It’s no secret that many personal care products contain an arsenal of mysterious and unnatural chemicals. Although manufacturers have a legal obligation to produce safe merchandise, companies are not required to perform specific tests before placing items on store shelves. Furthermore, cosmetic companies don’t have to share their safety information with the FDA. If you’re looking to swap out your chemical-laden hygiene products for some healthier alternatives, consider the following.
Conventional toothpastes are often filled with synthetic and harmful components, such as artificial sweeteners, preservatives and propylene glycol. Another common additive is triclosan, an anti-bacterial agent that is beneficial for reducing plaque and fighting gingivitis when used in toothpaste. However, the ingredient has been shown to have negative health and environmental effects. Triclosan, which is classified as a pesticide, can compromise the immune system, build up a resistance to antibiotics and disrupt the endocrine system.
Instead, consider toothpastes that contain baking soda, which naturally helps to fight plaque, and other sweeteners such as xylitol and erythritol. Xylitol boosts the production of saliva, helps stop cavities from forming and can strengthen the enamel. Erythritol is a sugar substitute derived from fermented corn; it can help prevent cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to teeth.
Commercially manufactured soaps are typically considered detergents because of the long list of artificial ingredients used to make them. Many include additives such as phthalates, formaldehyde and sodium laurel sulfates (SLS). SLS is a chemical agent that creates the rich lather in hygiene products. However, it is also a known skin, eye and lung irritant. Luckily, you can find healthier substitutes that still provide suds. Look for key ingredients such as glycerin, coconut oil and pure essential oils.
Sunscreen is essential to prevent sun damage and keep your skin looking young and healthy. However, not all sunscreens are created equal. Most chemical sun blocks contain ingredients such as oxybenzone and avobenzone that absorb UV rays. Because these substances can also penetrate the epidermis and enter the bloodstream, they could expose you to possible short- and long-term harm. To avoid the risks, look for mineral sunscreens that are formulated with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These ingredients form a barrier on the surface of the skin, rather than penetrating the top layers of the epidermis to absorb UV rays.
To find additional substitutes for common toiletry products, check out the accompanying infographic.