Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Dirty Dozen Ingredients In Personal Care Products

by Diane di Costanzo 


In pursuit of cleanliness and beauty, we buy approximately $20 billion worth of personal care products every year. Unfortunately, many ingredients in these potions and lotions have the opposite effect on the planet—and some of them are linked to damaging effects on human health.  And unlike the pharmaceutical industry, the government does not require safety testing for these products before they go to market.  Updating "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" (GG94), we've culled a list of the worst of the worst, ten chemicals you do not want on your skin.


Found in cleansers, deodorants and other cosmetic products, antibacterial agents such as Triclosan encourage the rise of drug-resistant bacteria, according to a studies in the April 1999 Journal of Biological Chemistry and the July 13 2000 Nature.


So-called coal-tar chemicals are found in many "FD&C" or "D&C" colors used in makeup and hair dye. FD&C Blue 1 and FD &C Green 3 are carcinogenic, and impurities in other colors -- D&C Red 33, FD&C Yellow 5 and FD&C Yellow 6 -- have been shown to cause cancer when applied to the skin.


Widely used in shampoos, DEA is a suspected carcinogen, and its compounds and derivatives include triethanolamine (TEA), which can be contaminated with nitrosamines -- compounds shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. Contamination is more likely if the product also contains Bronopol (see above).


Found in eye shadows, mascaras and other cosmetics, formaldehyde is "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen," according to the National Toxicology Program's "Ninth Report on Carcinogens" (January 2001). The EPA classifies it as a probable human carcinogen.

In its liquid state, formaldehyde, present in the ingredients DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, and quaternium-15, can be absorbed through the skin and nails. As a volatile organic compound, or VOC, formaldehyde evaporates when the product is wet; levels drop sharply once it's dry. Consumer concern has led many manufacturers to remove it from their nail polishes. Quaternium-15 causes more dermatitis complaints than any other preservative, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Bronopol, often listed as 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, can contribute to the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines, according to the FDA. It can also break down to produce formaldehyde.


Widely used industrial solvents found in nail polish, deodorant, perfumes and other cosmetics, some glycol ethers are hazardous to the reproductive system. Other effects of overexposure include anemia and irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat. Avoid those listed on labels as EGPE, EGME,EGEE, DEGBE, PGME, DPGME and those with "methyl" in their names.


A brain- and nervous-system toxin as well as a known carcinogen and hormone disruptor, lead accumulates in the bones. It is found in lead acetate in hair dyes and makeup.

Mercury: A tiny amount of this potent nervous-system toxin, which accumulates in the body, is allowed as a preservative in eye-area cosmetics.

PETROLATUM (vaseline, petroleum jelly)

Commonly used in cold creams, lipsticks, lip protection, baby creams, eye shadows. Petrolatum can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Furthermore, since it is a petroleum product, its use depletes a non-renewable resource.


Found in many hairdyes,PPD is linked with skin irritations, and respiratory disorders. PPD is mutagenic and reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen, and has been banned in Europe. Also called oxidation dyes, amino dyes para dyes, or peroxide dyes.


Used widely in fragrances, deodorants, nail polishes, hair products and lotions, the oily texture of phthalates acts like a moisturizer and helps lotions penetrate skin. Various members of this family of chemical plasticizers have been found to produce cancer of the liver and birth defects in lab animals. Since, phthalates often "hide" behind the term "fragrance;" choose products labeled "fragrance-free" or that are scented exclusively with pure botanical or essential oils.


The Cosmetics Ingredient Review (CIR), a panel of cosmetics-industry experts established to safety-test ingredients (, reported that SLS also causes "severe epidermal changes" to mouse skin, a finding that "indicates a need for tumor-enhancing activity assays." This year, after review of over 250 existing SLS studies, the CIR concluded that SLS is not cancer-causing. However, Samuel Epstein, M.D., says he is not convinced and recommends avoiding SLS.


This solvent found in nail products can cause liver damage and is irritating to the skin and respiratory tract.

The company I represent does not use any of these ingredients in the personal care products, in skin care products, or in makeup products they sell.  I love that I can use these products without worrying about poisons or harmful chemicals soaking into to body.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

We DO Need our Beauty Sleep!

Are you having trouble sleeping at night?  I love these tips from Melanie Vasseur on how to sleep better at night.

Here are a few ways to fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly:

1. Develop a routine for going to bed at night, and be consistent about it. You might enjoy a cup of soothing herbal tea (no caffeine!) and a chapter from a favorite book before turning the lights out.

2. Try to exercise daily, but not within three to four hours of bedtime. Exercise has been shown to increase the amount of deep sleep you get. It can also reduce symptoms PMS in women, which can be uncomfortable enough to disrupt sleep.

3. Don't have a heavy meal right before going to bed. and avoid alcohol, nicotine and caffeine close to bedtime. These can all disturb sleep.

4. Don't use your sleep space as a workspace, and keep the TV out of the bedroom. You should associate your place for sleeping with sleep, not with work or entertainment (other than lovemaking, of course!).

5. Make the room as dark as possible. The less light there is around you, the more melatonin your brain produces. This hormone has been shown to help you feel sleepier, fall asleep faster, and make you sleep longer. Room darkening shades can help tremendously, but a sleep mask is also very effective and a lot cheaper!

6. Control noise levels. You may get so used to familiar sounds like street noise or the sound of someone's snoring that you don't even notice it anymore, but it still affects the quality of your sleep! Ear plugs are helpful for some. Other people find that white noise or soothing music are helpful if it's impossible to block out distracting sounds.

