In my last blog I broached the subject of misleading advertising, which is used by some cosmetic companies to entice us to purchase products that might be harmful to our health. In this blog, I’m going to explore the health concerns raised with regards to a few ingredients commonly found in personal care products. Specifically I’m going to focus on aluminum in antiperspirant, fluoride in toothpaste, and oxybenzone in sunscreen.
There is a plethora of choices when it comes to controlling sweat and body odour. You will find deodorants, antiperspirants, and a combination of the both. Just as the name implies deodorants are for neutralizing foul odours, and antiperspirants block perspiration. “Aluminum-based compounds are the active ingredients in antiperspirants. They block the sweat glands to keep sweat from getting to the skin's surface.”[i] Ingenious or ignorant? You can easily find information that suggest that aluminum in antiperspirants can cause breast cancer; however, you can also find several documents that argue there is no scientific proof to support this claim. Either way, doesn’t it make sense to lean on the side of caution? Don’t get me wrong, I’m 100% in favour of curbing my sweat and associated odours, but I feel like there has to be better alternatives. I did an extensive search to see if I could find an all-natural antiperspirant; sadly I couldn’t find anything that I would trust. I did however find a tonne of options for deodorants. I am currently trying the following made in Canada deodorant, Schmidt's - Bergamot & Lime - $6.97. I plan to also try two local brands, Lamb’s Soapworks - Bergamot, Rosemary & Spearmint - $17, as well as Washboard Soapery & Such - Bergamot & Lavender - $14. I will share my findings in my next blog.
The reality is we have a love hate relationship with the fluoride in our toothpaste, as well as in our water, but that’s a blog for another day. “Fluoride has a positive effect on oral health by making teeth more resistant to decay. It can also prevent or even reverse tooth decay that has started.”[ii] With that being said it is believed that excessive exposure to fluoride can lead to dental fluorosis, skeletal fluorosis, thyroid problems, and even neurological problems. I will be the first to admit that I don’t always rinse as well as I should after brushing my teeth, and sometimes I unintentionally ingest small amounts of toothpaste. I recently started wondering how much is too much? How much do you have to ingest to be considered ‘excesive’. Because of my concerns and my desire to not take chances with my health and the health of my loved ones, I switched to fluoride free toothpaste for my family. I’m currently using Tom’s of Maine - Clean & Fresh - $4.48, and my kids use Burt’s Bees - Fruit Fusion – $5.96. I plan to try Green Beaver - Frosty Mint - $4.78. Green Beaver is a Canadian company and aligns with my goal to support Canadian businesses.
Take a peek at the ingredients in your favourite sunscreen. Does it contain oxybenzone? Oxybenzone is a chemical UV filter, and it works by absorbing UV radiation and converting it into a small amount of heat. It’s not the only chemical UV filter commonly used in sunscreens, but it’s the one ingredient with the worst reputation[iii]. Now the whole reason why we wear sunscreen is to protect us from the harmful rays of the sun, most cases of skin cancer are preventable[iv], but can sunscreen itself be harmful? Some would argue yes and some would argue no. But as I said before I like to err on the side of caution. With that being said it’s important to find an alternative that is effective at either chemically or physically dealing with UV radiation. It’s also important to apply and store sunscreen properly, always read the label! I am currently using Aveeno Baby Mineral Sunscreen Lotion - $14.99 for my kids and Aveeno Mineral Sunscreen Lotion - $15.97 for myself. Both of these sunscreens have good reviews from EWG (environmental working group).
In summary there are many questionable ingredients in the personal care products we use every day, but there are so many effective and inexpensive healthy alternatives. My challenge to you is to try something different!
Thanks for taking the time to read this post!