How to Avoid the Worst Things in Personal Care Products

How to Avoid the Worst Things in Personal Care Products

The Truth About Personal Care Product Safety

You may not have personal care product safety high on your worry list today, but maybe you should. You probably think that the FDA has programs for testing products. Well, it doesn’t.

The FDA cannot and does not require companies to do product safety tests. And, the FDA does not review or approve the majority of personal care products.

In fact, the FDA has prohibited only a handful of substances.

Well, then the substances are safe, right?

Not according to countries like the European Union, Canada and Japan. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that the EU has banned more than 1,000 ingredients that manufacturers use in US products.

You may think it’s not a big deal since it’s just a little lotion or powder. How much could really be absorbed?

You might want to reconsider this argument after reading more.

You’ve got multiple ways you can be exposed. You can inhale, ingest or absorb harmful substances. And, studies show that this is happening.

Research shows that harmful ingredients like phthalates, parabens, triclosan, and sunscreen ingredients are commonplace in the bodies of men, women and children. (source: EWG)

Admit it. You’re dismayed.


Are All-Natural or Hypoallergenic Products the Answer?

You might think that products described as All Natural or Hypoallergenic are safer, but just like cleaning products, no regulation exists around these descriptions.

According to the FDA, the labels “natural” or “hypoallergenic” can “mean anything or nothing at all”.

So now you know.


Which Personal Product Substances Are the Worst?

Here it is. The List of Substances to Avoid:

Trisclosan & Triclocarban – Disrupts thyroid and hormones.

Parabens – Avoid especially Propyl-, Isopropyl, Butyl, and Isobutyl-Parabens. Disrupts thyroid and causes reproductive and developmental disorders.

Phthalates – Increasingly linked to brain, behavioral changes, cancer and reproductive system harm.

Fragrance – Can include any one of 3,000+ ingredients – many synthetic, petroleum-based and toxic. Some formulations include phthalates.

Formaldehyde or Formalin – Known carcinogen, asthmagen, and neurotoxin.

Boric Acid & Sodium Borate – Can be absorbed readily into the body and are unsafe for infants and use with broken skin.

PEG/Cetearet/Polyethylene – Frequently contaminated with 1,4-dioxane a probable carcinogen.

Coal Tar Hair Dyes + Aminophenol, Diaminobenezene, Phenylenediamine – Coal tar is a known carcinogen.

Oxybenzone – Human studies link to irritation and allergies. Animal studies show hormone disruption.

List of Substances to Avoid in Personal Care Products

Four Helpful Ways to Find Safer Personal Care Products

1. Read the labels and avoid any product with the substances listed above. This is hard work. And, it requires glasses or a magnifying glass, so be sure to read options #3 and #4.

2. Avoid all products with fragrance. Remember, fragrance can include any of 3,000+ substances, many synthetic, petroleum-based and toxic.

3. Use the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.

The site has over 70,000 product ratings. Start with one product type like hair and bath products, and then move on to other products.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed, so take small steps.

After you enter the product name, the database will return a rating and risk information. The database also provides safer alternatives.

4. Try these highly rated brands.

These brands are available at many natural grocery stores.

  • Andalou
  • Avalon Organics
  • Desert Essence
  • Dr. Bronner’s
  • Hugo’s Naturals
  • ShiKai Borage
  • Tom’s of Maine
  • Juice Beauty (available at Pure Living Space or Alta)

Ready to Take Action?

Now you know that it really does matter what you put on your skin and spray on your body. And, you have everything you need to clean up your personal care products.

Ready to get started?

Please share this!

Like us on Facebook.


How to Avoid the Very Worst Plastics

How to Avoid the Worst Plastics

Do you need a refresher on which plastics to avoid? You know that some are worse than others, but it’s hard to keep it straight, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be great to have a simple list of the worst plastics along with some helpful tips?

Well, it’s here. That simple list of the very worst plastics and ways to avoid them.

