Good Chemistry: Green Tips for Better Health, from Planned Parenthood of Northern New England

Posts Tagged ‘Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’

Dolce & Gabbana’s Baby Perfume

“The Baby Smell.”  Did you just read those three words and immediately smell that one of a kind sweet scent you just can’t help but smile at? To my nose, it’s a blend of baby formula, Johnson & Johnson soap, clean laundry, and that indescribable, undefinable, ‘baby’ ingredient that no one has ever been able to pinpoint or recreate.

Sadly, the perfumers over at Dolce & Gabbana don’t quite see eye-to-eye with me on this one. The fashion house has launched a new fragrance designed for babies.

Upon reading this headline, I was quickly struck with the sad realization that our society’s need to quicken up the growing up process is now trying to rid infants of their natural, innocent smell.  Where will it end?

During pregnancy, expectant mothers go to great lengths to alter their routines in order to ensure their child’s development will not be hindered or negatively impacted by environmental toxins. They stop eating certain foods, drinking certain drinks, partaking in certain activities (even hair dying!) all in the name of their baby’s wellbeing. Way to go, moms.

If new moms go to such great lengths to secure a ‘toxin free’ environment for their child, doesn’t it seem ironic to sell them a spritz-able, scented, chemical cocktail for their newborn’s skin? Months of hard work and strong willpower down the drain with one pump of the nozzle on this aromatic mist.

The reality is, companies like Dolce & Gabbana are banking on a lack of consumer knowledge about their products and about environmental toxins in general.

Here come the facts:

  • 95% of the ‘fragrant’ elements of perfume are petroleum chemicals[i], many of which have been classified as neurotoxins. They cause harmful effects on the brain and nervous systems due to a person’s prolonged exposure[ii]. Some of these have even been labeled ‘toxic waste’ by the EPA.
  • Perfume companies are not, by law, forced to disclose ingredients to their consumers or the public at large, instead calling them ‘trade secrets’.  While they make a profit off of their ‘super secret formula’, we get lung disease, depression, skin rashes, central nervous system disorders, chest tightness, fatigue, asthma, and pollution of our bloodstream[iii][iv].
  • When tested on pregnant rats, the chemicals in perfume have been linked to the future infertility of the mother, and underdevelopment by way of undescended testes in the male children[v].

Sadly enough, however, ‘baby perfumes’ aren’t the only danger new parents should avoid.  Check out Forbes Magazine list of known carcinogens that have been found plaguing our baby products.

There has even been formaldehyde found in Johnson & Johnson baby soap.  

While it seems like the fight for toxin-free baby products may be a tad overwhelming,  please know that we as consumers have the ability to stop even more harmful products from making their way onto the market.

Tell Dolce & Gabbana  you don’t want their synthetic chemicals all over your baby’s skin by signing the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics' petition :

Posted by on February 12th, 2013 1 Comment

You & The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

Think about all the personal care products you use in the course of a day.  Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, toothpaste, make-up, baby powder, after-shave… The average American uses about 10 of these products a day.  I, for one, am generally half-asleep when applying, and not always thinking of the more than 100 unique chemicals and toxins I am exposing myself to.

Thankfully, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is thinking about it. They’ve introduced the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 to ensure personal care products we all use are free of harmful ingredients, and that the ingredients are fully disclosed to consumers.  Legislation won’t just benefit us—the consumer—but also small business and innovation in green chemistry.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has been providing us with the truth behind our once-favorite brands and helping us navigate the unsafe terrain of the cosmetics and personal care aisle for years. They’ve taught us all about the well-advertised, highly toxic, unregulated products that sit on store shelves and in our homes. And now it’s our turn to support the Safe Cosmetics Act by making our voices heard. 

TAKE ACTION! Make sure your legislators understand the importance of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 and ask them to co-sponsor the bill. Already, Congressman Mike Michaud of Maine has signed on as a co-sponsor. Stand up for your health and your right to know what’s in your products!

