Friday, February 26, 2010

The Crazy

This has nothing to do with my post, but I love this blurry picture. It doesn't take much imagination to know how spazzy I was in real life during our dance party. See how my awesome moves have captivated the children's interest.

So last night, one of my FB friends posted this NYT article about toxins in personal care products, and after reading it I freaked the hell out. I am not a low maintenance person. Do you know how many products I use everyday? 26. I know because I counted them.

When Harry was little, Ben and I had a fight about the pricey skincare products I wanted to use on him, and I banished Baby Magic and Johnson's from our sight. But I was reluctant to replace all my own stuff, mainly because I am a grown up and do not usually eat my beauty products. But after I read the Times, I clicked through a few more blogs and pretty much fell apart.

Ben was really nice and supportive and encouraged me to take advantage of my afternoon babysitter and all the dirty hippies who buy dirty hippie beauty products in our town and go shopping today to replace anything that freaked me out. (He was also really supportive a few weeks ago hen I was smelling really faint cigarette smoke all the time and was sure my olfactory hallucinations meant certain brain cancer because that's what Dr. Google told me. Actual diagnosis? The people in the townhouse next to use, with whom we share a wall, are smokers. He was also really nice about my sudden interest in breast health and my weird need to google strange diseases. I think I should go see my nice therapist man because I am very anxious these days. Also, maybe I should drink less coffee.)

I found this awesome database that lets you search products by name and brand and rates products on a toxicity scale of 0-10. If your product is not listed, you can type in all the ingredients and get a toxicity rating. I decided that I need everything to be 4 or lower on the scale to calm my fears (except my moisturizer, night cream, and eye cream, which are all 4-6. I think I am going to replace them with Kinerase products or maybe L'Occitane or Aubrey Organics when they are all gone. But I only use a teeny bit of them at a time, so I am going to finish the jars. This could be the tightwad in me taking.), So I searched all of the categories of products I normally use on the database and compiled a list to take to the hippie pharmacy, determined to find only moderately risky products.

Here's the kids' stuff, California Baby wash (1), which we have used before and love, Vaseline, which is the only moisturizer our pediatrician recommends, Badger Balm, which is great for really dry skin or an irritation in the diaper area and also works well for my poor dry hands (both of these get a 0 on the toxicity scale), and Rainbow bubble bath, which was kind of a bad buy. It has a lot of chemical ingredients, actually, even though it claims it is organic. It also gets a 4 on the scale, and I could have ought the 0-rated California Baby bubble bath for only $3 more. I was charmed and fooled, though, by Rainbow's simple, retro label, the kind of label that says Instead of slick labels we spend all our money on the very best ingredients. Not so.

Ben refused to part with his $1.19 Suave hairspray, which he dearly loves. He did say he would try Tom's aluminum-free deodorant (4), and I got him some Aubrey Organic shave cream (2) and aftershave (1)

For both of us, I went with the Burt's Bees line for shampoo (2), conditioner (2) and body wash (3 or 4, depending on flavor). I actually am not as worried about these products because we wash them off each time-- they're not meant to be absorbed into the skin.

And for me. So much crap. An exfoliator, a face wash, Jojoba oil to remove make up (0), Tom's lavender deodorant( 2-- and yeah, I think I might sweat too much for this stuff b/c it is not an antiperspirant, but I cannot rub aluminum all over my lymph nodes one more time without having a freaking anxiety-induced coronary), a couple different flavors of Alaffia lotion (1-- and my old lotion was a freaking 8, so this is a huge improvement and, I think, the most important product to change besides antiperspirant b/c it covers so much surface area and is meant to be absorbed), Cover Girl Smoothers concealer (2, also cheap), L'Oreal Voluminous mascara (3, also $8-- a huge improvement over my old mascara, which had mercury and tar in it and cost $30), and some assorted Burt's Bees lip shimmers (3).

I actually got hosed when I bought these 3 products in the brown bottles-- the same place where I got the kind of sketchy bubble bath. The exfoliator is way less toxic that the Oil of Olay scrub I have been using, and the face wash is better for me than my Lancome tube of poison. The lotion, though? 4 really terrible ingredients, but no paraben and no sodium lauryl sulfate (which is what the sing next to the display screamed. It also screamed ORGANIC! And I am a sucker for marketing, so I bought it.) Since it was 3 for $20, I am not too concerned about taking it back, especially since I lost my receipt. I just wanted to point out how sneaky cosmetic marketing can be, even if you are armed with a list that had 7 hours of anxious internet research behind it.