The Three Worst Plastics

Avoid Plastic #3 PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride

Check your plastic container. Do you see a #3 or the acronym PVC? Try to avoid this type of plastic.

PVC or vinyl can be rigid or flexible. It is used to make shower curtains, shrink-wrap, deli wrap, plastic toys, and vinyl flooring. PVC has toxic chemicals including phthalates.

So what are phthalates?

Phthalates are a family of chemicals used to soften plastics and other products.

Here’s the problem. Phthalates are toxic and are increasingly linked to brain, behavior changes, cancer and reproductive system harm.

And, phthalates are also linked to asthma.

Enough said.

How to Protect Yourself From #3 Plastic

1. Opt for non-vinyl shower curtains.

2. Remove foods in plastic wrap and place in glass containers to store.

3. Avoid buying plastic toys made with #3 especially ones that children place in their mouths.

4. Purchase safer vinyl flooring or opt for healthier alternatives.  Try bio-based linoleum, natural rubber and ceramic tile.

Read more about toxic vinyl flooring and which brands are healthier.

Avoid Plastic #7

Plastic #7 is really a catch-all. It may contain BPA or BPS. Some manufacturers advertise BPA-free which is better for you, but it’s best to try to avoid these plastics.

Number 7 plastics are rigid and transparent and are commonly used for food storage and water bottles. BPA can migrate from the containers particularly if used for hot foods or liquids.

Why should you care about BPA and BPS?

BPA and BPS pose risks in utero as well as risks to children and adults. Research has linked higher BPA exposure with obesity in adults while another study found that BPA is associated not only with obesity, but also with insulin resistance. And, insulin resistance leads to disease.

How to Protect Yourself From #7 Plastic

1. Discard any plastic container that is scratched or cloudy because the plastics chemicals can leach into your food or drink.

2. Replace with plastic food storage containers with glass. You’ll love the glass containers and wonder why you ever used plastic.

3. Use glass or stainless steel reusable water bottles. If opting for stainless, make sure there is no epoxy lining.

4. Never heat your food in the microwave using plastic containers or plastic wrap. Use glass and cover with a paper towel.

Avoid Plastic #6 Polystyrene

Known as Styrofoam, you’ll find #6 in cups, plastics, take-out containers and more. Styrene can leach into your food. Studies link it to cancer and nervous system damage.

Higher temperatures result in more styrene leaching from the container into your food. Try not to think about those cups of coffee you’ve had in a Styrofoam cup.

It’s a troubling thought, isn’t it?

How to Protect Yourself From #6 Plastic

1. Avoid drinking hot beverages in Styrofoam cups. If your office only offers Styrofoam, then use your own mug.

2. Remove take-out from the plastic containers as soon as you can. Store take-out leftovers in glass containers.

What’s Next?

Now you’re loaded with tips for avoiding the worst plastics. Remember, avoid #3, #6 and #7. 

So, what’s next?

Are you still drinking tap water? or bottled water? Read Seven Undeniably Good Reasons to Drink Filtered Water. It might just change your mind.

Please share and comment.

Sign up for the newsletter! Get the FREE bonus – The Safest Cleaning & Laundry Product Shopping List. Don’t go shopping without it.


How to Avoid the Worst Plastics


For a Healthy Home, Stop Believing These Three Myths

Want a Healthy Home? Stop Believing These Myths

It’s probably happened to you. You’ve held a belief that was false. Well, prepare yourself because it’s going to happen again.  If you’re like most, you’ll be struck by at least one if not all three healthy home myths.

Check out these three common beliefs about a healthy home and get the surprising facts.

Healthy Home – Three Myths About What’s Healthy at Home

Myth #1:  Indoor air is much cleaner than outdoor air

Sadly, this isn’t true for the most of us in the US.

A recent survey found that most people believe their indoor air is cleaner than outdoor air. Well, most people are wrong because indoor air has considerably more pollutants than outdoor air.

