Clarifying “Clean” - 6 Ingredients To Look Out For

Not all “clean” is created equal. There’s a lack of transparency and industry regulation across home and personal care products. Not only are we concerned about the effects of our everyday products on the environment, but the hazards to our health are alarming as well. According to the Environmental Working Group, the average adult uses 9+ personal care products daily, exposing themselves to over 126 different chemical ingredients. Many ingredients that are commonly found in our everyday personal care products are known carcinogens and carry a long list of other harmful effects. The FDA Regulations and Health Canada both have unrestricted regulations on cleaning and personal care product labels, making it simple for almost anyone to use the word “natural” on their packaging. It’s frightening to learn that we’ve been purchasing and using so many of these products with nasty ingredients, often without any awareness of how they affect us and the environment.

When building Better Basics, it was important to us that we offer products that are aligned with our health and environmental values. We care about ingredients that are good for us and for the planet. This is why we have developed all of our products under the Environmental Working Group regulations and Ecocert guidelines. To find out more about the safety of our products and the purpose behind our selective ingredients, check out our mission.

It can be a lot to understand all the information that’s out there. One thing we do know is that we can’t always trust “natural,” “green,” or “clean” on a label. In order to make things a little more clear, we’ve rounded up a few common ingredients that might be considered the worst-offender, and ones to look out for.  

  • Fragrance
    • Although we all love a heavenly scent, there is rarely full disclosure in a product’s ingredient titled “fragrance.” This allows companies to mask over 3,000 chemicals within their products by listing “fragrance” as the ingredient. Many people are highly sensitive to artificial fragrances often found in everyday products which can cause nasty allergic reactions.
      • At Better Basics, we use natural essential oils sourced from fruits, plants and nuts like oranges, rosemary and tea tree to give your product that “mmm” scent, and ensure we’re not polluting our environment and disturbing our health.
      • Formaldehyde
        • You may not see this one listed plainly on your label, but many preservatives found in your average home cleaning products are known to release formaldehydes into the air. As a known human carcinogen, this chemical is definitely one to steer clear of.
        • Better Basics doesn’t use any toxins or preservatives that may cause the release of formaldehydes. 
        • Chloroform
          • Another suspected human carcinogen, and a probable liver & nervous system disruptor, this man-made product is manufactured with chlorine bleach. Chlorine can take centuries to decompose in nature and also lingers in the air for many years, eventually reaching & disrupting the ozone layer.
          • Better Basics is 100% bleach-free.
          • Quaternary ammonium 
            • These compounds, also known as “QAC’s,” have been known to cause asthma and skin rashes, and there is also evidence exploring the negative effects on microbial diversity in our soil and water systems from the use of these chemicals.
            • Better Basics opts to steer clear of “QAC’s” in all of our products.
            • Sodium borate
              • AKA “borax” is a powdery mineral ingredient often found in cleaning products, including many that are labelled as “green.” This ingredient is dangerous to our endocrine system and hormones, and can cause damage to the reproductive system and many human organs as well. In terms of the environment, don’t let the word “mineral” fool you - borax acts as a pesticide in nature, disturbing animals and the ecosystem.
              • Easily confused for sodium borate, Better Basics instead uses sodium benzoate, which  is certified all-natural and has no evidence of toxicity.
            • Petrochemicals
              • Hidden under a range of different names, these ingredients make their way into the environment causing ozone layer depletion, acid rain, and air pollution to name a few. They coat the skin leaving a barrier that doesn’t allow the skin the “breath,” and are also known as a kidney toxin, neurotoxin, and a respiratory toxin.
              • At Better Basics, we stay away from petrochemicals and their byproducts, sticking with the alternatives that are actually natural and safe for use.

            For more information on toxic ingredients and the effects of chemicals in our everyday products, you can check out David Suzuki’s “Dirty Dozen” of chemicals, The ABC’s of avoiding toxic chemicals, and explore their many other valuable resources. We also recommend that you search up your favourite products in the EWG’s Skin Deep Database to gain more clarity about what’s really in your products and begin to understand where you can make some impactful swaps. 

            When you choose Better Basics, you can trust that these ingredients will never make it into your home. We are committed to bringing you honest all-natural products with an eco-conscious lens. Join us in #doingbetter.