Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Why stop using shampoo?

Why do I use baking soda instead of shampoo? Well, as most people don't realize, personal care products like shampoo, makeup, soap and lotion are not regulated. The FDA does not assess the safety of personal care products or their ingredients, and less than 20% of cosmetics chemicals have been assessed by the industry's safety panel. So companies freely use harmful chemicals in products that we slather on our bodies multiple times a day. Lipsticks commonly have lead in them, while shampoo and toothpaste contain parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, petrochemicals, etc linked to cancer, reproductive health, asthma and other health problems.

Unlike most women, who use an average of 12 of personal care products a day, I have limited mine to a locally made bar of soap, baking soda, Tom's of Maine toothpaste, aluminum-free deodorant and Burt's Bees lip balm. No, I almost never wear make up or lotion.

You do not actually need a multitude of products. This is a lie that corporate advertising campaigns have perpetuated. They hae convinced us we are not pretty enough and need a regimen of products like shampoo to make our hair shinier, makeup to look prettier, lotions to make our skin softer, perfumes to make us smell better, nail polish (the most toxic of them all) because bare feet are not classy enough, and so on. (Literally, I was in an elevator once with my coworkers who talked about bare toenails not being classy while I was standing right there in my sandals. But it's "okay" for me because I'm the eco-exception.)

Meanwhile, I often get comments from people telling me my skin looks great and asking how do I do it. Here's how - by not putting anything on it but water and occasionally soap. From my own perspective, I have as many pimples as the rest of them, but we tend to be more self-conscious and pay more attention to our own blemishes than other people actually do. What's more important? Your health or meeting a false standard of beauty?

On a positive note, the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 was introduced this summer in the House of Representatives. If passed this bill will give the FDA the authority to ensure that personal care products are free of harmful substances. You can learn more about all of this by watching The Story of Cosmetics video below, checking out the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, and discovering whether the products in your own bathroom are good or bad at the Good Guide.

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