For the most part, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are to blame. These VOCs come from many sources many of which you simply wouldn’t expect. Did you know that your cleaning products, carpets, perfumes, air fresheners, upholstered furniture, pesticides, pressed wood furniture and paint created indoor air pollution?

According to the EPA, indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental health risks.

See a room by room view of air contaminants to understand the sources. Learn more about the five ways to improve your indoor air quality (some are really easy).

Want the best way to a healthy home? Sign up for The Zen of Pure Living 12 week email series. It’s perfect for busy people who want to live well. Try it.


Myth #2:  Dusting isn’t really that important

If you’ve put dusting at the bottom of your housekeeping list, listen up. It’s time to pay more attention to dusting and vacuuming especially if you live with young children.

Here’s why. Chemical flame retardants escape from many products and settle into household dust. The products with flame retardants include electronic devices (computers, TVs) and anything made with polyurethane foam (sofa cushions, mattresses, pillows, car seats), among many others.

You can inhale or ingest flame retardant dust. Ingestion occurs mostly by small children who put everything into their mouths.

Neither is good.

The EPA “is concerned that certain flame retardants … are persistent, bio accumulative, and toxic to both humans and the environment.”

Enough said.

To think that all this time you’ve been focused on eradicating germs when you should have devoted just a bit more time to cleaning up toxic dust.

Learn how to reduce the levels of dust without dusting (yes, it’s true, there is a way). And try to dust and sweep with a HEPA vacuum more often.


Myth #3:  Cleaning products labeled as Green or All Natural are healthier

Unfortunately, Green and All Natural are simply marketing terms. No regulation exists around the use of these terms.

A 2010 study of consumer products (shampoo, cleaning supplies, air fresheners, laundry detergent, and more) showed that products with claims of being green, organic, non toxic or natural were generally no safer than products without these claims.

Seems outrageous, right?

When the researchers tested 25 products, each of the 11 “green” products emitted at least two toxic or hazardous chemicals and four emitted at least one carcinogen. When the researchers compared the so-called green products to the 14 other products, they found no statistically significant difference between the number of chemicals classified as toxic or hazardous, or the number of carcinogens.


Read more about why you cannot rely on the cleaning and laundry product labels.

Want to find the safest cleaning and laundry products? Get The Safest Cleaning & Laundry Products List. Independent labs tested these products and verified that they were some of the safest. Simply print it out and take it with you shopping. What could be easier? Get it now.


Now What?

Out of curiosity…how many of the myths surprised you? One? More?

Then, check out a killer resource that will help you get up-to-speed on what’s healthy for your home. The Zen of Pure Living Health Home SeriesIt’s a 12 week email series called The Zen of Pure Living. You’ll get the best tips in an easy format. Sign up!

Would love to hear your comments. Please share!


Steinemann AC, et al., Fragranced consumer products: Chemicals emitted, ingredients unlisted, Environ Impact Asses Rev (2010), doi:10:1016/j.eiar.2010.08.002.

Eight Healthy Remodeling Secrets Every Homeowner Should Know

Eight Healthy Remodeling Secrets Every Homeowner Should Know

Who doesn’t love to remodel a room or even a whole house? A fresh coat of paint, new kitchen cabinets, replacing carpet, or new furniture are all part of the redecorating excitement. When you’ve completed the remodel, you can’t get enough of your new space.

But did you know that your remodeling choices can have an impact on your health?

It’s true. Your choice of paint, flooring, furniture, and bedding matters to your health.

Be honest.

You think being green and healthy during a remodel is difficult. But, it’s really not if you have the right information. Non-toxic home remodeling is possible.

Learn eight healthy remodeling secrets that everyone should know.

Healthy Remodeling

1. Choose VOC-Absorbing Drywall

When you remodel, chances are the materials you’re using release VOCs like formaldehyde and benzene. This off-gassing creates unhealthy indoor air.

What type of materials and items release these harmful VOCs?

