My Favorite Things: In The Shower

 

Did you know bath and shower products have become a growing business in the United States, grossing over $50 billion a year? From the current trends in advertising for personal care - the enticing aromatic smells coming from exotic unknown sources, to the revitalizing scrubbing power of your favorite bath scrub, to the relaxing hot soak in your tub -  have you ever taken a moment to glimpse at the labels of your luxurious fragrantly silky soaps and gels that promise you'll be smelling great all day?

Do you really KNOW what the ingredients are in the products you're slathering all over your body? If I were to tell you that some products contain known carcinogens. immune and endocrine-disruptors, and toxic substances which can lead to fetal development risks, mucous membrane issues, lung irritations, eye irritations, and allergies. Some effects aren't even apparent until years after initial exposure. The top 7 questionable ingredients to avoid in your cleansing products are:

  • Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate (SLS/SLES)

    Sodium lauryl sulfate is a surfactant, detergent, and emulsifier used in thousands of cosmetic products, as well as in industrial cleaners. Present in nearly all shampoos, toothpastes, body washes, and cleansers, liquid hand soaps, laundry detergents, and bath oils and bath salts.

    Although SLS originates from coconuts, the manufacturing process results in SLES/SLS being contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a carcinogenic byproduct.

    SLS is the sodium salt of lauryl sulfate, and is rated by the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Skin Deep Cosmetics Database as a "moderate hazard."

    SLS breaks down the skin's moisture barrier, easily penetrates the skin, and allows other chemicals to penetrate by increasing skin permeability by approximately 100-fold.

    Combined with other chemicals, SLS becomes a "nitrosamine," a potent class of carcinogen.

    Research studies have linked SLS to skin and eye irritation, organ toxicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity and endocrine disruption.

  • Dioxane

    Common in a wide range of products as part of PEG, Polysorbates, Laureth, and ethoxylated alcohols. These compounds are usually contaminated with high concentrations of highly volatile 1,4-dioxane which is easily absorbed through the skin.

    This "probable carcinogen to humans" substance has received a "high hazard" rating from EWG's Skin Deep and is especially toxic to your brain, central nervous system, kidneys, and liver.

    A synthetic derivative of coconut, watch for misleading language on labels, stating "comes from coconut."

    Avoid any product with indications of ethoxylation, which include: "myreth," "oleth," "laureth," "ceteareth," any other "eth," "PEG," "polyethylene," "polyethylene glycol," "polyoxyethylene," or "oxynol," in ingredient names.

  • Parabens

    Widely used as preservatives in an estimated 13,200 cosmetic and skin care products.

    Parabens have hormone-disrupting qualities, mimicking estrogen, and interfere with the body's endocrine system. Studies have shown that parabens can affect your body much like estrogens, which can lead to diminished muscle mass, extra fat storage, and male breast growth.

    The EPA has linked methyl parabens in particular to metabolic, developmental, hormonal, and neurological disorders.

  • Propylene glycol

    A common ingredient in personal care products, it's been shown to cause dermatitis, kidney or liver abnormalities, and may inhibit skin cell growth or cause skin irritation.

  • Diethanolamine or DEA 

    DEA readily reacts with nitrite preservatives and contaminants to create nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA), a known and potent carcinogen.

DEA also appears to block absorption of the nutrient choline, vital to brain development.

  • Fragrance

    Toluene, made from petroleum or coal tar, is found in most synthetic fragrances. Chronic exposure is linked to anemia, lowered blood cell count, liver or kidney damage, and may affect a developing fetus.

  • Triclosan

    The antibacterial agent added to many liquid hand soaps to help kill germs. Triclosan is suspected of contributing to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

    When triclosan mixes with the chlorine in your tap water, chloroform is formed, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified as a probable human carcinogen.

    And when combined with other disinfection byproducts (DBPs) in your tap water, this chloroform can raise the concentration of dangerous trihalomethanes (THMs) above the EPA's maximum allowable amount.

    Trihalomethanes (THMs) are Cancer Group B carcinogens, meaning they've been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. Disinfection byproducts (DPBs) have also been linked to reproductive problems in both animals and humans.

So, let me ask you… do you really want to put triclosan, SLS, parabens, dioxane, DEA, toluene, synthetic fragrances, and propylene glycol (along with other chemicals we haven't even talked about here) on your skin?

In my opinion, you're better off switching to skin care products made of plant names you recognize, can pronounce, and could even eat (if you had to). If you're curious about what the Environmental Working Group (EWG) scores your current household shower products and if they're considered safe, please visit their website. If you are considering switching products, please remember to keep the environment in mind and squeeze out any liquids, gels, creams out of the original container into your garbage can. Don't forget to recycle the glass or plastic container it came in!

