Think Dirty and Read Labels!

In the past few years, I’ve become mindful of my body and the things I’m putting in it and on it.

From reading food labels in the grocery store (and trying to eat healthier) to reading the labels on my lotions and body care items, I tend to spend a little extra each month to make sure that any food items or hygiene products that I’m using won’t cause long term health problems.

It started back a few years ago when the aluminum in women’s deodorant was being linked to breast cancer. That was all I need to hear before I started looking at the aluminum free selections in the store and veering away from brands like Secret and Dove.

Then I got savvy with my food. I began questioning myself every time I went to the grocery store. Where was it coming from? Who was growing it? What did genetically modified mean? I did a little digging around and found that GMO’s were not for me. It woke me up to the disparaging state of our food industry and the gross injustices that products labeled “organic” or as I like to think of it, “not fucked with” are twice the price of items that were grown honestly and who’s path can be easily traced from the farm to the store.

Further I saw how outrageously overpriced healthy foods were and how terribly under priced everything processed or manufactured was. When I moved to New Haven, I began to buy my produce directly from CT farmers at the Wooster St. Farmer’s market. It was the most secure grocery shopping I had ever done. I knew where it came from and I knew how long it would last and I wasn’t spending a fortune. Win Win.

Lastly, I’ve been trying to get a handle on what I’m using on my hair and skin. Perfumes, cosmetics, hair products. I recently downloaded the app, Think Dirty, and took it to my bathroom shelves. The app is designed to scan a product’s bar code, and then report back the toxicity  and the long term health risks of what you’re using. Its amazing how careless people can be when it comes to putting things on their skin. We tend to take for granted that our skin absorbs whatever we put on it. I cringe at the thought now, thinking about how topical things still have to get processed through our internal organs and how damaging all those unchecked labels can be to our overall, long term health. Some of the products I was using were “dirty” either in carcinogenicity, developmental & reproductive toxicity, or in immunotoxicities. Health problems that were a mystery were actually being caused by what I was putting on my skin, and ceasing to use certain products has remedied those issues.

Though I thought I was being so careful reading labels, I was still surprised at how much product I threw out. Sunscreen, lotions, eye shadows and even one bottle of hair product that I thought was totally safe, were disposed of.

So what remains on my shelf? What labels were safe and good and checked out well with the Think Dirty App? Granted, the items that I use might not work for you (for instance, I have naturally curly hair, so I use a lot of curly hair products) and maybe your skin type is different from mine (lovely combination skin that can’t make up its mind whether to be dry or greasy). But I urge you to READ THE LABELS of what you’re buying. It’s not hard to find an equivalent to whatever you’re already using. It might be more expensive, but so is poor healthy. I feel a personal level of responsibility to take care of myself as best I can in the age of information. Plus, bonus- if you’re unsure what you replace your toxic items with, Think Dirty will provide you with alternatives.

So here’s a compiled list of what I’ve found to be safe so far:

Shea Moisture – I frequently use their soaps, scrubs and occasionally their hair products. I love this line, and I love that they are so much more than a company. Some of the proceeds from their products even go to various causes combating poverty, empowering women through educational grants, building schools, and even matching employees charitable giving.

Everyone 3-in-1 Lavender & Aloe Lotion (EO Products)–  One of the best buys I made was this lotion. I use it for my face and body. The product commitment and the certifications of their products is wonderful – the label reads Organic, Non-GMO, No synthetic fragrances, cruelty free, gluten free.  I encourage you to read up on the company here.

Burt’s Bees Rhubarb Lip Shimmer – I love it when I find a good red lip color. I was sad to have to part with my favorite red lipstick because it scored so poorly on the app, but I was happy to see that my beloved Burt’s Bees checked out just fine.

Other great lines of natural/ handmade products I’ve encountered over the last year are Lush Cosmetics and Ava Anderson. I’ll actually be making a trip to Lush this weekend in honor of Valentine’s Day.


Here’s to reading labels, and creating healthy regiments!




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