Guide to Less Toxic Products

Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia

Cosmetics & Personal Care

Common Hazardous Chemicals found in Personal Care Products

Eye and Face Make-up (revised Spring 2011)
Eye Liner
Eye Shadow
Face Powder
Lip Gloss, Balms and Protectors (see skin products section)
Lip Products
Makeup Remover

Dental and Oral Hygiene (Spring 2011)
Dental Floss
Denture Cleaners
Tooth Whiteners

Feminine Hygiene (Spring 2011)
Tampons, Pads and other Menstrual Products

Hair Care (Spring 2011)
Hair Colouring
Hair Oils and Pomades
Hair Relaxers and Straighteners
Hair Styling
Mousse (see Hair Styling)
Permanent Waves

Hair Removal (Spring 2011)
Waxes/Sugaring Compounds
Shaving Products (see skin products section)

Nail Products (Spring 2011)
Nail Polish
Nail Polish Remover
Artificial Nails

Skin Products (Summer 2011)
Astringent and Toner
Bath Products
Body and Massage Oil
Body Powder
Deodorants and Antiperspirants
Exfoliants and Scrubs
Facial Masks and Steam Baths
Facial Mists
Facial Scrubs (see Exfoliants and Scrubs)
Lip Glosses, Balms and Protectors
Lotions, Creams and Moisturizers
Shaving Products
Sun Protection

Common Hazardous Ingredients in Personal Care Products

More than 10,000 ingredients are allowed for use in personal care products -- and the average woman wears 515 of them every day, according to a 2009 British study that looked at the routines of over 2,000 women. Very little is known about the health effects of these chemicals. More than 90% have never been tested for their effects on human health, and complete toxicity data are available for only 7% of them. Even though government agencies are aware of the health hazards of some ingredients, such as hydroquinone or phthalates, they are still allowed in personal care products.

We are providing information on some of the most common hazardous ingredients, so that you can check your cosmetic labels and see if they are there. Hazardous ingredients are usually present in conventional products, but they may also be found in some “alternative” products which try to be more health conscious. Note though that some chemicals about which there are serious concerns. such as fragrance ingredients or contaminants found in certain chemicals, will not show up on labels so reading labels won’t tell you everything you need to know. The information below should be helpful.

In preparing this guide, we screened products and chose those which had the least amount of these hazardous chemicals, or none at all, for our Best and Good sections.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acids - Alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids are acid "skin peels" marketed as a way to remove wrinkles, blemishes, blotches and acne scars. With their use, "the skin reddens like a sunburn, then darkens and peels away supposedly leaving 'new' skin", according to the US Food and Drug Administration. Beta hydroxy acid is preferred for oily skin. These skin peels enjoy widespread popularity. The Environmental Working Group found they were added to one out of every 17 personal care products on the US market. They can be found in skin care products ranging from moisturizers and cleansers to eye creams and sunscreen. The FDA estimates that they injure 1,000 Americans every year by burning the skin. The FDA is also concerned that they contribute to UV skin damage and may raise the risk of skin cancer. In Canada, the Health Canada Cosmetic Hotlist allows concentrations of less than 10% in personal care products, but higher concentrations are allowed for professional use. Health Canada also requires cautionary warnings on leave-on products containing AHA when the concentrations are above 3%.

Aluminum - Aluminum compounds are the active ingredients in antiperspirants. By temporarily plugging the sweat ducts, they stop sweat coming to the skin's surface. A 2005 British study, published in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry, found that aluminum-based compounds may be absorbed by the skin and cause estrogen-like effects. Because estrogen has the ability to promote breast cancer cells, some scientists have suggested that the aluminum-based compounds in antiperspirants may contribute to the development of breast cancer. A 2003 study in the European Journal of Cancer found that women who used antiperspirants or deodorants and who shaved their underarms at an earlier age were at greater risk for breast cancer than women who started later.

Benzyl Alcohol and Isopropyl Alcohol - Both benzyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol irritate the skin. They are used as fragrance ingredients and as preservatives, solvents and anti-foaming agents for hand sanitizers, sunscreens,lotions and baby wipes. There is also evidence that these two alcohols are neurotoxic. Children younger than 3 years old are particularly at risk for toxic effects if they are exposed to benzyl alcohol.

Boric Acid and Sodium Borate - Boric acid and sodium borate are preservatives in personal care products and baby products, which are easily absorbed into the skin. Although they are considered by the cosmetic industry to be unsafe for infants or for damaged skin, they are an ingredient in many diaper rash creams and moisturizers.

Bronopol (2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-2,3-Diol) - Bronopol, a preservative, is a lung, immune system and skin toxicant, and has been shown to disrupt the endocrine system in animal studies. Yet, it is used in baby wipes, conditioners, liquid soaps and body washes. Bronopol can break down into formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, and into nitrosamines, which are suspected carcinogens.

Butylated Hydroxy Anisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxy Toluene (BHT) - Butylated hydroxy anisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxy toluene (BHT) are closely related preservatives and antioxidants. They slow down the rate at which product ingredients change colour. They are present in lipsticks, eyeshadows and many other types of cosmetics. Both BHA and BHT are skin allergens. BHA is "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen" by the US National Toxicology Program. It is also used in fragrances, although this use is not allowed in the European Union because it can cause skin depigmentation. For BHT, there is some evidence that it promotes tumours and can disrupt the hormonal system.

Ceteareth - See Polyethylene glycol (PEG).

Coal Tar Dyes - Used extensively in personal care products, coal tar colours are often identified on ingredient lists as FD&C, D&C or C.I. followed by the colour name or number. As their name suggests, they are made from coal tar, a petroleum product. Many people experience allergic reactions like skin irritation and contact dermatitis. Some evidence suggests that certain coal tar colours cause cancer -- D&C Blue 1, D&C Green 3, D&C Red 4, and D&C Yellow 5. Coal tar itself is a recognized human carcinogen and is banned from use in cosmetics. However, each coal tar dye has different properties and different potential health concerns. On US products, coal tar dyes are listed as FD&C or D&C, followed by a colour and a number (F indicates that the colour is also approved for food use). In Canada, they may be identified as C.I. (Colour Index) followed by a 5 digit number or as p-phenylenediamine. (Natural and inorganic pigments are numbered in the 75000 and 77000 series respectively.) In Canada, coal tar colours are permitted in hair dyes only if the labels carry warnings about skin irritation and possible blindness if the product is used for dying eyelashes or eyebrows. Health Canada does not allow many of these colours to be in products sold for use in the area of the eye, but there are no restrictions on their use in other products.

1,4-Dioxane - Because it is classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a probable carcinogen, 1,4-dioxane is a particular concern in children's and baby products. It is a contaminant in shampoos, body wash, children's bath products and other sudsing cosmetics. Because 1,4-dioxane is a contaminant and not an ingredient, it doesn't appear on ingredient labels. Product tests done in 2009 for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found 1,4-dioxane in in baby shampoos and in many bath products marketed for young children. 1,4-dioxane can form during a manufacturing process called ethoxylation. Ethoxylation uses ethylene oxide (a mammary carcinogen in animals) to make other chemicals less abrasive. For example, ethylene oxide converts the harsh sodium laurel sulphate to the milder sodium laureth sulphate (the "eth" in laureth shows ethoxylation), which can result in 1,4-dioxane contamination. In addition to sodium laurel sulphate, ethoxylation is used for many different chemicals used in cosmetics.

DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea and Imidazolidinyl Urea - DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea and imidazolidinyl urea are commonly used preservatives that can release formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a sensitizer and a proven carcinogen. Exposure to formaldehyde may cause joint pain, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness and loss of sleep. It is estimated that 20 per cent of people exposed to DMDM hydantoin will experience an allergic reaction. Imidazolidinyl urea may cause contact dermatitis in some individuals.

FD&C Colours - See Coal Tar Colours.

Formaldehyde - Formaldehyde is a known sensitizer and a known carcinogen. Exposure to formaldehyde may cause joint pain, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness, and loss of sleep. Formaldehyde may be used in personal care products as a disinfectant, germicide, fungicide and preservative. It can be found in soaps, shampoos, hair preparations, deodorants, lotions, shaving cream and mouthwash. it is also used in nail products, specifically as a nail hardening agent, and is one of the "toxic trio" targetted for elimination from nail polish and removers by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. It has also been found in high concentrations in certain hair straightening products. Formaldehyde may also be released when the preservatives, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea and imidiazolidinyl urea are present in products, as discussed above.

Fragrance - Synthetic fragrance is the most common ingredient found on the label of personal care products. The generic terms, "fragrance" or "parfum", can indicate the presence of up to 3,000 separate ingredients. Most or all of them are synthetic. Fragrance is a sensitizer and a known trigger of asthma. Symptoms reported to the FDA have included headaches, dizziness, rashes, skin discoloration, violent coughing and vomiting, and allergic skin irritation. A test of fragrance products by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, "Not So Sexy", found that perfumes contained an average of 10 known sensitizing chemicals, which can trigger allergic reactions such as asthma, wheezing, headaches, and contact dermatitis. In addition, clinical observations by medical doctors have shown that exposure to fragrances can affect the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope, and other behavioral changes." (Home Safe Home, Debra Lynn Dadd). Many of the compounds in fragrance are also suspected or proven carcinogens. In 1989 the US National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health evaluated 2,983 fragrance chemicals for health effects. They identified 884 of them as toxic substances. In a 1991 study, the US Environmental Protection Agency found that 100% of the perfumes they tested contained toluene, which can cause liver, kidney and brain damage as well as damage to a developing fetus. Certain fragrance ingredients, such as phthalates, have been found to have hormone disrupting properties. Diethyl phthalate (DEP), a solvent used in fragrances, has been linked to adverse reproductive effects, including DNA damage to human sperm. Many of the fragrance ingredients that have harmful effects are not listed on ingredient labels. In the European Union, labels are required to identify 24 well-known allergenic substances that are used to create fragrances. For more information on hazardous fragrance ingredients, see also phthalates and musks.

Hydroquinone - Hydroquinone is found in many skin lightening products, and is considered to be one of the most toxic ingredients allowed in cosmetics. It can also be present as an impurity in ingredients such as tocopherol acetate, used in facial and skin cleansers and hair conditioners. Hydroquinone works by reducing melanin in the skin, and therefore increases exposure to UVA and UVB rays of the sun. Hydroquinone is classified as a cancer causing agent by Health Canada. It has been linked to kidney damage, and can cause a skin condition called ochronosis in which the skin becomes dark and thick. It was assessed under Canada's Chemicals Management Plan as a chemical of high concern. As a result, it has been added to Health Canada's Cosmetic Hotlist and is restricted to use in hair dye and nail products. Warnings on hair dye products should tell users not to dye eyelashes or eyebrows, and users of nail products should be warned to avoid skin contact.

Iodoproponyl Butylcarbamate - Iodoproponyl Butylcarbamate is a preservative found in baby wipes, moisturizers, sunscreens and shampoos, as well as other cosmetic products. It is a pesticide that is registered for use as a fungicide and as a wood preservative. It can cause skin allergies, and may have toxic properties that have not been assessed. It is very toxic when inhaled and should be avoided in aerosol products.

Lead - Lead is a known carcinogen and neurotoxin that can lead to learning and behaviour problems. It has also been linked to reduced fertility. It is readily absorbed through the skin, and accumulates in the bones. Large accumulations can result in leg cramps, muscle weakness, numbness and depression. Lead can be a contaminant in many different kinds of products including sunscreens, foundation, nail colours, whitening toothpaste, and lipstick. A 2008 study by Health Canada found lead in 21 of 26 lipsticks tested. Although lead is prohibited from use in lipsticks, it can be found in colour additives or as impurities in ingredients. It is an ingredient in Grecian Formula 16 and other dark hair dyes for men available in the US, but it is banned from the formulas used in Canada and Europe.

Mercury - See Thimerosol.

Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone - Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone are preservatives used in many cosmetics and personal care products. They are most often found in hair products -- shampoos, conditioners and dyes -- but they are also used in body washes and cleansers. They have been shown in animal studies to be toxic to the immune system and possibly to the developing nervous system. Health Canada's Hotlist allows them to be used together in very limited concentrations for rinse-off products and in even smaller concentrations for leave-on products.

Musks - Galaxolide, Tonalide, musk xylene and musk ketone are musks, which are popular replacements for natural ingredients once used as fragrances in cosmetics. Different musks have different hazardous properties. Although data on their toxicity are scarce, some musks appear to have effects on reproduction. A 2009 study of Austrian students detected 11 different musks in their blood. Galaxolide was found in 83% of the students. The highest levels were found in students who used the most lotion and perfume. Canada has restricted the use of two little used musks -- musk ambrette and musk tibetene -- in cosmetics, but has no restrictions on the more commonly used musks. The European Union has identified musk xylene as a substance of very high concern.

Nanoparticles - Nanoparticles are particles from known chemicals that are manipulated to extremely small dimensions in order to attain certain properties. Widely used in personal care products, particularly sunscreens, the original chemical will be listed on ingredient lists of Canadian cosmetics but there is no requirement to indicate whether it is present in nano form. Nanoparticles are untested for their effects on human health. Their small size means that they can enter the body more easily and have greater access to vulnerable organs and tissues. Animal studies suggest that some nanomaterials in the body cause inflammation, damage brain cells and cause pre-cancerous lesions. The European Union has ruled that companies must indicate when a chemical is used in nano form by adding "nano" in brackets after the chemical's name on the ingredient list.

Nitrosamines - See DEA, TEA and MEA.

Nonylphenol - This estrogen-mimicking chemical is a surfactant used for its detergent properties. It can be found in some plastics, as well as shaving creams, shampoos and hair colours. It can be created when certain chemicals commonly found in personal care products break down. Nonylphenols can be a component in polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a compound often found in acrylic nails. They are persistent in the environment and of such concern that many European countries are phasing them out. Some manufacturers have voluntarily discontinued their use.

Oxybenzone - Oxybenzone, also known as benzophenone-3, 4-MBC and homosalate, is a sunscreen agent and UV light absorber. It is the active ingredient in most sunscreens. The higher the SPF of the sunscreen, the higher the concentration of oxybenzone is likely to be. It is also common in sunscreen moisturizers, facial moisturizers, sunscreen lip balms, skin care lotions, lipstick and hairspray. It is associated with photoallergic reactions in the sun, and is very easily absorbed through the skin. Oxybenzone also assists other ingredients to penetrate the skin. There is scientific evidence suggesting that oxybenzone is a hormone disruptor and may be toxic to the nervous system. A 2008 study from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that oxybenzone exposure to pregnant women was associated with low birth weight baby girls. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is detectable in 97% of people tested in the US.

Parabens - Parabens are preservatives with antibacterial properties. They are widely used in all kinds of personal care products, and particularly deodorants. Paraben on the ingredient list is usually preceded by the prefixes methyl-, ethyl-, butyl-, or propyl-. Parabens mimic estrogen, a hormone that is associated with breast cancer. Parabens can cause allergic reactions or contact dermatitis in some people. Parabens are absorbed through the skin and have been found in biopsied tissue from breast cancer tumours. Safer alternatives to parabens exist, and many products are now marketed as "paraben-free".

PEG - See Polyethylene Glycol.

Phenylenediamine - Used in permanent hair dyes, phenylenediamine or PPD is a coal tar dye of particular concern. It is found in most hair dyes, even products marketed as "natural" or "herbal", and is present in high concentrations in the darkest formulations. It may even be found in hair dyes advertized as "black henna". Some tattoo artists use it to darken henna tattoos. PPD is a carcinogen, and it can also cause severe skin irritation and react with other chemicals to cause photosensitivity. Health Canada requires warnings about skin irritation and blindness if PPD is present in products used for dying eyelashes or eyebrows.

Phthalates - Everyone in the general population is exposed to phthalates from one source or another. They are found in many products from soft plastics and air fresheners to shampoos and nail polish. Tests done by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found phthalates in 3/4 of the 72 products they tested, including deodorants, fragrances, hair gels, mousses, hairsprays and hand and body lotions. Phthalates are used to enhance fragrances to make them last longer and to denature alcohol. Research has shown that phthalates disrupt the hormonal system and interfere with reproduction. A 2008 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives showed that pregnant women exposed to high phthalate levels were more likely to give birth to baby boys with a shortened distance between the anus and the genitals. This study showed that the effects of phthalates on humans were similar to the effects seen in animal studies. The shortened ano-genital distance is associated with genital problems and feminization. An earlier 2002 study in the same journal found that one common type of phthalate, diethyl phthalate (DEP) is damaging to the DNA of sperm in adult men at current levels of exposure. DNA damage to sperm can lead to infertility. DEP is a popular fragrance ingredient and the phthalate that is found in the highest levels in humans. Although some manufacturers have reduced their use of phthalates over the last 8 years, recent product tests found that many fragrances still contain high levels of DEP. Another phthalate, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), has been a favourite ingredient in nail polishes, and US women of child-bearing age have been found to have high levels of DBP. As well, butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), used to make nail polishes and lipsticks glossy, has been linked in animal studies to an increased risk of breast cancer. For several years, the European Union has banned DBP, BBP and DEHP (di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate) from use in cosmetics, but in Canada and the US there are no restrictions on any phthalates in cosmetics. In addition, phthalates are difficult to avoid. Except for nail polish, phthalates are not generally listed as ingredients on labels because Canada's Cosmetic Regulations allow them to be included under the heading of "fragrance".

Polyethylene Glycol - Polyethylene glycol (PEG) and Ceteareth, both petrochemical compounds, are found in many personal care products, such as body washes, liquid soap, baby wipes, sunscreens and shampoo. They are used as thickeners, softeners, moisture-carriers and penetration enhancers. Both PEG and ceteareth may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen, and ethylene dioxide, a known human carcinogen. 1,4-dioxane readily penetrates the skin, and is considered unsafe for injured or damaged skin. While 1,4-dioxane can be removed from products easily and economically by vacuum stripping during the manufacturing process, there is no way to determine which products have undergone this process. Labels are not required to show this information.

Polysorbate 60 and Polysorbate 80 - Polysorbate 60 and polysorbate 80 are used as emulsifying agents and fragrance ingredients in many different types of personal care products. These chemicals may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen, which readily penetrates the skin. While 1,4-dioxane can be removed from products easily and economically by vacuum stripping during the manufacturing process, there is no way to determine which products have undergone this process. Labels are not required to show this information. Ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen, may also be a contaminant of these ingredients.

Propylene Glycol - Propylene glycol is used in many skin products, including moisturizers, facial cleansers, foundations, and anti-aging products, as well as mascara and hair colour products. It is widely used as a moisture-carrying ingredient in place of glycerine because it is cheaper and more readily absorbed through the skin. It is related to polyethylene glycol (PEG) and is known to cause contact dermatitis even at very low concentrations. It is recognized as a neurotoxin by the US National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, and it may cause kidney damage. The Material Safety Data Sheet for propylene glycol warns workers handling this chemical to avoid skin contact.

Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (Quats) - Listed on labels as benzalkonium chloride, cetrimonium bromide and quaternium-15, these compounds are caustic and can irritate the eyes. Quaternium-15 is a formaldehyde releaser and the number one cause of preservative-related contact dermatitis. For about 5% of people, quats are an extreme sensitizer and can cause a variety of asthma-like symptoms, including respiratory arrest. When they are used with hot running water, steam increases the inhalation of vapours. These compounds are used in a wide range of products as preservatives, surfactants and germicides. They make hair and skin feel softer immediately after use but long-term use will cause dryness.

Selenium Sulfide- Selenium sulfide is an anti-dandruff and hair conditioning agent found in shampoos, conditioners and dandruff treatments. It is believed to be a neurotoxin and it is classified as a possible human carcinogen by both Environment Canada and the US National Toxicology Program.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate - Sodium lauryl sulfate is a known skin and eye irritant and enhances allergic response to other toxins and allergens. It is used as a lathering agent and detergent, and is present in hundreds of commercial shampoos, body washes, and bubble baths, as well as skin creams and some brands of toothpaste. When sodium laurel sulfate is combined with ethylene oxide (ethoxylized) to create the milder sodium laureth sulfate, it may become contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen. 1,4-dioxane readily penetrates the skin. While 1,4-dioxane can be removed from products easily and economically by vacuum stripping during the manufacturing process, there is no way to determine which products have undergone this process. Labels are not required to show this information. This processing may also lead to the creation of a known carcinogen, ethylene oxide. Ammonium lauryl sulfate is the same compound as sodium lauryl sulfate and has the same uses, but the sodium group has been replaced with an ammonium atom. Although it is also a skin irritant, ammonium lauryl sulfate is not considered quite as hazardous as sodium lauryl sulfate, unless it is ethoxylized. During its ethoxylation to become ammonium laureth sulfate, it is also likely to be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen, and ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen.

Talc - Talc is a naturally occurring mineral which is carcinogenic when inhaled. In addition, women who regularly use talc in the genital area are at increased risk for ovarian cancer. Airborne talc in body powders and antiperspirant sprays can irritate the lungs. Talcum powder is reported to cause coughing, vomiting, and even pneumonia. Many pediatricians now tell parents to avoid using talc on babies as it can cause respiratory distress. Talc is found in blushes, face powders, eye shadows, foundation and skin fresheners. Used near the eyes, it can irritate sensitive mucous membranes. Talc in liquid cosmetic formulations poses minimal risk.

TEA, DEA and MEA - Triethanolamine (TEA), diethanolamine (DEA) and monoethanolamine (MEA) are additives used in different types of cosmetics such as sunscreens, moisturizers, foundations and hair colour. Other DEA compounds, cocamide DEA and lauramide DEA, are used in soaps, cleansers and shampoos. DEA and its related compounds are used to adjust the pH of products and to act as surfactants. Surfactants help to mix oil and water and work as emulsifiers or wetting agents. DEA and TEA are known to combine with nitrates to form nitrosamines, classified as possible carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. If a product contains nitrites (used as preservatives or present as contaminants although not listed on labels), a chemical reaction can occur either during manufacturing or after a product is made. There is no way to know which products contain nitrosamines because the government does not require companies to disclose this information on labels. Repeated skin application of DEA was found to cause liver and kidney damage in animals. Researchers also discovered that when absorbed through the skin, DEA accumulated in organs. TEA, which is also used as a fragrance ingredient, is toxic to the skin, and to the respiratory and immune systems.

Thimerosol- Thimerosol is a mercury-containing preservative. According to Health Canada, mercury may cause allergic reactions, skin irritation and adverse effects on the nervous system. Studies have also show that it can affect reproduction. Thimerosol is used as a preservative for products applied in the area of the eye, such as eye drops and contact lens solutions. Mercury itself is also sometimes found in cosmetics, and in 2010 tests by the Chicago Tribune found a number of skin whitening products contained high levels of mercury. Mercury is readily absorbed through the skin. Thimerosol is on Health Canada's Cosmetic Hotlist as a prohibited substance.

Titanium Dioxide- Titanium dioxide is widely used in personal care products such as toothpastes to provide whiteness and opacity. It is also used in cosmetic and skin care products and in many sunscreens to protect the skin from ultaviolet light. Titanium dioxide is lcassified as a "possible carcinogen" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), but is not considered to be a significant health hazard unless it is in powdered form. However, in recent years almost every sunscreen manufacturer has chosen to use nano-sized particles of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide so that when sunscreen is applied, it appears clear instead of white. The health effects of nano-sized titanium dioxide or other nanoparticles are unknown because of the lack of testing, but the few animal studies that have been done suggest serious concerns that these smaller particles may have greater risks.