As a long time hairdresser you can imagine my shower over the years. To be honest, in the past I was a product hoarder. I probably had 4 shampoos, 4 conditioners, 2 hair treatment masks, 2 body scrubs, shaving cream, face scrub, face wash, and a face mask! Truthfully, looking at that long list makes me cringe now. Working at hair salons afforded me a nice discount so I would purchase hair product often, even if I didn't need it. I convinced myself I wanted to try a new smell or treat a certain hair condition like dryness (or ironically oiliness). I also convinced myself I should purchase all of that so I can experience everything our salon sold and in turn, would allow me to give better recommendations to my client. I was my own guinea pig! With so many shower goodies, I sometimes couldn't even finish a product before it expired, feeling guilty tossing it before I had a chance to use it all.

Over the last 2 years I have become increasingly cautious of what products are used in my household, and make contact with my skin.  When I realized how many jars, containers, and tubs I was tossing into the garbage or recycling bin every month I became worried that I was leaving too heavy a carbon footprint. I was really excited to find the Skin Deep website which allows me to verify ingredients to make a smarter purchase. I also really just came to the conclusion that it doesn't bring me joy to have a million cleansers in my shower. I save so much time by just having simple, clear, and safe options on my shower rack. Now, let me tell you all about my favorites.

 
 
 

1. HAIRSTORY NEW WASH
I adore NEW WASH! I've been using this revolutionary hair cleanser for almost 2 years now and would give it a raving 5 stars (out of 5) on my Favorite meter. What I cherish about it most is that it acts as a natural cleanser, conditioner, detangler, and repairing treatment all in one! You'll never guess this but I also shave my legs with it, too! It's really a miracle shower saver. No one believes me when I tell them I have 3 products in my shower and one of them does 80% of the work for me. The clean, refillable, and recyclable packaging helps tidy up my shower space, helps my bleach damaged hair to feel soft, manageable, frees my hair of tangles, and it even stops my itchy scalp (which I learned was a previous allergy to toxic chemicals in my old shampoos).

New Wash Ingredients
Cleansing: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil. Conditioning: Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Stearyl Alcohol, Dicetyldimonium Chloride, Equisetum Hiemale Extract, Behentrimonium Methosulfate. Other: Keratin and Hydrolyzed Keratin, Rosa Centifolia Flower Water, Menthyl Lactate. Other Non-key: Gluconolactone, Panthenol, Sodium Benzoate, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract5, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract5, Isopropyl Alcohol, Citric Acid4, Ceteareth-20, Trisodium HEDTA2, Calcium Gluconate2, Phenoxyethanol2, Tocopherol2, Cetearyl Alcohol, Alcohol6. Fragrance: Cananga Odorata Flower Oil, Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Leaf Oil1, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood ) Wood Oil1, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil1, Myroxylon Pereirae (Balsam Peru) Oil1, Guaiacum Officinale Wood Oil1, Pelargonium Graveolens Oil1, Citronellol3, Geraniol3, Linalool3. 

1 Essential Oil in Fragrance | 2 Incidental Ingredient
3 EU Allergen | 4 pH Adjust Ingredient
5 CertifiedOrganic | 6 Certified Organic & Incidental

You can purchase Hairstory New Wash on my website 24/7. I highly recommend trying out the 8 oz size first. The best way to use New Wash as a hair cleanser is to wet hair and vigorously rub debris from your hair in a downwards motion as the water is running down it. Pump a suitable enough amount to cover your hair. For me, that's 10-13 pumps using the 8 oz bottle. I know that seems like an absurd amount but the folks at Hairstory manufactured their packaging using the very best pump to allow for an easier, clog-free distribution of New Wash. Therefore, only a teeny tiny bit comes out each pump. I switched to the Fan size immediately after which offers a larger stainless steel container and a refillable pouch of New Wash; I use about 1-2 pumps with this option. Back to the cleansing! Ok, 1) wet your hair, 2) vigorously rinse the debris from your hair in a downward motion using the flow of the water, 3) apply New Wash to hair by sectioning it into your temples, crown, nape, and then ends just like it was conditioner and rub it in like crazy, 4) distribute product evenly through your hair and detangle using a bamboo wide-tooth comb, 5) let sit for one minute (Seriously, just let it soak in. It needs this time to do it's mighty work), and 6) lastly, rinse under water using opening up hair in sections and using your hands to really work the product out of your hair. For those lazy rinsers, you're going to get bad results so give yourself a bicep workout and really scrub this stuff out being careful to not tangle your hair up. It's also a great way to circulate blood to nourish your follicles and scalp. 

Hairstory New Wash is even gentle enough to use as a full-body cleanser and a shaving cream. This new radical cleanser really does it all! I hope you give it a try and let me know what you think.

