I thought I had written quite a bit about products I love for myself and my baby recently but maybe some of you want a more methodical approach as to why you should change the products you and your family have been using for years. So I thought I would do a guide on how to detox your bathroom cabinet easily, taking away the stress!
As I have shared before I started down this path while I was trying to get pregnant. We had be trying to get pregnant for over a year before we found Gabriela Rosa – she is a naturopath who specialises in fertility, based in Sydney but works with patients all over the world on Skype. She is an amazing lady who has helped thousands of couples to achieve their goal of having a child.
When you do one of her free challenges or when you sign up to her paid programme you are asked to make a lot of changes.
One of the many changes is cleaning up all the potential toxins you are exposed to across the food you eat, the cleaning products you use and of course the cosmetics you put on your skin. For us this meant filling a dustbin bag full of products that had potential toxins and starting from scratch. This was a big job and very sudden.
For most of you – you can do this more gradually….but I hope this post helps you to see why it is important even if you don’t have any major immediate need right now (like trying to get pregnant) because even if some of the research into the links between the chemicals and diseases like cancer or unexplained fertility is not fully conclusive, my perspective is – it is not worth the risk.
Why detox your bathroom cabinet – 3 reasons
1. You can’t rely that the work has been done for you
Probably like me you assumed that the products on the shelves are safe – they have been tested and checked by authorities and they couldn’t possibly contain any harmful chemicals. But this is not the case.
In some countries regulation of cosmetics products is better than others. The EU bans over 1400 chemicals but the FDA in the US only bans 30! In Asia the regulation varies from country to country. China has a long regulatory process that takes up to 9 months but they insist on testing everything on animals…in Hong Kong there is no regulation at all.
So basically it is up to you and me as consumers to work out where we draw the line. Even if the effects of some of these chemicals are disputed by some – I don’t want to take the risk & I don’t think you do either!
Because of this lack of regulation I check everything before I buy it & that is the reason I started this blog to help you make the switch more easily.
2. You can’t rely on well-known brands to have your best interests at heart
One of the reasons given for lack of tighter government regulation is that the industry regulates itself…this is starting to happen because great companies like Beauty counter in the US and others are advocating for change and larger organisations are starting to see a hit to their bottom line but this is by no means across the board and is only on specific ingredients.
I think you will agree self-regulation in any capitalist economy is pretty wishful thinking….
Look at the largest 7 cosmetics companies in the USA: Avon, Estee lauder, L’Oreal, P&G, Unilever, Revlon & Johnson and Johnson. Campaign for safe cosmetics have a table over viewing the policy of each of these organisations when it comes to some of the major offending chemicals. The 16 chemicals they reviewed are linked to cancer or endocrine disruption and none of the companies have comprehensive policies across the board.
These 7 companies all have global revenue over $10bn USD – they have the resources to change their formulas and do better by their consumers. But in most cases they haven’t yet.
This video by the campaign for safe cosmetics gives a good overview of the problems in the industry:
3. We don’t know what we don’t know
There are times in our lives when we are more susceptible to chemical exposure. Prenatal development and puberty are key times when the body’s cells are rapidly dividing and complex organs and functions such as brains, breasts and metabolism develop.
I am sure you would agree that as soon as someone is pregnant there is so much advice about what not to eat, drink or do. Avoiding big fish to minimise your mercury intake as it may cause neurotoxins is a common one. But people are rarely told to change their cosmetics products…..
Many cosmetics products contain chemicals that disrupt hormones – endocrine disruption. Two examples are parabens a common preservative in cosmetics, and triclosan, a common active ingredient in antibacterial soaps and hand sanitisers.
From a large EWG study the average adult uses 9 personal care products a day and they are exposed to 126 unique chemical ingredients’.
Ingredients are mainly looked at individually and very rarely reviewed in combination with one and other.
Which chemicals are the worst offenders?
Check out my previous post about which chemicals in our cosmetics for an easy guide of what to avoid. The issue is some of them are clearly marked on the ingredients’ label whereas others are hidden – like it might say “fragrance” but it doesn’t tell you which chemicals are used to create the fragrance….
A lot of brands now claim to be free from one thing or another…but the problem with this is that unless you are looking for one area in particular to avoid these same brands often contain something else harmful….
Ok, I’m convinced – where do I start to detox?
I hope so far you feel you have some good reasons to start to detox your bathroom cabinet!
But you are probably feeling overwhelmed… I was extremely overwhelmed to start with – I made a spreadsheet with endless questions and spent hours researching different products and their ingredients’ which was exhausting.
So I would recommend:
Firstly define your objective:
- Do you want to be healthier overall & minimise all your toxins?
- Are you wanting to have a baby so your focus is reproductive toxicity and endocrine disruption?
- Do you have sensitive skin or eczema so want to try natural products to see if they can clear it up?
- Are you concerned about the environmental impact of cosmetics and want to find sustainable options?
Secondly, take it at your own pace:
Start with the products that spend the longest on your skin – moisturiser – both body and face is a big one. Deodorant is very important too.
Thirdly start to check your existing products:
1. Look at the labels – this should be quick, use my guide of which chemicals to avoid – if they have one of these chemicals in their ingredients’ list put the product to one side.
2. Try the Think dirty app, you can scan the product bar code or input the name and then you can add them to your virtual bathroom cabinet and it allows you to see the overall score of your current products. The only downside is – it is unlikely to have all your products so if you can’t find a product – go to step 3 below.
3. Try EWG skin deep database – they have over 70k products but if they also don’t have it then you have to go through the painful process of putting in the ingredients’ individually into the EWG database.
I don’t use or recommend any products that have a rating higher than 2 on EWG or think dirty. I also click into the products to make sure none of the individual ingredients’ are above 2 either. 1-2 are considered very clean, 3 is not considered a major issue and I have the occasional product with an ingredient rated 3 but I am a purist at heart!
I have found plenty of great products using my maximum of 2 rating criteria, it just takes work and a bit of trial and error. That’s why I am sharing my findings here with you!
How to find new, great products quickly and easily
So you have decided to make the switch to clean cosmetics, you have slowly made your way through the key personal care items you use daily on your skin. Probably most of them rated more than 2, so you now want to find cleaner alternatives. There are 3 easy ways to do this:
1. Quick & simple: Use the recommended product function through think dirty or EWG verified. This will not give you an exact comparison for what you are giving up but it will give you alternatives in the same product category and they will have the official seal of approval.
2. Trial & discovery: Try a trusted subscription box like beauty heroes. They have high standards when it comes to product efficacy and also the ingredients’. You subscribe and get to try a new full sized product from a clean brand each month. They ship overseas for an extra $18.95 USD which is a lot on top of the price for the box of $39 per month. But for Hong Kong this is a good option as many of these products are not available here or if they are, they are more expensive.
3. Read & review: Subscribe to a blog or follow a green beauty bloggers on Instagram – we will bring new brands to your attention by constantly reviewing the latest products. My Instagram is: my_cleancosmetics
To sum up – you really should detox your bathroom cabinet
I hope you are here because you want to change your lifestyle and clean up the cosmetics you use on your skin every day.
Take it one step at a time, you will be able to find clean alternatives to all your favourite products but it won’t happen overnight.
Prioritise and start with the products that spend the most time on your skin like moisturiser.
Follow a few clean beauty bloggers and like anything new in life be prepared for some trial and error before you find your perfect match!