Toluene- Toluene is a solvent used in nail polish and nail treatments to suspend colour and form a smooth finish on a nail. It is also listed on labels as methylbenzene or toluol. Exposure to toleuene can irritate the eyes, throat and lungs, and cause dizziness, headaches, fatigue and nausea. It is also known as a reproductive toxin and may put pregnant women at risk of having a baby with birth defects or delayed development. Benzene, which is a known human carcinogen, may be a contaminant of toluene, and may give toluene carcinogenic potential.

Triclosan and Triclocarban- Triclosan and triclocarban are synthetic antibacterial chemicals added to soaps, toothpastes, mouthwash, deodorant, shaving cream and other personal care products. Since they are "antibacterial" and not antiviral, they have no effect on viruses, and are, therefore, not effective against colds and flu. Triclosan, which is more commonly used, has been detected in human breast milk, and in 75% of human tissue samples taken, demonstrating widespread exposure. Studies show that triclosan and triclocarban may have endocrine disrupting effects, and in animal studies triclosan was shown to reduce thyroid hormones, which are critical for normal development. An Advisory Panel to the US Food and Drug Administration has said that there is no evidence that soaps with triclosan are any more effective in killing bacteria than plain soap and water. In 2009, the Canadian Medical Association called on the federal government to ban triclosan in consumer products because it causes bacterial resistance, which can interfere with the effectiveness of antibiotics.

Sources and Resources


Campaign for Safe Cosmetics:
Skin Deep Database, Environmental Working Group: 
Not So Sexy: The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance (2010):
Phasing Out the Toxic Trio: A Review of Popular Nail Polish Brands (2009):
Not Too Pretty (2002 phthalates report) and A Little Prettier (2008 update):
Nano-Sunscreens: Not Worth the Risk, Friends of the Earth (2009):
The Beast of Beauty: Toxic Ingredients in Cosmetics, Breast Cancer Action Montreal:
Femme Toxic:
What's Inside? That Counts, David Suzuki Foundation:
Cancer Prevention Coalition: 
Prevent Cancer Now (Canada): 
DIY Recipes, Safe Cosmetics Campaign:
Cosmetics you make yourself- 


There's Lead in Your Lipstick, Gillian Deacon, Penguin Books, 2010.
Ecoholic, Adria Vasil, Random House Canada, 2007.
No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics, Siobhan O'Connor & Alexandra Spunt, Perseus Books, 2010.
Toxic Beauty: How Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Endanger Your Health... And What You Can Do About It, Samuel S. Epstein & Randall Fitzgerald, Ben Bella Books, 2009.
Not Just A Pretty Face, Stacey Malkan, New Society Publishers, 2007.
Drop-dead Gorgeous, Kim Erikson, Contemporary Books, 2002.
Home Safe Home, Debra Lynn Dadd, Tarcher Inc, 2005.
Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living, Annie Berthold Bond, Three Rivers Press, 1999.

(revised Spring 2011)

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Where to Buy Products

Personal care products are organized into three categories.

Products in the Best () category are often available in health/natural foods shops, the natural food section of grocery stores and shops selling environmentally friendly goods. Some products can be found in pharmacies and chain stores. Many products can be ordered on-line.

Products in the Good () category are mainly available in health/natural food shops, the natural foods sections of grocery stores, and shops selling environmentally friendly goods. However some are increasingly available in mainstream shops. For example, Tom's toothpaste is now sold in Atlantic Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart, Lawtons’ and Wal-Mart. Jason products are found in Wal-Mart and in some pharmacies.

Products in the Simply Unscented () category are widely available in drug, grocery and department stores. Some product lines are carried only in certain stores. In the Maritimes, Clinique is sold at the Bay and Sears, while in other parts of Canada Clinique products can be found at Shoppers Drug Mart. RoC, Almay and Biotherm products are sold at Jean Coutu Pharmacy, Shopper’s Drug Mart, Wal-Mart and Zellers.

Almost all companies have web sites where products can be viewed. Many companies selling better products or hypoallergenic products will list product ingredients on their web sites. Some companies also list store locations where their products are sold.

Sometimes a store will only carry a few items made by a particular company. If you find a product you like, check the company’s web site to see what else they make.

These are web sites for some of the best less-toxic products not widely available:

Anointment (Nova Scotia) -
Atlantic Healing Hemp -
Aubrey Organics (USA) -
Botanical Therapeutic (British Columbia) -
Curelle (British Columbia) -
Druide (Quebec) -
Ferlow Botanicals-
Green Beaver (Can.) -
Jiade Cosmetics -
Moonsnail Soapworks (PEI) -

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Eye and Face Make-up

Through the ages men and women have painted their faces and bodies with colour - often with deadly results. Ancient Egyptians outlined eyes with kohl, a poisonous substance made from antimony. Greeks and Romans liked the pale look, achieved by applying white lead and chalk to their faces. During the Renaissance, the pale look was again popular with a white lead and vinegar mixture applied to face, neck and bosom. Lips and cheeks were tinted bright red with vermilion, a paint containing mercuric sulfide. A heavy coating of powder, often based on talc, kept everything in place. When women noticed that their lead cosmetics caused a variety of skin problems, some applied a facial peel made from mercury. Now we recognize that lead and mercury are highly toxic.

Today, the average woman uses 20 personal care products containing several hundred ingredients every day. And, even now, many of he ingredients are highly toxic. Colours in conventional cosmetics are often chemically synthesized from coal tar. While they’re less expensive than natural compounds to produce, certain coal tar colours have been shown to cause cancer in animals, and many are toxic to the nervous system. Impurities like arsenic and lead in some coal tar colours have been shown to cause cancer not only when ingested, but also when applied to skin. Because it is a contaminant in colours, lead, for example, has been found in many popular brands of lipstick. As well, conventional cosmetics may contain as many as five different synthetic preservatives. Parabens, which mimic estrogen in the body and have been linked with breast cancer, are currently the most popular preservatives used in makeup.

Another concern is the introduction of nanoparticles into just about every type of personal care product on the market, including sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner,anti-wrinkle cream, foundation, face powder, lipstick, blush, eye shadow, and nail polish. The only labelling you are likely to see is "micronized", which may indicate that companies have used nanoparticles of certain ingredients in the product, or "no nano" from companies that have made the choice to avoid their use. Nanoparticles are tiny manipulated versions of existing chemicals, but they present new risks that have not been evaluated and are not yet understood. Because of the lack of information about nanoparticles and their use in personal care products, particularly sunscreens and mineral makeup, products that are identified as "best" or "good" would not qualify in those categories if their ingredients were known to be in nano form.

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The main ingredient in most blushes is talc, which may be contaminated with carcinogenic asbestos fibres. The US National Toxicology Panel has found that talc can be toxic and carcinogenic even if it is free of asbestos. Silica, if it is present in powdered blushes, may also damage the lungs and respiratory system. Alumina, used in many conventional blushes as an anti-caking agent, is considered to be a neurotoxin. Colour in blushes is usually provided by hazardous coal tar dyes, including dyes such as D&C Red 7 Lake and FD&C Yellow 5 Aluminum Lake, both of which are neurotoxic. Acrylate compounds, commonly used as thickening agents, can be strong irritants. Parabens, BHT and diazolidinyl urea are all used to preserve blushes, with parabens being the most widely-used. Parabens can disrupt the endocrine system and have been found in breast cancer tumours.

New formulations of blush, which use iron oxides for colour and mica instead of talc, are better alternatives. However, be aware that some mineral makeups may contain bismuth oxychloride, which is used for shine. Bismuth oxychloride can irritate sensitive skin and cause redness and itching, and, although it may not cause problems as an ingredient in conventional makeup, it is present in higher concentrations in mineral makeups.


Ada Cosmetics Mineral Blushes/Bronzers
Coastal Classic Creations Blushes
Jane Iredale Blushes/Bronzers
Johnny Concert Mineral Blush
Larenim Blushes
Maia's Mineral Galaxy
Miessence Mineral Blush Powders/Shimmer Cream
Mineral Concepts
Premium Minerals
100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Lip and Cheek Tint
Rejuva Minerals Organic Botanicals Blush
Sappho Cosmetics Blushes/Bronzers (British Columbia co.
Smashbox O Glow Intuitive Cheek Color
Tea Maria Blushes
Terra Firma Cosmetics Glam Glow
Zosimos Botanicals
Zuii Organic Flora Blush


Afterglow Cosmetics Organic Mineral Blushes
Alima Pure Luminous Shimmer Blush/Satin Matte Blush
Almay Pure Blends Blush Pressed Powder, Sunkissed 300
Aubrey Organics Silken Earth Powder Blush
Aveda Onecolor Plus Two
Avon Mark Cheekblossom Cheek Color Tint/Shimmer Cheekblossom Ripening Cheek Tint
bareMinerals Blushes (Bare Escentuals)
Cosmic Tree Essentials Blush (Nova Scotia co.
Earth's Beauty Mineral Colors Blush
Gabriel Blush
Juice Beauty Glowing Cheek Color
LoriannZ Luminous Blush (Can. co.
LUVU Beauty Blushes (Can. co.
Outside/In Cosmetics Mineral Blush/Mineral Bronzer (Can. co.
Pure Anada Cosmetics Velvet Matte Blush/Luminous Minerals Cheek Color (Can. co.
Real Purity Powder Blush
rms beauty Lip2Cheek
Signature Minerals Blush
Suncat Natural Mineral Makeup Blush Colors
Zuzu Luxe Blush

Simply Unscented

Almay Pure Blends Blushes/Powder Blush (all cosmetics fragrance free)
Body Shop Lip and Cheek Stain/ Cheek Colour
Clinique Color Rub Allover Lustre
Marcelle Powder Blushes/Cream Blusher (all products fragrance free)
Physicians Formula Blushes (many products fragrance free)
L'Oreal Feel Naturale Blush/True Match Blush
Neutrogena Soft Color Blush

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Concealers contain numerous skin irritating chemicals like propylene glycol, polyethylene glycol, and TEA. Polyethylene glycol can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a suspected carcinogen, and ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen. TEA, used as an emulsifier, can be contaminated with nitrosamines, considered possible carcinogens. Alumina, a neurotoxin, is used in some concealers as an anti-caking agent. Popular brands are also likely to contain a variety of preservatives, incluing parabens. One, methylparaben, is easily absorbed through the skin and can react with the sun's UVB rays to cause sun damage and skin ageing. Another preservative, imidazolidinyl urea is the second most reported cause of contact dermatitis. Retinyl palmitate (Vitamin A palmitate), a skin conditioning agent, is also used in some concealers even though it too can damage DNA and cause gene mutations in the presence of sunlight. Retinyl palmitate is on Health Canada's Hotlist and is restricted in Canadian products. Fragrance ingredients are also widely used in concealers.


Coastal Classic Creations Concealer
Earth's Beauty Face Concealer
Erth Minerals Concealers
Everyday Minerals Concealers
Healing Scents Blemish Stick
Larenim Concealers
LUVU Beauty Concealers (Can. co.)
Maia's Mineral Galaxy Concealers
Miessence Concealers
Monave Concealer Pencil
Real Purity Disguise System
rms beauty Un cover Up (also a foundation)
Rejuva Minerals Concealer
Revlon Concealer and Highlighter
Sheer Miracle Wide Awake
Zosimos Botanicals Primer Preps


Afterglow Cosmetics Organic Aloe Concealer
Avon Mark Good Riddance Hook Up Concealer
bareFaced Mineral Cosmetics Mineral Concealer
bareMinerals Well Rested for Eyes
Jane Iredale Zap & Hide/Enlighten Concealer
Juice Beauty Correcting Concealer
Outside/In Cosmetics Mineral Colour Corrector (Can. co.)
Physicians Formula Organic Wear Natural Origin Concealer Stick
Revlon Concealer & Highlighter Light 300
Sappho Cosmetics Undo (British Columbia co.)
Signature Minerals Concealers

Simply Unscented

Almay Nearly Naked Coverup Stick (all cosmetics fragrance free)
The Body Shop Concealer
Boots Botanics Concealer Stick
Clinique All About Eyes Concealer (many products fragrance free)
CoverGirl Fresh Complexion Concealer/Smoothers Concealer
Marcelle Concealer Palette (all products fragrance free)
Physicians Formula Concealers/Gentle Cover Concealer Stick (many products fragrance free)
Revlon Age-Defying Makeup and Concealer Compact/Colorstay Under Eye Concealer

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Eyeliners are made up of thickeners, such as wax, and plastic film formers that deposit the pigment onto the eyelid. Film formers can be acrylic polymers and PVP (polyvinylpyrrolidone), classified by Environment Canada as a medium health priority. Aluminum and bronze powders, which can cause cancer and are toxic to the nervous system, are used for colour in some eyeliner products. As well, eyeliners may contain toxic coal tar colours such as FD&C Yellow 5. Phenoxyethanol and propylene glycol, which are in liquid eyeliners as emulsifiers, can irritate skin. Eyeliners also often contain parabens -- methylparaben, butylparaben and propylparaben, preservatives that can disrupt the human endocrine system. BHA, another common preservative in eyeliners, is a probable carcinogen that can be absorbed through the skin.


Alima Pure Satin Matte Eyeliner
Coastal Classic Creations Eye Liner
Colorescience Genie Sparkle Colore
Earth's Beauty Eye Liner Pencil/Loose Eye Liner
Honeybee Gardens Jojoba Eye Liner Pencils
Jane Iredale Liquid Eye Liner
Johnny Concert LLC Organic Eyeliner
Larenim Eye Liner
Maia's Mineral Galaxy Eye Liner
Rejuva Minerals Eyeliner Pencil
Sappho Cosmetics Eye Liners (Can. co.)
Suncoat Natural Liquid Eyeliner (Can. co.)
Zosimos Botanicals Eye Pencils


Afterglow Cosmetics Organic Pencil Eyeliner
Aveda Onecolor Plus Two
bareMinerals Eye Color
Beauty Wise Cosmetics Eye Defining Liner
Boots No. 7 Amazing Eyes Pencil/Stay Perfect Eye Liner
Borlind Caring Color Collection Eye Liner
Cosmic Tree Essentials Eye Shadows and Liners for Eyes (Can. co.)
Elegant Minerals Mineral Eye Shadow/Mineral Frosted Shadows
Giselle Cosmetics 8 Stack Collection
Gabriel Color Gabriel Eye Liner/Pure Eyeliner Pencil
JaDora Cosmetics Pencil Eyeliner
Lauren Brooke Mineral Cosmetiques Eye Liner Pencils
Logona Cosmetics Eye Defining Pencils/Liquid Eye Liner
L'Oreal Extra Intense Liquid Pencil Eye Liner
LUVU Beauty Powder Eyeliner (Can. co.)
Maybelline Define-A-Line Eye Liner
Monave Eye Liner Pencil
Nancy Bizzintino Natural Mineral Cosmetics Densify
Neutrogena Nourishing Eye Liner
Outside/In Cosmetics Eye Liners (Can. co.)
Pure Anada Luminous Minerals Shadows and Liners (Can. co.)
100% Pure Cream Stick Eyeliner Pencil/Creamy Liquid Eyeliner
Sante Cosmetics Kajel Eyeliner Pencil
Signature Minerals Eye Liner
Suncat Mineral Makeup Liners
Zuzu Luxe Liquid Eyeliner

Simply Unscented

Almay Eye Pencil/Eye Liner (all cosmetics fragrance free)
Avon Eye Liners
Bare Escentuals Eye Liner
Body Shop Liquid Eye Liner/Eye Definer (pencil)
Clinique Eyeliners (many products fragrance free)
Cover Girl Brow and Eye Makers
Marcelle Eyeliners (all products fragrance free)
Maybelline Lineworks Liquid Eye Liner
Physician's Formula Mineral Eye Liner Pencil

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Eye Shadow

Eye shadows are used for the colours they provide, but artificial colours like carcinogenic coal tar dyes are frequent allergens. One dye - FD&C Yellow No. 5 may cause severe reactions in people allergic to aspirin, and is potentially toxic to the nervous system. Eye shadows that use iron oxides for colour are a better choice.

Talc, a carcinogen, is the main ingredient in many powdered eye shadows. As well as talc, powdered silica is used in many brands. Both talc and and silica in powdered form can be carcinogenic when inhaled. Silica is also a respiratory toxin. Eye shadow may also contain dimethicone, a potentially harmful silicon-based polymer, which helps the powder stick to the eyelid.

Cream eye shadows are made with petrochemicals like mineral oil, an allergen that can be toxic to the immune system, petrolatum, which can be contaminated with carcinogenic PAHS, and lanolin oil, an allergen that may contain pesticide residues.

The glitter in eye shadows and eyeliners is often created by adding finely ground particles of aluminum or bronze, both of which have been linked with cancer and can be neurotoxic. In 2000, the Consumer Agency and Ombudsman in Finland tested 49 eye shadows and found that they all contained impurities of at least one of the metals lead, cobalt, nickel, chromium and arsenic. Researchers say the amounts could cause allergic symptoms in sensitive people, and, over the long term, could cause other people to become sensitive. BHA, a probable carcinogen, is a preservative in a number of eyeshadows. Parabens, which can disrupt the hormonal system, are also common preservatives in mainstream eyeshadow products.


Bare Escentuals Sun Proof Fun
Coastal Classic Creations Eye Shadow
Colorescience White Haute Ice Collection/Genie Spark Colore
Erth Minerals Eyeshadow
Healing Scents Mineral Eye Powder and Liner
Jane Iredale One for All Neutral Compact/Eye Shadow Kit/Eye Gloss
Johnny Concert LLC Mineral Eye Pigment
LoriannZ Eye Shadows (Can. co.)
Maia's Mineral Galaxy Eye Shadow
Rejuva Minerals Eye Shadow
RJ Mineral Cosmetics Eye Primer Gel
rms beauty Eye Shadow/Lip2Cheek Muse
Zosimos Botanicals Mineral Eye Shadow


Afterglow Cosmetics Mineral Eye Shadow
Almay Pure Blends Eye Shadow
bareMinerals Eye Color
CARGO Eye Bronzer
Cosmic Tree Essentials Eye Shadows (Can. co.)
Earth's Beauty Mineral Colours Eye Shadow
Elegant Minerals Mineral Eye Shadows
Giselle Cosmetics 8 Stack Collection
LUVU Beauty Eye Shadow (Can. co.)
Mineralz Eye Shadows
L'Oreal Hip Cream Shadow Paint
Organic Wear Duo Eye Shadow
Outside/In Cosmetics (Can. co.)
Pure Anada Luminous Minerals/Velvet Matte Eye Colour (Can. co.)
Real Purity Eye Shadow
Revlon Limited Edition Collection Molten Metal Liquid Eye Shadow
Sappho Cosmetics Eye Shadow (Can. co.)
Smashbox Eyes for Eyes/Mother Earth Palette/Eye Shadow for Eyes

Simply Unscented

Almay Eye Shadows (all cosmetics fragrance free)
Clinique Eye Shadows (many products fragrance free)
Cover Girl Eye Color
Marcelle Eye Shadows (all products fragrance free)
Neutrogena Mineral Sheers for Eyes
Physician's Formula Eye Shadow

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Face Powder

Mainstream powder products commonly contain talc or silica. Both talc and silica can be easily inhaled and cause respiratory problems when they are airborne. As well, face powders are frequently coloured with potentially toxic coal tar dyes, such as D&C Red 30 Lake and D&C Yellow Aluminum Lake. Other toxic ingredients in face powders include quaternium-15 and imidazolidinyl urea, two preservatives that can release carcinogenic formaldehyde, butylated hydroxy toluene (BHT), a preservative and fragrance masking ingredient which can cause allergic reactions, and lanolin, a skin irritant. Synthetic fragrances, which are added to many popular brands, can also cause contact dermatitis. Endocrine-disrupting parabens are common as preservatives in face powders, and, in a few products, triclosan, another hormone disrupting chemical, is added for its antibacterial properties.


Afterglow Cosmetics Organic Setting Powder
Alima Pure Color Balancing Powder
Alison Raffaele Loose Powder
bareMinerals Mineral Veil
Coastal Classic Creations Loose Powders
Ecco Bella FlowerPower Face Color
Everyday Minerals Finishing Dust
Honeybee Gardens Pressed Mineral Powder Foundation
Larenim Finishing Powder
Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques Finishing Powder/Silk Veil
LaurEss Optimal Coverage Concealer
Maia's Mineral Galaxy Foundation
Miessence Translucent Powder/Mineral Foundation Powder
Pure Anada Cosmetics Face Powders (Can. co.)
Outside/In Cosmetics Mineral Bronzer (Can. co.)
Rejuva Minerals Powder
Sappho Cosmetics Mineral Powder (Can. co.)
Zosimo's Botanicals Shimmer Dust


Almay Line Smoothing Pressed Powder
Aubrey Organics Silken Earth Translucent Base/Body Shimmer
Cleure Loose Mineral Veil
Elegant Minerals Mineral Foundation
Jane Iredale Finishing Powder
L'Oreal Bare Natural Gentle Mineral Powder
LUVU Beauty Mineral Veil (Can. co.)
Organic Wear Pressed Powder
Physician's Formula Organic Wear Natural Origin Pressed Powder
Real Purity Pressed Powder
SunCat Natural Mineral Makeup Finishing Veils
Temptu Retouch Powder

Simply Unscented

Almay Pressed Powders/Nearly Naked Loose Powder (all cosmetics fragrance free)
Body Shop Loose Face Powder/Pressed Face Powder
Clinique Blended Face Powder (many products fragrance free)
Coty Airspun Fragrance Free Face Powder
Cover Girl Clean Fragrance Free Pressed Powder
Marcelle Face Powder (all products fragrance free)

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The main inredients in many foundations are talc, silica and alumina, all respiratory irritants when inhaled as powders. Some foundations contain aluminum starch octenylsuccinate, an aluminum salt that is toxic to the nervous system. Because foundation is worn on the skin for many hours, products containing synthetic ingredients can cause skin problems. Mineral oil can block pores and promote cosmetic acne, and isopropyl myristate, a fatty compound, can irritate the skin and cause blackheads. Other ingredients in foundations that can irritate skin and cause allergies include propylene glycol, phenoxyethanol, BHT and triethanolamine (TEA). TEA can also be contaminated with cancer-causing nitrosamines. Parabens, which are often used as preservatives in foundations can disrupt the hormone system and have been found in breast cancer tumours. Another preservative, quaternium-15, can break down into formaldehyde, which is a carcinogen and sensitizer. Synthetic fragrances, which may also cause allergies, are often used to perfume foundations, and potentially toxic coal tar dyes may be added for colour.


Alima Pure Balancing Primer Powder
CARGO Wet/Dry Foundation
Coastal Classic Creations Refreshing Mist Foundation Base Primer
Honeybee Gardens Pressed Mineral Powder Foundation
Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques Silk Veil/Finishing Powder
Maia's Mineral Galaxy Liquid Primers
Nancy Bizzintino Natural Mineral Cosmetics
Outside/In Cosmetics Foundations (Can. co.)
Pure Anada Natural Mineral Foundation (Can. co.)
Physician's Formula Organic Wear Natural Origin Pressed Powder
Real Purity Creme Foundation
Rejuva Minerals Foundation
rms beauty Un Cover Up
Signature Minerals Concealer
SunCat Natural Mineral Makeup
Suncoat Natural Liquid Foundation (Can. co.)