 
 
 

2. BEAUTY COUNTER CHARCOAL CLEANSING BAR
This Charcoal Cleansing Bar detoxifies and absorbs impurities in your skin without drying it out, resulting in a smoother, brighter complexion. Made with antioxidant-rich, organic green tea and hydrating organic coconut oil, the gentle formula can be used daily on your face and body. I absolutely love the fact that I no longer need one item in the shower for my face and one item for my body - this face and body cleanser keeps me tidy in the shower and fulfills 2 major cleansing and nourishing needs.

At Beautycounter, they're committed to a health and safety standard that goes well beyond what’s required by U.S. law. They've banned the use of more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals through their"Never List”—all while ensuring our products perform and that they’re as indulgent as any other luxe shampoo, lipstick, or oil in the market.

Although, I haven't tried their other products yet, I can attest this soap is safe for all skin types and is even better for acne-prone types as well. I personally have combination skin - my cheeks are dull and dry and my forehead and chin can be oily, where as most of my body is normal with my legs being sometimes dry and flakey. This bar suits all my skin needs. The smell is really gentle and my skin comes looks like its glowing and moisturized. My favorite part about Beauty Counter's cleansing bar is that it is EWG verified which means it's super safe for your body and your home. Let's look at the clean ingredient list:

Ingredients:

Sodium Rapeseedate,  Sodium Cocoate,  Aqua/Water/Eau,  Glycerin,  Charcoal Powder,  Sodium Citrate,  Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water*,  Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil*,  Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil,  Alcohol*,  Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract*,  Tocopherol (Vitamin E). 

*Organic/Biologique

 
 
 

3. JUST THE GOODS VEGAN SUGAR SCRUB
Just like the skin cells on your face, the cells on your body regularly shed to reveal new, healthier skin underneath. That turnover process slows as we get older; to give it a nudge, reach for a body scrub. A scrub works in a few ways: As you massage it over your body, the exfoliating granules help to slough off dead skin, and the rubbing action itself boosts circulation and helps drain your lymph nodes, by increasing blood flow to the skin’s surface. Plus, after all that deep cleansing work in the shower, your post-wash moisturizer (for me, it's Fractionated Coconut Oil) will be better able to soothe and hydrate your skin.

Could your face or body scrub be creating more damage than good? There is a good chance you have come into contact with microbeads, the tiny beauty ingredient that is at the centre of a mighty environmental problem. These minuscule plastic particles are added to products such as creams, scrubs and toothpastes to give them an exfoliating texture. While they are barely considered safe for people to use, it is what happens when they are rinsed down the drain that is the problem. 

Because microbeads are non-biodegradable and are usually less than 1mm wide they can’t be filtered out by the sewage system and instead make their way into the sea.Products that contain microbeads are usually easy to spot as the plastic spheres will be visible in the formula. If you are not sure, read the label and rub a small amount of the product between your fingertips to check the texture. Solid plastic microbeads are made from polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethyleneterephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and nylon, so watch out for those ingredients when choosing a product.

Once there, they end up being swallowed by fish, causing damage to marine life and the surrounding environment. Their use in beauty products was banned in the US at the end of 2015 and earlier this year more than 300,000 people signed a petition asking for them to be outlawed in the UK.So, next time you're shopping in the beauty/spa section, be mindful of the ingredients list. 

Yuck right?? If this creeps you out, I highly recommend EWG Verified scrubs by Just The Goods. From their website they state, "Just the Goods is founded on the belief that every day indulgences shouldn’t cost the earth or our health. Granted Champion status by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Just the Goods demonstrates that it is both possible and affordable to look and feel great without unnecessary exposure to petrochemicals, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and artificial fragrances, dyes, and flavours.  Everything I handcraft features vegan plant and mineral based ingredients… “just the goods” and nothing else."

Just The Goods Vegan Sugar Scrubs come in 5 different varieties, including unscented. My personal favorite is the Spicey Nights scrub. The ingredients are simple, clean, and calming to my senses. Let's see what's in it.

Ingredients:

Organic saccharum Officinarum (cane sugar/sucre de canne), Persea Gratissima (avocado/avocat) oil, Vitis Vinifera (grape/pépin de raisin) Seed Oil, Carthamus Tinctorius (safflower/carthame) Seed Oil, Citrus Sinensis (sweet orange/orange douce) Oil, Cinnmomum Zeylanicum (cinnamon leaf/feuille de cannelle) Oil, Canaga Odorata (ylang ylang) Flower Oil

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my article. I hope you can see why these 3 shower products are my absolute favorites and give them a try. Come back soon to check in on my new posts or subscribe to my newsletter to stay up to date!