Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Perfectly Clean

There are a fair number of things that I'm laid back about.  The cleanliness of my bathtub for instance, dessert portion control and the frequency of my pedicures.  And then there are certain things that I am nearly obsessive about, like an orderly desk at work and chasing down extraneous fees or incorrect billing amounts (I'm looking at you, big bad cable company who wouldn't fix your own mistake until 311 intervened!).  I cycle through obsessions, I suppose enjoying the intensity and focus that each one brings.      

My latest obsession is the toxicity of personal care products.  It's actually long been a concern of mine...I've been seeking out products free of parabens and phthalates for quite some time now, having heard of their scary hormone interfering and cancer-causing effects.  However, I'll admit that even the paraben and phthalate free products have ingredient lists that I find disconcerting.  It seemed that in the midst of all of those chemical names there had to be something else concerning.  But I'm no scientist, and I can't go around memorizing the names of all harmful components.  

Thankfully, I have found someone else to do my obsessing for me.  The Environmental Working Group maintains a fabulous website called Skin Deep to inform us about the contents of our bathroom cabinets.  Type in virtually any skin care, hair care or makeup product and it will tell you just how terrible it is, on a scale from 1 (low risk) to 10 (offensive that the product is legal).  And if you can't find your product (unlikely, but it happens occasionally) you can just type in the ingredients for individual ingredient ratings.

I was relieved to find that my beloved Bare Escentuals powder scored an admirable 1 on the scale.

Lovely to see that a company that touts its purity actually lives up to the hype.

I actually found that quite a few product lines that have built their brand on an image of environmental sensitivity (and which charge handsomely for "responsible" products) are in fact quite a bit higher on the scale than I would have assumed.  I am still rather incensed by the discovery.

I was disappointed in my supposedly green shampoo and conditioner, especially given that in addition to rating 6s and 7s, the conditioner doesn't make my hair particularly soft.  In fact, when I look in the mirror I am often reminded of the Family Ties episode where Jennifer made Mallory stop using conditioner out of concern for the environment and her hair as a result began to resemble that of Sideshow Bob.  Anyone know of any good conditioners that won't wreak havoc on my health?

Although my eye shadows are apparently killing me slowly (what on earth do they put in these things?) I was heartened to know that my mascara, which I was convinced would be off the charts, wasn't so terrible after all.  I was also thrilled (although not entirely surprised) to see that my favorite chamomile  eye cream from Evan Healy scored very well.

This entire line scored consistently low on the toxicity scale, which was thrilling given the high quality (and lovely scents) of the products.  Easily my best product discovery of the past year.

Aubrey Organics is another line that seemed to live up to its own green hype (I switched Paul from his butane-containing deodorant spray to Aubrey's pine scented version), as is California Baby.

But the one I'm most excited to try?  Be Natural Organics Deep Cleansing Oil Treatment.  Scoring a cool 1 on the scale, perhaps this is the next coming of the great Shu Uemura cleansing oil?


Jane said...

Oh lord. Something else to be obsessed about. I have to be honest and I know this is uncaring about the planet my shampoo can slowly kill me but if it makes my hair look shiny I will still use it. Actually our hairdresser makes his own shampoo and conditioner. The big issue with hair products is the sulphates (I think). It's different with makeup, I would actually switch brands. I can see I will have to do an Obsessive and Lengthy check of all my cosmetics now. xoxo

Kay said...

yeah, it's a shame. I buy everything organic (still struggle with shampoo and conditioner that provide the same effect as "regular") but so disappointed to know that big corps end up buying them out and then ta-da! what once there was is not...


Pick and choose. Pick and choose. The battle continues.

Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

It says a lot about your entertaining writing, Laura, that I have read more today about personal care products than I normally do in a year. I'm also reminded of a wonderful old joke: They shouldn't test cosmetics on rabbits--bunnies are already cute.

Sneaky Magpie said...

It's scary how many nasties are there in products that seem good and eco friendly. I mostly use Ren products or Neal's Yard, free from all the bad additives.

Haven't found good hair care range yet though.

vicki archer said...

I would love to try some of these products...xv

Laura in Paris said...

I agree, I am also picky about my bathroom, both the cleaness and the products I buy - for the bathroom and for myslef!

French Fancy said...

After my last bad scalp reaction when having my hair coloured I've now requested 'ammonia and parabens free' colour from our local salon. She's warned me it won't be as effective but I'm willing to take the chance - well, at least once. I'd rather not go grey if I can help it.

Angie Muresan said...

Now you have me anxious enough to run into the bathroom and check out the ingredients in my cosmetics and hair products.

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