Afterglow Cosmetics Organic Mineral Foundation
Aubrey Organics Silken Earth
bareMinerals Prime Time Foundation Primer/Oil Control Foundation Primer
Cosmic Tree Essentials Mineral Foundation (Can. co.)
Earth's Beauty Mineral Colours Foundation Powder
Elegant Minerals Mineral Foundation
Giselle Cosmetics 8 Stack Collection
Jane Iredale Finish Powder/Liquid Minerals Foundation
Juice Beauty Perfecting Foundation
Logona Tinted Day Creams
L'Oreal Bare Natural Gentle Mineral Powder
LoriannZ Foundation (Can. co.)
Luminous Primer
Maybelline Mineral Power Powder Foundation
Miessence Mineral Foundation Powder/Translucent Foundation
Organic Wear Pressed Powder
Radiant Minerals Foundation
Sappho Cosmetics Mineral Foundation (Can. co.)
Zosimos Botanicals Primer Prep

Simply Unscented

Almay Foundations (all cosmetics fragrance free)
Body Shop All in One Face Base
Clinique Foundations (many products fragrance free)
Cover Girl Clean Fragrance Free Liquid Make-Up/Foundation/Pressed Powder
LORAC Wet/Dry Powder Makeup Foundation
Marcelle Foundations (all products fragrance free)
Revlon Colorstay Liquid Foudation

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Lip Gloss, Balms and Protectors
(in Skin Products)

Lipsticks and Lip Liners

A woman may ingest more than four pounds of lipstick in her lifetime - even more if she wears it every day. Mainstream lipsticks are composed of synthetic oils, petroleum waxes and artificial colours. The colours usually come from coal tar dyes, which can cause skin irritation and allergies, and some may cause cancer. Lead is often found as an impurity in the colours used in lipstick. Testing in 2008 by Health Canada found that 21 of 26 lipsticks contained lead. Lead is extremely toxic to the nervous system and can cause developmental problems for children. Lead was also detected in lip gloss and lip conditioners. Similarly, tests conducted by Canada's Environmental Defence in 2011 found traces of lead, arsenic, cadmium and other heavy metals in lip tints and glosses. In addition, these tests showed that not only lip products but all face makeup including products such as foundation, concealers and eyeliners contained traces of some heavy metals, with the exeption of one product.

Lipsticks are often preserved with parabens, which have been found in breast cancer tumours. BHA, a probable carcinogen, and BHT are also common ingredients in lipsticks because they preserve the colour of the product. Sunscreen agents, such as the hormone-disrupting chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, as well as Padimate O and retinyl palmitate, are added to many popular brands. Retinyl palmitate is a skin conditioning agent, which under ultraviolet light can break down to produce free radicals and damage DNA. Synthetic fragrances are also common in name brand lipsticks. Beeswax or olive oil are used in place of petroleum wax and synthetic oil in many of the lipsticks identified as "best" and "good".


Aubrey Organics Natural Lips
Badger Lip Tints and Shimmers
Boots No. 7 Mineral Perfection Lipstick
Coastal Classic Creations Lipstick
Cosmic Tree Essentials Lip Care Confections Lipstick (Nova Scotia co.)
Hemp Organics Lipsticks/Lip Liners
Herbal Choice Mari Lip Color
Honeybee Gardens Truly Natural Lipstick/JobaColors Lip Liner
Janbenham Lipstick (Toronto co.
Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques Lip Liner Pencil
Lavera Beautiful Lips Lipstick
LoriannZ Lipsticks (Can. co.)
Miessence Lip Creme/Shimmer Creme
Pure Anada Cosmetics Natural Lipstick (Can. co.)
100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Lip Glaze/Creamsticks/Lip and Cheek Tint
Primitive Natural Lipsticks/Lip Pencils
Real Purity Lipstick/Lip Gloss
Suki Luscious Lips Berry Cream Trio


Afterglow Cosmetics Organic Lip Love Lipstick
Alba Botanica Terragloss/Terratints
barefaced Mineral Cosmetics Natural Lipstick
bareMinerals 100% Natural Lip Color
Beauty with a Cause Lipstick
Boots No. 7 Stay Perfect Lip Lacquer
CARGO + care Lip Base
Cleure High Impact Mineral Lipstick
Colorescience Genie Sparkle Colore
Earth's Beauty Shea & Aloe Lipstick
Giselle Cosmetics
Green Beauty Cosmetics Lip Tint
Jane Iredale Lip Fixation
Johnny Concert LLC Narcissistic Lipstick
Maia's Mineral Galaxy Lipstick
Outside/In Cosmetics Organic Mineral Lipstick (Can. co.)
Peacekeeper Lip Paint
Perfect Organics Lip and Cheek Shimmer
Physician's Formula Organic Wear Lip Veil
rms beauty Lip2Cheek
Signature Minerals Lip Butter
Simply Pure Products Lip Puddles/Twists
Zosimos Botanicals Lipstick
Zuii Organic Lipstick

Simply Unscented

Almay Lipstick (all cosmetics fragrance free)
Body Shop Colorglide Lip/Lip Liners (pencil)/Delipscious Sheer Lip Colour
Clinique Lipstick (many products fragrance free)
Marcelle Rouge Vitality/Rouge Expression Lipstick (all products fragrance free)
Max Factor Color Perfection Lipsticks/Lipcolors
Smashbox Photo Finish Lipstick

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Make-up Remover

Makeup removers may contain a variety of hazardous ingredients. Some companies add polyethylene glycol and ceteareth, both of which can be contaminated with ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen, and 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen. Makeup removers may also contain DMDM hydantoin, which may release carcinogenic formaldehyde, the skin irritant propylene glycol and even potentially toxic coal tar colours. Most brands are preserved with parabens, which are estrogen-mimicking chemicals that can disrupt the endocrine system. Fragrances are also frequently added to makeup removers.


Aubrey Organics 100% Pure Jojoba Oil Make-up Remover
Green Beaver Eye Make-Up Remover (Can. co.)
Herbal Choice Mari Makeup Remover
Healing Scents Eye Makeup Remover
Jane Iredale Dot the i
Jasco Organics Remove Gentle Makeup Remover
Kaylala Dew Creme Cleanser
Maia's Mineral Galaxy Makeup Remover
Mindful Beauty Organic Sweet Almond Oil
Nurture My Body Cleansing Milk Fragrance Free
L'Occitane Shea Ultra Comforting Cleansing Milk
Organic Essence Certified Organic Shea Cream
Real Purity Eye Makeup Remover
Rocky Mountain Soap Company Transformative Cleansing Oil (Can. co.)
Zosimos Botanicals Makeup Remover and Cleanser


Albolene Cleanser Unscented
Avalon Organics CoQ10 Skin Care Facial Cleansing Milk
Avon Mark Make It Go Away Makeup Removing Wipes
Beauty Without Cruelty Eye Makeup Remover
Cleure Facial Cleanser
Earth Science Makeup Remover/Eye Makeup Remover- Green Tea or Chamomile
Ecco Bella Botanicals Cleansing Milk & Makeup Remover
Olivier Soapery Femme Makeup Remover
Physicians Formula Eye Makeup Remover Pads

Simply Unscented

Almay Hypoallergenic Eye Make-up Remover Pads (all cosmetics fragrance free)
bareMinerals On the Spot Makeup Remover
Clinique (many products fragrance free)
Klorane Wild Cornflower Eye Make-up Remover
Marcelle Eye Make-up Remover (all products fragrance free)
Revlon Eye Makeup Eraser Pen
RoC Eye Make-up Remover (all products fragrance free)

Home-made alternatives

Eye Makeup Remover
1 Tbsp castor oil
1 Tbsp light olive oil
1 tsp vegetable oil (sunflower, safflower, etc)

Blend ingredients. Use to remove makeup around the eyes.


Use jojoba oil to remove make-up and lipstick.

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Conventional mascara is made up of waxes for thickening eyelashes, pigments for colour and filmifying polymers that keep the mascara on the lashes. Water-resistant mascara is likely to contain isododecane, a volatile solvent, while non water-resistant mascara is usually based on water.

Mascaras can contain many irritating and potentially toxic ingredients, including petroleum distillates, which can be contaminated with the carcinogen butadiene, BHA, an antioxidant considered a probable human carcinogen, phenoxyethanol, an allergen and skin irritant, and propylene glycol, an allergen which can cause contact dermatitis, eye irritation and enhances skin absorption. Synthetic plastics, such as styrene PVP copolymer and sodium polymethacrylate, which can be toxic and reactive, are used in many products to lengthen lashes as well as to fix the mascara. Many conventional mascaras contain triethanolamine (TEA), which is toxic to the immune system and may react with other ingredients to form cancer-causing nitrosamines. Parabens, like methylparaben and butylparaben, both of which mimic estrogen and can disrupt the endocrine system, are common preservatives in mascara.


Afterglow Cosmetics Pure Soul Mascara
Coastal Classic Creations Mascara
Cleure Mineral Mascara
Earth Lab Mascara
Lavera Volume Mascara
Maia's Mineral Galaxy Mascara
Miessence Mascara
Nvey Eco Organic Mascara (Australian co.)
Rejuva Minerals Mascara
Suncoat Products Natural Mascara (Can. co.)
Zuzu Luxe Mascara


Borlind Caring Color Collection Mascara
Earth's Beauty Mascara
Ecco Bella Botanicals Mascara
EcoGlo Minerals Mascara
Gourmet Body Treats Mascara
Honey Bee Gardens Truly Natural Mascara
Jane Iredale Purebrow Fix & Mascara/Pure Lash Mascara
Living Nature Cosmetics Conditioning Mascara
LoriannZ Lucky Lash Mascara (Can. co.)
Monave Natural Mascara
Nancy Bizzintino Natural Mineral Cosmetics Prime Lash
Physicians Formula Ultra Dramatic Mascara
Pure Anada Mascara (Can. co.)
100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Mascara
L'Oreal Double Extend Waterproof Lash Fortifier and Extender
Origins Underwear for Lashes
Raw Earth Natural Beauty
Real Purity Mascara
Revlon Lash Jewels Eye Accents/3D Waterproof Extreme Mascara
Smashbox Bionic Mascara
Terra Firma Cosmetics "Stacked" Natural Mascara

Simply Unscented

Almay Mascara (all cosmetics fragrance free)
Body Shop Define and Lengthen Mascara/ Brow and Lash Tint
Clinique Lash Power/High Impact Mascara (many products fragrance free)
Marcelle Power Volume Mascara (all products fragrance free)

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Dental and Oral Hygiene

Dental Floss

Most dental floss is made of nylon, a petroleum product, and coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). PTFE is related to the coating on non-stick cookware, a chemical which is considered to be carcinogenic. Unwaxed floss or floss with a natural wax coating, such as beeswax, are better alternatives to PTFE.

Best (silk or wood)

Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Dental Floss/Dental Tape
Dr. Collin's Dental Work Unwaxed Floss
Dr. Ken's Dental Floss
EcoDent Vegan Floss Premium Dental Floss
Radius Natural Silk Floss
Tom's of Maine Naturally Waxed Anti-Plaque Floss
Unwaxed floss of any type

Denture Cleaners

No alternatives to mainstream products were found.

Home-made alternatives

Soak dentures in 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and water, mixed half and half.

Soak dentures in a mixture of warm water and vinegar mixed half and half, brushing and rinsing them before using.

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Conventional mouthwash is often alcohol-based with an alcohol content ranging from 18 to 26%. Products with alcohol can contribute to cancers of the mouth, tongue and throat when used regularly. In 2009, a review in the Dental Journal of Australia confirmed that alcohol-based mouthwashes contribute to an increased risk of oral cancers.

Fluoride (listed as sodium fluoride) may be added to protect against cavities. In some animal studies, sodium fluoride has been shown to be neurotoxic and possibly carcinogenic. Mouthwashes are usually sweetened with artificial sugars such as saccharin (listed as sodium saccharin), a suspect carcinogen, or sucralose, which may trigger migraines and other problems in sensitive people. As well, mouthwashes can contain synthetic flavours and colours, such as FD&C Blue 1 and FD&C Green 3.

Best (no alcohol, fluoride, artificial colours or sweeteners)

Anarres Natural Candy Cane Mouthwash (Toronto company)
Auromere Ayurvedic Mouthwash
Beauty with a Cause Mouthwash
Jason Natural Cosmetics Tea Tree Oil Mouthwash
Dr. Katz TheraBreath Oral Rinses
Hakeem Herbal Mouthwash (based on neem)
Miessence Freshening Mouthwash

Good (no alcohol)

Colgate Phos-Flur Anti-Cavity Fluoride Rinse (contains sodium fluoride and sorbitol)
Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Mouthwash
EcoDent Natural Daily Rinse (active ingredient is baking soda)
Herbal Choice Mari Mouthwash
Healing Scents Mouthwash
Listerine Agent Cool Blue Tinting Rinse
TheraNeem Herbal Moutwash
Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Mouthwash (contains sorbitol)
Tom's of Maine Natural Baking Soda Mouthwash (contains menthol)
Xyliwhite Mouthwash (contains xylitol)

Home-made Alternatives

  • Salted warm water
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda in 1/4 cup water
  • 2 ounces water, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda or sea salt, 1 drop peppermint oil, and an optional one drop of tea tree oil.
  • Rosemary-Mint Mouthwash
    2 1/2 cups distilled or mineral water
    1 teaspoon fresh mint leaves
    1 teaspoon rosemary leaves
    1 teaspoon anise seeds

    Boil the water, add herbs and seeds and infuse for 20 minutes. Cool, strain and use as a gargle/mouthwash. If you wish to make up a larger quantity, double or triple the recipe, then add 1 teaspoon of tincture of myrrh as a natural preservative. (adapted from and Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold Bond)

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    The main ingredients in conventional toothpaste are sodium fluoride to prevent cavities and abrasives like hydrated silica for cleaning and polishing the teeth. In animal studies, sodium fluoride has been associated with both cancer and neurotoxicity. Like mouthwashes, toothpastes are generally sweetened with artificial sugars such as saccharin and sucralose, and coloured with dyes such as Blue #1 and Yellow #5. To create foam, manufacturers add sodium laurel sulfate, which may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen. Propylene glycol, which can cause contact dermatitis at very low concentrations, is also a common ingredient in toothpaste. Triclosan may be added for its antibacterial properties. Triclosan is a possible endocrine disrupting chemical and has been shown in animal studies to harm the thyroid.

    Best (no sodium fluoride, artificial sweeteners, dyes, detergents or triclosan)

    Anarres Natural Health Own Tooth Powder/Toothpaste (Toronto company)
    Alternative Oral Care Tooth Powder
    Arganat All Natural Clay Toothpaste
    Druide Toothpaste (contains sorbitol from natural sources)
    Green Beaver Organic Toothpaste (Canadian company)
    Hakeem Herbal Toothpaste (contains only herbs and neem)
    Healing Scents Toothpaste
    Ipsab Tooth Powder
    Miessence Toothpaste
    Nature's Gate Creme de Anise Toothpaste
    Solay Smile Tooth Powder
    Tooth Chips Soap for Teeth
    Tooth Soap Peppermint Liquid

    Good (fluoride free but may contain 1 or 2 Common Hazardous Ingredients)

    Arm & Hammer Teeth Whitening Booster Toothpaste
    Auromere Ayurvedic Toothpaste
    Desert Essence Natural Tea Tree Oil Toothpastes
    Dr. Sheffield's Tooth White Tooth Paste
    EcoDent International Toothpowder
    First Teeth Baby Toothpaste
    Healing Scents Toothpaste
    HeavenScent Naturals Natural Tooth Powder
    Jason Toothpaste
    Just the Goods Vegan Toothpaste
    Kiss My Face Toothpaste
    Lavera Natural Tooth Gel Toothpaste
    Nature's Gate Creme de Peppermint and Creme de Mint Toothpastes (others contain sodium fluoride and parabens)
    Newco Natural Toothpaste (Calgary company - contains tea tree oil)
    Peelu Peelu Toothpaste

    Home-made Alternatives

    Brush with plain baking soda or salt.

    Brush with 2 parts baking soda and 1 part salt mixed to a fine powder in a blender.

    Herbal toothpaste
    Mix 1/2 teaspoon (tsp) glycerin, 1/8 tsp mild neutral soap powder, 1 tablespoon calcium carbonate (often called chalk of Paris white), 1/2 tsp gum arabic and a couple of drops of peppermint oil. Add 1/8 cup of water to the mixture. Heat and stir for 5 minutes until the mixture has a paste-like appearance (adapted from Mother Earth News).


    Do not scrub teeth vigorously with toothpaste containing chalk (calcium carbonate) as it can wear away enamel.

    The main way to remove plaque is flossing, not brushing. Brushing with plain water is sufficient as long as you floss.

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    Tooth Whiteners

    Over-the-counter tooth bleaching products generally rely on hydrogen peroxide, carbamide peroxide or urea peroxide to whiten teeth. These ingredients, particularly in higher concentrations, may cause an increase in tooth sensitivity or mild irritation of soft tissue in the mouth, such as gums. Hydrogen peroxide is a neurotoxin and possible endocrine disruptor. The European Scientific Committee on Consumer Products recommended that home tooth bleaching products contain no more than 6% hydrogen peroxide. Some commercial products also contain sweeteners such as sodium saccharin or sucralose. Whitening toothpastes do not generally contain peroxide, but help whiten teeth using small particles to grind the dirt off. Because there are no long-term studies on the safety of tooth whiteners, limited use of these products would be wise.


    Arm & Hammer Dental Care Whitening Booster
    Crest Whitestrips Dental Whitening Formula/Dental Whitening System Strips


    Brush your teeth with baking soda to remove stains. Just wet your brush, dip it into some baking soda and brush as usual (it will taste salty). Then rinse out. It's not necessary to do it every day once stains are removed. Occasionally, like once or twice a week, works well.

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    Feminine Hygiene

    Health Alert

    An estimated 1 out of every 5 women uses talcum powder either directly on the genital area or applied to tampons, sanitary pads or diaphragms. Dusting with talc or "baby powder" is associated with a 3-fold increase in ovarian cancer, and should be avoided. An alternative to talc is cornstarch, preferably organic.


    Douches are unnecessary and can have serious health effects. A US government advisory panel blames “tradition, ignorance, and commercial advertising” for the practice. The vagina cleans itself naturally. Using douches irritates the vagina and increases the risk of vaginal infections and cervical cancer. Dr. Samuel Epstein, Chair of the Cancer Prevention Coalition, cites a study which found that women who used douches more than once a week experienced a 4-fold increase in risk for cervical cancer.

    The active ingredient in many douches is a cleansing agent called octoxynol. Octoxynol is an ethoxylated alkyl phenol which can cause skin irritation, disrupt the endocrine system and can be contaminated with ethylene dioxide, a known carcinogen, and 1.4-dioxane, a possible carcinogen. As well, preservatives such as parabens, which can also disrupt the endocrine system, and the potentially neurotoxic methylisothiazoline are used in "personal cleansing" products such as douches.


    Let your vagina clean itself naturally by making mucous. The mucous washes away blood, semen and vaginal discharge. Keep the outside of your vagina clean and healthy by washing regularly with warm water and mild soap when you bathe. (from the Office On Women's Health, US Dept. of Health and Human Services)

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    Tampons, Pads and other Menstrual Products

    Feminine hygiene products may contain deodorants and absorbency enhancers, as well as artificial fragrances that can irritate the genital area. After tampons were found to be associated with toxic shock syndrome, manufacturers eliminated some ingredients so that tampons are now made of a simpler formulation of cotton and viscose rayon. The exact components of tampons and pads are trade secrets. Bleaching processes have also improved, but bleached cotton and rayon in pads and tampons can still be contaminated with traces of dioxin, a carcinogen created during the bleaching process. Safer alternatives include organic cotton pads and tampons, sponges and menstrual cups.


    DivaCup Menstrual Cup (made of silicone)(Canadian co.)
    Glad Rags 100% organic undyed cotton washable pads
    Jade & Pearl Menstrual Sea Sponge Tampons
    Goddess Moons cotton washable reusable pads (B.C. co.)
    The Keeper Menstrual Cup (reusable natural gum rubber) and Moon Cup (made of silicone for women with latex sensitivities)
    Lunapads 100% cotton washable pads (sold at P’Lovers in Halifax and the Big Carrot in Toronto)
    Mother and Maiden washable cloth pads (Can. co.)
    Organyc 100% Organic Cotton Tampons/100% Organic Cotton Pads (not reusable)
    Natracare 100% organic cotton Tampons, Pads, Panty Shields (not reusable)
    Seventh Generation Chlorine Free Organic Cotton Tampons (not reusable)
    Softcup Reusable Menstrual Cup

    Simply Unscented

    Choose unscented conventional products.

    Home-made Alternatives

    Make-your-own cloth menstrual pads: Cut out 3 layers of 100% cotton fabric, such as flanelette or terry cloth, into an 8 1/2"x10" rectangle. Round corners. Pile together. Stitch all around using either a zigzag stitch or a serge stitch. Cut out 2 wings 6"x6" shaped like this =O=. Fold each wing in half, and stitch all raw edges. Centre wings on the pad about 2 1/4" from either long edge, with straight edge of wings facing straight edge of the pad with wings overlapping. Sew a straight seam, catching in the wings 2 1/2" from both long edges. Either sew Velcro on wings or use hammer-on snaps. Fold the pad in thirds, and fasten the wings underneath the fold. Now you have a superabsorbent 9-layer menstrual pad that opens up for easy washing and quick drying! (from

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    Hair Care


    Most mainstream and many “natural” conditioners rely on quaternary compounds to produce thicker, tangle-free silky hair. These compounds - cetrimonium bromide and quaternium 18 - can be irritating to eyes and skin. Quaternary compounds and other preservatives found in conditioners, such as DMDM hydantoin, imidiazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea, release formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen. Other ingredients to avoid: carcinogenic coal tar colours (FD&C), parabens, ceteareth 20, propylene glycol, cinnamate sunscreens, and retinyl palmitate. Most conventional conditioners contain fragrance, a synthetic mix likely to include endocrine disrupting phthalates and other hazardous chemicals.


