Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sensodyne Iso-Active Toothpaste ... Ouch!

I NEVER thought I'd actually be writing about toothpaste. Is nothing sacred?! But recent discoveries have forced my hand ... Obviously I'll try and get to the point as quickly as possible...

When I was six kindly Dr. Burt told me to brush my teeth at least twice a day if I wanted to keep them. I have and it's paid off.  My original teeth have stuck around with only a few minor skirmishes in the dentist's chair.

For the last ten years I've used formulations for sensitive teeth and have gotten the best results if I switched back and forth between different brands.  So when Sensodyne came out with their newest product, "Iso- Active Foaming Gel", I couldn't wait to add a new formulation to the rotation. The press on this one, that it's formulated to "penetrate hard to reach places" sounded especially good.

It's not cheap... At 4.3 ounces its the same price as tubes almost twice the size. But I bought it, used it, and liked it. It performed as promised. My teeth looked good, felt smooth and clean...and maybe even looked a little whiter. I liked  this product so much I never thought of putting "Iso- Active Foaming Gel" to the Skin Deep test. Maybe it was just my toothpaste prejudice. How could something as uninteresting and mundane as toothpaste be worth the time and effort?

This morning I acknowledged I should at least look at the label... had to squint really hard even with my glasses on. The first ingredient I could focus on made my blood run cold. It was the cocamidopropyl betaine I've recently learned is a precusor to nitrosamine! It's research time people...

Because I already knew nitrosamine is banned in cosmetics and body care products in Europe (European Commission on Human Affairs) and is a known carcinogen (Science Direct) the next logical stop was Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database.

Thank goodness someone else beat me to it and I didn't have to enter all those ingredients myself.  Yep- Sensodyne Iso-Active Toothpaste review from Skin Deep  results were right in front of me and the news was all bad. Sensodyne's newest product scored a 5 - that's at the high end of a moderate hazard. Worse, when I looked at the hazard breakdown list I saw something I'd never seen before on Skin Deep. Every hazard area was checked!  And I'd actually had all that foaming in my mouth.

Suddenly the toothpaste issue was red hot. What had I been so diligently brushing with ALL these years? And to what had I subjected my family? It's too horrible to think about...

So...  I've provided the first section of the Skin Deep review below. And if you'd like to do your own research- always recommended- the links are in the text above. If you need the Skin Deep link its here.

As for me, I'm combing the web for alternatives. If you've got any suggestions I would really love love to hear them. Until I have up a better solution I'm brushing with baking soda. Really.

last updated: 10/01/09 brand: Sensodyne by GlaxoSmithKline
Given the incomplete information made available by companies and the government, EWG provides additional information on personal care product ingredients from the published scientific literature. The chart below indicates that research studies have found that exposure to one or more ingredients in this product -- not the product itself -- caused the indicated health effect(s) in the studies reviewed by Skin Deep researchers. Actual health risks, if any, will vary based on the level of exposure to the ingredient and individual susceptibility -- information not available in Skin Deep. Legal Disclaimer

Ingredients in this product are linked to:
yesDevelopmental/reproductive toxicity
yesUse restrictions
yesOther concerns for ingredients used in this product:
Neurotoxicity, Endocrine disruption, Persistence and bioaccumulation, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Miscellaneous, Multiple, additive exposure sources, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Contamination concerns, Occupational hazards, Biochemical or cellular level changes

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Don't Know Cocamide From Formaldehyde?

I need to reduce the amount of potentially harmful chemicals in my world. Not just for my own health, but also because of the obligation I feel to do something useful for this embattled world. There are so assaults on Earth's flora and fauna that are so far out of my ability to diminish or influence, safely managing my own sphere is a good place to start.

Ferreting out and safely destroying dangerous and potentially dangerous ingredients hiding in products in my cupboard, under the sink, in the shower... that's the least I can do. Well, actually the least I can do is make sure they're not there in the first place. 

It isn't easy. Even wearing my glasses the small print on those jars and bottles is just a blur. I'm thinking of bring my husband's "optiVisor " next time I go shopping... Despite the challenges I've found a lot of very helpful sites and research on the web. 

