My kids are now 5 & 7 and it’s been a constant struggle to find hair and bath products that work and are not loaded up with bad stuff. You would think this would not be too hard right? Well it’s not quite as simple as it would seem. Take for example Suave Kids 2-in-1 Shampoo Smoothers, it’s got Methylchlorisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinon, DMDM Hydantoin, PPG-9, and several other offenders in it. For more info on this product you can check out EWG’s review for yourself if you are curious.
If you think ‘baby’ shampoos are safer, that’s not always the case either. Johnsons No More Tears Lavender baby shampoo has it’s share of offensive ingredients too. For a short list, this particular product contains quaternium-15 (formaldehyde releaser), PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, and Cocamidopropyl Betaine.
At this point I should mention that I am not including fragrance in the above lists. Fragrance is a huge offender in the toxicity ratings. I am not including it in the lists above simply because I personally go back and forth on the fragrance issue. For example, I love how Lavender smells, but the Lavender scent almost always seems to get a bad toxicity rating. So am I going to give up my lavender products? Heck no—people have been using lavender for centuries will few ill effects. Conversely, I gave up my Philosophy Amazing Grace Body Butter because several of the ingredients are classified as questionable (phenoxyethanol being one of them). Do I miss it? Yes I do. Am I willing to live without it in the hopes of a longer, healthier life? You bet.
In a quick purchase at the grocery store I picked up the new Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser after reading reviews that it was considered as gentle as Cetaphil, but more effective at removing make-up. (And it does remove my mascara and eye shadow quite well!) My problem with this product is that several of the ingredients don’t have any safety data on them when I did a quick search. For example, I couldn’t find Ethylhexlglycerin in the EWG data base, although I could have misspelled it (why is the ingredient list printed with such a tiny font size?). Luckily, a quick Google search lead me to a site called Chemical of the Day which had a nice description and a bit of information to confirm that is may just be a popular ingredient due to the lack of data on this particular cleansing agent thus causing someone to conclude that the product is more gentle due to lack of ratings on several of the component ingredients. My vote is still out on this product, but I am inclined not to buy it again for several reasons: 1) if I get it in my mouth it tastes awful (2) at least 3 of the ingredients I tried to research with suspicious names have ‘no data’ in the EWG database and (3) My kids don’t like to use it.
So at this point you’re probably wondering what we do use around here…and honestly I was loosing a bit of hope until I found the book ” No More Dirty Looks“.
First let me say, I am not a fan of the writing style the authors of this book have chosen. I do not enjoy reading profanity, and I believe you can make your point very well without it. That being said, the authors do an excellent job of providing a crash course on the bad stuff in all sorts of hair and skin care products. Since I was already aware of most of those issues, I skipped to the back to check out their product recommendations. I am happy to report that the John Master’s Organics Lavender and Rosemary shampoo did not disappoint us! That may not sound like great praise, but my daughter has a head of hair that is fine and loosely curled that we have struggled to find good products for since she was about two years old. We also like the leave in detangler by John Master’s Organics a lot. I know there are lots of other good products out there. I am very grateful to the Environmental Working Group for the on-line database they have set up. Through it we found the Badger Honey Chamomile Soap that the kids love at bath time that has a 1 or a 0 toxicity rating (which is about as good as it gets!). I also discovered the California Baby line of products when doing a search years ago on EWG when the kids were under two and loved them while they worked…but as my daughter aged we needed something that didn’t frizz out her hair so much.
So we’ve talked about shampoo, and bath soap. What about hand soap? For us, I don’t like the use of triclosan in hand soaps and the EWG agrees. So for us we use old-fashioned bar soaps that make us happy when we smell them. Despite the safety ratings of 4 and 5, our kids use Pre de Provence soaps because they love the way they smell and how they fit in their little hands. As an added bonus, it’s not too hard to get them to wash their hands!! And for myself, my hands take such a beating that I use the l’occitane Shea butter soaps. It’s the gentlest soap I can find so far. And I figure so much of it gets washed down the drain it’s not he same as taking a bath in it.
We’ve found what I consider to be ‘smart compromises’. I hope our experiences can aid you in your search for products that work and you feel safe using. If you have product info you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you!