Plywood, particle board, fabric, carpet, mattresses, paint, solvents, lacquers, upholstered furniture, foam insulation, adhesives

It’s a long list. Just imagine a new master bedroom or family room and think about the volume of VOCs from paint, carpet, particle board furniture, plywood sub-flooring, adhesives, and insulation. Wood alone releases significant amounts of formaldehyde. Industry estimates show that 85% of wood materials have adhesives containing formaldehyde.

Now imagine that you can remove those VOCs by installing VOC-absorbing drywall.

Sounds like a good solution, right?

Here’s how it works. The drywall absorbs VOCs for 75 years even when finished and painted with most paints up to 25 coats. It captures VOCs, converts them into inert compounds and safely stores the inert material within the board. It also provides enhanced moisture and mold resistance.

You might be skeptical, but there’s proof. Greenguard Indoor Air Quality and UL Environment have cetified the AirRenew product. Both are worthwhile certifications. For more information go to


2. Pick Your Vinyl Flooring Carefully or Opt for Safer Alternatives

A recent study by Healthy Stuff, highlighted issues with vinyl flooring and the release of phthalates. Human and animal studies have linked phthalates to serious health issues.

If you choose vinyl flooring, pick your brand carefully. Choosing Armstrong or Designer’s Image flooring is a good choice because the study results revealed no phthalates with these brands. Check out the report for more details.

What are better alternatives?

You might want to consider non-vinyl flooring alternatives. Look into bio-based linoleum, natural rubber or ceramic tile. These are healthier alternatives.


3. Opt for All Natural/Organic Mattresses

Due to strict fire safety standards, conventional mattress makers use large quantities of flame retardants to meet safety regulations. While it is generally accepted that these fire-retardant chemicals are toxic at a certain level, the debate continues to wage about safe levels.

Prefer to skip the debate? Then, choose an all-natural mattress.

All natural/organic mattresses use naturally flame retardant wool coverings and not chemical flame retardants to comply with safety regulations. So when you opt for an all natural mattress, you don’t have to worry about inhaling or absorbing harmful chemicals.

To learn more, read 10 Reasons to Buy an All Natural/Organic Mattress.

What else do you need to know about mattress shopping? When shopping for an all natural mattress, look for 100% all natural latex. Why? Because man-made latex can release harmful chemicals.

Watch out for some misleading ads. Some mattress manufacturers advertise all natural latex, but what they’re really selling is a blend of natural and man-made. The key is to look for 100% all natural latex.

Not ready to ditch your current conventional mattress? You can opt for an All Natural/Organic Mattress topper. It’s a great way to put some distance between you and your conventional mattress. Plus, it’s a great way to improve the comfort of your current mattress.


4. Install a Second Sink or Faucet with Under Counter Water Filtration System

If you’re remodeling your kitchen, now is the perfect time to add a water filtration system. Consider adding a second sink with purified water to avoid a queue at your main sink. You’ll love the convenience.

If a second sink isn’t an option, then add a second faucet to your sink with purified water.

Are you still drinking unfiltered tap water?

Consider reading Seven Undeniably Good Reasons to Drink Filtered Water. It may just change your mind.

Not sure which water filtration system is the best? Check out the three highest rated, certified water filter systems.


5. Use Zero VOC Paints and Stains

Here are a few facts you need to know about paint.

– Low VOC paints actually have a lot of VOCs, so don’t buy low VOC paints.

– Zero VOC paints only have 5 grams/liter or less of VOCs, but these paints may include other chemicals that simply aren’t good for you.

Look for Zero VOC and the Green Seal 11 -2008 certification.

– It’s not just about the odor.

Paint releases VOCs long after the paint is dry and you can no longer smell the odor. So, buying zero VOC paints is a healthy choice.

Finding paint without carcinogens, reproductive toxins or ozone depleting compounds was a chore. It’s easier now. Benjamin Moore Natura™ and Aura™ interior latex paints are good choices because the paints are Zero VOC as well as Green Seal certified. And, they are readily available.