    Alaffia Conditioners
    Aubrey Organics 100% Pure & Certified Organic Jojoba Oil/White Camellia Oil Soothing Emollient/Rose Mosqueta Rose Hip Seed Oil Moisturizing Nutrient
    Botanical Therapeutic Moisturizing Conditioner
    Coastal Classic Creations Conditioner
    Curelle Treslite Conditioner/Riche Conditioner (both unscented)/Build-up Remover
    Desert Essence Jojoba Oil
    Dr. Bronner's Magic Organic Citrus Hair Rinse
    Druide Conditioner
    EarthSafe Rich Earth/Purifying Fire/Fresh Water/Clean Air(unscented) Conditioners (Can. co.)
    Earth Spirit Organics Botanical Conditioner/Naturally Unscented Conditioner (Can. co.)
    Green Beaver Conditioners (Can. company)
    Healing Scents Conditioner (available unscented)
    Honey Coconut Milk Conditioner
    Kogi Rosemary Mint Conditioner/Unscented Conditioner (Can. co.)
    Miessence Hair Conditioner/Protect Hair Repair
    Nature’s Blends Daily Light Conditioner/Deep Conditioner
    Nurture My Body Conditioner (available Fragrance Free)
    Oneka Lavender Conditioner/Citrus Conditioner/Unscented Conditioner (Can. co.)
    Pure and Natural Conditioners
    Real Purity Conditioning Rinse (available through
    Zosimos Conditioner


    Alba Botanica Hair Conditioner
    Atlantic Healing Hemp Seawinds Conditioner (Nova Scotia co.)
    Aubrey Organics Conditioners
    Beauty Without Cruelty Conditioners
    Burt's Bees Hair Repair Shea & Grapefruit Deep Conditioner
    Caribbean Solutions Conditioner
    Carina Botanical Therapeutic Moisturizing Conditioner
    DHS Conditioning Rinse with Panthenol
    Earth Science Pure Essentials Fragrance Free Conditioner
    EO Conditioners
    Giovanni Hair Care Direct
    Jane Iredale Truly Pure Shampoo and Conditioner
    John Masters Citrus & Neroli Detangler/Rosemary & Peppermint Detangler/Bare Unscented Detangler (available Unscented)
    Juice Organics Brightening Conditioner/Pom Smooth Conditioner (available at Rexall stores)
    Juni Gentle Conditioner
    Kiss My Face Conditioners
    Nana Essence Conditioner
    Nature Clean Herbal Conditioner Unscented
    Secrets of Tulum Chili & Soy/Tomato and Soy/Cactus and Soy Conditioners (Canadian co.)
    TheraNeem Organix Conditioner

    Simply Unscented

    Granny's Soft and Silky Conditioner
    Jason Natural Cosmetics Fragrance Free Daily Conditioner
    Magick Botanicals Oil Free Conditioner/Conditioner for Thinning Hair
    Stonybrook Botanicals Conditioner Unscented

    Home-made Alternatives

    Conditioner: Pour 1 cup of warm beer over hair, then rinse with water. For extra conditioning, a teaspoon of jojoba oil can be added to the beer.

    Mayonnaise Conditioner: Massage mayonnaise into hair, coating every strand. Cover hair with plastic bag for 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water.

    Dry Scalp Conditioner: Massage plain yogurt into your hair, especially the scalp. Cover with a plastic bag for 30 minutes. Rinse with warm water.

    Henna Treatment: Pour 1/2 cup of boiling water over 1/4 cup of colourless henna and 2 teaspoons of honey. Let sit a few minutes to thicken. Coat each strand of hair, cover with a plastic bag and wrap with a warm towel. Shampoo after 1 hour.

    Conditioner: Mix 1 egg yolk, 1 small container of yoghourt and 1 tablespoon of honey. Apply to hair, wrap in towel for 15 minutes, then rinse.

    Cider Vinegar Conditioner: Mix 1/2 cup cider vinegar with 1 1/2 cups cool water in a bottle. After shampooing and rinsing, pour the vinegar rinse through your hair, taking care not to get it in your eyes. It should remove buildup on your hair and leave it shiny and smooth.

    Hot Oil Treatment: Warm 1/2 cup soybean or sunflower oil and apply it to damp hair. Wrap your hair in plastic and apply a hot towel for 20 minutes. Shampoo hair. Before warming the oil, 5 drops of rosemary or 10 drops of lavender oil may be added to the original oil.

    (adapted from Longlocks Hair Care Recipes Cookbook at

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    Hair Colouring (Permanent)

    A study by the Harvard School of Public Health suggested that women who use hair dyes five or more times a year have twice the risk of developing ovarian cancer. Many hair colouring products contain coal tar dyes, some of which are suspected carcinogens. Darker, more permanent dyes pose a greater risk. Studies have shown that using permanent hair dyes regularly over a long period of time is associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma and multiple myeloma. A study by the National Cancer Institute in 1992 found the use of permanent hair dyes could be linked to 20% of all cases of non-Hodgkins lymphoma in women. As well, women using hair dyes at least once a month doubled their risk of bladder cancer, according to a 2001 study by researchers at the University of Southern California. To reduce the risk of bladder cancer from hair dyes, the European Union in 2006 banned 22 hair dye substances, but these substances have not been restricted in North American products.

    In addition, almost all permanent hair dyes contain PPD, or p-phenylenediamine, to make the dye work. PPD can often cause serious skin irritation and is suspected of causing cancer. Products sold in Canada containing PPD must be labelled with warnings that dyeing eyelashes or eyebrows can cause blindness. Resorcinal is another common ingredient in conventional hair colouring products. It is a skin irritant, toxic to the immune system and a frequent cause of allergic reactions to hair dyes. It is also an endocrine disrupting chemical. In a few dark formulas marketed in the US to men, there may even be lead acetate in hair colouring products. Fragrance and preservatives are also added to conventional hair dyes. Hair colouring products that use henna, cassia or indigo offer non-toxic alternatives.

    Best (contain henna, cassia or indigo)

    Coastal Classic Creations Indigo for Hair Coloring
    Light Mountain Natural Hair Colours
    Logona Herbal Henna Hair Colors
    Morocco Method International Henna
    Pure Hands and Clean Hearts Soap Company Henna
    Rainbow Research Henna Hair Dye

    Good (also henna, cassia or indigo)

    Aubrey Organics Color Me Natural
    Colora Henna

    Less Toxic Alternatives (may contain small amounts of PPD)

    Baka Beauty Natural Colors
    Naturcolor Hair Color Gel to cover grey hair
    Sanotint Natural Hair Color
    Tints of Nature (contains natural banana fragrance)

    Simply Unscented

    Baka Beauty Natural Colors Unscented
    Herbatint (no fragrance or ammonia)


    True henna is a plant derived product which produces brown through red shades. Steer clear of so-called “black henna”. This is not a true henna, and contains PPD, a suspect carcinogen added to hair dyes. Black henna is also used to make temporary tattoos.

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    Hair Oils and Pomades

    Oils, pomades, daily moisturizers, leave-in conditioner and creams will make the hair feel more soft and flexible. It is especially important to add them to permed or straightened hair which has been stripped of some of its ability to oil itself. However, hair pomade usually contains wax and petroleum-based oils that tend to clog pores. These oils are less easily absorbed into the hair and attract dust. Hazardous chemicals to avoid in conventional hair oils and conditioning products include fragrance, oxybenzone, parabens, DMDM hydantoin, ceteareth 20 and 25, propylene glycol and diazolidinyl urea.

    Best (contain natural oils)

    Alaffia Shea Butter Sculpting Wax
    B.A.R.E. Herbal Hair Oil (unscented)
    Bumble and Bumble Defrizz
    Burt's Bees Outdoor Miracle Salve
    Carol's Daughter Khoret Amen Hair Oil
    Coastal Classic Creations Leave-in Hair Shaping Treatment
    Dax Premium Styling Pressing Oil
    Goodness Essentials Hair Pomade
    Hamadi Shea Pomade
    Kynk Hair Honey (Canadian co. making shea butter products)
    Shear Miracles Body Care Hair Milk
    Sigrid Wild Mane Hair Oil (Canadian co.)
    Suncoat Natural Anti-Fritz Calming Serum (Canadian co.)
    Wise Ways African Hair Oil/Goldilock Hair Oil/Crowning Glory Hair Cream


    Aubrey Organics NuStyle Organic Hair-Smoothing Serum
    Darcy's Botanicals Organic Coconut Butter Styling Pomade
    Dr. Bronner's Magic Organic Hair Creme
    Giovanni Magnetic Force Styling Wax
    Jason Citrus and Mandarin Wax Pomade
    Serenity Skincare Leave-in Hair Treatment
    VO5 Hair Dress Gray/White
    Weleda Rosemary Hair Oil

    Home-made Alternatives

    Shea butters, jojoba oil, sunflower oil and olive oil can all be used as hair oils or leave-in conditioners.

    Hot oil hair treatment: Combine 1 teaspoon soybean oil and 2 teaspoons castor oil. Warm on low heat. Massage mixture into scalp and hair. Wrap hair in a hot towel for 15 minutes. Shampoo & rinse.


    Oils are best applied to wet hair to help hold in the moisture already there. Creams or leave-in conditioners can be used on days when you don't wash or wet your hair. The type of oil or cream you use in your hair is going to depend on your hair type. It may take some experimenting to find what works best for you. The time of year and your hair's exposure to the elements may vary your routine.

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    Hair Relaxers and Straighteners

    Relaxing or straightening the hair can be done with blow dryers, hot combs or flat irons. However, chemicals are the popular choice for a more permanent effect. Three types of chemicals are generally used -- sodium hydroxide, guanidine hydroxide, and ammonium thioglycolate, all of which have damaging effects.

    These include scalp irritation, skin burns, permanent scarring, deep ulcerations, skin drying and cracking, dermatitis, irreversible baldness, eye damage including blindness and weak, dry, broken and damaged hair. Hair straighteners along with hair dyes are the cause of more complaints to the US Food and Dug Administration's Cosmetic Office than any other product.

    Relaxers, whether with or without lye, have a very high pH (near the top of the scale). In other words, they are caustic. Relaxers work because they break the bonds that actually give strength to the hair. This causes the hair to straighten. Therefore, relaxed hair is, by definition, weaker than natural hair. Relaxers also deplete the hair of sebum (the oil your scalp secretes). Combine that with heat and you can really end up with a problem. Hair that has been straightened will be weaker than if it were natural and will be more prone to problems.

    For years, the main chemical used in hair straighteners has been sodium hydroxide - a powerful alkaline caustic otherwise known as lye. Sodium hydroxide is used in products like Drano to dissolve hair in drains. It's also used in depilatories to dissolve hair.

    Newer "no-lye"products are also now on the shelves. Some contain quanidine hydroxide, a mixture of calcium hydroxide and guanidine carbonate. While this chemical combination is not lye, it is very similar and has the same effect chemically on the hair. Advertising leads people to believe these chemicals are much safer when in fact they only damage the hair slightly less and cause less scalp irritation, but they can still burn the scalp if used incorrectly.

    A third chemical, ammonium thioglycolate, known as the "thio relaxer", is less drastic than sodium hydroxide, and, in some cases, than guanadine hydroxide, but it also breaks down the bonds in hair.

    The FDA has received complaints about scalp irritation and hair breakage related to both lye and "no lye" relaxers. The same safety rules should apply to any type of relaxer. They should be left on no longer than the prescribed time, carefully washed out with neutralizing shampoo, and followed up with regular conditioning. Hair care experts recommend that straighteners be applied by a professional in a salon setting and that extra care be taken to keep straightened hair healthy.

    In addition to the concerns about the active ingredients, chemical hair straighteners have also been found to contain other hazardous ingredients, including formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen that has been found at high levels in a hair straightener called Brazilian Blowout. Hair straighteners may also contain parabens, polypropylene and glycols, as well as sodium laurel sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate.

    As well, a relaxer must be used with a neutralizing shampoo and conditioner whether applied at home or in a salon. Conventional shampoos and conditioners found in hair straightening kits contain the same ingredients found in conventional shampoos and conditioners, whose health effects are detailed in those sections.

    Less Toxic Alternatives

    Baka Beauty Hair Relaxer (US mail order-
    Creme of Nature with Argan Oil

    Sensitive By Nature Scalp Balm (pre-relaxer protector)

    For information about healthier hair care for Afro-American hair check out

    Home-made Alternatives

    Use the heat from blow dryers, hot combs and flat irons to straighten hair. Even a curling iron with a wide diameter barrel held backwards can straighten hair.

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    Hair Styling

    Hair styling products include hair sprays, styling gels and mousses.

    Hair sprays and other styling products rely on polymers and solvents for their ability to hold hair, and are often applied with aerosols or pump sprays. Aerosols suspend fine particles in a gas, which propels the spray onto the hair. Isobutane, which can be contaminated with the carcinogen, butadiene, or propane are the gases typically used as propellants. Pump sprays, on the other hand, mix liquid with a small amount of air and use springs, valves and tubes to create a spray. Both aerosol and pump sprays produce fine droplets which can be inhaled deeply into the lungs and transferred into the bloodstream. Hazardous ingredients contained in the formulation of the spray can pose a higher risk if they are inhaled as fine particulate matter. Inhalation of spray can also cause respiratory irritation and breathing difficulties. If you use a spray, choose pump over aerosol as spray droplets are slightly larger. Hair setting lotions are a better choice.

    Hair sprays, styling gels and mousses keep the hair in place by coating it with polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), a plastic polymer, and using solvents to dissolve it in solution and keep the film flexible on the hair. PVP is classified by Environment Canada as a medium health priority. Phthalates, which can affect reproduction, may be used as solvents in sprays but are not listed as ingredients. Other hazardous ingredients in hair styling products include TEA, and potentially toxic FD&C colours. Ethoxylated alcohols and PEG compounds, also common in hair styling products may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen. Parabens, which can disrupt the endocrine system, are used as preservatives in hair sprays, and DMDM hydantoin, a formaldehyde releasing chemical, is a popular preservative in other styling products such as mousses. Fragrance, which is a mixture of many unknown toxins, is added to most conventional hair styling products.


    Aloe Vera Gel (any pure product)
    Burt's Bees Outdoor Miracle Salve
    Coastal Classic Creations Coastal Gardens Toner
    Coconut Oil (any pure brand)
    Curelle Styling Gel
    Druide Herbal Styling Gel/Alcohol Free Hairspray
    Favor Care Organics Styling Spray
    Giovanni Hair Care Styling Gel/Hair Care Styling Natural Mousse
    Healing Scents Herbal Essences Tangles Out
    Hugo Naturals Mist
    Miessence Shape Styling Gel/Protect Hair Repair
    Morocco Method International Hair Spray
    Pretty Natural Braid and Loc Spray/Press Curl and Blow Dry Cream
    Real Purity Natural Styling Gel
    Salon Naturals Instant Shine Hair Serum/Styling Gels (Natural Hold and Ultra Hold)
    Smooth & Moisturizer Hair Balm
    Shear Miracles by Robyn Organic Body Care
    Suncoat Natural Styling Mousse/Gel/Spray (


    Alba Botanica Hair Style Cream/Hair Style Gel
    Aubrey Organics Men's Stock Organic Hair Control/NuStyle Organic Hair Spray/Natural Missst Herbal Hair Spray (regular hold, super hold)/NuStyle Organic Hair Smoothing Serum/Mandarin Magic Ginkgo Leaf & Ginseng Root Hair Moisturizing Jelly/B-5 Design Gel/Primrose Tangle-Go Hair Conditioner, Lusterizer & Styling Spray
    Botanical Therapeutic Natural Hair Spray
    Beauty Without Cruelty Hair Spray
    Burt's Bees Natural Skin Care for Men Hair Gel
    Deva Curl Herbal Cleaning Tonic
    Dr. Bronner's Magic Organic Lavender Coconut Hair Creme/Magic Organic Peppermint Hair Creme
    Giovanni Hold Spritz
    Healing Scents Styling Gels
    Jason Natural Cosmetics Salon Texturizing Cream - Aloe Vera & Bergamot
    Kiss My Face Upper Management Styling Gel
    Real Purity Herbal Hair Spray
    Serenity Skincare Spritz Detangler
    Simply Organic Volume Spray
    VO 5 Hair Dress Gray/White

    Simply Unscented

    Adorn Hair Spray Unscented
    Alberto VO5 Hard to Hold Crystal Clear Hair Spray
    Clairol Final Net Hair Spray/Regular Hold/Non-Aerosol Extra Hold/Condition 3-in-1 Aerosol Hair Spray Extra Hold
    Dove Unscented Extra Hold Hair Spray
    Finesse Self-Adjusting Unscented Hair Spray
    K-Y Jelly
    Magic Botanicals Styling Gel/Hair Spray (both fragrance free)
    Pantene Pro-V Classic Unscented Non-Aerosol Hair Spray
    Salon Selectives Sit Still Medium Hold Finishing Spray (pump)
    Vitalis Hair Spray for Men Unscented

    Home-made Alternatives

    Hair Styling Gel - Mix together 2 cups boiling water, and 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin in 1 teaspoon vinegar. Strain through coffee filter and put in sprayer bottle.

    Lemon Hair Spray - Squeeze juice of 1 medium lemon into 2 cups of water. Slice up lemon peel and add. Boil slowly until reduced to 1 cup. Strain and pour into spray bottle. Keep in fridge. For extra hold use 1 1/2 lemons.

    Flax Seed Gel- Boil 2 tablespoons of flax seed in 1/3 cup water for 10 minutes. Rub through hair sparingly.

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    Permanent Waves

    Using permanent waves or perms to curl straight hair is just as popular as straightening curly hair. The active ingredient in perms and in some straighteners is the toxic ammonium thioglycolate. It can cause eye and skin irritation, and allergic reactions in some people. Permanent wave solutions can also result in first-degree burns and even hair loss. They cause hair to become damaged and weakened, making it more susceptible to chemical and ultraviolet damage. As well as ammonium thioglycolate, permanent wave solutions contain a large number of allergens and skin irritants like TEA, polyethelene glycol, FD&C colours, DMDM hydantoin, parabens, hydrogen peroxide, imidiazolidynol urea and synthetic fragrance.

    No alternatives to conventional home permanents were found. However, an alternative and less toxic permanent wave solution, Organic Care, is available through "green" hairdressing salons and spas. Organic Care does not contain ammonia or thioglycolate.

    Home-made Alternatives

    Use the heat from a curling iron to curl your hair.

    When your hair is damp, put rollers or pin curls into your hair, or plait it. Release the curls when the hair has dried.

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    Shampoos frequently contain harsh detergents, chemical fragrances and numerous irritating and carcinogenic compounds. Of particular concern are formaldehyde-releasing preservatives such as quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidiazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea, which are used in many shampoos and conditioners to kill bacteria and reduce the risk of skin infections. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen. Parabens, endocrine disrupting chemicals which have been found in breast tumour tissue, are also used as preservatives in many shampoos and hair products.

    In addition, sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, which are used to create foam in shampoos, are also ingredients of concern. Both are irritants, which can be contaminated with ethylene dioxide, a known carcinogen, and 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen. Ammonium laureth sulfate, sometimes used as a substitute, may also be similarly contaminated. Other potentially harmful ingredients frequently used in conventional shampoos include TEA, which can release carcinogenic nitrosamines,propylene glycol, an allergen and skin irritant, and the preservatives, methylisothiazoline and methylchlorothiazoline, which have shown evidence of being neurotoxic in animal studies. Carcinogenic coal tar may be added as a biocide to some anti-dandruff shampoos.


    Alaffia Shampoos
    Burt's Bees Outdoor Rosemary Mint Shampoo Bar
    Chagrin Valley Soap and Shampoo Bar
    Curelle Energe Shampoo/Hydra Shampoo
    Dr. Bronner's Magic Pure Castille Classic Soaps
    EarthSafe Rich Earth Shampoo ( shampoo available)
    Earth Spirit Organics Botanical Shampoo (Can. co.)(unscented shampoo available)
    Green Beaver Shampoos (Can. co.)(unscented shampoo available)
    Healing Scents Shampoos (unscented available)
    Herbal Choice Mari Shampoos
    Kogi Rosemary Mint Shampoo (Can. co.)
    Miessence Shampoos
    Morocco Method International Shampoos
    Nana Essence Shampoo
    Nature's Blends Extra Gentle Shampoo
    Nurture My Body Shampoo
    Olivier Soapery Shampoos (unscented shampoo & 100% Castille Soap available)
    Oneka Lavender Shampoo/Citrus Shampoo/Naturally Unscented Shampoo (Can. co.)
    Pure and Natural Shampoo
    Purple Prairie Botanicals Rosemary Mint Shampoo Bar
    Salon Naturals Shampoo
    Skin Care for Ahtletes Tri-Body Wash Muscle Unscented Blend
    Solay Shine Unscented Natural Shampoo
    Terressentials Pure Earth Hair Washes (shampoo available fragrance free)
    Zosimos Botanicals Shampoo


    Atlantic Healing Hemp Seawinds Shampoo (Nova Scotia co.)
    Aubrey Organics Island Naturals Shampoo/Blue Camomile Shampoo/Egyptian Henna Shine/GPB Glycogen Protein Balancing Shampoo/Desert Herb Revitalizing Shampoo/Rose Mosqueta Nourishing Shampoo/ White Camellia Shampoo/Calaguela Fern Treatment Shampoo/Swimmers Normalizing Shampoo
    Avalon Organics Shampoos
    Botanical Therapeutic Moisturizing Shampoo
    Burt's Bees Herbal Treatment Shampoo
    Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Shampoo/Jojoba Shampoo
    Druide Balance Shampoo/Body and Shine Shampoo/Ecological Shampoo/ Pur and Pure Shampoo (unscented)
    Honey Coconut Milk Shampoo
    Juice Organics Brightening Shampoo/PomSmooth Shampoo (available at Rexall stores)
    Juni Gentle Shampoo
    John Masters Organic Shampoos (available unscented)
    Kiss My Face Big Body Shampoo
    Nature Clean Herbal Shampoo/Face and Body Bar Soap (both unscented)
    Neal's Yard Remedies Shampoo
    Pantene Pro-V Red Expressions Color Enhancing Shampoo, Auburn to Burgundy/Brunette Expressions Color Enhancing Shampoo, Nutmeg to Dark Chocolate
    Real Purity Moisturizing Shampoo (fragrance free shampoo available)
    Smallbones Hemp Oil Soap and Shampoo Bar (Can. co.)
    Theraneem Organix Shampoo

    Simply Unscented (many shampoos listed as "Best" and "Good" are also available unscented as noted above)

    All Ways Natural Indian Hemp shampoo
    Almay Shampoo
    Avalon Organics Olive & Grapeseed Moisturizing Unscented Shampoo
    Calia Organic Fragrance Free Shampoo
    Earth Sciences Fragrance Free Shampoo
    Granny's Rich and Radiant Shampoo
    Heritage Olive Oil Shampoo (hypoallergenic)
    Jason Natural Cosmetics Fragrance Free Daily Shampoo
    Magick Botanicals Oil Free Shampoo/Shampoo for Thinning Hair (both fragrance free)
    Marcelle Shampoo (hypoallergenic)
    Stonybrook Botanicals Unscented Shampoo
    Real Aloe Vera Shampoo Unscented

    Home-made Alternatives

    Castille Soap Shampoo - Mix 1/2 cup of water with 1/2 cup of liquid castille soap (which is very difficult to find). To make a herbal shampoo, heat water before adding soap and steep herbs, then strain and add soap. Castille will leave a film on hair which can be removed by rinsing hair with 3 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice mixed with 1 cup of water.

    Egg Shampoo - Beat 2 large eggs and massage into scalp. Leave on a few minutes, then rinse with warm water. To cut film left by the eggs, rinse with vinegar (dark hair), or lemon Juice (light hair). Mix 3 tablespoons of vinegar or juice with 1 cup of water and pour through hair.

    Use any bar soap listed under "Best" or "Good" in the Soap section to shampoo your hair. Experiment until you find one that works well for your hair.

    Baking soda mixed with water to the right consistency can be massaged through hair.

