Thursday, December 21, 2006

This dilemma has teeth...

Another thing I've been wondering about is beauty products. Until very recently - until I got pregnant with Dot, actually - I was merrily using any old shower gel, shampoo, moisturizer or body lotion as long as it was unperfumed (I'm a bit of a delicate flower, don't you know). Then I read something telling me almost all lotions are petroleum-based so shouldn't be used during pregnancy, which made me think it might be best not to be using them at all, then. I did a bit of research on who make lots of lovely organic products and apparently loads of the ingredients in the beauty products we use might be carcinogenic, contain oestrogen or irritate the skin.

Rather than try checking all my products for complicated-sounding ingredients like 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (contains formaldehyde, apparently) I've started switching to organic stuff. I now use organic shampoo (can't remember the brand), body lotion (Alba - the hubby says it makes me smell like an old lady but as I keep telling him I thought it was unscented when I bought it, and now I have to use it up before I switch to avoid waste. This is an occupational hazard of experimenting after years with your old staples, I will warn you) and eye cream (Dr. Hauschka) and once I run out of my Neutrogena will switch to organic moisturizer too. They aren't all fiercely expensive, Dr Hauschka notwithstanding.

So, while I was at the Organic Farm Shop the other day, i decided it was time to try organic toothpaste again. (I'd given Tom's of Maine a whirl before, but it wasn't a big hit; the hubby refused to use it, saying it tasted of sick and I found it didn't foam up and left a nasty taste in my mouth). This is a big step for me because I come from a family of dentists and am obsessed with oral hygiene, constantly brushing and chewing gum, and am also neurotic about fresh breath. I bought some from Green People and left it in the bathroom.

Driving along yesterday, the MIL said 'I wasn't sure about that toothpaste. It didn't really feel like it was doing anything, although my mouth did feel clean afterwards'. I had to agree with her - it feels a bit like when you haven't put enough toothpaste on the brush, and I just don't feel confident about my minty fresh breath. In fact I've already brushed four times today (it's not 1 o'clock yet) and still my mouth feels a bit frowsy. I know my brother will be down on me like a ton of bricks for overbrushing - which can erode enamel or something like that - so another dilemma arises. Do I continue with this or go back to the Colgate?

To help me decide, I did some research and found out the following on

"Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is used for the same purpose in toothpaste as it is in bubble-bath - as a foamer and detergent. BUT SLS is a particularly strong, harsh detergent as well as having good foaming qualities. Indeed SLS is used to clean oil spillage from petrol forecourts, it is so effective...Plus it is especially preferred by personal care products 'manufacturers' because it is very cheap.

Technically SLS is a 'surfactant', an 'emulsifier', and a 'denaturant'. It is well KNOWN to be a harmful skin irritant that is particularly nasty in contact with the delicate eye, and mucous membranes (this is the main reason for instructions to 'flush your eyes with plenty of water' if you get shampoo in them – because SLS is known potentially to cause damage to the eyes).

SLS is just an unpleasant chemical that should just NOT be used on (or in!) the human body! – Due to growing negative media coverage in the last few years SLS has been removed or 'replaced' in SOME products (but you have to check 'what with' - see below!!). However, it is still very widely found in many well known, off-the-shelf, big-brand products...even though it is known to be:

Toxic to the liver and kidneys,

Toxic to aquatic animals/fish (remember many tons of this stuff washes-off down our drains!!)

On the NIH hazards list

Known to trigger eczema and skin problems

Known to cause mouth ulcers [mouth ulcers? what?]"

Er, ok, well, I guess it has to be worth persevering then. Anyone have any toothpaste success stories for me?

By the way, just so you know, apparently to be labeled 'natural', a product need only contain 1% natural ingredients. So don't be fooled...

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