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20 Ways to Reduce Your Intake of Chemicals in Body Care Products--Guardian UK

20 ways to cut out chemicals

Saturday May 8, 2004

The Guardian (UK)

1 Clear out your bathroom cabinet and dump everything but the essentials.
Try not to duplicate - if you currently use three moisturisers, get rid of two.

2 Avoid baby wipes, which can contain parabens and propylene glycol - a
common ingredient in anti-freeze. A damp flannel will do the job just as well.

3 Overwashing with chemically-based shampoos and conditioners strips the
hair of its natural oils. If you usually shampoo daily, leave for a day or
two and see if it makes any difference.

4 If you're worried about sunscreen, cover up or keep out of the sun
completely. Currently only 30 percent of us stay in the shade, according to
Cancer Research UK.

5 Avoid unnecessary use of products with a high sun protection factor - at
night you don 't need to use a moisturiser with an SPF.

6 Cut down on bubble baths which can contain skin-irritating detergents. All
your baby needs to keep clean is a tub full of warm water.

7 Splash your face with witch hazel or cold water instead of using
over-the-counter toners.

8 Become label savvy. Everyone reads food labels - get in the habit of doing
the same with your toiletries.They won 't tell you everything, but it will help.

9 If you want to be sure a product is organic, look out for a Soil
Association certification. Words like organic, natural and hypoallergenic
generally mean little in the beauty industry.

10 When using a product, follow the instructions. It's easy to use far more
than you need to.

11 Switch to organic tampons and sanitary towels. They're non-chlorine
bleached, 100% pure cotton and GM-free. Try Natracare Regular Organic Cotton
Tampons. Prices start at £2.39 and stockists include Sainsbury's, Waitrose
and independent health stores.

12 Rediscover henna which is natural and less invasive than heavy-duty hair

13 If you're going swimming, ozone pools have fewer chemicals. But when
visiting chlorine pools, make sure you (and your children) shower first. If
everyone washed before getting in, there'd be less need for so many
chemicals in the water.

14 If you can't give up nail varnish, protect the cuticles with oil.
Although the part of the nail you see is dead, it is still porous and can
absorb the chemicals used in varnish and remover, such as toluene, acetone
and formaldehyde.

15 A thick coating of aloe vera gel is a good alternative to shaving foams
and gels. It has natural anti-inflammatory and skin-softening properties,
without all the chemicals.

16 The average make-up wearing woman will eat two pounds of lipstick in her
life-time. Most lipsticks contain petroleum derivatives. Try brands based on
beeswax, plant oils or vitamin E instead.

17 If you 're worried about deodorants, there are more natural products on
the market. Be prepared to try a few before you find one that suits - but
beware, seemingly green products can have hidden ingredients such as

18 Do a website trawl. Greenpeace ( and Women's
Environmental Network ( both have useful lists of products to
avoid, as well as companies with good track records.

19 Arm yourself with knowledge. Get hold of a copy of Kim Erickson's
Drop-Dead Gorgeous (published by Contemporary Books), to find out more about
what's in your cosmetics.

20 Ask your granny for tips. Lemon juice, for example, has always been used
as a beauty aid - to make fair hair shine, to soften hard skin, and get rid
of blackheads. Cosmetics haven't always been all about products devised in
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004