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    Hair Removal

    For centuries, women in some cultures have used depilatories, usually liquids or creams, to remove unwanted hair. The term, "depilatory", means removing hair. Old formulas made with arsenic and quicklime seem barbaric now, but even today’s chemical depilatories can burn skin and eyes and cause severe allergic reactions and pustular outbreaks. Depilatories use high-pH chemicals to dissolve hair below the surface of the skin. An offensive smelling chemical, thioglycolic acid, is commonly used as the active ingredient, sometimes in combination with lye to boost the effectiveness of the product. Other popular methods of removing hair include shaving, tweezing, sugaring, waxing, threading, laser treatments and electrolysis.

    Waxes/Sugaring Compounds

    Next to shaving and depilatories, waxing and sugaring are the most popular methods of hair removal. Waxes can be made from petroleum (paraffin), rosin or beeswax. Hot wax is spread on the skin and covered in cloth strips which are ripped away when cool, taking the hair with them. Cold wax is also used. Manufacturers of conventional hair removal waxes often add preservatives such as endocrine-disrupting parabens or DMDM hydantoin, which releases formaldehyde, to extend the shelf life of their products. Fragrance is also a common additive.

    Sugaring is a centuries-old technique for hair removal. A sugar and water gel is used as in waxing. Unlike wax, sugar does not adhere to skin so pulling off the cloth strips is less painful. Look for natural sugaring kits that contain only sugar, water and sometimes herbs. Both waxing and sugaring can cause skin irritation and infection if the skin is irritated, chapped or sunburned.

    Laser treatments are also used to reduce the amount and thickness of hair. Laser treatments can cause blistering, discoloration, swelling, redness and scarring. Sunlight should be avoided while the skin heals. A major concern with laser hair removal is the use of skin numbing anesthetics, which are sometimes applied before a laser treatment. According to the US Food and Drug Administration's Office of Cosmetics, these products can cause serious side effects, including death, if they are not applied properly.

    Best (sugaring kits)

    Alexandria Sugaring
    Moom Organic Hair Removal Kit
    Moom 4Men 10% Botanical Hair Remover for Men
    Parissa Chamomile Body Sugar/2 in 1 Roll On Body Sugar/No Heat Body Sugar for Men
    Persian Cold Wax Hair Remover (In spite of the name, there is no wax in this product. It is a sugaring kit.)
    Shoba Sugaring Gel for Hair Removal
    Velvet Touch Hair Remover Mitten

    Good (waxing)

    Andrea Wax Strips for the Body/Gentle Hair Remover for the Face/Brazilian Hard Wax
    Parissa Express Wax Strips for Face and Bikini/Express Wax Strips for Legs and Body
    Veet Ready-to-Use Gel Cold Wax Strips

    Home-made Alternatives

    Sugaring: To make your own sugaring solution, heat together 2 cups white sugar, 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1/4 cup of water slowly over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes until the colour is dark amber. Remove from heat, cool for 10 minutes and put in a container that can be reheated later. Rip clean cotton fabric in 1" strips. Using a dull knife or popsicle stick, spread the cooled sugar onto your skin. Cover with the cloth strips, let set for a few minutes, and then rip off quickly like a bandage.

    Waxing: To make your own hair removal wax, melt a small amount of beeswax in a small pan until very warm but still cool enough to touch. After dusting skin with body powder or cornstarch, apply warm wax with a wooden spatula. Allow mixture to cool for a few seconds, then remove quickly with a light tapping. Soothe skin with cream or aloe vera gel.

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    Nail Products

    Nail products are among the most toxic cosmetics on the market. Nails can absorb the chemicals used in polishes, removers and cuticle creams.

    Nail Polish

    Three of the most harmful ingredients in conventional nail polishes are toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate -- dubbed the "toxic trio" by the US Environmental Working Group.

    Toluene may comprise up to 50% of the volume in some brands. As a result, high exposure to toluene can occur from home use of nail polish, according to the US Agency for Toxic Substances. Toluene is known to be a neurotoxin and may put pregnant women at risk of having a baby with birth defects or delayed development. The US Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pollution Protection says that breathing large amounts of toluene for a short period of time can harm kidneys, liver and the heart.

    The second chemical of concern is formaldehyde. Formaldehyde, which is also found in nail products, is a known human carcinogen and a sensitizer.

    The third one -- dibutyl phthalate (DBP) -- is an estrogen mimicking plasticizer that may disrupt thyroid function and accelerate sexual development in young girls. Animal studies have found that DBP may result in birth deformities like cleft palate or undescended testicles. DBP has also been linked to lower sperm counts in men.

    Although many companies have removed the "toxic trio" from popular brands, conventional nail polishes may still contain other toxic chemicals such as ethyl acetate, which irritates the respiratory system, benzophenone-1, which is an endocrine disrupting chemical, and triphenyl phosphate, which is neurotoxic. Coal tar dyes are also used in many well-known brands of nail polish to create certain colours. As an alternative to conventional nail polishes, a number of companies have developed water-based nail polishes with few or no hazardous ingredients.

    Best (water-based with no toluene, formaldehyde, or DBP)

    Go Natural
    Honeybee Gardens WaterColors Nail Enamel
    Hopscotch Kids Nail Polish
    No-Miss (nitrocellulose, not water-based)
    Polished Mama
    Pure Anada (Canadian company)
    Scotch Naturals
    Sula Paint & Peel
    Suncoat (Canadian company)

    Good (no toluene, formaldehyde or DBP but may contain other harmful ingredients)

    Butter London
    China Glaze
    Lippman Collection
    OPI Products
    Orly International
    Rescue Beauty Lounge
    Sally Hansen

    Simply Unscented

    Almay - hypoallergenic
    Clinique - hypoallergenic, unscented, no toluene or formaldehyde


    Rub a bit of olive oil or another natural oil like jojoba or almond into your nails 1/2 to 1 hour before applying water-based nail polish. This makes it easier to remove the polish later and keeps your nails in good shape.

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    Nail Polish Remover

    Conventional nail polish removers contain acetone. When inhaled, this chemical enters the blood and is carried to body organs. Acetone is a neurotoxin, and short-term exposure causes respiratory and eye irritation, headaches, light-headedness, confusion, nausea and vomiting. Long-term exposure may damage the liver, kidneys and nervous system, and may increase the risk of birth defects.

    Acetone-based nail polish removers do not work on water-based nail polishes. However, companies, which have developed water-based nail polishes have also developed acetone-free nail polish removers. Some of these nail polish removers, which are less toxic than those that are acetone-based, can be used to remove any type of nail polish.

    Good (no acetone)

    Acquarella Remover (only for water-based nail polishes)
    Avon Nail Experts Nail Enamel Remover Wipes
    Cutex Manicure Correction Nail Polish Pen, Non-Acetone
    Hopscotch Kids Polish Remover (only for water-based nail polish)
    No-Miss Nail Care Almost Natural Polish Remover
    Pure Anada Aqua Glam Polish Remover (Canadian company)(only for water-based nail polish)
    Suncoat (Canadian company)


    Instead of using nail polish remover designed for water-based nail polish, just soak your nails in hot water for at least 2 minutes (or following a hot bath or shower), and gently scrape off the polish using your fingernails or a flat-tipped wood stick. It's generally recommended that you remove water-based polish from your nails not later than one week after application.

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    Artificial Nails

    Acrylic and other types of artificial nails are bad news all around, and there are no less-toxic alternatives besides your own well-groomed nails. The chemicals used in artificial nails have numerous short and long-term health effects. Nails need to breathe to stay healthy. Covering them in plastic resin causes nails to become weak, thin and brittle. Fungal infections are a problem when moisture is trapped beneath the artificial nail. In addition, the use of UV nail lamps to cure acrylic and gel nails may contribute to the development of skin cancer on the hands. Finally, removing the nails requires the use of a powerful solvent, usually acetonitrile. This toxic chemical can irritate the respiratory system, and may cause an enlarged thyroid.

    Preformed press-on nails from the drug store are not an alternative. The glues used to attach these nails can cause contact dermatitis, eczema, dizziness and headaches.

    Home-made Alternatives

    For shiny and smooth nails without nail polish, use a nail buffer such as Sally Hansen Nail Buffer and Groomer or Honeybee Gardens 4 Sided Nail Buffer, and buff your nails so that they look like they have a coat of clear polish on them.

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    Skin Products

    Astringents and Toners

    Toners and astringents are designed to get rid of any lingering traces of cleanser and dead skin cells, to remove excess oil and dirt, and to soothe the skin after shaving. Toners are supposed to work by closing the pores and balancing the skin’s pH but many toners produce that tight feeling by using sorbitol and plasticizers like polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP). Astringents generally contain higher levels of alcohol than toners as well as other antiseptic ingredients. They control oily skin with levels of alcohol that can dry even the oiliest skin immediately after use.

    Many conventional astringents rely on petroleum-based chemicals for their effect. Some contain salicylic acid as an active ingredient. Salicylic acid, which enhances skin absorption, can be a neurotoxin and irritate skin. Its use is restricted by Health Canada. Benzyl alcohol, another skin irritant and potential neurotxoin, is also used in many astringents. Other common ingredients in toners and astringents are synthetic colours, fragrance and preservatives such as estrogen-mimicking parabens or DMDM hydantoin, which releases formaldehyde. Non-toxic alternatives to mainstream toners and astringents contain ingredients such as witch hazel, aloe vera gel or rosewater.


    Anarres Natural Health EcoGear Toner (Toronto co.)
    Anointment Rose Toner (Nova Scotia co.)
    Authentic Skin Remedies Balance
    Ava Anderson NonToxic toner
    Awaken My Senses Aging Gracefully Organic Toners
    Borlind ZZ Sensitive Face Toner
    Burt's Bees Rosewater and Glycerin Toner
    Cleure Toner
    Coastal Classic Creations Reef Breaks Witch Hazel Toner
    Cosmic Tree Essentials Mystic Alchemy Toner (Nova Scotia co.)
    Devita Cool Cucumer Facial Toner/Moroccan Rose Facial Toner
    Druide Face Toner
    evanHealy Facial Tonic Hydrosols
    face naturals Organic Hydrosols
    Green Beaver Blemish Mousse for Acne Prone Skin
    Healing Scents No Alcohol Facial Toner
    Heritage Products Rosewater and Glycerin Toner
    Honey Girl Organics Facial Toner
    Humphreys Witch Hazel Astringent
    Jiade Organic Cosmetics Truly Organic Toner (Can. co.)
    La Roche Posay Thermal Spring Water/Toleriane Fluide Non-Oily Emulsion
    LUVU Beauty Toners (Can. co.)
    Nuvo Floral Water
    Olivier Soapery Femme Body Toner (Can. co.)
    Organic Indulgence Facial Toner
    Outside/In Cosmetics Floral Facial Toners (Can. co.)
    Pangea Organics Facial Toners
    Poofy Organics Face Toners
    Purple Prairie Botanicals Orange TeaTree Clarifying Toner
    Real Purity pH ReTone
    Rocky Mountain Soap Company Soothing Toner (Can. co.)
    Samantharoma Geranium Toning Mist
    Suki Concentrated Balancing Toner
    Terressentials 100% Organic Flower Therapy Exfoliating Facial Toner/Fragrance Free Facial Toner
    The Art of Shaving Hydrating Toner
    The Body Shop Aloe Calming Toner
    Witch Hazel Solution Astringent Cleaner


    Alaffia Beobab and Shea Refreshing Toner
    Alba Botanica Hawaiian Skin Care Hibiscus Toner
    Aubrey Organics Vegecol with Aloe Alcohol Free Toner
    Avalon Organics CoQ10 Skin Care Perfecting Facial Toner/Lavender Skin Care Hydrating Toner
    Ecco Bella Mist-On Toner
    Neal's Yard Remedies Orange Flower Water/Rose Water/Lavender Water/Witch Hazel Water/Rejuvenating Frankincense Toner
    Pure Anada Green Tea and Grapeseed Hydra Lotion (Can. co.)
    Thayers Alcohol-Gree Witch Hazel Toners

    Simply Unscented

    Almay Toner 2 for Dry Skin/for Normal Combo Skin
    Anthony Logistics for Men Alcohol Free Toner Fragrance Free
    Marcelle Tonifying Lotion/Dry Skin Toner
    RoC Actif Toner
    Thayers Alcohol-Free Unscented Witch Hazel with Organic Aloe Vera

    Home-made Alternatives

    Watermelon Toner for Oily Skin
    2 Tbsp distilled water
    2 Tbsp witch hazel
    liquid from 1 cup of watermelon chunks pureed in a blender

    Blend water and witch hazel together with the liquid red juice from the watermelon, stirring thoroughly. Pour mixture into a clean glass jar.

    Lemon Toner for All Skin Types
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    1/2 cup distilled water
    1/3 cup witch hazel

    Combine all ingredients and pour into a clean bottle. Shake well before using.

    Apple Cider Vinegar Toner For Acne
    Mix equal amounts of water and organic apple cider vinegar. Pour mixture into a clean glass jar.

    Herbal Toner for Dry Skin
    1/4 cup aloe vera gel
    1/4 cup rose hydrosol (rose water)
    6 drops rose geranium essential oil
    1 drop chamomile essential oil
    1 drop jasmine essential oil

    Mix aloe vera and essential oils in a glass bottle. Then add hydrosol.

    Healing Toner for Sensitive Skin
    1/4 cup rose hydrosol (rosewater)
    2 tablespoons witch hazel
    4 drops rose essential oil
    2 drops yarrow essential oil

    Mix essential oils with witch hazel in a glass bottle. Then add hydrosol.

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    Bath Products

    The major concern with bath products is the possible presence of contaminants created in the manufacturing process, some of which have carcinogenic properties. In 2009, the Environmental Working Group in the US found that more than 60% of children's bath products contained formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, and 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen.

    Formaldehyde is released into bath products from common preservatives such as DMDM hydantoin, quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea and imidiazolidinyl urea. 1,4-dioxane is produced during the manufacture of bath products when ingredients, such as PEG-100 stearate, sodium laureth sulfate, polyethylene and ceteareth 20, are processed with ethylene oxide. 1,4-dioxane then becomes a contaminant of product ingredients. Because it is a contaminant and not an ingredient, it does not appear on the list of ingredients. Although EWG tested children's bath products, the same problem ingredients that result in the presence of formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are used in many commercial bath products for adults as well.

    Conventional bath products also contain synthetic fragrance, FD&C colours from coal tar, and benzyl alcohol. These ingredients can cause allergic reactions. Mineral-based bath salts are sprayed with synthetic dyes and scents, and can contain other ingredients irritating to skin and mucous membranes. Bubble baths are also full of dyes, colours, scents and preservatives, as well as sodium lauryl sulfate used to create foam. Fragrance masking ingredients, such as coumarin which is an immune system toxin, are often used to mask the scent of other fragrance ingredients. Parabens, which mimic estrogen, are also common preservatives in bath products, in addition to the formaldehyde-releasing preservatives listed above. As well, soaking in hot water with bath oils, salts or bubbles increases the skin's permeability and, therefore, increases exposure to harmful chemicals.


    Ahava Bath Salts/Dead Sea Salts
    Alvin Connor Natural Bath Soaks (available unscented)
    Anarres Natural Health Bath Salts/Massage & Bath Oils/Tub Truffles (Toronto co.)
    Anointment Sea Salts Bath Salts (Halifax co. Sold in P’Lovers)
    Aromafloria Bath & Body Oils/Mineral Bath Salts
    Atlantic Healing Hemp Cold Pressed Hemp Seed Oil Body Powder
    Aubrey Organics Natural Spa Sea Wonders Bath Salts
    Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment (100% oatmeal)
    Be Green Bath & Body Bath Tea
    Belle's Botanicals Bath Salt & Body Scrubs
    Best Bath Store Bath Salts/Bath Bombs
    Big Tub Botanicals Bath & Body Oils/Tub Teas/Tub Truffles/Bath Soaks
    Bubble & Bee Organic Bath Salts
    Burt’s Bees Lemon & Vitamin E Body and Bath Oil/Therapeutic Bath Crystals
    Cedar Spring Herb Farm Bath Salts/Bath Bags/Fizzies
    EO Bath Salts
    face naturals Unscented Bath Salts
    Fizz Bath Shop Salts/Bath Fizzes
    Goodness Essential Bath Salts/Bath& Body Oils
    Healing Scents Healing Sea Salts (available unscented)
    Herban Lifestyle Bath Salts/Bath Soaks
    Heritage Products Purified Castor Oil
    Just the Goods Bath Salts
    Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques Bath Soaks
    l'Occitane Aromachology Bath & Massage Oil with Vegetable Oils
    Matter Outdoors Bath Salts (Ont. co.)
    Miessence Essential Oils
    Moonsnail Soapworks Aromatherapy Bath Salts/Island Salt Scrub and Soak (PEI co.)
    Moor Spa Elixir Herbal Baths
    Mother Love Herbal Company Sitz Bath
    naked Bonbons
    Naturity Salt Soaks
    Neal's Yard Remedies Lavender Bath Salts
    Olivier Soapery Unscented Bubble Bath (Can. co.)
    Omved Lifestyle Body Soaks/Bath Salts/Body and Bath Oils
    Perfect Organics Bath Therapy
    Pharmacopia Bath Salts
    Plantlife Therapeutic Mineral Bath Salts
    100% Pure Sea Therapy Baths
    Purple Prairie Botanicals Dead Sea Salts
    Rocky Mountain Soap Company Bath Salts/Bath Gems/Massage & Bath Oils (Can. co.)
    Samantharoma Mineral Salt Baths
    Sensatia Botanicals Bath Salts
    Shea Butter Market Shea Bath Salts/Bath Bombs
    Solay Himalayan Bath Salts
    Soapwalla Kitchen Indulgent Bath Soaking Salts
    Tara Bath Therapy Bath Salts
    The Body Shop Aloe Comforting Bath Oil
    Vitamoor Relax
    Weleda Lavender Relaxing Bath Milk


    Ajara Ayurvedic Beauty Ayurvedic Herbal Tea Bath
    Aura Cacia Foam Baths
    Castle Baths Dead Sea Salts
    Druide Foaming Bath & Shower Gels
    Escents Bath Salts/Bombs/Melt Bars
    Hugo Naturals Effervescent Bath Salts
    Jasco Organics Fine Sea Salts
    LUVU Beauty Baby Beauty Bath Soak (Can. co.)
    Olivier Soapery Soothingly Fresh Bath Bomb (Can. co.)
    Queen Helene Batherapy Bath Salts

    Home-made Alternatives

    Epsom Salts Bath - Follow package directions.

    Soothing Bath - Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to bath water.

    Milk Bath - Add one quart of milk to tub, or 2 cups of instant powdered milk.

    Basic Recipe for Homemade Bath Salts

    Start with about 4 cups of sea salt, kosher salt or epsom salts (or a combination of any of them). Mix in several drops of essential oils or skin-safe fragrance oils very slowly so that they do not dissolve the salts. If you wish, add dried fragrant plants, such as lavender or eucalyptus. Other optional ingredients include baking soda, dried milk, liquid glycerin soap, dried mint leaves or oatmeal.


    To moisturize dry skin, soak in tub for at least 10 minutes to open pores, then add oil to bath water. Any oil -- coconut oil, purified castor oil, almond oil or jojoba oil -- will help retain moisture in the skin.

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    Body and Massage Oil

    As part of the trend toward more "natural" beauty products, body oils have become a popular item for nourishing dry skin, keeping scar tissue soft, massaging, bathing and for shaving. Many of the best body oil products are based simply on natural oils such as jojoba, olive, almond and wheat germ, or the more recent arrivals, argan and sea buckthorn. In some products, pure essential oils are added.

    Many mainstream commercial products, however, contain mineral oil, a petrochemical product, or silicone. Both these chemicals coat the skin and do not allow it to breathe. Commercial oils also use synthetic fragrances, which may contain numerous toxic ingredients, to create more heavily perfumed products. Some fragrance ingredients in body oils, such as limonene, lilial and geraniol, which are derived from natural sources, can cause allergies and contact dermatitis. Preservatives like parabens or imidiazolidinyl urea are also often used in conventional body oil products to prolong their shelf life.


    Anointment Baby Oil (Nova Scotia co. sold in P’Lovers)
    Anarres Natural Health Massage and Bath Oils (Toronto co.)
    Atlantic Healing Hemp Cold Pressed Hemp Seed Oil (Nova Scotia co.)
    Aubrey Organics Natural Spa Invigorating Massage Lotion
    Aura Cacia Massage Oils/Creams/Skin Care Oils (available unscented)
    Auromere Massage Oil
    Awaken My Senses Almond Oil
    Badger Healing Blend Massage Oil/Baby Oil/Sleep Enhancer Massage and Body Oil
    Bare Organics Organic Bath and Body Oil
    Bella Mira Organic Essential Oils
    Burt's Bees Lemon & Vitamin E Bath & Body Oil
    California Baby Massage Oils
    Cleure Emu Oil
    Coastal Classic Creations Body Oil
    Desert Essence Love Massage & Body Oil
    Ferlow Botanicals Massage Lotion/Sheen Body Lotion (B.C. co.)
    Herbal Choice Mari Essential Oils
    Hugo Naturals Massage & Body Oils
    Jason Natural Cosmetics Pure Beauty Oil
    Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil
    Korres Body Oils
    Living Libations Best Skin Ever (Can. co.)
    L'Occitane Aromachology Bath & Massage Oil
    Miessence 100% Pure Essential Oils/Unscented Massage Oil
    Moonsnail Soapworks Massage Oils (PEI co.)
    Mountain Sky Body Oils/Massage Bars (Can. co.)
    Naturity Massage Oils
    Neal's Yard Remedies Massage Oils
    Olivier Soapery Sweet Almond Oil/Soothing Oil/Men's Massage Oil/Dry Skin Therapeutic Oil
    Plantlife Aromatherapy Massage Oil Scent Free
    Purple Prairie Botanicals Massage Oils
    Rocky Mountain Soap Company Relaxation Bath & Massage Oil
    Samantharoma Massage Oil Hatha Blend/Unscented
    Smallbones Studio of Home Arts & Sustainable Living Rosehip Seed Oil (Can. co.)
    Sigrid Chamomile & Ylang Ylang Body Oil (Ont. co.)
    Suki Delicate Hydrating Oil
    Tara Spa Therapy Professional Blend Massage Oils/Aromatherapy Body & Massage Oils
    Tata Harper Skincare Revitalizing Body Oil
    Terressential 100% Organic Cocoa Butter Rich Body Oil/Anointing Body Oil
    The Body Shop Lavender Essential Oil


    Caribbean Solutions Jade Oil
    Cococare Vitamin E Body Oil Dr. Bronner's Magic Organic Peppermint Body Balm
    Druide Sensualis Massage Cream

    Simply Unscented

    Aveda All Sensitive Body Formula Unscented
    Neutrogena Body Oil Fragrance Free

    Home-made Alternatives

    Body Massage Oil
    Any plain vegetable or nut oil -- jojoba, almond, avocado, wheat germ or grapeseed -- can be used as a massage oil. A few drops of a pure essential oil, such as lavender or bergamot, can be added, if desired.

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    Body Powder

    Body dusting powders are used to absorb sweat and odours and to soothe irritated skin. Conventional body powders often contain talc or amorphous silica, both of which can cause lung irritation when inhaled. Studies have shown that women using talc in the genital area and on sanitary napkins have an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Powders used for body dusting frequently contain chemical fragrances, and fragrance ingredients also used as masking agents. These include lilial, lyral, eugenol, coumarin and citral, all of which are skin irritants. Parabens, which are endocrine disruptors, and other preservatives are also widely used in body powders. Alternative powders use ingredients such as cornstarch, tapicoa flour, rice flour, kaolin and arrowroot powders in place of talc and silica.


