Welcome to our series, Intentional, with Geri Hirsch, clean living advocate and Perelel's very own strategic advisor. Each month, Geri shares her favorite non-toxic product discoveries to make it that much easier to cultivate a cleaner and more sustainable life. Whether you want to reduce the amount of chemicals in your home or find green alternatives to your tried-and-true favorites—here is your one-stop guide to live intentionally.
For this month's installment of Intentional, I wanted to focus on one of my favorite topics: clean personal care products.
More specifically: Why is choosing clean important as a consumer? And how do we slowly transition to clean without spending a ton? Below, I broke down the key terms to look for when shopping clean and shared the five personal care clean swaps I would like to see everyone make.
Keep reading for more.
First up, why is clean important as a consumer?
Let this one sink in: Products are not well regulated in the US.
Congress hasn’t thoroughly overhauled the regulations of personal care since before World War II—as in 1938. Hopefully this changes soon with the Personal Care Products Safety Act, but for now, the lack of regulations allows companies to put pretty much anything they want in a product. And what’s even more concerning is that when the F.D.A. finds an unsafe product, it cannot force a company to stop selling it. This is how the not-so-good-for-you stuff—chemicals known to be carcinogens, hormone-disrupting or toxic—get into your products and ultimately into your body.
And this is why clean is important. Shopping and opting for clean is about making safer choices as a consumer.
How can we make clean swaps without spending a ton?
Personal care and beauty products are expensive, clean or not. So overhauling everything you use to switch to clean isn’t realistic. One important caveat to this: If you are trying to get pregnant or are pregnant, I would love to see you make as many swaps as you can, as soon as you can.
The best way to make the switch to clean without breaking the bank is to do it one product at a time, every time you run out of something. Toothpaste finished? Try a clean alternative. Out of tampons? Switch to organic. Deodorant done? Buy a non-toxic one.
Overtime, you’ll find that you have overhauled your cabinet, reduced your body burden and, hopefully, love your clean products even more than your not so clean ones.
Cheat Sheet: What to look for on product labels.
Clean is a confusing term as it’s pretty ambiguous. And because of this, there is a lot of greenwashing, a deceptive marketing practice that makes a product seem clean or eco-friendly when it is not. So, when looking for cleaner products, here are a few key phrases to look out for:
- Paraben free
- Sulfate free
- Petroleum free
- Phthalates free
- No synthetic fragrances
This will check off a lot of the boxes for things you want to avoid. And if you aren’t sure about a product, a great way to cross check is by looking up the rating on the E.W.G.
Not sure where to start? These are the most important swaps, IMO.
And now for the swaps! People always ask me where to start and this is always what I suggest when it comes to personal care.
Have you ever contemplated how many tampons or pads you’ll use over your lifetime? The answer is up to 15,000. And did you know that tampon brands are not legally required to disclose actual tampon ingredients on their packaging? As it turns out, most tampons and feminine hygiene products are made using artificial fibers, polyester or rayon, not to mention the additional chemicals involved in the manufacturing process. And on top of that, many brands use fragrance, chlorine or even pesticides.
Instead, when shopping for your tampons look for products that are made with 100 percent certified organic cotton, without pesticides, dioxins, chlorine, fragrance and a BPA-free plastic applicator.
My Favorite: CORA Organic Cotton Tampons ($10)
Your skin is your largest organ so ideally, anything you apply all over your body shouldn’t contain anything toxic.
My Favorite: Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Bar Soap ($5) and Nécessaire The Body Wash ($25).
Same rule as above. All of your body is ideally clean.
My Favorite: OSEA Undaria Algae Body Oil ($78) and Nécessaire The Body Lotion ($25).
I feel like this one has been discussed at length so I’ll skip you the lecture and leave you with my favorite.
My Favorite: Kosas Chemistry Deodorant ($15), Indie Lee Energize Deodorant ($19), Corpus Naturals Nº Green Deodorant ($24)
To make this simple, follow one basic rule: Look for mineral (also called physical) sunscreens.
When looking for mineral sunscreen you want to look for the two F.D.A. approved ingredients: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These two ingredients actually create a physical block between the sun and your skin so the rays never penetrate.
The rest of the stuff, which may contain chemicals such avobenzone, oxybenzone, ecamsule and octocrylene, are known to disrupt hormones and should simply be avoided.
Not to be an alarmist but studies have found that oxybenzone, a chemical found in sunscreen, has been found in the urine and blood of pregnant women as well as in fetal and umbilical cord blood and breastmilk.1
My favorite: BeautyCounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 ($43) and Organic Pharmacy Cellular Protection Sunscreen SPF 50 ($69).
Be sure to keep an eye out for next month's installment of Intentional with Geri Hirsch for more clean living tips like these. Plus, feel good from the inside out with clean, doctor-backed vitamins for your exact reproductive life stage.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Perelel.