Most of us go through life without realising that everyday things that we consider to be “normal”, could well be the things that are making us sick.

I’m talking about your shampoo and toothpaste and household cleaning products! It’s actually quite incredible how many chemicals our beauty products contain. Not only is it bad for our health, but it’s also damaging our environment.

Companies are not required to be 100% natural if the packet says something like “natural” or “organic”. They can even have harmful substances like SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) and still be sold in health shops.

What kind of household things can be harmful to us?

  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Toothpaste and mouthwash
  • Deodorant
  • Perfume
  • Lipstick, mascara and other make up
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Cleaning sprays and products
  • Soaps
  • Baby wipes and lotions
  • Massage oils and face creams
  • Shaving creams
  • And so much more…we haven’t even touched food!

What chemicals may they contain?

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) – It is possibly the most dangerous of all ingredients in personal care products and can stay in the body for up to five days
  • DEA (diethanolamine) MEA (monoethanolamine) TEA (triethanolamine). Look for names like Cocoamide DEA/MEA, Lauramide DEA – Suspected carcinogen
  • Formaldehyde – Carcinogen
  • Parabens – Interfere with hormone functions
  • PEGs (polyethylene glycols) – Carcinogens

What can we do about it?

First of all, begin reading labels. I’ve given you some examples of things to look out for, but the list is sadly far from complete. At least look out for the worst chemicals and try to avoid them wherever possible, especially with things that may be used internally, such as toothpaste.

Look for truly natural alternatives for your day to day products, there are now many options available. If you’re feeling curious, why not try making some natural products yourself? It’s very easy, you can even wash your hair with bicarbonate soda or take your make-up off with just oil alone. Just do some research and you may be surprised at how much stuff you can do at home, saving you money, decreasing the damage to your health and helping the environment at the same time!

Apart from the chemical makeup of products, consumers may also choose to educate themselves on the sustainability of the ingredients used and the packaging that it comes in. Products like coconut oil and aloe vera, for example, are easily renewable and many natural products are now stored in recycled or biodegradable packaging.

How do home and beauty products harm the environment?

Packaging – when you make something filled with a strong mix of chemicals, the packaging needs to be durable enough to keep it there for a while. Tough plastic bottles and containers are mostly non-recyclable, and many won’t disintegrate when thrown away for millions of years.

Pollution – chemical components of many products don’t break down but instead accumulate in our ecosystems. Beauty products do their most damage to the environment after they are washed down the sink. The chemicals are released into our rivers, lakes and public water systems, poisoning local wildlife and the human population.