Why chemicals in personal care products matter.

Everyday we are exposed to hundreds of chemicals through our personal care and cleaning products. When we apply these products to our bodies, or breathe them in, they are absorbed into our internal systems which can lead to some pretty concerning side effects.

"Each day, American women use an average of 12 personal care products that contain 168 different chemicals. Men use an average of six personal care products that contain 85 different chemicals.[13] Many of these products are applied directly to the skin, the body’s largest organ, where ingredients can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream.[14]"

There are 88 common chemicals used in household and personal products that have been linked to cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm. These chemicals are currently not regulated by the FDA, some are regulated by Health Canada, and even more are regulated in the EU and recently have been put on the front stage in California with the Safe Cosmetics Act

Small doses of these chemicals may not be alarming, but the ongoing everyday use can add up. Personally, I have gone through a few health related moments in my life where cosmetic and cleaning ingredients have been flagged by health care professionals. When my parents were diagnosed with cancer, the BC Cancer Agency provided a list of ingredients that we should avoid in our everyday products. When I was struggling with my own fertility, the fertility clinic that I was seeing had signs posted with warnings about wearing fragrance and the impact that it can have on embryos and sperm.

Something as simple as fragrance can have many hidden ingredients with side effects in it, so much so, that it can effect our most fragile form of life. If health professionals are concerned with these ingredients, shouldn't we always be concerned about them?

This is one of the driving factors behind our mission at Better Basics. We want to create healthier products for people and the environment. Since our North American personal care regulations are not up to our standard, we use third party recommendations on ingredients including The Environmental Working Group and Cosmos Eco Cert.

We know that it's hard to know where to start, our recommendation is to start with reading the labels and ingredient lists on your products. You'll start to become familiar with which ingredients to look out for (parabens, artifical fragrance, any of the flou ingredients). You can also use tools that scan ingredient lists and barcodes for you, including the EWG Skindeep Database and Yuka app.

When in doubt, you can start with focusing your energy on the Dirty Dozen (or Dirty 13 in our books):

  1. Petrolatum - a petroleum product used to lock in moisture

  2. Siloxanes: cyclotetrasiloxane, cyclopentasiloxane, cyclohexasiloxane and cyclomethicone - used in hair products, moisturizers and deodorants to add glide

  3. Sodium laureth sulfate (sometimes referred to as SLES) - used as a cleansing agent and also to make products bubble and foam.

  4. Polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS