Tag Archives: health

Hidden chemicals in your everyday products…Sodium Lauryl Sulfate


images (1)Our world is filled with chemicals and ingredients that do nothing other than to make the experience of what you are currently doing more “exciting!”  We are a society of people who need “razzle dazzle” when we brush our teeth, and we don’t feel like we are clean enough, unless the soapy suds from our shampoo and body washes are three inches thick!

I am one of those women who has always felt like they were born in the wrong generation…probably the influence of my Grandmother Hazel.  She was a frugal woman who could make needed things appear out of nowhere.  As someone who lived through the depression, you never (and I mean NEVER) would have gotten up from her table and walked away with food still sitting on your plate…food was there to be eaten.  If you didn’t eat it at lunch, you can bet that it would be sitting on the same plate for you to eat at supper.  The choice was yours as to enjoying it when it was freshly made, or freshly warmed up or brought out of the fridge.  That part was kind of rough for us kids, but she had a resourcefulness about her that really resonated with me.  Everything was used, reused and then repurposed to be used in a brand new way.  If it wasn’t necessary right now, it was put on a shelf…with the intention that it would be necessary one day in the future.

I guess that is why I feel that some of the “old” ways of doing things are a little bit more healthy for my family than the stuff that we leave for scientists in large laboratories to develop.  Because we are such a particular group of people who do not like unpleasant experiences, our daily routines are filled with extra chemicals and “stuff” that are purposefully designed to make people feel really great using them.  There are many products that would curdle your stomach if you knew how they were used in your everyday life.  If you knew more about them, I wonder if you would feel the same about using them?

downloadSodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) – Sodium lauryl sulfate is a surfactant, detergent, and emulsifier that is used in thousands of cosmetic products, but can also be found in your run-of-the-mill industrial cleaners. This is the inexpensive foaming agent in dish soaps, hand and body washes, cleaning products, and even toothpaste.  We might see this as a luxury, because it would “appear” to us unknowing consumers that the thick and fluffy soap bubbles that it is producing MUST be better than those lesser bubbling products that seem to disappear in a minute. However, studies have shown that this may not be such an innocent luxury. This substance is very powerful, and it may surprise you to know that it is strong enough to scrub garage floors and degrease engines, and that it is considered to be carcinogenic over time. It is present in nearly all shampoos, scalp treatments, hair color and bleaching agents, toothpastes, body washes and cleansers, make-up foundations, liquid hand soaps, laundry detergents, and bath oils/bath salts. Although SLS originates from coconuts, the chemical is anything but natural.

So, if it is so bad, why do we find it in all these products?  Hmmm…it kind of makes you wonder!  Actually, this stuff is very cheap. What is freaking funny, if you ask me, is that this powerful degreaser can remove oil from an engine, but is supposed to be gentle on your skin???  How can it do anything other than break down your skin and remove all the essential oils that your body needs to be its own healthy, vibrant and alive self?  It has also been said that once in the body, SLS mimics the hormone estrogen, which can bring on health problems like PMS, menopausal symptoms, decreased male fertility, and increased female cancers…yikes!

A study found that in children under six, the absorption of this ingredient, on a daily basis through their scalp, prevented the proteins in their eyes from properly developing. Furthermore, it is said that the SLS in toothpaste contributes to prolonged and more frequent canker sores in the mouth, and the SLS in shampoo causes hair to become more brittle and break easier. So, not only is it a harmful additive, but it is a beauty product ingredient that is creating a not-so-beautiful situation.

We use several toothpastes in our household, from pure baking soda, to the kind that you find in tubes from the store. Immediately after reading about SLS, I went to look at my own toothpaste, which is a brand of Tom’s.  Tom’s, as you may or may not know, is supposed to be a version that is made with more healthy ingredients.  Sadly, I noticed that it was listed as number seven in the listing of ingredients…”sigh” of despair! That really bothered me, as I have been purchasing that for years, thinking that I was doing us all a favor.  I immediately when to their website, which I am sharing a link below, and learned that they do offer another product that is without SLS, called Clean & Gentle and Botanically Bright toothpastes.  I will look for this the next time that I am in the store, as toothpaste in a tube seems to be the preferential one that my family likes.  I know there are homemade products that I can make for my family, but I have not made any as of yet. I don’t feel the need to make anything more complex that baking soda, or a combination of baking soda and coconut oil, as it gets the job done for me.  My children, however, would probably prefer to grab their tube, use it, and then put it back in the drawer. I will point out that my youngest daughter is finding the out-of-the-box baking soda to be a healthy option for her, and I hope that she continues with it.

So what should you do?  Sadly, I cannot tell you what “you” need to do.  I will tell you that I found sodium lauryl sulfate listed as the second ingredient in our shampoos, which “I” found intolerable.  I guess I would feel a little bit better if it were the 9th, 15th or 30th ingredient…but number two???  I plan to check alternative products and ingredients out the next time I go to the store.  I will either find an alternate that I can live with, or I will resort to finding a recipe and making my own.  My sister made me a lovely coconut milk and rosemary shampoo last year, and it was divine!  Just for fun, I am including links to a few homemade versions that you may want to think about making, just in case you cannot find shampoos with ingredients that work for you. Please note that you can Google just about anything, and recipes will pop up and make themselves known to you.  It is not hard to do!

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is just one of the many ingredients that are in all kinds of products that we use daily.  I am a busy woman, so I do not have time to research every single thing that is hidden in the ingredients of my family’s health and beauty aids. I need to start with one thing, so I can become familiar with the word, what it is “supposed” to do in the products, and then I can learn how I can find it in my home.  Once armed with that, I am better prepared to find alternatives that “I” can live with, because knowledge is power for me!  Be warned, because these chemicals are everywhere.  Be prepared to have to make decisions about all kinds of things, if that is what you decide you need to do. You may not be able to fix everything, so you may have to decide which products are acceptable, and which products are intolerable.

I encourage you to go to the EWG.org, which is a website that educates you on all the products available for purchase. You can enter your own products into their program, just to see what the scores actually are.  The best products have scores that are low. Find your brands and see if they are fine, or figure out which brands would make better alternates. Either way, you will be more knowledgeable about what you have in your house than you were before.



Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/13/sodium-lauryl-sulfate.aspx

Ingredients you don’t want in your toothpaste:  http://www.rodalenews.com/toothpaste-chemicals

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate:  http://www.nutopia.cc/the-collective-co-op/open-door-wisdom-blogs/shedding-light-upon-the-darkness-blog/item/common-household-product-sodium-lauryl-sulfate

Info on Tom’s toothpaste:  http://www.tomsofmaine.com/ingredients/overlay/sodium-lauryl-sulfate

EWG facts on toothpaste:  http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/search.php?query=toothpaste&search_group=everything&&showmore=everything&start=0

What the chemical companies don’t want you to know: http://www.ewg.org/research/what-chemical-industry-doesnt-want-you-know

Make your own shampoo:  http://wellnessmama.com/3701/natural-shampoo/, and at http://www.eatgood4life.com/home-made-coconut-shampoo/


Buying Healthy Produce…


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Sometimes we need to make decisions that we don’t always want to make.  For instance, I would love nothing better than to buy organic fruits and veggies all the time, but sometimes the kids need a new pair of shoes…or maybe the money is earmarked for tuition or braces.  Irregardless of those needs being necessary or just nice, there are times when I must watch my budget more than usual.  Instead of being forced to not buy something because it is too expensive, I now make some of those purchasing decisions by factoring in some already known data about produce.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has compiled an amazing website that very easily lays out the chemical analysis of every single thing you wanted to know about. Do you ever sit and wonder about what may be in your kids’ favorite cereal, or the sun protection that they regularly wear?  Do you worry about what is inside your make-up, or laundry detergent? Then I am glad to tell you that EWG.org is THE place to go for the information you need. They have consumer guides to cover food, personal products, filtered water, cleaning products, and anything else that may be keeping you up at night. My new favorites on the EWG website are their Clean 15 and their Dirty Dozen lists.  If you are armed with the basic information from both of these groups, you can be assured of spending your money wisely.  

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The Clean 15 are 15 specific items of produce that do not test positive for dangerous amounts of chemicals, so they deem them better than other produce.  In some instances, the outer skin of the produce naturally prevents chemicals from penetrating through to the fruit or vegetable, or perhaps their growing is not so reliant on weed killers and fertilizers. In any event, because the likelihood of pesticides would be so limited, you can feel pretty comfortable purchasing them from just about anywhere, so they DO NOT HAVE TO BE ORGANIC.

The CLEAN 15 are as follows:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cauliflower
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapefruit
  • Eggplant
  • Kiwi
  • Papayas
  • Mangoes
  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Cabbage
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet corn
  • Avocados

The Dirty Dozen

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The Dirty Dozen, on the other hand, are the produce items that you should ALWAYS BUY ORGANIC, because they almost always are sprayed with pesticides and fertilizers.  In addition to the Dirty Dozen, are two additional American food crops that have concerns to the public health; they are leafy greens and hot peppers. This is because residue tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture have found these foods to also be laced with particularly toxic pesticides. Again, I would encourage you to ALWAYS BUY ORGANIC for these chemically laden items.


  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Nectarines (imported)
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Snap peas (imported)
  • Potatoes
  • Leafy Greens
  • Hot Peppers

Once you have the general idea of what all those fruits and vegetables are on both lists, you might find that your shopping and budgeting can become easier to manage. This will ensure that you are feeding your family the best foods, for the best money.

In conclusion, you have to do what is in the best interest of your family. Try to remember what items are on these two lists, so you can use them as the foundation for your shopping.  Then you will be prepared when you go to the grocery store or at the local farmers market.  Better yet, most of these things can easily be grown in most parts of the country. This might be a good time to think about putting in a small garden plot in your yard; or maybe you could buy into a local community garden.

If you don’t have the space or can’t imagine putting in a small garden, perhaps you might think about growing some tomatoes, strawberries and peppers in containers in your backyard, patio or deck. There is something absolutely amazing about biting into freshly-picked tomatoes or strawberries, especially when they were grown with your own two hands.

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