Often, when we consider green living, we think about how we eat, clean and drive, but not always how we buy. We use personal care products on a daily basis, from the time we wake up, to the time we go to bed. A personal care product is anything from shampoo to deodorant to cosmetics. Many of these common products can contain ingredients that are both harmful to the environment and to our own health. Fortunately, you can educate yourselves on what's contained in your daily products and make healthy changes accordingly.
Consider what You use
The most common place to find personal care prodcuts are your bathroom and shower. Your hair products, skin products, makeup and soaps should all list their ingredients on their packaging. Get in the habit of reading the packaging. A claim to be healthy, natural or dermatologist-tested on the bottle doesn't necessarily guarantee a clean list of ingredients. Never assume that more expensive products have earth-safe ingredients. Certain high-end mascaras contain thimerosal (a mercury preservative), for instance. Some hair dyes even contain lead! Educate yourself on what ingredients are harmful to the environment. Generally speaking, components in your products that hurt the environment are also not good for your health.
Watch for Triclosan
Triclosan is an antibacterial agent commonly found in liquid hand soap, as well as everything from well-known face washes to deodorant. Triclosan is restricted in cosmetic use in both Japan and Canada, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency considers it a pesticide. Triclosan is also known as a persistent organic pollutant. This means that it remains in the environment and accumulates up the food chain. The European Union actually classifies triclosan as a skin and eye irritant and considers it toxic to aquatic life. If you've been hearing about super-resistant bacteria, it is believed that ingredients like triclosan are a big culprit, because their use as an antibacterial agent is becoming so widespread.
Put the Brakes on Petroleum Byproducts
While you're trying to cut your petroleum consumption by taking the bus and switching your light bulbs, make sure that you aren't making up for it with petroleum byproduct-based personal care products. Petroleum byproducts are commonly found in lip gloss (even high end ones). A common byproduct is called petrolatum or petroleum jelly.
Look for Organic
Organic personal care options can range from tampons to lotions. Organic ingredients are produced without the use of pesticides, hormones and harmful synthetic chemicals. Just like you wouldn't want to eat chemicals and pesticides, you don't want them on your body either.
Avoid Anything with Fragrance
This can be tough to do, but you should know that companies are not required to list all of the ingredients included in their fragrance. Thus, on the back of a package, all you may see listed is "fragrance." Avoid any potentially harmful chemicals that you don't know about by entirely avoiding fragrance when possible.