Healthy Personal Care

Ingredients in Personal Care Products

While many of us diligently read the ingredient lists on the packaged foods we eat, how many of us read the ingredient lists on the non-food products we use on our bodies? We all seem to believe that the FDA has our backs, or at least we hope they do. We assume that the cosmetics, soaps, antiperspirants/deodorants and lotions we use have been tested and deemed safe. From time to time, we may glance at those ingredient labels, but who really knows what those chemicals are. They are chemicals, for sure. But are they as harmless as we believe?

Every once in awhile, I'll stumble across some article stating that the aluminum compounds, used in nearly all commercially available mainstream antiperspirants, are a key contributor to alzheimer's disease, or that the parabens used in them cause breast cancer. But then I wonder, "If that's true, then why are companies allowed to sell them? And why, also, aren't organizations like the American Cancer Society or the Susan G. Komen Foundation raising hell about it?"

Regardless of the reasons, the bottom line is that right now we need to know what's really safe, so we can make better choices. No one really has our back but us. We need as much information as we can get, in order to make the best, most well-informed decisions we can, to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible. Its not enough to make excellent choices about the food you eat, only to turn around and slather poison-laden soaps and lotions on your skin, that spend hours absorbing into your blood-stream wreaking untold damage to your organs and nervous system.

A good starting point is to check out the Environmental Working Group, and see just how toxic your shampoo may really be. Their database has tens of thousands of everyday products, and cross-references them with databases of chemicals and their known health hazards. EWG then assigns a hazard rating to the product, enabling you to determine whether you are willing to live with the risk involved, or are you ready to ditch it for something far less toxic.


Healthier Hair Care

Once upon a time, my hair was naturally red. When I was born, it was red. I mean RED. It lightened to strawberry blond when I was a toddler, and then started to darken as I went through grade school. In the summer, it would lighten all over again, and then darken in the winter. I went through these phases where it would seem almost a dark golden brown, but the smallest bit of sunshine would bring out tons of red. And it was curly.

I hated my hair as a kid.

I dreamed of having Barbi hair, and went through all kinds of hell trying to straighten and lighten my hair, always aiming for blond, only to have the humidity and winter bring out the curls and red all over again. By the time I was in my twenties. I had settled into liking my hair. Especially after so many hair stylists would just gush over my natural curls and color. I had to admit that styling my curly/wavy hair was a much easier thing to do compared to my friends who had poker-straight hair.

Then I had kids. And anyone who knows me has heard me say that every grey hair on my head was caused by a stressful moment with my kids. Every time they got in trouble. Every time I worried about them. Every little bump or bruise or scraped knee. Each one of those moments caused one more hair to sprout up lacking all that color that I spent so many years hating, and now wish desparately to get back. (By the way, it was probably my ex - not my kids)

I started coloring my hair in my 30's cause I just didn't want to appear older than I actually was. I tried the semi-permanent color....but that only lasts a few weeks. And I needed 3 boxes to cover all my hair. I tried permanent color, same thing, needing 3 boxes. And then I had distinct grey roots growing out. And the damage that was happening to my hair was awful. The chemicals dried out my hair terribly, causing tons of breakage, split ends and brittleness.

Oh, how I wished for my own hair, like it used to be!!

One day I started doing some research on henna. I've met a couple people over the years that have used henna, and heard mixed reviews. One woman, however, had absolutely stunning hair, and all she ever used was henna. She cautioned me to use true henna, and not some cheap mixture that contained just a bit of henna with other chemicals. So I hunted around looking for a reputable source to buy some and try it myself. Once I started reading more about it, I discovered that henna is actuall very healthy for both your hair and your skin, although you have to be very careful to cover the areas that you **don't** want to be colored. Once henna is applied, it stays.

I found a fantastic source on the web, run by a woman named Catherine Cartwright-Jones, who's considered to be a global expert on the subject of henna.

I started coloring my hair with henna about 16 months ago, and my hair has not felt this healthy in years, maybe even a decade. I don't have the split ends and brittleness I used to get from the permanent hair color chemicals. And the colors last so much longer! It doesn't fade like any of the red dyes did, and the only reason I need to touch up is to cover the grey roots.

Granted, I don't get the blond streaks like I used to in the summer, but the color is rich and natural looking. No pink hues. The website Henna For Hair, has a variety of different hennas, as well as other plant-products to blend with henna to achieve variations in color. There are several diffent products to choose from, and Catherine gives an extensive description of each, and what to expect in results.

The last time I henna'd my hair, it was just prior to an event I attended in which I saw a bunch of people I hadn't seen in about 2 years. I got DOZENS of glowing compliments! People I hadn't seen since I'd started using henna came up to me just gushing about my hair. Let me tell you, it did wonders for my self-esteem! And the henna has done wonders for the health of my hair too, not just the appearance.

If you want red hair, then henna is the ONLY way to get it! Check out Catherine's site for tons of information.


Reduce or Eliminate BPA from our house

BPA (bisphenol A) is a chemical used in the production of clear polycorbonate products, like water bottles. It has been used in industry for more than 40 years, but recent research has indicated that there are long-term adverse effects from BPA on the brain, and many other functions of the body. The FDA has begun further research, and many websites have compiled extensive lists of the side effects and diseases caused or exacerbated by exposure to BPA. In any event, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of products that we use on a regular basis that contain BPA, not the least of which are the clear plastic water bottles that so many of us are now using as a convenient source of our drinking water. Since seeing a show on the Discovery Channel a couple months back, I've not been able to get away from this nagging feeling that I should do something different.

One of my goals now is to eliminate the BPA plastic water bottles from my life and replace with water filtering system and my own non-BPA-containing bottles. Since I consume, on average, 5-6 bottles of water per day, this is a big hitter for me. I also plan to eliminate or significantly reduce other food containers that contain BPA, such as canned goods, and clear plastic packaging. This amounts to a substantial life-style change, moving away from convenience. I don't expect this to be easy, and will take some time to adjust. Also, I need to get my family members on board as well.