Get information on other safe paint brands. And, remember to choose zero VOC primer.


6. Install Shower Filters

A bathroom remodel is the perfect opportunity to install a shower filter. Because the filter adds an inch or two to your shower drop, adding the filters while remodeling ensures your shower head is the right height.

Why use shower filters at all?

Shower filters remove chlorine and chloramine used to disinfect your water as well as other harmful contaminants. When water is heated and sprayed, it creates droplets that you can inhale. Some suggest that inhaling these chemicals is worse than actually drinking them. Regardless, it’s probably a good idea to filter out these water contaminants for a safer shower.

Want to know the highest rated and certified shower filters? Check out these highly rated shower filters.


7. Look for Wood Laminate Flooring That Meets Safety Standards

When buying wood laminate flooring, get the safest flooring by following the EPA recommendations. Buy products that are labeled or stamped in compliance with:

  • California Air Resources Board Air Toxics Control Measure (CARB ATCM)
  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI):
    • Particleboard should conform to A208.1-2009 or CARB ATCM
    • MDF should conform to A208.2-2009 or CARB ATCM
    • Hardwood Plywood should conform to ANSI/HPVA HP-1-2009 or CARB ATCM

If your wood laminate flooring meets these standards, you can feel confident that it will not release unhealthy amounts of formaldehyde.

Better yet, opt for solid wood flooring instead of laminate.


8. Shop for Solid Wood, Latex & Organic Upholstered Furniture 

Here’s the last secret. It’s the one you’re probably going to be the most excited about when you see the options for the safest furniture.

But first, the details on why you should care.

Most upholstered furniture has two issues you’re trying to avoid – chemical flame retardants and formaldehyde. To buy the best upholstered furniture, you’ll need to understand all three components – the frame, cushions, and fabrics.

Frame – opt for solid wood:

A lot of lower cost furniture is made with plywood, particle board or MDF. These engineered wood products are manufactured using adhesives that release formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a substance you’d rather not have in your home.

Instead of engineered wood products, look for a frame made from solid hardwood like ash, maple, poplar or oak. Pine is a softer wood and is less desirable. Investing in a solid wood frame means your furniture will last, and it’s healthier without the formaldehyde.

Cushions – choose 100% natural latex:

Most cushions are made with polyurethane or soy foam. Some manufacturers claim that soy foam is safer and “greener” than polyurethane. Don’t be misled. The soy component comprises less than 20% while the remaining 80% is a petroleum-based product often called “solid gasoline”. Hence, the need for chemical flame retardants.

The safest and longest lasting cushions are made from latex. It’s a good idea to opt for 100% natural latex and not synthetic latex.


Natural latex is mold, mildew, and dust mite resistant and is not highly flammable. Since it is naturally flame retardant, it does not need chemical flame retardants to meet safety regulations. Other good news, the 100% natural latex cushions do not off-gas.

To sum up, opt for 100% natural latex to avoid chemical flame retardants and nasty cushion off-gassing.

Fabric – choose organic fabric and avoid synthetics

Choose an organic fabric made from natural fibers like hemp, linen or cotton duck for casual sofas and chairs and wool or silk for fancy pieces. Generally, a tighter weave leads to a more dense fabric which means greater durability.

Try to avoid synthetic fabrics like polyester and acrylic as well as stain resistant finishes. While stain resistance seems like a good thing, the finishes contain dangerous and harmful chemicals. And since polyester and acrylic fabrics are flammable, they are coated with chemical flame retardants you’re trying to avoid.

Want to know where you can find upholstered furniture that ticks all the boxes?EKLA sofa

You can find solid wood, natural latex cushions, and organic fabric furniture that is stunningly beautiful at

EKLA has many organic fabric choices and solid wood frame styles available. It’s the best non-toxic furniture without chemical flame retardants. Made in the USA.



What’s next?

Now you know eight ways to pull off healthy remodeling. And, you realize it’s not as tough as you thought. All it takes is a bit of information.