Here are some links and information if you're interested-

The Environmental Working Group posted the following help on their Facebook page:

How to read a label
Every personal care product must list its ingredients. Here's how to navigate the labels:
  • Start at the end of the list with the preservatives. 
  • Avoid:
    • Words ending in "paraben"
    • DMDM hydantoin
    • Imidazolidinyl urea
    • Methylchloroisothiazolinone
    • Methylisothiazolinone
    • Triclosan
    • Triclocarban
    • Triethanolamine (or "TEA")
  • Then check the beginning of the ingredients list, where soaps, surfactants, and lubricants show up. Avoid ingredients that start with "PEG" or have an "-eth" in the middle (e.g., sodium laureth sulfate).
  • Read the ingredients in the middle. Look for these words: "FRAGRANCE," "FD&C," or "D&C." Avoid these as well
If you've read my other posts you already know I think Environmental Working Group is doing important work. One of their projects is the Skin Deep database. I've learned a lot through the research the site has already done. And even if a product isn't already on their list I can "key in" the information from the product label here and get a preliminary product report. 

Also- I clicked here, scrolled down toward the bottom of the page and got a download called "Shopper's Guide to Safe Cosmetics". I've printed it out and have a copy in a few of my shopping bags. It's really helped me keep things straight when I'm shopping.  A large magnifying glass has helped, too.

The Cancer Prevention Coalition  (CPC) has posted some very helpful lists about hidden carcinogens and what they call "Frank Carcinogens" on their website. A few of the ingredients listed are below. As always, it's best to do your own research to know exactly what you say you believe and don't believe. CPC has some very interesting and bold ideas. 

more after the jump...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ouidad Botanical Boost

When I stumbled onto Ouidad's website: Ouidad in the '90s I was incredulous- What!? Someone is actually making products to enhance curls? What? Is this some fairy tale? WHAT?!

Because I had given up on having socially acceptable hair long ago I was definitely behind the curve on new hair products. There may have been another company already producing products to help the natural curly cope, but I was clueless. No...that's not true. I was FAR past that. I was in total denial that my waves and curls- and even some of the frizz might be attractive. So I was still using the products my friends with straight hair used, continuing to have mostly hideous haircuts and wearing lots of ponytails. 

How I looked up from my misguided path and found Ouidad I don't remember. I only know that I gratefully used their products for years, eventually buying it by the truckload. Well, by the 33.8 fluid ounce size anyway. Every product I tried worked really well- my hair had never looked and felt so good. And, "they lived happily ever after", right?

Well, not exactly. Eventually even the handsome prince snores and Snow White's patience grows thin. And so it goes with hair care products. I put Ouidad products to the research test here and discovered that although they made my hair do what I wanted it to do... there are some ingredients in there that I'd rather do without. Actually quite a few. A score of 8 out of 10 for me is unacceptable.

As always, I would never attempt to tell you what you should you. Since you know your self, your body and your values better than anyone else it's best to do your own research. You may go here for the complete Skin Deep results and to see the information for yourself. 

What follows is the beginning of the full report taken directly from Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database


Given the incomplete information made available by companies and the government, EWG provides additional information on personal care product ingredients from the published scientific literature. The chart below indicates that research studies have found that exposure to one or more ingredients in this product -- not the product itself -- caused the indicated health effect(s) in the studies reviewed by Skin Deep researchers. Actual health risks, if any, will vary based on the level of exposure to the ingredient and individual susceptibility -- information not available in Skin Deep. Legal Disclaimer
Ingredients from packaging: Water, Panthenol (Provitamin B5), Cetrimonium Chloride, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Centella Asiatica Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Rosa Canina Leaf Extract, Spirulina Maxima Extract, Methyl Gluceth-10, Butylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Benzophenone-4, Benzalkonium Chloride, Fragrance, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, DMDM Hydantoin.
Directions from packaging: -After showering, spray product evenly and sparingly onto damp hair to detangle.-In the morning or throughout the day, use to product to refresh and revive your curls.

Ingredients                       score   
 data gap    concerns
DMDM HYDANTOIN961%Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Contamination concerns (FORMALDEHYDE), Use restrictions
FRAGRANCE8100%Neurotoxicity, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Miscellaneous
POLYSORBATE-20472%Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Contamination concerns (ETHYLENE OXIDE, 1,4-DIOXANE)
BENZALKONIUM CHLORIDE662%Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Use restrictions
364%Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Enhanced skin absorption
PROPYLENE GLYCOL460%Allergies/immunotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Enhanced skin absorption
SODIUM HYDROXIDE377%Neurotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs)
CETRIMONIUM CHLORIDE371%Allergies/immunotoxicity
PANTHENOL293%Multiple, additive exposure sources
DISODIUM EDTA280%Neurotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Enhanced skin absorption
HYDROLYZED WHEAT PROTEIN195%Allergies/immunotoxicity
HYDROLYZED CORN PROTEIN194%Multiple, additive exposure sources
191%None Identified
BUTYLENE GLYCOL178%Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs)
175%None Identified
0100%None Identified
0100%None Identified
0100%None Identified
METHYL GLUCETH-10094%None Identified

There's how much lead in my lipstick?!