 Tell your friends and family to SPEAK UP to your legislators; don’t let them disregard the products that affect all of us—men, women, children, and the environment.  You can also check out the Campaign for Safe Cosmetic’s list of other creative ways to get involved.

 After you contact your legislator, remember to check out Skin Deep—the database that reveals what’s in your products and ranks their toxicity.

Posted by on August 2nd, 2011 No Comments

Let Thy Food be Thy Medicine and Thy Make Up


I am currently in a class at UVM entitled Women’s Health and the Environment. One of the most recent topic we've explored is the crazy and dangerous world of cosmetics.

We've been reading Not Just a Pretty Face by Stacy Malkan, which explores the highly unregulated, highly toxic cosmetic industry. Many hazardous chemicals are found in popular consumer cosmetics and beauty care products. Look no further than the Skin Deep Database to see what is hiding in your favorite foundation, shampoo, lotion and more.

As a part of the class, and also as a personal challenge, I am attempting to alter my beauty regime for the better. Recognizing that price can be an obstacle to some of the safer, natural alternatives, a group of classmates and myself are seeking solutions in the kitchen. That’s right; we’re using food as personal care products. Affordable, effective, easy, safe and fun; These are the guiding principles of our quest. We also vow not to put anything on our bodies that we wouldn't personally eat. Check out this article on the new  trend. of turning food into cosmetics. 

To break myself in easily I’m starting with the basics: shampoo, conditioner and lotion. These are daily musts. Here are some recipes I've tried:


1 tablespoon baking soda to 1 cup warm water: mix together and rinse through hair.


1 tablespoon Apple-cider vinegar to 1 cup warm water: mix together and rinse through hair.

Lotion: Coconut Oil.

That’s it? That’s all? Seems too simple, right? I was doubtful as well, but I had committed and I’m seeing it through. It has been two weeks on the regime and I'm okay! My hair feels the same amount of clean, and the apple cider vinegar is very softening.  I’m even using the coconut oil on my face and there is no excessive oily residue. I’m kicking myself thinking of the money I could have saved over the years.

For those who enjoy a good experiment there are many recipes out there to make your own home beauty products that are safe, fun and edible. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics lists some DIY recipes on their website as well as many other sites like this blog, Pink of Perfection. Take an afternoon or an hour, grab a friend and try out a recipe.

My next task is making the best face wash (we made one up with almond milk, oats and salt, not bad!). Think of it as an investment in your health, beauty and bank account.

Posted by on May 16th, 2011 1 Comment

Nail Polish You Can feel Good About

Somewhere around the age of 8, painting your nails becomes one of the more exciting things a girl can do. A decade and a half later, the feeling has resurfaced for me. I’m 22 years and want nothing more than to paint my nails on a Thursday night with friends. No big deal right?

Unfortunately, my conscious and environmental studies background lead to an overwhelming sense of guilt when it came to this indulgence. Smothering my nails with toxic chemicals so they can look pretty, and then removing the polish with another toxic product was something I was no longer willing to do. I agonized, let my fingers go bare for weeks, told myself I didn’t need the color, and the sweet, smooth, glossy finish that catches my eye as I click away on keyboards in the library (it’s the little things).

On the first day of my Women’s Health and Environment class I divulged my guilty secret, and I was not alone! My peers had the same woes. Fortunately for all of us, we came across nail polish we could actually feel good about: Scotch Naturals. They are even approved by the skin deep database!

I purchased several Scotch Naturals nail polish colors for my painting pleasure: A tri-pack of darker hues-- a dark blue, tan/brown, and a midnight purple.  I find the the polish goes on smooth and leaves a shiny finish as promised!  The nail polish remover works too, and has no stinky chemical smell! The only downside- without a toxic top coat, my tips tend to chip quicker, but that can be easily retouched! 

Happy paintin'!

Posted by on February 23rd, 2011 No Comments

Not So Sexy: The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance

A while back, I did a post on my arch-nemesis –the perfume aisle. I couldn’t figure out why just the act of walking through it was giving me migraines, making me sneeze, and leaving me feeling miserable.