7. Don't keep checking the clock. Experts say that if your sleep is interrupted, checking the time will only increase anxiety about getting enough sleep, and make it harder to get back to sleep. ( I have a tough time following this one!)

8. Make sure you're comfortable! Are you sleeping on the right mattress? Are your pillows giving your neck the right amount of support? Too much tossing and turning could be a sign that one or both need replacing.

I would add: try adding B-complex and calcium to your evening routine.  They promote relaxation.  Sometimes I like to take an all-natural stress reliever to help my mind calm down.  As a last resort, an all-natural sleep aid also helps.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Non-toxic, environmentally-friendly cleaners make cleaning FUN!

Are you afraid you will have to give up a quality clean if you switch from regular cleaners to non-toxic, environmentally friendly cleaners?  Not with these cleaners!
Here's what Christy K from Chicago says:
"I just wanted to tell you I LOVE the cleaning supplies!!! The bottles are so pretty, the sponge works better and faster than ANYTHING else I have tried. I have have tile 5 feet high in my kitchen and could never clean it properly. A sponge would just push the dirtiness into the cracks. With the shaklee sponge and All-Purpose Cleaner, years of grime just wipe away so easily.
I use the Window Cleaner on my chrome fixtures and they sparkle.  I have two sets of french doors with all that seperate glass and it all cleans so easily. I don't feel gross with the fumes from my old cleaners. Clean really feels clean - inside and out. Sticky grimy prints all come up. Oh and the scrubby part on the sponge is truly amazing. It feels soft but it really gets hard stuff off dishes. I haven't used the laundry soap yet, but the fabric softener really leaves things so nice and fluffy!
I was worried that it would be inconvenient to use and hard to get used to. But it really makes cleaning easy and fun. Yes, I said "fun". And I think anyone who tried it would love it."
Cleaning fun??  I didn't think those words could be used in the same sentence!  I think you ought to try these cleaners, don't you?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Cleaning your Windows - streak-free!

I don't do windows very well - so I was thrilled to receive these tips from Don Aslett.  I've modified them just a bit to reflect my favorite brand of cleaners - non-toxic and earth-friendly.  I recommend you buy the tools mentioned here at Don's site (see below); but buy the cleaners here.

Do you say you don't do windows? Once you learn to clean like a pro, you will never say you don't do windows again. With the right tools and the right techniques, your windows will sparkle and let the spring sun in easier than ever. Professionals use simple cleaning solutions and the window washer's best friend -- a squeegee. A squeegee is the best way to do any full-size window or other large expanse of glass.

The equipment you'll need to easily produce gleaming, streak-free windows can be found either around the house or from the Cleaning Center. All you need for clean windows are:

• A bucket with cleaning solution (the solution is created with [a few drops of this non-toxic, environmentally friendly cleaner])
• One 10" or 12" professional quality brass or stainless steel squeegee, or the Super System Squeegee
• A window scrubber, like the new Microfiber Scrubber with scrubbing strips, or the new Back Flip, with the Squeegee included
• An Extension pole, if you'll be cleaning high windows

Now don't let windows intimidate you. All you do is apply a cleaning solution with a window scrubber, and then simply remove the solution (and the dirt) with a squeegee. Avoid cleaning windows in direct sunlight though; they'll dry too fast and streak. Now, here's the skinny on squeegeeing:

Seven steps to crystal clear glass:

1. Mix up your solution: Put no more than a few drops of this cleaner in a bucket of warm water... any more cleaner than that will only cause streaking.
2. Wipe around the outside edge of the window with a damp cloth to remove debris that otherwise might get caught under your squeegee. Or if it's an extremely dirty outside window, a quick spray with the garden hose will remove mud, cobwebs, etc.
3. Dip the flat side of your window scrubber about ¼ inch into the solution, then lightly wet the window. Next, go back over it to loosen any stubborn debris before finally sweeping the scrubber around the edges of the window frame to pick up any dirt you may have pushed against it.
4. Before squeegeeing the window, wet the blade of the squeegee with a damp cloth, so that it won't skip on the glass. You should wipe the blade between strokes, too, when you're working with the squeegee. If you're doing high windows with an extension pole, simply hit the pole with the palm of your hand to release excess solution from the blade.
5. Placing the squeegee against the glass at the top of your window, tilt one end outward so that only about one inch of the blade's length rests lightly against the surface. Pull the squeegee straight across the top to create a dry strip about an inch wide. This will prevent drips from running down from the top of the window.
6. Place the squeegee blade in the narrow dry area and pull it all the way down to approximately three inches from the bottom of the window. Repeat until the window is done, making sure to overlap a little with each stroke; this prevents water from running into the cleaned area.
7. Finally, run the squeegee across the bottom of the window to remove the last of the solution. Finish by wiping the sill with a dry cloth.

Once you've squeegeed your windows, resist the temptation to remove lingering water drops with a cloth. This will only leave an irresistible streak. Just let them evaporate. If you must wipe, use the tip of your bare finger (after steps 1-7 it will be oil-free and the perfect touchup tool!)

Your squeegeeing techniques might be a little awkward at first, but you'll quickly catch on and then marvel at how easy it is to have sparkling glass... and you only used a few drops of cleaner!

Brass Squeegee -

Super System -

Window Scrubber -

*NEW* Back Flip -

Extension Poles -