Personal care and cosmetics:
What's going onto your body?

The following information comes from Aubrey Hampton's book What's in your cosmetics? (Odonian Press, 1995). Hampton is the founder of a natural personal care product line (this is not an endorsement of Aubrey Organics. A number of personal care companies also meet high standards of natural and organic. A good place to start is by asking around at local stores such as Nature's Bin and The Food CoOp.)

Why is it important to use products that are free of synthetics and petrochemicals? Beyond the benefits for the environment (demanding less oil for production and introducing less chemicals back into the watershed) there are personal benefits as well. But first you might have to sort through a varitable jungle of ingredients to know what's in your products.

The biggest problem is that often ingredients that say 'natural' are still made from synthetic chemicalschemicals that can cause allergic reactions and/or dry skin. The only way to know is to read the label, but what do all those chemical names mean?

Take for example if the label of a shampoo lists "sodium lauryl sulfate (from coconut oil)," is it a natural product? Well, not only isn't it natural, it usually isn't even made from coconut oil.

Sodium lauryl sulfate or SLS is used as a detergent, emulsifier and surfacant in over a thousand cosmetic products, including shampoos, toothpastes, lotions and creams. Although you'll find it in many 'natural' products, it's not naturalit's produced synthetically via the Ziegler process and is hardly ever made from coconut oil, even when the label says it is, Hampton writes. SLS is a primary irritant in high concentrations. It's a strong degreaser that dries skin and hair and has produced skin and hair damage, including cracking and severe inflammation.

And that's just one of hundreds of examples of the chemicals that go into your hair or on your skin when you use products produced synthetically.

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EcoCity Cleveland
3500 Lorain Avenue, Suite 301, Cleveland OH 44113
Cuyahoga Bioregion
(216) 961-5020
www.ecocitycleveland.org
Copyright 2002-2003

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Resources

  • Heritage Store/Edgar Cayce readings
  • "Personal care products: How natural can they get?" at happi.com
  • PETAs list of companies that do and don't test personal products on animals
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