I was going to talk about Ouidad but this information and video seemed more pressing.
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics national director Mia Davis on

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
Updated: Tuesday, 29 Mar 2011, 9:47 AM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 29 Mar 2011, 9:47 AM EDT
Shampoo, deodorant, lotion, nail polish, lipstick and perfume -- these are some of the products we use before we walk out the door everyday.
And while they make us look and smell good -- it's the bad ingredients in these products that is forcing one organization to speak out and demand change. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics national director Mia Davis had some shocking facts.
To check out ingredients in cosmetics go to
Event Information:
                              Get the Lead Out! 
                              Tuesday March 29, 2011 
                              6:00 PM to 9:00 PM EDT
                              Opera - Atlanta' Event Center
                              1150 Peachtree Street
                              (Entrance on Peachtree Street)
                              Atlanta, GA 30309

 Ouidad's up next...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Earth Hour 2011 March 26, 2011

March 26, 2011. Saturday Night. 8: 30 PM. Your local time. Be there:

"Be the change you want to see in the world",    
          Mahatma Gandhi
Last year over a billion people in 128 countries around the world participated in Earth Hour. It was reported as the largest voluntary action ever recorded. This year it can be even bigger.

On March 26 at 8:30 PM your local time join the cause to fight climate change. Turn off your lights for one hour. There are lots of fun things to do in the dark. Share a candle lit dinner with friends and family, tell stories or take your dogs for a careful walk...

Participate in Earth Hour. Let your voice be heard. Stand up and take action on climate change and show your support for our planet.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Shower Gel, Fragrance tu WFM?

I've been using this shower gel for over a year. As far as price it was a really great deal.  And because it's a Whole Foods brand product I was confident that none of the ingredients would be harmful.

There's no fragrance, which is perfect for me and it makes a nice, moderate lather. Once I'm out of the shower and dried off my skin does feel a little tight but not too much. I decided to put it to the research test because I thought it was going to be a low risk product.

It felt so good to post a positive report on my last review, the Flax Seed Gel. Let's keep it up, right?

I repeat: I purchased this item at Whole Foods. It's a "365", their own formula. So it CAN'T have anything bad in it. Right?

er, ummm...well....  I plugged the ingredients into Skin Deep's database and the result was a disappointing 3. The lowest end of moderate risk. There's so much worse out there it's true.

Still, from everything I've ever read I believed Whole Foods does extensive research before they develop a product. They really seem like a responsible company.

So I went into this believing the gel would at least be in the low risk range (0-2),  if not a no risk "0"...

If you've read any of my previous posts you know I'm searching for products that are low risk (0-2), or ideally a zero (0) according to the Skin Deep database. My hopes aren't too outrageous. My sole purpose is I to put an end to the allergic- like symptoms that have been annoying me and to avoid creating any future problems for myself. Making sure I'm not contributing to polluting our beautiful planet is high on my list as well.

Paradise of Horror photo
My theory is that the problems I'm experiencing are from a cumulative effect. All the ingredients in the many products I use and am passively subjected to mix together. The dangerous monstrous mix they create- that's what makes my ears and eyes throb and water, and cause the debilitating headaches and the exhaustion and confusion that inevitably follows.

Identifying as many possible irritants and then avoiding them is a big part of my goal. If the annoying symptoms are not from a single irritant but from many I have to wonder about the part the specific ingredients in this product have played. Guess I'll see once it's no longer in the daily routine.  So disappointing though. 

So disappointing in fact that I just didn't want to believe it. I kept scouting around and found  a few other sites: the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the Cancer Prevention Coalition , and AllergEAZE  to get a more information.  Long story short- they concurred with Skin Deep's concerns. The long story is available by clicking the links/ names of each of the other sites in this paragraph and/or skimming down to the end of the Skin Deep report at the bottom of this post.

As always- if you have concerns similar to mine please do your own research. Here is a good place to start. I've given you a few others in the body of this post and I'm sure there must be many other sources. I'd love to hear what you find or about your experiences.

The full review from Skin Deep is below.