    Anointment Baby Powder (Halifax co. sold in P’Lovers)
    Be Green Bath & Body Talc Free Powder
    Cosmic Tree Essentials Body Powders (Nova Scotia co.)
    Giselle Cosmetics Stack Collection
    Healing Scents Body Powders (available unscented)
    Janulence Deodorizing Body Powders
    Kaylala Organic Lavender Body Powder
    Kettle Care Bath & Body Powder
    Lafe's Natural BodyCAre Roll On Deodorant Powder
    LeMari Deodorising Body Powder
    Maia's Mineral Galaxy Serenity Body Shimmer
    Miessence Luxurious Body Powder
    Starflower Essentials Herbal Body Powder
    Zosimos Botanicals Shimmer Dust


    California Baby Non-Talc Powder
    Canary Cosmetics Body Powder
    Neal's Yard Remedies Lavender & Tea Tree Body Powder/Orange & Geranium Body Powder
    Little Forest Daily Botanicals Baby Powder

    Simply Unscented

    Crystalux Body Powder Unscented

    Home-made Alternatives

    Aura Cacia's Recipe for Body Dusting Powder (no longer available)
    1/4 cup arrowroot
    1/4 cup cornstarch
    2 Tbsp. fine clay powder (such as French green or white)

    Mix powders together. If you like, personalize the powder by adding your favourite essential oils (such as jasmine or peppermint), starting with 5 drops and adding 1 drop more until you achieve your desired result. Store in glass container.

    Lavender Bath Powder
    1 cup cornstarch
    1/2 cup rice flour
    1/4 cup lavender flowers, finely crushed
    4 drops lavender essential oil

    Mix well. Let sit 24 hours minimum. Store in glass jar.

    Spice Bath Powder
    1 cup cornstarch
    1/2 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg

    Mix dry ingredients. Add oil and stir well.

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    Cleansers and Body Washes

    Commercial cleansers rely on alcohol and petroleum products to dislodge dirt and clean the skin. However, these ingredients also remove natural oils and cause drying. To counteract this, manufacturers may add mineral oil (a petroleum product) to make the skin feel soft. Other chemicals used in cleansers allow them to spread more easily and create foam. The chemicals that create foam include sodium laurel sulfate, ammonium laurel sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate and myreth sulfate. These chemicals are known skin irritants, and may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen. Another chemical used for foam is cocamide DEA. Cocamide DEA is also a skin irritant, and may be contaminated with carcinogenic nitrosamines.

    Polyethylene glycol (PEG) compounds, such as PEG-7 and PEG-200, are added to many body washes and cleansers to help them retain water. PEG compounds may be contaminated with the known carcinogen, ethylene dioxide, and 1-4 dioxane, a probable carcinogen. Common preservatives in cleansers include parabens, which can disrupt the hormone system, and methylisothiazoline and methylchloroisothiazoline, which are immune system toxins. Cleansing creams and body washes may also contain TEA, a skin allergen, potentially toxic FD&C colours, and antibacterials such as triclosan. Many also have fragrance, which generally includes phthalates. Phthalates have been linked to reproductive problems.


    Anointment Herbal Clay Cleanser (Halifax co. Sold in P’Lovers)
    Ava Anderson Cleanser
    Awaken My Senses Aging Gracefully Organic Cleanser (Can. co.)
    Bare Organics All in One Cleansers/Organic Cleansing Grains Unscented (Ont. co.)
    Be Green Bath & Body Facial Cleanser/Foaming Hand & Body Soap
    Body Organic Body Washes
    Bubble & Bee Shower Gels
    Coastal Classic Creations Body Wash & Shampoo
    Devita Aloe Vera Moisture Cleanser
    Earth Safe Hand & Body Wash (Can. co.)
    Encoura Body Wash (available unscented)
    face naturals Body Cleansers (available unscented)
    Favor Care Organics Shower Gels
    Ferlow Botanicals Herbal Cleansing Milk (B.C. co.)
    Healing Scents Liquid Hand Soap/Shampoo Body Wash/Cleansers/100% Castile Soap
    Honey Girl Facial Cleanser
    Jiade French Pink Cleanser (Ont. co.)
    Loving Naturals 100% Natural Body Washes (available Unscented Aloe Vera Vegan)
    Matter Company Rejuvenating Cream Cleanser (Ont. co.)
    Mont Echo Sea Buckthorn Creme Cleanser (Que. co.)
    Nature Clean Au Naturelle Liquid Soap
    Non-Toxic Skin Care Body Washes
    Nothing Nasty Organic Castile Soaps
    Nurture My Body Body Wash (available fragrance free)
    Olivier Soapery Liquid Hand Soap/Sensibly Fresh Handmade Dry Skin Body Wash (Can. co.)
    Organic Indulgence Foaming Facial Cleanser
    Raindance Cream Face Wash/Balancing Face Wash
    Rocky Mountain Soap Company Hand & Body Washes/Foaming Washes (Can. co.)
    Sigrid Chamomile & Calendula Gentle Cleanser (Ont. co.)
    Sircuit Skin Squeaky Clean Body Wash
    Skin Care for Athletes Tri-Body Wash
    Suki Creamy Foaming Cleanser
    Urban Naturals Organic Body Wash
    Zosimos Shower Gels


    Aubrey Organics Natural Spa Sea Soap Shower Wash/Rose Mosqueta Luxurious Body Wash/Rose Mosqueta Moisturizing Bath & Shower Gel
    Aveeno Eczema Body Care Wash/Exfoliating Body Wash
    Ballard organics All Purpose Concentrated Liquid Soaps (available fragrance free)
    Body Organic Body Washes
    California Baby Shampoo & Body Wash
    Dr. Bronner's Magic 18-in-1 Pure Castile Liquid Soaps/Shikakai Pump Soaps
    Dropwise Essentials Gentle Cleansing Body Wash
    Ecco Bella Deep Cleansing Gel
    evan healy Blue Lavender Cleansing Milk/Rose Cleansing Milk/Tea Tree Gel Cleanser
    Green Beaver Body Washes/Daily Facial Cleanser (Can. co.)
    Herbal Choice Mari Body Washes
    Hugo Naturals Shower Gels
    John Masters Organics Linden Blossom Face Creme Cleanser
    Korres Shower Gels
    Miessence Sunflower Body Wash/Cleansers/Cleansing Bar
    Monave Creamy Body Cleanser
    Nivea For Men Body Wash
    Oblige by Nature Body Washes
    Omved Lifestyle PVT Ltd. Body Wash/Body Shower Gel
    Pangea Organics Shower Gels
    Plantlife Body Washes/Foam Soaps
    Pure Anada Lavender & Chamomile Calming Cleanser/Fruit Enzyme Exfoliating Cleanser/ScentLESS Gentle Cleanser (Can. co.)
    100% Pure Facial Cleansing Foams/Facial Cleansers
    Pure & Natural Body Washes
    Save Your Skin Shower Gel
    Soapwalla Kitchen Hand & Body Washes
    Suis for Face & Body Gentle Foaming Face & Body Cleanser
    Tom's of Maine Natural Moisturizing Body Wash
    Trillium Organics Organic Body Soap

    Simply Unscented

    All Terrain Wonder Wash Fragrance Free All Purpose Soap
    Clinique Comorting Cream Cleanser/Liquid Facial Soap
    Consonant Pure Unscented Organic Body Wash
    Dove Sensitive All Day Moisturizing Body Wash for Sensitive Skin Unscented
    Dionis Unscented Body Wash with Moisturizing Goats Milk
    Down East Hand & Body Wash (N.S. co.)
    Elizabeth Arden Hydra-Gentle Cream Cleanser
    Jason Natural Cosmetics Fragrance Free Body Wash
    LaRoche Posay Lipikar Syndet Cleansing Body Cream Gel
    Magic Botanickals Fragrance Free Cleanser for the Chemically Sensitive
    Marcelle Essentials Cleansing Milk/Essentials Foaming Cleansing Gel/Cleansing Water/3 in 1 Cleanser/Gentle Foaming Wash (all products fragrance free)
    Neutrogena Liquid Facial Cleansing Formula Fragrance Free
    Phisoderm Cream Cleanser for Sensitive Skin
    RoC Dermatological Enydrial Dermo-Calming Cleanser
    Spectro Fragrance Free Cleansers for Dry Skin/Combination Skin/Blemish Prone Skin
    The Body Shop Aloe Gentle Shower Cream
    Tom's of Maine Natural Body Wash Naturally Unscented
    Walgreens Gentle Skin Cleanser

    Home-made Alternatives

    Oatmeal Cleanser
    Process rolled oats in a blender until fine. Massage a small amount into wet skin, then rinse.

    Citrus Cleansing Milk
    1/2 cup plain yoghourt
    1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
    1 tablespoon jojoba oil (or other oil)

    Blend yogurt and lemon juice. With blender running, slowly add oil. Pour into jar and add essential oil. Massage a small amount into skin and rinse.

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    Deodorants and Antiperspirants

    Deodorants and antiperspirants both fight body odour. Deodorants work by inhibiting the growth of bacteria that cause odour. Antiperspirants actually stop perspiration by blocking the sweat ducts.

    Most conventional antiperspirants rely on aluminum compounds, such as aluminum trichlorohydrex gly, as the active ingredient. The use of aluminum in personal care products is the subject of considerable controversy. The effects of widespread, long term and increasing use of aluminum compounds are unknown. There is evidence that many aluminum compounds are toxic to the nervous system. As well, British scientists at the University of Reading have expressed concern about aluminum interfering with estrogen and playing a role in the rising incidence of breast cancer. They have shown the presence of aluminum in breast cancer tumours and breast tissue in research published in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry.

    Although there have been very few studies on the relationship between breast cancer and the use of deodorants and antiperspirants, a 2003 study of breast cancer survivors published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention found that women who began to shave their underarms and use underarm products before the age of 16 had been diagnosed with breast cancer at an earlier age than those who began these habits later. Until this issue is settled, some people choose to avoid the use of products containing aluminum. Aluminum-based compounds are also one of the main causes of skin irritation in antiperspirant users.

    Crystal deodorants are a popular alternative to conventional deodorants and antiperspirants. They typically use either potassium alum or aluminum alum, which are also aluminum salts. It is believed that they react differently than the other aluminum compounds and are less likely to penetrate the skin and be absorbed. Potassium alum is a naturally occuring salt while ammonium alum is synthetic. Some crystal deodorants are crystal rocks, which contain no other ingredients. Liquid deodorants based on crystal may contain other ingredients of concern.

    Another ingredient of concern in deodorants and antiperspirants is the antibacterial agent, triclosan. Triclosan is suspected of disrupting the endocrine system and has been shown to harm the thyroid system in animal studies. Other toxic ingredients in deodorants and antiperspirants include: synthetic fragrances containing phthalates that may cause reproductive harm, benzyl alcohol, a skin irritant, BHT, a fragrance masking agent that can contribute to allergic reactions, and ceteareth that may be contaminated with toxic impurities such as 1,4-dioxane. Parabens, also endocrine disrupting chemicals, are used as preservatives in deodorants and antiperpirants, and have been detected in breast cancer tumours. Talc is also an ingredient in some deodorants and antiperspirants. If talc is used in roll-on or solid products, it is not a problem but it may cause lung irritation if it is used in aerosol products. Isobutane, a gas which can be contaminated with carcinogenic butadiene, is often used as a propellant in aerosol sprays. Aerosol sprays break chemicals into minute particles. Minute particles can be more deeply inhaled than larger particles and this may increase their harmful effects.


    Alba Botanica Deodorant Sticks (available in Aloe Unscented)
    Alvin Connor Natural Deodorant
    Anarres Detoxifying Cream Deodorant (Toronto co.)
    Awaken My Senses Organics Freshen Up (Toronto co.)
    Botanical Therapeutic Liquid Crystal Deodorant (Can. co.)
    Bubble and Bee organic Deodorants
    Coastal Classic Creations Wave Crest Deodorant
    Cleure Spray Deodorant
    Crystal Body Deodorants Roll-On/Body Spray
    Dr. Mist Natural Deodorants (Roll-On and Sprays)
    Earthwise/Eco-Wise Naturals Baking Soda Plus Deodorant (Can. co.)
    face naturals Deodorants
    Green Beaver Deodorants (available unscented)
    Herbal Magic Roll-On Deodorant (Unscented)
    Honeybee Gardens Deodorant Powder
    Hugo Naturals Deodorants (available unscented)
    Innocent Oils Pure Himalayan Crystal Body Spray
    Lafe's Natural Crystal Dodorant Stone/Body Care Deodorants (Roll-On and Sticks) (available unscented)
    L'Occitane Aromachrology Deodorant Pierre de Crystal for Men
    LUVU Beauty Naturally Yours Deodorant (Can. co.)
    Miessence Deodorants (available fragrance free)
    Naturally Fresh Deodorant Crystal
    Northern Harmony Body Mist Deodorant
    Pure and Natural Crystal Deodorant
    Real Purity Deodorant
    Rocky Mountain Soap Company Crystal Deodorants (Alberta co.)
    Samantharoma Deodorant Mist Unscented
    Soapwalla Kitchen Deodorant Cream
    Solay Salt Stone
    Terressentials Fragrance Free Super Protection Deodorant
    Tom's of Maine Natural Deodorant Body Bar Lemongrass
    Zosimos Botanicals Deodorants (available unscented)


    Aubrey Organics Natural Deodorants (Roll-On and Spray)
    Avalon Organics Deodorant Sprays
    Burt's Bees Outdoor Herbal DeodorantDesert Essence
    Earth Science Deodorants (available unscented)
    Herbaclear Deodorant (Can. co.)
    Kiss My Face Liquid Rock Deodorants (available unscented)
    Nature's Gate Winter Clean Deodorant Stick (other "seasons" have fragrance)
    Neal's Yards Remedies Deodorants
    Nutribiotic Deodorants (available unscented)
    Olivier Soapery Femme Deodorant (Can. co.)
    Purple Prairie Botanicals Natural Deodorant
    Terra Naturals Deodorants
    Tom’s of Maine Natural Confidence Roll-On Deodorant/Original Care Deodorant Stick Unscented

    Simply Unscented

    Almay Antiperspirant and Deodorant Unscented
    Arm & Hammer Essentials Antiperspirant Deodorant Unscented
    Arid XX Antiperspirant/Deodorant Solid Unscented
    Avon On Duty Roll on Antiperspirant Deodorant - Unscented and Original
    Ban Original Roll-On/Classic Invisible Solid Antiperspirant & Deodorant(both unscented)
    Clinique Antiperspirant Deodorant Roll-on
    Dove Unscented Deodorant
    Dry Idea Roll-On Antiperspirant & Deodorant Unscented
    Earth Science Liken Natural Deodorant Unscented
    Gillette Clinical Sensitive Skin Unscented
    Jason Natural Cosmetics Pure Natural Deodorant Stick - Unscented Naturally Fresh for Women
    Lady Mitchum Clear Gel Antiperspirant and Deodorant Unscented
    Lady Speed Stick Invisible Unscented Antiperspirant
    Marcelle Roll-On Antiperspirant
    Mitchum Roll-on Antiperspirant & Deodorant Unscented
    Old Spice Red Zone Antiperspirant Deodorant Solid Unscented
    Right Guard Sport Antiperspirant Unscented
    Secret Natural Mineral Unscented Deodorant
    Soft & Dri Soothers Antiperspirant Deodorant Unscented
    Speed Stick Ultimate Antiperspirant & Deodorant Unscented
    Sure Original/Sure Invisible Antiperspirant Deodorant Unscented (Solid, Aerosol)
    Tom's of Maine Sensitive Deodorant Fragrance Free

    Home-made Alternatives

    Dab well-steeped black tea onto skin.

    Deodorant Powder Recipe
    1/4 cup cornstarch
    1/4 cup baking soda
    3/4 teaspoon pulverized lavender flowers
    15 drops pure lavender essential oil

    Mix lavender oil with the pulverized lavender flowers. Mix with the other 2 ingredients. Allow mixture to sit in an airtight container away from light for a day or two. To use, lightly dust the underarm using a shaving or blush brush. Apply to any other areas of the body that you wish to feel fresh. (adapted from

    For an unscented deodorant powder, omit the lavender flowers and lavender essential oil. Although essential oils limit the bacteria that cause odour, essential oils may irritate the skin and many people are sensitive to essential oils. Essential oils are not appropriate for scent-free environments.

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    Exfoliants and Scrubs

    Unlike normal cleansers, scrubs contain exfoliating ingredients that remove dead skin. They are also used to unclog pores and moisturize the skin. As an exfoliating agent, many conventional scrubs use "microbeads", which are actually fine granules of polyethylene plastic and are listed as "polyacrylamide" on the list of ingredients. Conventional scrubs also contain a variety of chemicals of concern, including potentially carcinogenic coal tar colours (FD&C), harsh alcohols and detergents, the surfactant TEA that can be contaminated with cancer-causing nitrosamines, the skin irritant sodium lauryl sulfate and the anti-bacterial triclosan. They are also likely to contain harmful preservatives like hormone-disrupting parabens, methylizothiazilone and methylchloroisothiazilone, both of which are immune system toxins or imidiazolinyl urea that can release the carcinogenic formaldehyde. Synthetic fragrance, which often contains phthalates, is also a common additive in conventional scrubs.

    Natural scrubs use non-synthetic alternatives like ground nuts, seeds, fruit and salt to help exfoliate the skin and improve the complexion.


    Alvin Connor Natural Body Finish
    Anarres Natural health Night Exfoliant Serum (Tor. co.)
    Anointment Herbal Clay Cleanser (Nova Scotia co.)
    Aubrey Organics Natural Spa Sea Wonders Body Polishes/Meal & Herbs Exfoliating Bath Bar
    Bare Organics Organic Body Scrub Unscented/Organic Cleansing Grains/Organic Cleansing Grains Unscented
    Bubble & Bee Organic Salt Scrub
    Cedar Spring Herb Farm Facial Scrub
    Cleure Exfoliating Scrub
    face naturals Unscented Bath Salts Scrubs/Unscented Bath Salts
    Green Beaver Grapefruit Facial Exfoliant (
    Healing Scents Cellulite Reduction Body Scrub
    Herbaliz Cleansing Grains
    Himalaya Exfoliating Walnut & Wood Apple Face Scrub
    Honey Girl Facial Scrub
    Hugo Naturals Body Polish/Sea Salt and Sugar Scrubs
    Jane Iredale Sugar and Butter Lip Exfoliator
    LUVU Beauty Cremed Honey Body Polish/Coconut Sugar Scrub
    Matter Company Exfoliating Cream Cleanser (Ont. co.)
    Miessence Garnet Exfoliant
    Moonsnail Soapworks Cleansing Grains/Island Salt Scrub & Soak/Himalayan Rock Salt Body Polish (PEI co.)
    Olivier Soapery Exfoliation Soap/Men's Body Scrub/Femme Body Scrub (Can. co.)
    Organic Indulgence Exfoliant Facial Scrub
    100% Pure Facial Scrubs
    Pure Anada Exfoliating Cleanser
    Purple Prairie Botanicals Sea Salt Body Polish
    Real Purity Honey Almond Scrub
    Rocky Mountain Soap Company Organic Sugar Scrubs/Peppermint Lip Scrub
    Suki Exfoliating Foaming Cleanser


    Ajara Ayurvedic Beauty Exfoliating Facial Cleansers
    Alba Botanica Hawaiian Body Scrub
    Andalou Naturals Facial Scrub
    Giovanni Salt Scrub
    Kiss My Face Start Up Exfoliating Face Wash
    Sally Hansen Just Feet Deep Callus Remover
    Soleo Organics Facial Polish
    The Body Shop Lavender Salt Scrub

    Simply Unscented

    Avon mark Go with the Grain Exfoliating Beads
    Clinique Facial Exfoliating Scrub/Turnaround Body Smoothing Cream/7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse Off (many products are fragrance-free)
    CVS Exfoliating Moisturizer
    Marcelle Hydra C Facial Exfoliating Gel/AC Solution Gel Exfoliant
    RoC Gentle Exfoliating Lotion/Cream

    Home-made Alternatives

    Homemade Sugar Body Scrub
    2 cups turbinado (raw sugar) or light brown sugar
    1/2 cup (or slightly less) avocado, sesame or jojoba oil
    1/4 cup (or slightly less) apricot or peach kernal oil
    a few drops of essential oil or flavourings such as ginger powder and vanilla extract (optional)
    honey for smoothing the texture if the scrub is too dry

    Mix oils slowly into the sugar stirring to keep the consistency smooth, and stop when you can form the mixture into a slightly wet ball without it dripping through your fingers. Add the essential oils last, since they are for fragrance not moisture, and you will only need 2 or 3 drops to get the aroma strong enough. Note: different sugars will give different skin smoothing results. If you use turbinado, you may need more oil because turbinado has a coarser texture than light brown sugar. If you use brown sugar, keep a careful eye on the liquid ingredients so that your scrub doesn't dissolve into a thin paste. Use honey only if the scrub is too dry, or increase the amount of oil if you prefer.

    Homemade Salt Body Scrub
    2 cups coarse pickling salt or kosher salt
    1/2 cup avocado, sesame or jojoba oil
    1/4 cup apricot or peach kernal oil
    1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    honey for smoothing the texture

    Follow the directions for the sugar body scrub, substituting pickling or kosher salts for sugar. Vary the ingredients to create your own favourite scents, using cocoa and coffee for a mocha body scrub, or using essential oils such as skin-friendly rose, rosemary, lemon, lavender and chamomile instead of vanilla. (recipes adapted from

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    Facial Masks and Steam Baths

    The ingredients in facial masks vary considerably from product to product. Some alternative products can be as simple as clay and honey powder. More conventional masks, however, can contain numerous toxic ingredients. These include synthetic fragrance, one of the most common ingredients in facial masks, parabens, preservatives that are hormone-disrupting, TEA, a fragrance ingredient and surfactant that can cause allergic reactions, DMDM hydantoin, a preservative that may release carcinogenic formaldehyde, aluminum starch octenylsuccinate, a neurotoxin used as an anti-caking agent that may be contaminated with heavy metals, the preservatives methylchloroisothiazalone and methylisothiazalone that are skin irritants, the foaming agent sodium laureth sulfate and ceteareth, both of which may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen, and ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen. Triclosan, an antibacterial and possible endocrine disrupting substance, is also added to some facial masks.


