Naturally Clean

It’s what’s inside your products that counts

By Michelle Bourgeois-Mackay

We benefit from cleanliness. A clean diet keeps us healthy; a clear desk improves productivity; a tidy room sidesteps a scolding from mom. Good personal hygiene is another way in which we keep our bodies in good health. But what if the products responsible for our cleanliness aren’t so clean? Mainstream monotonous items such as toothpastes, deodorants, soaps and more can contain chemicals and toxins that harm our bodies.

We’ve listed some ways to optimize personal hygiene from the inside out:

Pass on parabens: Parabens are synthetic preservatives commonly used in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products like deodorants, toothpastes, hair products, moisturizers and makeup. Despite their popularity, studies have shown a possible link between parabens and increased risk of breast cancer. The most common ones found in cosmetics are methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Skip the sesquipedalian ingredients and opt for products with natural preservatives like oils, vitamins and herbs. They may have a shorter shelf life, but they may offer you a healthier one.

Forego fake fragrances: While that “unicorn/vanilla” moisturizer or “berry/rainbow blast” shampoo may evoke an appreciative ahhhhh…, these synthetic fragrances can be detrimental to your health. Ah! Fragrance formulas are considered a “trade secret” and therefore do not have to be disclosed on ingredient labels.

This, when even a single scent can contain 50 to 300 different chemicals, according to a 2002 study.

Even natural fragrances that use essential oils are often extracted or synthesized with petrochemicals, a 2018 study shows.

Start with an unscented deodorant. Contrary to popular belief, fragrance-free still has a scent and still masks odours. Gradually move to non-scented hand soap and continue.

Stray from sulfates: Sulfates make products like shampoo, soap and toothpaste foam or lather as has become customary to us. The most common are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), which can be found in most shampoos. But it’s also become clear that these surfactants—molecules that attract both water and oil—are controversial.

Some cite carcinogenic consequences while others claim sulfates can simply irritate the skin, eyes and strip away natural oils. Don’t want to risk it? Err on the side of caution by going for sulfate-free shampoos and SLS-free toothpastes for sensitive teeth and gums.

Beware the bogus: Any company is free to label their products “natural” or “organic” as the FDA never defined the terms. Read what’s inside the products you use; it’s as important as looking at the labels on your food. Call companies directly and ask them what’s in their products. If the lingo’s fancy, something’s fishy.

Some products to get you started:


  • Tea Tree & Willow Acne Clear and Cleanser — paraben-free, sulfate-free, phthalate-free
  • Acure Brightening Day Cream — no parabens, no sulfates, no mineral oil or petroleum


  • Sarakan toothpaste — paraben-free, no fluoride, no SLS, no artificial colours


  • Ursa Major Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant — aluminum-free, uses baking soda to soak up sweat and smell


  • Buck Naked Soap Company — no parabens, no sulfates, no fragrance
  • Juice Beauty Nutrient Moisturizer — paraben-free, petroleum-free, SLS-free, phthalates-free, no artificial dyes or fragrances


  • Seed Phytonutrients Daily Hair Cleanser — sulfate-free, no harsh chemicals, bottle is 100 per cent recyclable
  • Free & Clear Hair Conditioner — no fragrance, sulfate-free, phosphate-free, paraben-free


Winter 2020, Vol 12 N°1

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