The average woman uses 12 personal care products a day, and they contain an average of 168 unique ingredients.
This number may seem high, but think about your typical bathroom routine: Each morning you brush your teeth, take a shower, and use some soap, body wash, shaving cream, shampoo, and conditioner. After the shower, you put on lotion, deodorant, face cream, makeup, hair styling products...the list could go on and on.
Not all of these products are toxic, but many of them often contain dangerous chemical compounds like parabens, phthalates, and dioxins. Daily exposures to these chemicals really add up over time, so it's incredibly important to watch what you're putting on your body.
Bar soap seems like a simple enough product, but its ingredients can be anything but simple. Its magical lather effect is made possible by a chemical called sodium laureth sulfate (SLS)—a common skin, eye, and lung irritant. (There's a reason it hurts when you get soap in your eyes!) Other ingredients to watch out for are triclosan, parabens, and fragrance (which is often just a blanket term used to describe chemicals not listed on the label).
Swap out the chemicals for soaps that are made with natural ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, and cocoa butter, and scented with essential oils. Local farmers markets are great places to find these cleaner alternatives.
Using lotion regularly is a great way to maintain healthy skin throughout the year, but you need to pay close attention to its additives. Watch out for ingredients like coal tar (a lotion-thickening agent that has been linked to cancer), parabens, fragrance, and butylated compounds. The best lotions are the simple ones made out of natural butters and oils.
Many people see soapy suds as a sign that the product they're using is really working, but suds are actually an indicator of two chemicals called sodium laureth sulfate and 1,4-dioxin—both of which are potentially toxic and should be avoided. Look out for Polyethylene glycol (PEG), colorants, potassium sorbate, and fragrance, too (we keep seeing this one!). There are plenty of shampoo products out there that don't have these ingredients, and you can even try to wean your hair off shampoo completely to save money and packaging.
I know what you’re thinking: Finding new deodorant isn't an easy task! But these days, there are so many natural options on the market that are as effective as the chemical stuff. Some of the most common offenders in traditional deodorants are fragrance, propylene glycol, triclosan, phthalates, and parabens. Replace them with options that use shea butter, coconut oil, baking soda, arrowroot powder, cocoa butter, and vitamin E.
For more information about how to decode your labels, head over to Non Toxic Revolution.
After a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, I founded the global non-profit organization The Keep A Breast Foundation (KAB) to raise awareness of breast cancer and to encourage prevention and early detection among young people. Now, as we celebrate our 15th anniversary, I remain actively involved in the cultural conversation about breast cancer and fiercely committed to arming young people with knowledge of breast health.
Over the years I have worked to fuse advocacy, art and street culture with breast cancer awareness and in the process have secured substantial funds for Keep A Breast via donations, partnerships, and licensing. I deliver KAB’s message via the Traveling Education Booth, an interactive educational platform and grassroots teaching tool, at Warped Tour, at The Mayhem festival, skate and surf events, and other gatherings where organizations dedicated to breast cancer awareness had previously not dared to tread.
Further cementing my commitment to prevention in 2010, I launched Non Toxic Revolution (NTR), a program whose mission is to inform, educate, and inspire young people to revolt against the dangers of toxic chemicals in their environment and food supply — especially those linked to the initiation of breast cancer.
The greatest reward of running The Keep A Breast Foundation comes from knowing our work touches people’s lives around the world. Through art, awareness, education and action, each day I work to empower young people to make better decisions about their future and their health.