NotSoSexy_coverIn their new report, “Not So Sexy: The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance,” the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reveals exactly why fragrances can and do make people sick—they are filled with hidden, hazardous chemicals.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics commissioned tests of 17 fragranced products at an independent laboratory. The  Environmental Working Group assessed data from the tests and the product labels.  The products that were tested -- including celebrity brands J Lo Glow and Britney Spears’ Curious, and colognes Abercrombie & Fitch Fierce and Old Spice – contained multiple allergens and hormone disruptors, and many secret chemicals not listed on labels.

On average, these 17 products contained:

  • 14 secret chemicals not listed on labels due to a major loophole in federal law that allows companies to claim fragrances as trade secrets.
  • 10 sensitizing chemicals that can trigger allergic reactions including headaches, wheezing, asthma, chest tightening and contact dermatitis such as skin rashes.
  • 4 hormone disrupting chemicals linked to a range of health effects including sperm damage, thyroid disruption and early puberty.        

People are unknowingly exposed to hazardous chemicals that are hidden in their favorite perfumes, colognes and body sprays—chemicals that are then absorbed into people’s bodies. Even babies, our most vulnerable population, have these chemicals in their blood at birth. This is unacceptable.

Here’s how you can help change this:

  1. Stand up and tell legislators we need safer products and smarter laws to protect us from toxic chemicals in personal care products: Sign the petition to Congress to voice your support!
  2. Sign on to the letter to the celebrities whose fragrances were tested –ask them to show their true leadership by taking a stand against toxic chemicals in personal care products, beginning with their own fragrance lines.
  3. You can also contact other cosmetics companies to ask them to disclose their fragrance ingredients. We've put together talking points to get you started.
  4. Support companies that fully disclose ingredients in their products.
  5. Use the Skin Deep advanced search to find products that do not include fragrance. Read ingredient labels, because even products advertised as “fragrance-free” may contain a masking fragrance.  Remember, less is better: If you are very attached to your fragrance, consider eliminating other fragranced products from your routine, and using fragrance less often.

Everyone has the right to know what’s in the products they spray on their bodies and lather on their skin. Please show your support by standing up to the chemical industry today.

Posted by on May 12th, 2010 2 Comments

Fragrances Stink–Especially While Pregnant

The birth of a child is a highly anticipated moment.  It’s the culmination of months of preparation, patience, and dare I say it, resisting temptation. Everything from coloring your hair, to eating sushi, to drinking alcohol is put on hold the moment you find out you’re pregnant. Here’s another “no-no” to add to your list: artificial fragrances.

Synthetic chemicals found in umbilical cord blood of American newborns.A study by the Environmental Working Group revealed 232 contaminants in the umbilical cord blood of 10 newborn American babies. Synthetic musks, common components of fragrance, were found in 7 of the blood samples.

These results are significant because artificial fragrances are toxic and have been linked to developmental illness, infertility, even birth defects and cancer.

What’s even more disturbing is due to labeling laws, the ingredients in fragrance products are considered “trade secrets,”  and do not need to be disclosed.

If you’re pregnant –or planning on it—here are some precautionary measures you can take:

  • Choose products free of synthetic fragrance.
  • Make your own cosmetics.  The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has great recipes.
  • Be proactive. Contact the manufactures of your favorite lotions, perfumes, and lip balms, and encourage them to use non-toxic ingredients and to fully disclose this information on labels.

As wonderful as it is to look and smell nice, consider the risks of the products you’re using and their effect on your newborn.  By forgoing those toxic perfumes, you’ll be able to enjoy that new baby smell even more.

Posted by on December 29th, 2009 3 Comments

Green Gifts

This holiday season, why not give gifts that are good for the environment, health, or both?

We have complied a list of great eco-gifts.  We want to thank all of our Facebook and Twitter fans and followers for your awesome recommendations!  And if you have any to share after reading this, please let us know. We can always add.

Happy shopping!