With these tips, your next remodel will be extraordinary. You’ll be able to enjoy your remodeling genius without unhealthy consequences.

Just curious.

How many of these healthy remodeling secrets did you know?

Almost none? A few?

Then, check out a killer resource that will help you get up-to-speed on what’s healthy for your home. It’s a 12-week email series called The Zen of Pure Living. You’ll get the best tips in an easy format. Sign up!

The Zen of Pure Living Health Home Series




Healthy Remodeling Secrets

Avocado Salad Cups with Vegetable Confetti and Lemon Vinaigrette

Avocado Salad Cups with Vegetable Confetti & Lemon Vinaigrette
Avocados aren’t just for guacamole and smoothies! If you’re looking for a healthy and colorful salad, try these avocado salad cups filled with vegetable confetti. I’ve used a cucumber, tomato, red pepper and red onion, but you can get creative and dice up any vegetable including radishes, green onion, daikon or green pepper.

Avocado Cup Vegetable Confetti Recipe

You will love the lemon vinaigrette salad dressing. Every time I serve the dressing, I get rave reviews. It’s so simple. The combination of the fresh squeezed lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and mustard produce a 5-star dressing. My thanks to Dr. Frank Lipman for the recipe.

Sometimes I can add fresh cilantro from my garden to top off the cups, but lately it’s been store bought. It’s much too hot to grow in Texas in the summer. The cilantro is the perfect complement to the dressing and avocado.

This dish is simple to throw together. I made it for my last Book Club gathering. To avoid a last minute rush, I diced the vegetable confetti the night before. Then, all I had to do was cut, pit and score the avocados, place on a serving tray, load with confetti and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Avocado Salad Cups with Vegetable Confetti & Lemon Vinaigrette

Avocado Salad Cups with Vegetable Confetti & Lemon Vinaigrette

Want more healthy recipes like this one?

Follow the Pure Living Space Healthy Recipe board on Pinterest.

Please leave your comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the recipe.

Avocado Salad Cups with Vegetable Confetti and Lemon Vinaigrette
Print Recipe
Avocados halved, pitted and scored with diced cucumber, red pepper, tomato, and onion. Topped with fresh cilantro. Finished with a delicious lemon vinaigrette dressing.
Servings Prep Time
6 (1/2 avocado) 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 (1/2 avocado) 20 minutes
Avocado Salad Cups with Vegetable Confetti and Lemon Vinaigrette
Print Recipe
Avocados halved, pitted and scored with diced cucumber, red pepper, tomato, and onion. Topped with fresh cilantro. Finished with a delicious lemon vinaigrette dressing.
Servings Prep Time
6 (1/2 avocado) 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 (1/2 avocado) 20 minutes
Servings: (1/2 avocado)
  1. Place diced cucumber, red pepper, red onion and cherry tomatoes in medium bowl.
  2. Make the dressing. Whisk the lemon juice, crushed garlic, sea salt and mustard. Add the extra-virgin olive oil and blend thoroughly. Please note: the dressing recipe makes 1 cup of dressing, so you'll have leftovers.
  3. Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits. Score the avocados using a knife making a grid. This will make it easier to eat the salad.
  4. Add 1/4 cup of dressing to the confetti and toss. Spoon the confetti into each avocado half. Drizzle with dressing and top with cilantro.
Recipe Notes

Gluten-Free: To make sure this dish is gluten-free, pay attention to your mustard. Most Dijon mustard is gluten-free, but check the label.

Lemon Vinaigrette: The recipe makes about a cup which is more than you'll need. Trust me, you won't have any problem using the leftovers.

Make Ahead: To save time, you can dice the vegetable confetti a day in advance. Wait until you're ready to serve to toss with dressing.

You can use any crunchy vegetable, so don't worry if you can't find red pepper, substitute radishes or green pepper.

This recipe was inspired by Deb Perelman founder of the blog, Smitten Kitchen (

Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe