Health

Safe bath stuff for all the family?

Continuing on in my quest for good & sane products for my children and us, available here in Australia…  (see previous posts on sunscreen and chemicals)

I’ve been reading so much about the potential ill effects of fragrance, phthalates, petrochemical byproducts, SLS etc and cannot believe that some of the most trusted companies (Johnson & Johnson, Pantene, Nivea, l’Oreal et al – actually pretty much everything on a supermarket shelf) include these potentially carcinogenic or hormone/endocrine-altering chemicals. Unfortunately due to our arcane labelling laws, just because a product might be freely available here doesn’t mean that it is totally safe! It is time to start deciphering labels, however painful that may be. Luckily, you have me for that.

With this info utmost, I’ve come across some lovely stuff from the billie goat soap company. Listed on the bottles is this:

“Our products do not contain: Sulphates, Parabens, Propylene Glycol, Silicones, Phthalates, Mineral Oils, DEA, Ethoxylates, Petrochemical cleansers.”

What they do use is mainly fresh goats’ milk & essential oils, with a few other skin-friendly ingredients. I’ve already used quite a few of their products: 

Billie Baby Milk Baby Body Wash (great for Olly’s sensitive skin)
Billie Goat Soap Moisturiser (rubs on white but soaks in quickly, very light and leaves little residue) Billie Goat Soap Hand & Body Wash (very gentle: my hands are really dry from all the constant cleaning and wiping and washing up – it’s helping to prevent them looking like lizardskin) 
Plain Goats’ Milk Body Bar (a natural soap that lathers rich & creamy but beware! you need to keep it dry between washes or it mushes).

Hooray! I love them… they don’t use colour or synthetic fragrance. Do yourselves a favour and check them out. Available from Healthylife stores across Australia.

www.billygoatsoap.com.au
www.healthylife.net.au

ps I’ve just read that they were recently on national telly – is that a good thing or bad?!

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Baby Bath Wash etc – organic greenwash?!

I’ve recently been doing my bit to rid the house of sodium lauryl sulphate, especially in my children’s bath wash & shampoo. One product I’ve been using is the Natural Instinct range, and I’m starting to think I’m being taken for a ride with its ‘Organic’ labelling… on the Natural Instinct Natural Baby Bath Wash bottles it is printed: No Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (amongst other things) but then in ingredients the second listing is Sodium Laureth Sulphate (plant derived). What’s the diff?

I read this today from Dr Mercola:
HEALTHBIT: Sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, a common chemical in cosmetics, could be putting you at risk for hair, skin and eye damage, immunological problems, and even cancer. http://mercola.com

Skin Deep says:
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
scores 3 out of 10
– linked to cancer in government or academic studies
– linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity
– has restrictions and warnings in countries other than Australia
– linked to toxicity of one or more biological systems in the body
– linked to irritation of the skin, eyes or lungs according to government assessments
– linked to neurotoxicity & endocrine disruption

Sodium Laureth Sulphate
scores 4 out of 10
– may be contaminated with toxic impurities, many of which are linked to cancer
– linked to organ system toxicity
– linked to irritation of the skin, eyes or lungs according to government assessments
source: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com

Oh good, well that clears it up then…? From where I sit right here I don’t think that the ‘plant derived’ bit on the bottle means much with regard to lack of irritation or potential harm minimisation, instead I think it’s a type of greenwash, meant to make unsuspecting parents think they’re doing the best for their kids. It even says ‘No Harmful Chemicals’ on the bottle! How disappointing.

I’ve just trolled down through all the list of ingredients for the A’kin PureBaby Softening Body Wash & Shampoo (why they need to ‘soften’ a  baby’s body is beyond me (!) but they’ve checked out ok, nothing on the list scores more than a 2 on the evil scale. So A’kin it is! And Australian made & owned, hooray!

