Be careful about green washing. Tons of products claim to be “natural”, but that doesn’t mean that they actually are or that it doesn’t contain harmful ingredients. You’ll have to dig a little deeper and check the ingredients. You can also search for the product on the EWG’s Skin Deep Database first, and if it’s not on there, try checking the Think Dirty App. Once you find a rating, dig into the ingredients that are getting bad scores, because some natural ingredients like essential oils get flagged due to being possible allergens. If you know orange essential oil or whatever natural ingredient it is doesn’t irritate you, then use your own intuition to decide whether that product is good for you personally.
Before we begin this section, I am consultant for Beautycounter now, so if you have any questions about what products might be most fitting for you, are looking for best values, or anything of that nature, I’m your girl! I’m happy to help with any type of product or questions though, and there are many products that I love that aren’t BC, so holler if I can help in any way. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
What I’m using: Acure Cedarwood + Mint Deodorant
Aluminum, Parabens, Propylene glycol, Phthalates, Benzyl Salicylate, Triclosan, Formaldehyde contaminated synthetics, and Fragrance are just some of the main chemicals found in most conventional deodorants.
Aluminum is a top offender and is linked to Alzheimer’s disease. In deodorant, its purpose is to block your pores to prevent sweat, but the problem with that is that sweating is part of your body’s natural & necessary process for detoxification. I was previously using a deodorant with Aluminum so that’s one of the main reasons I switched.
Know this going in – you will go through a transition period when you switch because your pores are now open and your sweat will be free to flow, and you’ll probably be smelly for a few days, but stick it out for at least a week and it should get better. You’re essentially going through a detox. If you’re still smelly after 5-7 days, consider trying a different brand – what works for your friend might not work for you. For example, Schmidt’s makes me smell worse, just doesn’t work with my chemistry. I gave it a solid shot and decided it wasn’t for me.
I’ve tried many different kinds and Acure just recently released their own deodorant, and it’s by far my favorite. Crystal Mineral Deodorant worked well for me also, and can be found at some conventional grocery stores for very cheap (usually less than $3).
Other recommended products (watch out for baking soda, although safe, it can be irritating for some people):
Crystal Mineral Deodorant, Primal Pit Paste All Natural Lavender Deodorant, Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant
What I’m using: Thrive Market Toothpaste
Artificial sweeteners are often found in toothpaste, and did you know that studies* have tied daily consumption of artificial sweeteners to increased risk of metabolic syndrome + diabetes, plus can increase cravings for sweets, thus leading to weight gain. I avoid artificial sweeteners when at all possible, whether it be food, toothpaste, etc.
Plus, preservative, Diethanolamine (DEA)- a known hormone disruptor, Propylene glycol (known to irritate the eyes, skin and lungs) are all ingredients that I don’t really want to put in my mouth.
Fluoride is controversial, but I do want to touch on it, as I do not personally use it. It’s actually a natural mineral, but some scientists question if it actually provides protection via toothpaste, plus we’re drinking it in our tap water already, so I’d rather not overdo it. I’ve been using fluoride-free toothpaste for over 2 years now and have not experienced any tooth decay, and my dentist has never had an concerns regarding my fluoride intake. Don’t worry though, you can still find safer versions of toothpaste that contain fluoride if you are concerned.
+ Face Wash
This one is soft, lathery, gets my makeup off and doesn’t make my skin feel stripped, just nice and clean. Very affordable and lasts forever. I bought mine from Thrive market about a year ago and it’s $6.49 on their site, but if you’re not a Thrive member, you can find it on Amazon and many health foods stores.
Other recommended products (these are two brands that have cleansers for different skin types:
Acure Brightening Cleansing Gel, ACURE Incredibly Clear Charcoal Lemonade Cleansing Clay, Beautycounter Refresh Foaming Cleanser, Cococream Cleanser
+ Body Wash
What I’m using: Thrive Market Bulgarian Lavender Body Wash
I don’t think I have to say too much about this one, but as you know, your skin absorbs some of what you put on it, so when lathering up your whole body, it makes sense to select a clean + safe soap product.
What I’m using: Giovanni Shampoo (sold at most grocery stores @ around $6!)
This is another switch that requires some patience and has a little detox transition. You’ll likely go through an unpleasant phase while your scalp & hair transitions from shampoo with chemicals to not having those chemicals. Previously the chemicals striped your hair and scalp of its natural oils, so your scalp naturally produced more oil to replace what was washed away. You might actually get greasy hair or an oily scalp because now those oils aren’t getting stripped out, but your scalp is still producing those extra oils.
Once you stop stripping your hair of the oils, your scalp will go through a transition period trying to balance out and regulate a new process. Just remember that this is temporary, and although frustrating, it’ll be worth the switch.
+ Moisturizers / Creams / Oils
Other recommended products:
Acure Brightening Day Cream, Beautycounter Counter+ No. 1 Brightening Facial Oil
+ Lip Balm
What I’m using: Young Living Lavender Lip Balm
+ SPF/ Tinted Skin Creams
+ Anti-aging products
+ Face Toner
What I’m using: Sailor by Captain B. Sea Mist Refreshing Toner