So you’ve stopped eating trans fats… you’ve cut out most processed foods… and you buy organic when you can…

But are you using deodorant with aluminum? Soap with irritants? Or lotion that clogs your pores?

If so, don’t feel bad. For years, I was oblivious that my lilac smelling perfume and bubblegum flavored toothpaste contained harmful ingredients.

Once I saw the light, I was surprised that choosing cleaner toiletries wasn’t as easy as I expected. I bought many “natural” products that ended up in the trash bin. Lots of trial and error. But today, I’m happy to say that most of the products in my bathroom are safe and even edible.

Let’s take a look at how we can detox the medicine cabinet, mama!

Toothpaste

This is a good place to start, since you’re literally putting this stuff into your mouth.

What to avoid:
Nearly all conventional toothpastes contain fluoride, which according to the Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products handbook, is more poisonous than lead and just slightly less poisonous than arsenic.

Fluoride has been linked to cancer, developmental, neurological and reproductive toxicity. Furthermore, the American Medical Association links increased hip fracture rates to fluoride in the water.

What to look for:
A toothpaste without fluoride is a great first step. Even better, find one without glycerin which can coat your teeth making it difficult for them to absorb nutrients.

image of Tom's toothpaste fluoride freeMama recommends:
Tom’s of Maine makes a whole line of fluoride free toothpastes that taste delicious.  I’ve also heard that Perfect Prescription Liquid Tooth Soap is a super clean formulation that is fluoride, glycerin, and saccharin free.

Soap

After toothpaste, nothing gets deeper into your body – and inside various crevices – than soap, so tackle this next.

What to avoid:
Steer clear of anything in the laureth family (sodium lauryl sulfate, any ingredient with laureth or lauryl in the name), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate (scary long ingredient!), and added fragrances and dyes. These harmful, unnecessary ingredients can cause skin irritations, allergic reactions, and immune disruptions.

What to look for:
Simple and pure soaps made from clean vegetable oils, goat’s milk, oatmeal and other real ingredients.

Mama recommends:
My favorite is Kiss My Face Bar Soap in the Pure Olive Oil flavor, so simple and soothing to the skin. Other good brands include Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, Kirk’s Castile Bar Soap and Zum Bar Soap.

Shampoo

The scalp is extremely porous and surrounds your brain, so the cleaner the better in my book.

What to avoid:
The laureth family sneaks into most varieties. Also be cautious of methylisothiazoline (often listed as MIT) which is linked to neurological damage in mice.

What to look for:
Not exactly sure. I’ve seen ones made out of clay, various oils, apple cider vinegar, citrus fruits, etc.

Mama recommends:
Haven’t cracked the code on this one. The really pure stuff leaves my hair dull, oily and limp.

Right now I use Avalon Organics, which really makes my hair shiny. But their ingredient list is as long as a Beijing phonebook and some aren’t good for the body. Anyone out there have recommendations?

Facial lotions

Our faces are the last place we want toxins to reach.

What to avoid:
Mineral oils can cause wrinkles and clog the pores. You’ll also want to avoid harsh chemicals and alcohols, which are drying to the skin and can cause allergic reactions and immune issues. Parabens, which are often found in lotions, can cause endocrine disruption and organ toxicity.

What to look for:
Simple and pure lotions from clean vegetable oils (olive, coconut and palm) and minimal additional fragrances, emulsifiers and thickeners.

Mama recommends:
I like Tropical Traditions Moisturizing Cream and am anxious to try Bariani Olive Oil lotion. I also occasionally use straight coconut or olive oil on my face.

Hand and body lotion

Now that winter’s upon us, it’s time to invest in some good lotion to protect the hands and bod, mama.

What to avoid:
Same as Facial Lotions above.

What to look for:
Again, see Facial Lotions.

Mama recommends:

I struggle with this one. I can’t seem to find affordable lotions that aren’t loaded with alcohols, rapeseed oil, and other undesirables. I just bought Everyday Shea Moisturizing Body Lotion, which is clean but not as moisturizing as I’d hope.

Deodorant

Since deodorant lives close to your lymph and breast tissue, we want this to be as free from chemicals as possible.

What to avoid:
In a word, aluminum! Plus super funky chemicals such as butane, propane, petrolatum (sounds like lighter fluid!). Aluminum compounds have been found in Alzheimer’s patients as well as in breast cancer tissue.

What to look for:
I have no idea. I’ve tried ones with witch hazel, baking soda, minerals, aloe, tea tree and coconut oil, etc.

Mama recommends:
I got nothing for this one. I can’t tell you how many deodorants I’ve tried and had to toss or give to my husband who literally doesn’t get BO (how is that possible?). Nothing natural seems to do the trick. So, ahem, I’ve been using Old Spice deodorant, which is free from aluminum but loaded with other junk. But still, there’s gotta be something better out there.

Let me know if you have any suggestions!

How to Check Your Beauty Product’s Toxicity

How toxic is your medicine cabinet? Find out at this safety guide to cosmetics and personal care products: Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Reviews.

Better Yet, Make Your Own Products!

Actually, making your own natural beauty product is easier than you may think. If you’re curious about where to start, check out a great book called DIY Organic Beauty by my friend the Mommypotamus.

How about you? Which natural beauty products work for you (and which don’t)?