    A. Vogel Clays
    Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay
    Auromere Rejuvenating Mud Bath & Mask
    Bare organics Organic Cleansing Grains
    Coastal classic Creations Skin Treatments/Masks
    Cleure Refining Mask
    Cosmic Tree Essentials Moroccan Lava and Glacial Clays Mask (Nova Scotia co.)
    Dr. Hauschka Skin Care Cleansing Clay Mask/Facial Steam Bath
    Evan Healey French Rose Clay/Green Tea Clay
    face naturals Mud/Masks
    Herbal Vedic Herbal Mineral Care
    Herbaliz Face Mask
    Honey Girl Rejuvenating Mask
    Juice Beauty Organic Rejuvenating Mask
    Kare & Hope Face Mask (Ont. co.)
    Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques Masques
    L'Occitane Shea Ultra Comforting Mask
    LUVU Beauty Powdered Masks (Can. co.)
    Mary Ginseng House Face Mask/Acne Treatment (Can. co.)
    Miessence Mineral Masks
    Moonsnail Moondew Therapeutic Treatment Mask (PEI co.)
    Mont Echo Sea Buckthorn Nutritive Powder Mask (Que. co.)
    Olivier Soapery Femme Facial Mask (Can. co.)
    Organic Indulgence Facial Mask
    100% Pure Peel Mask
    Real Purity Facial Masque
    Rosemira Organics Gentle Masques
    Sigrid Facial Mask Sweet Earth (Can. co.)
    Skin Essence Mineral Mask (Can. co.)
    Solay Detox Face Mask/Body Mud
    Suki Cleansing Clay Mask
    Tata Harper Skincare Resurfacing Mask
    Tautropfen Wash Clay
    Terressentials 100% Organic Flower Therapy Masque
    Zosimo's Botanicals Facial Masks


    Aubrey Organics Green Tea & Green Clay Rejuvenating Mask/Natural Herbal Oil Balancing Mask
    Earth Science Mint Tingle Mask
    John Masters Morroccan Clay Purifying Mask/Calendula Hydrating and Toning Mask

    Simply Unscented

    Alaska Glacial Mud Co. Unscented
    Clinique Turnaround Instant Facial
    Marcelle Clay Mask
    Nurture My Body Gel Mask Fragrance Free

    Home-made Alternatives

    Almond Yogurt Honey Mask
    6 oz. plain yogurt
    1/4 oz. finely crushed almonds
    2 tsp. honey
    2 tsp. wheat germ oil

    Mix all ingredients into a smooth paste. Apply and massage into skin and keep on for 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water. (from

    Clay Mask
    1 1/2 tsp. green clay (French is preferred)
    1/2 tsp. kaolin clay
    1 1/2 tsp. aloe vera gel
    1 tbsp. rosewater
    2 drops of essential oil (optional)

    Mix green and kaolin clays together. Add in the aloe vera gel, rosewater and oils. Spread on face and leave for 10 to 15 minutes. Then cleanse. Mixture can be refrigerated for up to 4 weeks. (from

    Oatmeal and Honey Mask
    1/2 cup oatmeal
    2 tsp. honey

    Mix oatmeal with water and cook according to package directions. Allow to cool and mix with honey. Leave on face for 30 minutes. Rinse with warm water. (from

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    Facial Mists

    Facial mists can contain synthetic fragrance, potentially carcinogenic coal tar colours, and hormone-disrupting preservatives such as parabens. When these chemicals are present in a product used as a mist, they are more easily inhaled into the lungs and transferred to the blood stream.


    Big Tub botanicals WakeUp Facial Mist
    Dropwise Essentials Aromatic Mister
    Herban Lifestyle Hydrating Facial Mists
    Marie Veronique Organics Gentle Mist
    Matter Company Neroli Water Facial Mist (Ont. co.)
    Moonsnail Soapworks Aromatherapy Spritzers (PEI co.)
    Mont Echo Sea Buckthorn Soothing Mist (Que. co.)
    Only Green Pick-Me-Up Facial Mist
    Pure Anada Marine Mineral Mist (Can. co.)
    Raindance Hydrating Daytime Mist
    Soleo Organics Hydra-Fresh Revitalizing Spritzer
    Suis for Face & Body Facial Moisturizing Mist
    Sigrid Morning Mist (Ont. co.)


    Authentic Skin Remedies Balance Seawater Facial Mist
    bareMinerals Rare Minerals Moisture Burst Facial Mist
    Ecco Bella Mist On Toner
    Neal's Yard Remedies Facial Mists

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    Lip Gloss, Balms and Protectors

    Mainstream lip glosses and lip balms may contain synthetic waxes and oils like mineral oil, petrolatum, glycerin and lanolin. Just as lipstick is readily ingested, so too are lip glosses and balms. According to Health Canada research, many glosses contain traces of lead, as do many lipsticks.

    Colour in conventional lip balms and lip glosses come from a variety of coal tar dyes, which have different toxic properties. Artificial flavours are also popular additives. The ingredients in these flavours and their potential effects are almost completely unknown. Preservatives such as the endocrine-disrupting parabens and toluene-based BHT are also common in lip glosses and balms. Fragrance is often added to conventional products. Lip balms may also contain phenol, particularly if they are advertised as "medicated" or for cold sore relief. Phenol is an antimicrobial agent that can be absorbed by the skin, and is believed to be a neurotoxin. Health Canada prohibits its use in cosmetics sold in Canada.

    Many conventional cosmetics manufacturers add chemical sunscreens to lip products to absorb ultraviolet rays. A lip gloss or balm may contain as many as 3 different chemical sunscreens. The most common are benzophenones, such as oxybenzone, and cinnamates, such as octinoxate. Both are hormone disruptors and may cause skin that is exposed to the sun to be sensitized. Retinyl palmitate, another sunscreen agent, is also present in many lip balms and glosses. In sunlight retinyl palmitate can break down to produce free radicals and potentially promote the development of skin cancer. Using conventional lip balms with a chemical sunscreen on a routine basis results in unnecessary and potentially risky chemical exposures. (See sun protection for more information on lip balms with safe sunscreen ingredients).

    Health Alert

    Avoid using lip balms with chemical sunscreen except when you need the sunscreen protection. When sun protection is needed for lips, choose a product containing a safer sunscreen.


    Alaffia Lip Balms
    Anointment Lip Balms (Nova Scotia co.)
    Ava Anderson Lip Balms/Lip Glosses
    Badger Organic Lip Balm/Cocoa Butter Lip Balms/Unscented Lip Balm
    Bare Organics Organic Lip Balm
    Bubble & Bee Organic Lip Balms (available unscented)
    Carol's Daughter Lip Butter
    Coastal Classic Creations Lip Gloss
    Cosmic Tree Essentials Lip Care Confections (Nova Scotia co.)
    Dropwise Essentials Aromatherapy Lip Balm
    Elysian Dream Pure Olive Oil Lip Balm
    Endangered Wildlife Lip Balms (made by The Merry Hempster)
    face naturals Organic Lip Balms
    Ferlow Botanicals Hemp Lip Balm (B.C. co.)
    Healing Scents Cocoa Butter Lip Balm
    Heiko Lip Therapy (Can. co.)
    Hemp Organics Lip Balm/Karma Gloss
    Hempola Lip Balm Watermelon Tube (Can. co.)
    Himalaya Lip Balm (contains natural UV filter)
    Hockley Honey Organic Lip Balms (available unflavoured)(Can. co.
    Honey Girl Organics Lip Balm
    Hugo Naturals Lip Balms
    Inara Organic Body Lip Balm
    Living Libations Lover Lips (Ont. co.
    Loving Naturals 100% Organic Lip Balms
    Miessence Jaffa Lip Balm
    Mont Echo PurSea Lip Balms/Sea Buckthorn Lip Treatment (Que. co.
    Mountain Sky Love Thy Lips Balms
    Now Lip Balms
    Olivier Soapery Lip Balm (Can. co.)
    Perfect Organics Shea Butter Lip Balm
    100% Pure Lip Gloss
    rms beauty Lip and Skin Balm
    Rocky Mountain soap Company Lip Butters (Can. co.)
    Salon Naturals Hydrating Lip Lotion
    Shea Touch Lip Treatment Balm
    Shea Butter Market Lip Balms/Kiss Me I'm Canadian (B.C. co.)
    Sigrid Green Hemp Lip Balm (Ont. co.
    Smallbones Studi of Home Arts & Sustainable Living Lip Balms
    Suki Lip Repair Butter
    Terressentials 100% Organic Lip Protectors
    The Great Canadian Soap Company Natural Lip Butter
    The Merry Hempster Vegan Hemp Lip Balms
    TheraNeem Lip Therape
    Zosimos Botanicals Unscented Lip Balm


    Alba Botanica Coconut Cream Lip Balm/Passion Fruit Nectar Lip Balm/Clear Lip Glosses (without sunscreen)
    Alba Unpetroleum Jelly
    Aubrey Organics Treat 'Em Right 91% Organic Lip Balms
    Avalon Organics Organic Lip Balm
    Avon mark Kiss Dry Goodbye Lip Smoother
    Barefaced Minerals Lippie Styx/Lip Balm
    bareMinerals 100% Natural Lip Gloss
    Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm/Super Glossy Natural Lip Shin/Super Shiny Natural Lip Gloss
    ChapStick Botanical Medley/Lip Balm All Natural
    Desert Essence Shea Butter Lip Rescue
    Dr. Bronner's Magic Organic Lip Balms
    Eco Lips Eco Tints
    Green Beaver Winter Lip Balm
    Honeybee Gardens Lip Balm
    Hurraw! Lip Balms
    Jason Natural Cosmetics Lips Bee Healthier
    Kiss My Face 100% Natural Lip Balms
    Lavera Lip Gloss
    LoriannZ Lip Gloss (Can. co.)
    Organic Indulgence Lip Balm
    Outside/In Lip Glosses (Can. co.)
    Pure Anada Lip Gloss (Can. co.)
    Thursday Plantation
    ZuZu Luxe Lip Gloss

    Simply Unscented

    Badger Unscented Lip Balm
    Canus Goat's Milk Lip Balm
    Marcelle Lux Gloss/Lux Gloss Sheer
    Neosporin LT Lip Treatment
    Neutrogena Lip Nutrition Lip Balm
    Olay Regenerist Anti-Aging Lip Treatment
    The Body Shop Coconut Lip Butter/Cocoa Butter Lip Care Stick
    Vaseline Lip Therapy Petroleum Jelly

    Home-made Alternatives

    Plain vegetable or nut oils like olive oil, almond oil. cocoa butter or shea butter.

    Easy Lip Balm
    2 tsp. olive oil
    1/2 Tbsp. shea butter or cocoa butter
    1/2 tsp. honey
    flavoured oil to taste (optional)
    1 Vitamin E capsule (optional)

    Melt the oil, honey, wax and butter over low heat. Allow a few minutes to cool; then add the flavouring and the contents of the Vitamin E capsule. Stir to blend, and then pour into container. For a firmer lip balm, grate a little beeswax into the ingredients (adapted from

    Non-Petroleum Jelly
    2 ounces of beeswax or way of your choice
    1 cup of oil of your choice

    Melt the beeswax in a double boiler or a microwave. Stir in the oil. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir until it is cool. This easy-to-make natural formula can do anything that petroleum jelly does, but without any harm. You can use it to heal scrapes and rashes or protect and add a little gloss to your lips. (adapted from

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    Lotions, Creams and Moisturizers

    Lotions are basically a mixture of water and oils, with an emulsifier added to keep the product from separating. A variety of other chemicals are added to this mixture as moisturizing agents, thickeners and preservatives.

    Mineral oil and petrolatum, both petroleum products, are widely used as oils in lotions to keep the skin moist and smooth by locking moisture in. Both mineral oil and petrolatum can be contaminated with potentially carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Propylene glycol and lanolin are also used for the same purpose. Propylene glycol is a recognized neurotoxin and is known to cause contact dermatitis at very low concentrations. Lanolin is an animal product that can be contaminated with pesticides. It may also cause allergies. Polyethylene glycol (PEG) compounds, such as ceteareth, are often used in lotions to create a smooth liquid film on the body. PEG compounds can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen. Polysorbate 60 and 80 are also used in lotions, and they may also be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane. TEA, a skin irritant and immune system toxicant, is also a common ingredient in lotions.

    Preservatives like DMDM hydantoin, which is used in many moisturizers, and quaternium-15 can release carcinogenic formaldehyde. Estrogen-mimicking parabens, usually methylparaben and propylparaben, are also common preservatives in lotions and moisturizers. Retinyl palmitate, which is supposed to reduce wrinkles, is an ingredient in many facial creams and anti-aging products. Retinyl palmitate can produce free radicals and damage skin DNA. It can increase the risk of skin cancer when skin is exposed to UV light. Fragrance is added to most lotions, creams and moisturizers. Fragrance contains many toxic ingredients including asthma triggers and hormone disrupting phthalates. Fragrance ingredients such as limonene, lilial and geraniol may also be added both as fragrance and to mask chemical smells. These ingredients are known skin irritants.

    Hand lotions are often just thicker versions of facial moisturizers. They work mainly by covering dry skin with oil, which can clog pores. Plant-based lotions like shea butter or cocoa butter can nourish the skin and provide long-term benefits.


    Anarres Natural Health Lotions (Tor. co.)
    Anointment Shea Butter Cream
    Auromere Hand & Body Lotion
    Atlantic Healing Hemp Body Nutrition/Healing Hemp Cream/Foot & Leg Therapy
    Ava Anderson Moisturizer
    Avene Thermal Spring Water Gel
    Awaken My Senses
    Badger Every Day Moisturizers
    Bare Organic Organic Massage Bars
    Big Tub Botanicals Body Creams
    Body Organic Lotions & Creams
    Botanical Therapeutic Skin Cream/Skin Cream Plus (both unscented)
    Bubble & Bee Organic Body Butters (unscented)
    Burt’s Bees Outdoor Miracle Salve/Outdoor ResQ Ointment
    Coastal Classic Creations Body Butters
    Cococare 100% Cocoa Butter
    Cosmic Tree Essentials Body Butter/Cocoa Calendula Lotions/Coconut Shea Tamanu Souffle (N.S. co.)
    Desert Essence Hand & Body Lotions
    Druide Pur & Pure Face and Body Lotion
    Earth Safe Hand & Body Lotion (Clean Air Lotion is unscented)
    Ella's Botanicals Lotions (Tor. co.)
    Evan Healy Blue Chamomile Day Moisturizer/Rose Vetiver Day Moisturizer/Light Moisture Replenishing Fluids
    face naturals Body Butters
    Green Beaver Facial Moisturizer
    Herbaliz Moisturizing Lotions/Real Green Cream
    Herban Lifestyle Body Butter
    Honey Girl Body Creme
    Jiade Certified Organic Moisturizers
    Key Soap Tortuga Therapeutic Lotion
    Korres Yogurt Body Butter/Moisturizing Body Milk
    Living Libations ChocolateKarat Face Serum/All Seeing Eye Cream (Ont. co.)
    L'Occitane 100% Pure Shea Butter
    Miessence Moisturizers/Skin Conditioners/Nourishing Hand Cream/Intensive Body Cream
    Monave Pure Shea Butter
    Mont Echo Sea Buckthorn Facial Moisturizer/Hand & Body Lotion (Que. co.)
    Moonsnail Soapworks Luxury Face Cream/Fabulous Facial Moisturizer/Sea Buckthorn Healing Cream/ Moondew Nourishing Eye Cream
    Mountain Sky Body Butter
    Nature's Blends Daily Moisturizing & Hydrating Hand & Body Lotion
    non toxic Skin Body Creams
    Nurture My Body Hand & Body Lotions
    Pure Anada Green Tea & Grapeseed Hydra Lotion/Berry & Bouquet Hydra Cream/ScentLESS Hydra Lotion
    100% Pure Organic Moisturizers/Night Balms/Intensive Moisturizing Balm/Face Creams
    Pure & Natural Daily Moisturizing & Hydrating Skin Cream
    Purple Prairie Botanicals Olive Oil Lotions
    Pure Shea Butter Organic Body Lotion/Royal Jelly Body Lotion/Karite Shea Protective Facial Cream/ Light Protective Facial Cream
    Raindance Daily Moisturizer/Lotion for Mature Skin
    Real Purity Facial Extraordinaire
    Rocky Mountain Soap Company Unscented Body Butter (Can. co.)
    rms beauty Lip & Skin Balm
    Samantharoma Body Butter
    Shea Butter Market Shea Hands
    Sigrid Nurture Nature Unscented Face Cream/Carrots & Roses Face Cream/Rose Blossom Face Cream/Flower Power Night Cream
    Smack Skin Care Chili Body Butter/Fresh Body Butter/Lush Body Butter
    Suki Moisture Rich Cleansing Lotion


    Acquarella Moisturizer
    Aubrey Organics Calamine & Aloe Lotion/Rose Mosqueta RoseHip Seed Oil Moisturizing Nutrient/ Sea Buckthorn Rejuvenating Anti-Oxidant Serum/White Camelia Oil Soothing Emollient
    Avalon Organics Olive & Grapeseed Hand & Body Lotion
    Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion/Active Naturals Daily Moisturizing Lotion (avilable unscented)
    Be Green Bath & Body Lotion
    California Baby Everyday Lotions
    Caribbean Solutions Body Satin/Body Silk
    Cleure Hydrovive Body Lotion
    CVS EXfoliating Moisturizer/Vitamin E Moisturizing Skin Oil
    Derma E Vitamin E Skin Oil/Very Clear Problem Skin Moisturizer/Microdermabrasion Recovery Serum 1/ Fruit Smoothee Serum/Pycnogenol Redness Reducing Serum Fragrance Free
    Devita Nutritional Daytime Moisturizers
    Dr. Bronners Magic Organic Lotions
    Ecco Bella Botanicals Eye Nutrient Cream
    Healing Scents Ultimate Lotions
    Hugo Naturals All Over Lotion
    Jason Vitamin E Oil/Shea Nut Butter
    Neal's Yard Remedies Calendula & Oat Lotion
    Organic Indulgence Facial Moisturizer
    Plantlife Body Lotions
    Real Purity Creme Supreme
    San Re Organics Skinfood
    The Merry Hempsters Hemp Balm

    Simply Unscented

    Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion Fragrance Free
    Aveda All-Sensitive Moisturizer
    Aubrey Organics Unscented Ultimate Moisturizing Lotion
    Avalon Organics Hand & Body Lotion Aloe Unscented
    Avon mark Free For All Fragrance Free Body Lotion
    Beauty Without Cruelty Lotion/Hand & Body Lotion Fragrance Free
    Burt's Bees Fragrance Free Shea Butter & Vitamin E Body Lotion
    Canus Goat's Milk Moisturizing Lotion Fragrance Free
    Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion/Moisturizing Cream for Dry Sensitive Skin Fragrance Free
    Clinique Moisturizing Lotion (many products fragrance free)
    Complex 15 Therapeutic Moisturizing Lotion
    Curel Continuous Comfort Moisturizing Lotion Fragrance Free
    Dormer 211 Cream
    Earth Science Almond Aloe Facial Moisturizer Fragrance Free
    Ecco Bella Herbal Body Lotion Unscented
    Eucerin Original Lotion/Original Cream/Calming Cream
    Eucerin Glycerin Emollient or Eucerin Emollient (generic - available from most pharmacists without prescription. This is a base used to make pharmaceutical creams.)
    Glaxal Base Moisturizing Cream
    Glysolid Cream Fragrance Free
    Jergens Sensitive Skin Relief Fragrance Free Daily Moisturizer
    Keri Lotion
    Kiss My Face Fragrance Free Olive & Aloe Ultra Moisturizer
    Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion Fragrance Free
    Magick Botanicals Oil Free Moisture Lotion
    Marcelle Moisture Lotion/Essentials Moisture Cream (all products fragrance-free)
    Moisturel Therapeutic Cream
    Neutrogena Norwegian Formula/Moisture Oil Free Formula Sensitive Skin
    Olay Total Effects Moisturizing Vitamin Complex
    Spectro Hydra Care Facial Moisturizers


    Shea Butter is especially good for dry skin and skin high in melanin (colour).

    Recipe for Basic Unscented Moisturizer

    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 1/4 cup distilled or spring water
    1/4 cup emulsifying wax

    Fill a small saucepan with water and set it on medium low heat to use as a water bath. Combine the oil and wax in a heat-proof 1-cup measuring cup and melt the mixture in the water bath. Boil 1 1/4 cups of water and pour it into a 2-cup measuring cup. When the oil/wax mixture has melted, pour it into the measuring cup filled with water. Your lotion should now have the consistency of skim milk. Let it cool slightly. Stir with a spoon or chopstick and pour into a bottle while it's still warm and pourable. Leave the cap off to let it cool completely. Cap it occasionally and give it a shake to help blend the mixture.

    To vary the recipe, substitute 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the water with glycerin or rosewater for extra moisturizing action. Substitute or combine other oils -- avocado oil for dry or aged skin, peanut or sesame oil for oily skin. Sweet almond oil and apricot kernel oil are good for all skin types. Add any essential oils -- about 2 drops for each fluid ounce of lotion. (adapted from and

    Note: Do not use borax in home-made lotions.

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    Many personal lubricants are preserved with parabens. Because parabens mimic estrogen and may disrupt the endocrine system, they should be avoided in all cosmetics, but particularly in personal lubricants. Propylene glycol, which may irritate skin and cause contact dermatitis, is also an ingredient in many lubricants. It enhances skin absorption, which enables other potentially toxic ingredients to be more easily absorbed. Other ingredients that are hazardous but much more rarely used in conventional lubricants include TEA, polyethylene glycol, FD&C Yellow 5, retinyl palmitate, BHT, cinnamol and fragrance.

    Personal lubricants may be oil-, water- or silicone-based. It is important to know that lubricants, which are oil-based such as petroleum jelly, may cause sensitivity in some individuals. Also, petroleum and mineral oil in lubricants can cause latex to weaken and deteriorate.


    Bien Ella Amore Body Butter
    Green Beauty Natural Coconut Oil Lubricant
    Hathor Aphrodisiac Lubricant Pure (British Columbia co.)
    Herba Choice Mari A 100% Natural Unscented Vegan Men & Women Lubricant
    Honey Girl Organics
    Radiant Love Lotion
    XenEssence Un-Petroleum Jelly (Ont. co. with products only available in Canada (available unscented)
    Yes Oil Based Lubricant
    Zestra Feminine Arousal Fluid


    Avalon Un-Petroleum Multi-Purpose Jelly (without sunscreen)
    Blossom Organics Warm Sensation Moisturizing Lubricant
    Good Clean Love All Natural Personal Lubricant
    Sylk Natural Lubricant

    Simply Unscented

    Doc Johnson Personal Lubricant Unscented K-Y Jelly Sensual Silk Personal Lubricants/Personal Lubricant/Lubricating Jelly
    K-Y Personal Lubricant Liquid
    Vivid Girl Personal Lubricant Unscented

    Home-made Alternatives

    Sweet almond oil, coconut oil, or olive oil.

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    Shaving Creams

    Conventional shaving creams are usually based on water and a combination of synthetic chemicals. These include chemicals that can be contaminated with traces of carcinogenic residues like the surfactant TEA, which can be contaminated with nitrosamines, and PEG 90-M, a binding agent that can be contaminated with ethylene dioxide, a known carcinogen, and 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen.

    Propylene glycol, which acts as a moisture carrying ingredient in many skin products, is used in shaving creams. It is a known skin irritant, as are the two most popular gases, isobutane and isopentane, used as propellants in aerosol shaving creams. Isobutane, the more widely used of the two, can be contaminated with the carcinogen, butadiene. Shaving creams are often preserved with hormone-disrupting parabens, or BHA, classified by the US National Toxicology Program as "reasonably anticipated to be a carcinogen". Potentially toxic fragrance and FD&C colours are also common additives in shaving creams.