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Sunscreen 2

So I have followed Friends of the Earth’s advice and got some Woolworth’s Select Kids Very High Protection Sunscreen Lotion – this one also says, ‘Not suitable for children under 18 months’ but the active ingredients & preservatives still seem to rate low to moderate on the EWG potential calamity scale. One unusual ingredient is:

Diazolidinylurea:
This ingredient may be derived from animals. From PETA’s Caring Consumer: Excreted from urine and other bodily fluids. In deodorants, ammoniated dentifrices, mouthwashes, hair colorings, hand creams, lotions, shampoos, etc. Used to “brown” baked goods, such as pretzels. Derivatives: Imidazolidinyl Urea, Uric Acid. Alternatives: synthetics. Source: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com

Mmmm, lovely. At least they’ve removed the awful loo cleaner smell that it had last year.

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Sunscreen for our kids

And so another season of warm weather unfolds – time to wade through the quagmire of toddler/ kid sunscreen to find one that will not give my children something worse than the melanoma which I am trying to avoid. It’s absolutely shocking to me that the majority of sunscreens available at supermarkets and pharmacies in Australia have ingredients that are so very dangerous. The US website Environmental Working Group has a cosmetic safety database called Skin Deep that you can access to find out about individual ingredients, which is an invaluable resource if you have the time to do the research  http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com 

Recently I bought the Sunsense Toddler Milk sunscreen from a pharmacy. I see this brand everywhere so assumed it to be safe. How wrong! This product has many potentially harmful actives. Here is a summary of one of the ingredients:

Oxybenzone 2.0%   This chemical scores  9 out of a possible 10 = Very High Hazard
– Linked to cancer in goverment or academic studies
– Linked to developmental & reproductive toxicity, can range from infertility and reproductive organ cancers to birth defects and developmental delays in children
– Prohibited for use in cosmetics or subject to restrictions according to government regulations from US, EU, Japan & Canada
– Linked to immunotoxicity, or harm to the immune system
– The ability to affect the body at a cellular or biochemical level
– Enhanced capacity to absorb through the skin by virtue of chemical properties or small particle size (incl nano) or where it is applied on the body (ie infant skin)
– moderate evidence of human endocrine distruption

How can it be that this product is allowed to be slathered on our children? Or at least that this information is not commonly known?

Friends of the Earth in Australia have a frequently updated list of companies that use – and don’t use – nanotechnology in their products: well-known and seemingly trustable companies like L’Oreal, Nivea & Ambre Solaire treat their creams and sunscreens with this process, which in a very layman’s nutshell splits the minerals like zinc and titanium oxides into such tiny particles that they are more readily absorbed into one’s skin for cosmetic appearance. http://nano.foe.org.au/ This is not known yet whether it will be a big problem, especially for young skin, as studies have not yet been completed. Check out their list, also mentions non-chemical products

So – using these two sites for my own information, I’ve gleaned that 3 of the 9 brands in the ‘Nano & Chemical Free’ section are locally available to me:

Woolworth’s Select
Invisible Zinc
Cancer Council

I’ll let you know how I go…

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Chemicals

I’ve always thought that I was pretty clued-up in regard to additives and nasties in personal and home products, however in the last few years my eyes have really been opened to the evils of what surrounds us… chemicals in food, tin cans, baby bottles, containers, shampoo  & body wash etc, house cleaning products, toys – the list goes on and on of previously trusted products with potentially hazardous or even carcinogenic ingredients. My house has been purged as much as possible from these silent killers but has it been too late? It feels like every year cancer in its various guises gets closer to us and more and more people that we know are struck down, and younger and younger.

Reading ‘Slow Death By Rubber Duck’ by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie slowdeathbyrubberduck.com  earlier this year , amongst other things sent all our children’s bath toys straight into the bin; and subscribing to their Environmental Defence site www.environmentaldefence.ca has us rid of perfume and commonly available body and hair cleaning products. Alas their information covers mainly Canadian and North American companies and I find it almost impossible to glean any equivalent quality Australian-based info.

Let me give you all the information I have found!

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