We all love to look good and stay healthy. When buying products for our skin or hair we look for something that is soothing, less damaging, promise really good and quick results, the brand name (of course!) and then the ingredients. We end up using personal care products that have a number of harmful toxins or chemicals in them. In this article, we guide you on how to choose personal care products. 

Are herbal products really herbal?

Nowadays we love to go for ayurvedic, herbal or organic products. But are these products really 100% chemical free? Many of us in India have started using herbal products like Biotique, Himalaya herbal, Jovees or Lotus herbal. They may be better than the popular brands that are fully loaded with harmful chemicals. But are they completely chemical free as they claim to be?

 A comprehensive guide on how to choose personal care products 

  1. Look at the shelf life of products

Many products, usually herbal ones, mention that they have a shelf life of more than 3 years. Let us take an example of a papaya scrub paste. For making a papaya scrub at home you would require mashed papaya, a cream base like yogurt or gram flour, some honey or lemon. You can store this in your refrigerator for two or maximum 3 days. But when you buy a papaya scrub paste from a brand name they add:

  • Cream base so that it spreads
  • Preservatives to ensure a long shelf life
  • Artificial fragrance for good smell
  • Artificial coloring to make it little orange like a papaya

The cream base, fragrance, preservatives, and coloring are artificial, inactive ingredients that might not even be mentioned behind the products and these are the harmful ones that can cause skin irritations and even lead to cancer.

  • Thus most of the herbal products we buy contain active herbal ingredients and inactive chemical ingredients.
  • This holds true for herbal toothpaste, herbal shampoos, and even herbal baby products.

2. Parabens

This chemical found in most of the beauty care products, especially in cosmetic products is a potential killer. Usually, parabens are added to products to prevent the growth of bacteria, mold, and yeast in personal care products. It does its job right! But, parabens contain estrogen mimicking properties and are associated with risk of breast cancer and tumor.

More people are being aware of this harmful chemical and going for Paraben free chemicals but are they really harmless? There are many companies in India like Khadi, Forest Essentials, Kama Ayurveda, Biotique, Patanjali, Dear Earth to name a few, that say they do not use Parabens in their products. But, then again, do they not use fragrances or artificial coloring? It is important that information about the use of artificial coloring, preservatives, and fragrances be made explicit on the label. 

3. 1, 4- Dioxane

This is found mostly in natural or organic shampoos, body washes, and lotions. Dioxane is used to make harsh chemicals milder. It can cause damage to the kidney and even respiratory damages. Ingredient names ending with ‘eth’, ‘myreth’, ‘oleth’, ‘laureth’, ‘ceteareth’ are all culprits. PEG, Polyethylene glycol, Polyoxyethylene, and Oxynol are all ingredients found in personal care products.

The moral of the story is if you cannot pronounce them, then you should use them!

4. Percentage of chemicals used

Shampoos like Loreal, Dove, Pantene, Sunsilk and the like are the purely chemical base that we have been using blindly. But when we look at products like Biotique or Patanjali that claim they are 100% ayurvedic, check the ingredients behind. If they are 100 % ayurvedic then why do 90% of the ingredients fall under the category of ‘shampoo base’? Some companies mislead their customers by claiming they are 100 percent pure and have only 10% of their herbal ingredients mentioned on them!

5. UV Rays

Sunscreen products use chemicals which cause cellular damage and also cancer. Chemicals like Benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate are all found in sunscreen products. These days even sunscreen for small children are in the markets which claim to ‘protect’ us from harmful ultraviolet rays. The age-old traditions of using umbrellas, caps, and shades to avoid the sun could be a better option rather than apply these toxic chemicals all over the body. Use mineral sunscreens instead of chemical ones. 

How to Choose Personal Care Products

We are surrounded by these products. Are they avoidable? It is difficult to avoid them on a daily basis as you do need hair cleansers, creams, lotions or even a lip balm. But we should be sure of the following:

  • Read the list of ingredients used
  • Add up the total ingredients to see if they are adding up to 100 percent
  • Avoid Parabens and dioxanes completely
  • A long shelf life of product denotes that some form of chemicals are added
  • Try and choose those products that have a minimum number of harmful chemicals
  • You can use natural oils like coconut, jojoba oils as body and face moisturizers
  • For newborns and babies use the natural oil, and very mild soaps instead of shampoo and body wash
  • Homemade ubtans are a good idea for face and body. You can make ubtan for a week and keep it in the fridge for daily use.

If you follow this guideline you can at least limit the number of toxins that our body is exposed to.

Educate yourself and do your own research before you go ahead and buy a product for yourself or your baby or loved one. You can use many home remedies for a glowing and healthy skin. They do take time to make but the results are worth it and you would be using totally organic and herbal products.