Ultimately, I did not replace powder, blush, eyeshadow, or eyeliner. Those products stay on top of the skin for the most part. They also only cover a teeny tiny percentage of my skin. Also, the women buying hippie makeup at the local pharmacy where I bought most of my products did not look like they, um, have the same taste in makeup as I do. I am going to hit up Sephora and the Origins counter soon and see what's up (NARS Orgasm is supposed to be good, as is Origins pressed powder). I also opted not to replace my hairspray because it is the only product I use on my hair, and a bottle lasts at least 12 weeks, so I feel like I am not getting a lot of chemical exposure there. And my nail polish has been phthalate-free since I was pregnant with H.

Oh my god, I hope that didn't sound completely crazy. It was very cathartic to write it all out. Phewwwww.

Okay, thanks for your advice yesterday. We're all bout the potty training. He peed on the toilet all day (but was wet when he woke up from nap, although he did also pee right after nap).

He also chose his own underwear at Target today.


  1. Anyone else whistling the song from loony-toons? Me neither...

  2. So, seeing that I don't wear make-up 99.9% of the time, I don't put anything in my hair 99.9% of the time, and well, I am just lazy, I am no help on this topic. We do use Johnson and Johnson still for baby wash, but I very rarely put lotion on them (or anything else). But, I may look at the sunscreens. Those are the big product we use in this household!

  3. I use such cheap crap on my skin and hair that it's like I'm running a small petrochemical company in my bathroom. I do have an appointment for a free mini-facial at Origins tomorrow and plan on spending at least $75 because I have GOT to get my forehead under control and will do whatever they tell me to.

    If Charlie knew there were pink undies we would have them too. I bought him firetruck ones at Osh Kosh without even considering letting him pick! Am scrooge.

  4. there is TAR in Dior Show??!! TAR?!

    WTF, people?! ohdeargod, everything is going to kill us.

    I don't even want to know what these things are or what they're going to do to me--I am just going to go out and buy the products you recommended.

    Can I still use OPI nail polish?! GAHHHHHHH!!!

  5. Sarah, OPI definitely has phthalates, but they make a sub-brand called Nicole that doesn't, I think.

  6. I am going to read your articles. And then decide which ones to let Evan read. :) He's a bit more concerned about what we're eating that is not right (unless it's in his candy...then he doesn't give two shits at all). We don't have HFCS in our house. It's our first step.

    I also wear no make up. I use a dove soap bar to wash my face. I am of no help. But, I stinking love that Burt's Bees shimmer gloss. Love love love. I use it a lot.

  7. Anonymous9:14 AM

    I wonder where the product called "PLACENTA" is on this scale. Why didn't you just go to Sally's?

  8. Hask Placenta, according to the Enivronmental Working Group's database is a 7 on the scale because of all the neurotoxins. Oh good. It's not like I used to put it on my hair, wrap my head in a plastic bag and let it soak on in. FAIL.

  9. Okay, my low product using pals. Not to pee in your Cheerios, but it's mass-produced bar soaps and baby washes that started me down this freak out road to begin with...

  10. oh for the love!
    My OPI's???!! GAH! I have some Nicole's but they are not nearly as purty!

    I have GOT to get on the Tom's of Maine deodorant bandwagon. Aluminum scares the crap out of me.

    I'm waiting on reviews of all the stuff you bought. I get all of my healthy-living freak out motivation from you. :-)

  11. I have some hippie friends who use NOTHING on
    their hair. Nothing. Ever. Also, they make their own deodorant. One friend has bathed her baby three times in the past year. And....they use flannel wipes for
    toilet paper.

  12. I love that you posted all of this. We've been using the "safer" kids products for a while, and I'm slowly changing out our stuff. I can't get over the sticker shock that comes with purchasing all new products at once!

    Let me know how the deodorant works... that's the one thing I'm skeptical of (but aluminum? Yikes..)

  13. Am hyperventilating.

    My beloved delicious smelling Johnson's? Needs to be replaced...

  14. ok, seriously Sam would pick Dora too!! I said, "Sam, you want Diego?" He said, "NO...DORA!" (He yelled too.)

    I think most of the rest of us mothers of toddlers are hating you right now that Jack is potty training so easily! I mean, seriously? You are SOOO lucky!

    I am going to have to change out the beauty products now. I did the organic food switch and my husband almost killed me...this one is gonna be FUN! lol

  15. Hmmm...don't know whether to freak out or just throw up the white flag in defeat - I have been wearing cosmetics since I was 13 and bleaching my hair various shades of blonde since I was 16 (that would be about 22 years of bleach). Don't think there is much hope for me...

    I try to take any reseach with a grain of salt. I had a psych professor who pointed out that the studies that showed that pot caused cancer in lab rats - they smoked the equivilant to a doobie that was about 50 feet long and 10 feet around. The point being that I try to keep research in perspective - you can make research show anything with enough effort.

    Or maybe I am just rationalizing cause I would totally freak out otherwise...