    Aubrey Organics Creme de la Shave
    Dr. Bronner's Magic Shaving Gel/Shaving Soaps
    Creating Harmony Shaving Soap
    Hempen Stuff Shaving Soaps (Sask. co.)
    Kimberly Parry Organics Shave for Men
    Living Libations Zen Shave (Ont. co.)
    Miessence Shaving Gel
    Moonsnail Man on the Moon Shaving Soap (PEI co.)
    Neal's Yard Remedies Close Shave Cream
    Nurture My Body Shave Cream/Fragrance Free
    Plantlife Foam Soaps
    Rocky Mountain Soap Company Olde Windsor Men's Shaving Bar
    Samantharoma Smooth Shaving Oil Mostly Hers
    Sigrid Clean Shave Oil (Ont. co.
    Smallbones Studio of Home Arts & Sustainable Living Soothing AfterShave Balm (Can. co.
    Soap for Goodness Sake Shaving Soap
    Soapwalla Kitchen Organic Shaving Soap Bar


    Avalon Organics Moist Cream Shave/Unscented
    Alba Botanica Moisturizing Shave Cream Unscented
    John Masters Organics Birch & Cedarwood Cleansing & Shaving Bar
    Just the Goods Shaving Solid/Unscented
    King of Shaves Shaving Oil
    Only Green Aloe Vera Shave Cream
    Raindance Juniper Shaving Lotion
    Real Purity Shaving Creme
    Sircuit skin Smooth Operator Shaving Cream
    Swissco Shave Soap
    The Art of shaving Cream Unscented/Shaving Soap Unscented/Pre-Shave Oil
    Vitamoor Shave
    Williams Mug Shaving Soap

    Simply Unscented

    Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash Fragrance Free (can be used to shave legs)
    Clinique Cream Shave
    Edge Advanced Gel Ultra Sensitive Fragrance Free
    Kiss My Face Fragrance Free Moisture Shave
    Nivea For Men Sensitive Shaving Gel
    The Art of Shaving Shaving Soap Unscented for Sensitive Skin


    Alternatives to shaving cream include:

    - any soap that lathers well,
    - shampoo or conditioner,
    - body oil on wet skin,
    - skin lotion on dry skin, or,
    - an electric razor.

    After Shave

    Aftershaves are designed to soothe irritated skin. They are usually based just on water and denatured alcohol, but are heavily fragranced and serve as perfumes for men. Many individual ingredients in fragrances are irritants, and some have been associated with neurotoxicity and cancer. One example is diethyl phthalate or DEP, used to prolong the scent of products. It is suspected of interfering with the endocrine system and causing reproductive problems. A 2007 study, published in Human Reproduction, found that DNA damage to the sperm of 379 men seeking care at an infertility clinic, was correlated with exposure to DEP and another phthalate, DEHP.

    The ingredients in fragrances do not have to be disclosed, and they are listed on labels only as "fragrance", "parfum" or "aroma". In addition, other fragrance ingredients derived from natural sources, such as limonene from citrus rind or eugenol from clove oil, are now being added to many aftershave products. These ingredients are known to be strong skin irritants. Propylene glycol, another skin irritant, is used as a skin conditioning agent in many aftershaves. Conventional aftershaves are also often coloured with potentially toxic FD&C colours such as FD&C Yellow 5, FD&C Green 3 and D&C Violet 2./p>


    Acquarella Moisturizer
    American Crew After Shave Moisturizer
    Aubrey Organics Men's Stock Aftershave/Aftershave Balm
    Coastal Classic Creations After Shave Oil/Cream
    Cedar Spring Herb Farm After Shave Gel
    Desert Essence 100% Pure Jojoba Oil (recommended for pre- and after shave)
    Goodness Essentials Aftershave Moisturizer
    Healing Scents Colognes/AfterShave
    Herbaliz Aftershave
    Honeybee Gardens for Men Herbal Aftershave
    Korres Marigold Aftershave Balm
    Little Moon Essentials Tired Old Ass Splash
    LUVU Beauty Purifying Toner (Can. co.)
    Miessence After Shave Balm
    Parissa Azulene Oil
    Pure & Basic Vitamin E Oil
    Rocky Mountain Soap Company Body Butter (Can. co.)
    Smallbones Studio of Home Arts & Sustainable Living Soothing Aftershave Balm
    Thayers Witch Hazel/Alcohol Free Unscented Witch Hazel with Organic Aloe Vera


    Burt's Bees Skin Care for Men After Shave
    Dr. Hauschka Skin Care Rhythmic Conditioner
    EO After Shave Splash Tea Tree & Lemon
    Gillette Servies After Shave Splash Cool Wave
    Green Beaver Daily Facial Moisturizer for sensitive and acne prone skin
    Joli Natural Skin Care Aftershave
    Nature's Aid Skin Gel
    Neal's Yard Remedies After Shave Balm
    Olivier Soapery Men's Aftershave Cream (Can. co.)
    Sircuit Skin Cool-Aid Protective Apres Shave Refreshing Gel
    The Art of Shaving After Shave Balms/Unscented After Shave Balm
    TheraNeem Neem Leaf & Aloe Gel Cooling Therape
    Vitamoor After Shave
    Weleda After Shave Balm/After Calm Replenishing Spray/After Shave Toning Spray

    Simply Unscented

    Clinique Post Shave Soother
    Thayers Alcohol Free Unscented Witch Hazel with Organic Aloe Vera

    Home-made Alternatives

    Aloe Vera Gel - Replace aftershave with 100% aloe vera gel. Purchase commercial aloe vera gel, or use aloe vera gel from your houseplants. Cut open leaf and rub on skin.

    Annie Berthold-Bond's Basic Bay Rum Aftershave 2 to 4 cups dried bay leaves
    a few sprigs of rosemary (optional)
    rum to cover

    Break the dried bay leaves in half. Fill a quart or pint mason jar with as many leaves as will fit to about 3 inches from the top. Add a few sprigs of rosemary, if desired. Add enough rum to come a good 2 inches above the leaves. Screw on the cover, and let sit for 1 month. Strain. As a variation, add a bit of grated organic orange peel, cloves or ginger root. Keeps indefinitely.

    Alcohol-Free Softening Aftershave
    2 cups witch hazel extract
    2 ounces rosewater
    2 ounces aloe vera gel
    1/2 ounce vegetable glycerin
    a few drops of essential oil, if desired (such as peppermint or eucalyptus)

    Combine the ingredients in a jar, and shake to blend. Pat on the face after shaving. (adapted from

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    Natural soap is easy to make. There is a tremendous variety of good soap available, much of it produced locally by small crafters. Natural soap is made from either animal or vegetable fat, with an alkali such as lye. Mainstream soaps contain perfumes, dyes, mineral oil and other petroleum-based chemicals that clog pores, irritate, and dry out skin. Bar soaps generally contain fewer harmful ingredients than liquid soaps.

    Antibacterial chemicals are now common ingredients in conventional soaps, particularly in liquid hand soaps. Many people pick up anti-bacterial soaps without even realizing it. Others choose anti-bacterial soaps and cleansers because advertising implies that using them will help protect their families against colds and flus. However, colds and flus are caused by viruses, and anti-bacterial soaps have no effect on them at all. The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the US Centres for Disease Control say that simply washing your hands with any kind of soap is just as effective as using soap containing an antibacterial. Proper handwashing means rubbing hands under running water for 15 seconds. It is especially important before preparing food and after using the bathroom.

    As well as being unnecessary, the chemicals in anti-bacterial soaps and cleansers are harmful. The two most commonly used are triclosan and triclocarban. Triclosan is a chlorinated aromatic hydrocarbon like PCBs or DDT. It is suspected of being an endocrine disrupting chemical, and it has been shown to harm the thyroid system in animals. Triclocarban is also a suspected endocrine disrupting chemical and has been shown to cause reproductive effects in animals. A 2006 Swedish study found high levels of triclosan in the breast milk of women who used personal care products containing antibacterials. Women who did not use personal care products with antibacterials also had antibacterials in their breast milk, but at lower levels.

    The Canadian Medical Association has asked the federal Government to ban triclosan in consumer products because it may cause bacterial resistance -- the development of bacteria that can only be killed by different or stronger doses of chemicals. When bacteria become more resistant, it becomes more difficult to kill harmful bacteria, like strep, staph and e-coli, when we really need to. The CMA resolution echoes concerns raised by the American Medical Association as far back as 2000, regarding the lack of studies on the health and environmental effects of triclosan’s widespread use.

    It has also been shown that mixing triclosan in tap water can lead to the production of chloroform, a carcinogen and nervous system depressant. As well, triclosan can be transformed into cancer-causing dioxins in the presence of heat and sunlight. Anti-bacterial soaps may be more irritating and drying to skin than regular soaps.

    Although our lists of best and good soaps include a wide range of soaps, it is not an exhaustive list, and you will find many small companies producing high quality soaps for sale at local markets or health food stores.


    Aubrey Organics Bath Bars
    Auromere Ayurvedic Soaps
    Ballard Organics Fragrance Free Handmade Bar Soap/Fragrance Free All Purpose Concentrated Liquid Soap
    Bare Organics Organic Massage Bar (unscented)
    Botanical Therapeutic Bar Soap
    Bubble & Bee Organic Soaps/Shower Gel
    Burt’s Bees Peppermint & Rosemary Body Bar/Outdoor Poison Ivy Soap
    Cedar Point Soaps (Ont. co.)
    Cleure Oatmeal Face & Body Bar/Glycerin Soap
    Druide Pur and Pure Organic Soap Unscented
    Earth Safe Liquid Hand & Body Wash (Can. co.)
    Ella's Botanicals Bar Soaps and Liquid Soap (Toronto co.)
    Emma Noel Olive Soaps
    Elysian Dream Castille Liquid Soap Unscented/Plain Soap
    Ferlow Botanicals Neem/Rosa Soaps (Can. co.
    Healing Scents Bar Soaps
    Hempen Stuff Soaps (Saskatchewan co.)
    Himalaya Organics Soaps
    Hugo Naturals Bar Soaps (available unscented)
    Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Soap
    Kynk Naturals Soaps/Black Soap (Can. co.)
    La Roche-Posay Toleriane Gentle Cleansing Bar
    LUVU Beauty Cool Cucumber Hand Wash (Can. co.)
    Miessence Cleansing Bars (Geranium and Tea Tree)/Foaming Hand Soap
    Moonsnail Soapworks Bar Soaps (PEI co.)
    Mountain Sky Bar Soaps (Can. co.)
    Nature Clean Bar Soap Unscented/Liquid Soap Unscented/ Citrus Liquid Soap
    Natural Spas Canada Nanaimo Bar Soap
    Nuvo Olive Oil Soap
    Olivier Soapery Bar Soaps(available Truly Unscented)/Liquid Hand Soap (Can. co.)
    Organic Fuji Soaps (available fragrance free)
    Pure and Natural AromaBeauty So Pure Baby Bar
    Purple Prairie Botanicals Soaps
    Rocky Mountain Soap Company Bar Soaps (available unscented)/Liquid Soaps/Foaming Wash (Can. co.)
    Samantharoma Just Soap
    Smallbones Studio of Homes Arts & Sustainable Living Hemp Oil Soap & Shampoo Bar/Pure Castille Soap/Liquid Castille Soap (Can. co.
    Soap for Goodness Sake Bars
    Soapsations Soaps (Toronto co.)
    Soap Works Liquid Glycerin Soap Unscented (Can. co.)
    Solay Unscented Green Tea Shampoo & Body Bar
    Suki Sensitive Cleansing Bar
    Terressentials Natural Unscented Glycerin Soap/Real Soap for Hands
    Theraneem Organix Cleansing Bar
    Tom's of Maine Natural Deodorant Body Bar
    Trader Joe's Oatmeal & Honey Soap
    Val's Veggie Bars/Foaming Soaps


    Deep Steep Foaming Hand Wash
    Desert Essence Cleansing Bar Tea Tree Therapy/Castille Liquid Soap with Organic Tea Tree Oil
    Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps Pure Castille Soap/18-in-1 Hemp Peppermint Pure Castille Liquid Soap
    Down East Hand and Body Wash
    Druide Vivifying/Nourishing Soaps
    Escents Handmade Soaps
    Hugo Naturals Foaming Hand Soap
    John Masters Organics Soaps
    Organic Indulgence Foaming Hand Wash
    Pure and Natural Liquid Hand Wash
    Soap Works Bar and Liquid Soaps (except carbolic and coal tar bars)
    Tom's of Maine Sensitive Beauty Bar Unscented

    Simply Unscented

    Alpha Hydroxy Foaming Face Wash
    Aveeno Moisturizing Bar Fragrance Free
    Body Sense Fresh & Free Fragrance Free Soap
    Canus Goats Milk Moisturizing Soap Unscented
    Clearly Natural Glycerin Bar Soap Unscented
    Clinique Facial Soap/Liquid Facial Soap
    Dermaglow Sensitive Gentle Foaming Cleanser
    Dove Sensitive Skin Unscented Bar Soap/Body Wash
    Jergens Natural Skin Care Bar Unscented
    Olivier Soapery Truly Unscented Soap
    Marcelle Foaming Cleansing/Cleansing Water/Hydra C Self Foaming Cleanser
    Neutrogena Transparent Facial Bar Soap Fragrance Free
    Phisoderm Skin Cleansing Bar Unscented for Sensitive Skin
    Soapworks Pure Glycerin/Pure Vegetable Glycerin/Olive Oil/Goat Milk Soaps (Can. co.)

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    Sun Protection

    There are two reasons why people use sun protection: to protect against sunburn, and to protection against skin cancer. As the ozone layer thins, it's important to avoid sunburns and skin damage, especially for children, as too much sun is a risk for skin cancer.

    Sunscreens work in two different ways. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing ultraviolet rays before they reach the skin's surface. Mineral blocks work by physically blocking the sun's rays from reaching the skin. There are questions about the effectiveness and the health impacts of both types of sunscreen.

    The most common ingredients in chemical sunscreens are oxybenzone, cinnamates and retinyl palmitate. To achieve a high sun protection factor, they are often combined as active ingredients in chemical sunscreens. PABA used to be the most popular chemical absorber, but it proved to be so harsh that most manufacturers no longer use it or the PABA ester, Padimate O.

    Oxybenzone, also listed as 4-MBC or benzophenone 3, is now the most widely-used sunscreen chemical. Because it can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body, there are serious concerns about its safety. Not only can it disrupt the body's hormones, oxybenzone can penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream. As a result, it shows up in the bodies of almost everyone who's been tested. For some people, it also increases sensitivity to the sun.

    Cinnamates, which are often used in waterproof sunscreens, are also a concern. They too can disrupt the body's hormones, cause allergies and may be toxic to the immune system. Retinyl palmitate, a synthetic form of Vitamin A, is another popular sunscreen ingredient. Acording to a US Food and Drgu Administration study, retinyl palmitate is suspected of increasing skin cancer risk when skin is exposed to sunlight.

    The most common mineral blocks are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These naturally occurring minerals are generally safer and more effective than chemical sunscreens. They create a barrier against sun damage by scattering or reflecting the ultraviolet rays of light, and they are less likely to penetrate the skin. However, the introduction and widespread use of nanoparticles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in sunscreens raises new concerns.

    Nanoparticles are very small particles, a tiny fraction of the size of normal particles. There are concerns that, because of their tiny size, they have significantly different properties than their large scale counterparts. The use of nanoparticles in sunscreens and other personal care products is relatively recent. Few studies have investigated the safety of nanoparticles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Friends of the Earth reviewed existing research and found that in test tube studies, nanosized zinc oxide or titanium dioxide can produce free radicals, which can damage DNA and cause cell toxicity, especially when exposed to ultraviolet light.

    Most companies have adopted nanotechnology in mineral sunscreens so that no white residue shows on the skin after sunscreen is applied. Even many companies using natural and organic ingredients now use nanoparticles in their formulations. Nanoparticles are usually defined as being less than 100 nanometers, although toxic properties of manufactured nanomaterials have been observed at up to 300 nanometers, according to Friends of the Earth. When ingredients are listed on a label, there is no way of knowing whether an ingredient is nano-size. Some ingredient labels will say "micronized". Although a micron is 1,000 nanometers, sunscreens with "micronized" ingredients generally contain the smaller nanoparticles less than 100 nanometers in size.

    Other hazardous ingredients to avoid in all sunscreens are synthetic fragrances, which include phthalates and other hazardous chemicals, dyes, and parabens. Spray sunscreens should be avoided because aerosol sprays create small particles that are easily inhaled.

    At this point, evidence indicates that sunscreens alone are not a reliable protection against skin cancer. Sunscreens do provide protection against sunburn. However, the incidence of skin cancer continues to rise, even as sunscreens are more widely used. Researcher Marianne Berwick, an epidemiologist at the University of New Mexico, found that people who use sunscreens seem to have a lower rate of squamous cell carcinoma, the least serious type of skin cancer, which is usually treated easily by surgery. She also found that sunscreen users seem to have a higher risk of melanoma, the more deadly skin cancer. Berwick believes this may be because that sunscreen users stay out in the sun longer.

    The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recommends that sunscreens not be the first choice, or the only way, of protecting yourself against the sun. The safest bet is to wear sunglasses, a hat and shirt, stay in the shade as much as possible, and even use a sun umbrella. Time your activities to avoid the sunniest times of day or year. For short periods in the sun, shea butter, cocoa butter, avocado oil and sesame oil all provide mild amounts of sun protection if you prefer to avoid commercial sun protection products.

    Many factors, including your health history, skin type and whether you have to be outside in direct sun will determine personal choices about sunscreens. When sunscreens are needed, the best choice is a sunscreen with a mineral block but without nanoingredients although they are difficult to find. If you do use sunscreen products, it's best to wash them off when you are inside.

    Health Alert

    Tanning beds and spray tans create an unnecessary health risk. A 2010 study by University of Minnesota researchers found that tanning beds increased the risk of melanoma for users by 74 per cent. Spray tans have been found to contain lead, mercury and arsenic, heavy metals which are toxic to the brain and other organs.

    More detailed information on sucsreens is available from the Environmental Working Group at

    Best (Sunscreen) (mineral blocks with no nanoparticles less than 300 nanometers)

    Anarres - Safe Sun Protection Cream (Toronto co.)
    Ava Anderson - Sunscreen SPF 30+
    Ford’s - Sunscreen Chemical-Free Fragrance-Free SPF 15 (Vitamin C, Green Tea, Zinc) – available from Ford’s Pharmacy, Moncton (
    Green Beaver Organic SPF 30 Adult Body Lotion/Kids Non-Whitening Sunscreen Lotion
    Kabana Skin Care - Green Screen Organic Sunscreen Fragrance Free SPF 20; Green Screen Organic Sunscreen SPF 22 Skin Tone Tinted (
    Marie Veronique - Organics Kid Safe Screen SPF 25 (
    Soleo Organics - All Natural Sunscreen SPF 30+; Soleo Organics-Atlantis Resort All Natural Sunscreen SPF 30+; Soleo Organics-Wyland Organics All Natural Sunscreen SPF 30+ (

    Good (mineral blockers that may contain micronized or nanoparticles of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide)

    Alba Botanica Sun - Mineral Sunscreen Fragrance Free SPF 30; Mineral Sunscreen Kids SPF 30
    All Terrain - Aquasport Performance Sunscreen SPF 30; KidSport Performance Sunscreen SPF 30; TerraSport Performance Sunscreen SPF 30
    Badger - Sunscreen for Face & Body SPF 30 Unscented; Sunscreen for Face & Body SPF 30 and SPF 15 Lightly Scented; Sunscreen Face Stick SPF 30 Unscented
    Blue Lizard - Australian Sunscreen Sensitive SPF 30; Australian Sunscreen Baby SPF 30+
    California Baby - Sunblock Stick No Fragrance SPF 30+; Sunscreen Lotion No Fragrance SPF 30+
    Carribean Solutions - Natural Biodegradable Sol Guard SPF 25; Sol Kid Kare Natural Sunscreen SPF 25
    Coola - SPF 45 Mineral Baby Moisturizer Unscented
    Desert Essence - Age Reversal SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen
    Heiko - SPF 40 Kids (Canadian company)
    Jason Natural Cosmetics - Sunbrellas Mineral Based Physical Sunblock SPF 30; Sunbrellas Chemical
    Free Sunblock SPF 30; Earth's Best Sunblock Mineral Based SPF 30
    Lavera - Sunscreen Block SPF 20 Unscented
    L'uvalla Certified Organic - SPF 20 Sunscreen Face-Body
    Loving Naturals - Sunscreen SPF 30+
    Mexitan - Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30; Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
    Miessence - Reflect Outdoor Balm SPF 15
    Purple Prairie Botanicals - SunStuff SPF 30; Sun Stick SPF 30; SunStuff SPF 15
    Real Purity - Zinc Oxide Sunscreen
    Suntegrity Skin Care - All Natural Moisturizing Face Protector SPF 30
    Thinksport Live Strong - Sunscreen SPF 30+
    Trukid - Sunny Days Mineral All Natural Sunscreen SPF 30+; Sunny Days Face & Body Stick SPF 30+
    UV Natural - Sunscreen SPF 30+; Sunscreen Sport SPF 30+; Baby Sunscreen SPF 30+

    Not as Good as Good but Widely Available (chemical and/or mineral blocks that contain some common hazardous ingredients)

    Aubrey Organics - Natural Sun SPF 25 Green Tea Protective Sunscreen; Natural Sun SPF 25 for Active Lifestyles
    Avalon Organics - Baby Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 18
    Johnson & Johnson - Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 40
    La Roche-Posay - Anthelios 40 Sunscreen Cream (Unscented)
    Nature's Gate - Mineral Kidsblock SPF 20; Mineral Sportblock SPF 20

    Simply Unscented

    This category indicates only that a product contains no natural or synthetic scents. However, simply unscented sunscreens may be chemical sunblocks and/or may contain common hazardous ingredients. Unscented sunscreens are also identified in the Best and Good categories as "unscented" or "fragrance free".

    Alba - Mineral Fragrance Free Sun Bloc SPF 30+
    Clinique - City Block Sheer SPF 15
    Coppertone - Sunscreen Lotion Fragrance Free SPF 15; Sunscreen Lotion Fragrance Free SPF 30;
    Eucerin Extra Protective Moisture Lotion SPF 30 Fragrance Free
    Nature's Gate - Faceblock SPF 25 Fragrance Free; Aqua Block SPF 50 Very Water Resistant Fragrance Free; Kid's Block SPF 30 Fragrance Free
    Neutrogena - Titanium Dioxide Sunsceen SPF 30 for Sensitive Skin
    L'Oreal - Ombrelle Suncare Research SPF 15 and SPF 30
    Vichy - Capital Soleil

    Lip Balm with Sun Protection


    Green Beaver - Certified Organic SPF 15 Lip Balm (Can. co.)
    Hurraw! SPF 15 Sun Block Lip Balm
    Mountain Sky Peach Lip Balm for Fun in the Sun
    UV Naturals Lip Sunscreen SPF 30

    Home-made Alternatives

    Beeswax Sunscreen 1 cup olive oil or natural oil
    1 ounce beeswax
    2 tablespoons pure zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (available in drug stores)

    Heat the oil over a low flame in a double boiler. Add the beeswax and stir until beeswax melt completely. Continue stirring and add the zinc oxide or titanium dioxide gradually while stirring. Put into a small container and cool.(adapted from

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