Organic Wine Need a host gift?  Bring along a bottle of organic wine to share. For a comprehensive review of reasonably priced organic wines, a quick education and hilariously candid and amusing reviews go visit Steve at Vinoclock. You can't go wrong.
Why It’s Green: Made from grapes free of harmful pesticides and chemicals. Less sulfides.
Health Benefit: Contains antioxidants, which are beneficial to the heart.
Brands: Frey Vineyards, The Organic Wine Company, EcoWine, and two great wine blogs Vinos Ambiz VinO'Clock

Organic chocolateOrganic Chocolate by Lake Champlain Chocolates. Everyone has a chocolaholic on their list. Give them chocolate that’s better for them.
Why It’s Green: USDA Organic Certified. Preservative-free and Kosher-certified.
Local Perk: Made in northern New England, in good old Burlington, VT.


Organic clothingGreen Clothing - Including Hemp, Organic Cotton and Bamboo
Why It’s Green:
Free of pesticides, herbicides, insecticides and other harsh chemicals.
Health Benefit:  Fabric feels softer and is easier on your skin since it's grown naturally.
Shops: Alternative Apparel, The Hempest, Soul Flower, Patagonia, Nordstrom

Recycled ClutchRecycled candy wrapper clutch
Why It's Green:
Made from recycled, defective candy wrappers rescued from being brought to landfills.
Unique Perk: Hand crafted, ensuring no two bags are alike.

Recycled jewelryRecycled Jewelry
Why It’s Green: Jewelry maker Kathleen Plate uses recycled materials such as real beer, Coca-Cola, wine and water bottles to make her stylish creations.
Unique Perk: One-of-a-kind jewelry that isn't a cookie-cutter gift you’d find in a mall or department store.


Samsung phone Ten Cell Phones with the Lowest Radiation. Research this list before you buy:  find the cell phone with the lowest amount of radiation.
Background: The Federal Communications Commission requires all cell phones be rated at 1.6 watts per kilogram or lower.
Health Benefit: The lower the amount of radiation, the less risk for brain and mouth tumors and behavior problems in children.

ipod nanoApple Products—iPhone 3G, iPod nano, iPod classic and iPod touchare now all BFR and PVC free.
Background: Electronic companies have been using brominated flame retardant (BFR) and DECA as flame retardants for years, which are known reproductive and developmental toxicants.
Health Benefit: Apple now offers BFR and PVC-free products, which help reduce reproductive concerns (delayed onset of puberty, changes in adult brain function, and hormone imbalance).


Sigg bottleStainless Steel or Aluminum Water Bottles.
By giving this gift, you’ll help protect your loved one's health and the environment.
Why It’s Green: BPA-free and lead-free and waste reducing.
Health Benefit: Unlike plastic water bottles, these don't leach BPA.  They reduce the risk for reproductive abnormalities, breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, heart disease and sexual dysfunction in males.

french_pressFrench Press If someone asks for a coffee maker this holiday season, your safest best bet is a French press. (Note to self: should do future blog post on organic and fair trade coffee!)
Background: Many commercial coffee makers filter steaming hot water through plastic to make coffee. This leaches the chemical BPA.
Why It’s Green: BPA-free and does not require the use of filters, which saves paper, waste and transportation thereof.
Health Benefit: See scary BPA info above.

Protect our air recycled glassesRecycled Glasses These frosted glasses are made from the bottom halves of Semillon bottles rescued before reaching the landfill.
Why It's Green: Made from recycled glass.  Because they are made from prefab bottles that don't need to be crushed or melted, the glasses use less energy to create than normal glassware.
Unique Perk: Recycled, each set is one-of-a kind and has a unique frosted tint.

Seventh GenerationSeventh Generation Gift Basket Put together a basket of Seventh Generation products
Why It's Green:
Seventh Generation offers non-chlorine bleached, 100% recycled paper towels, bathroom and facial tissues, and napkins; non-toxic, phosphate-free cleaning, dish and laundry products; plastic trash bags made from recycled plastic; chlorine-free baby diapers, training pants, and baby wipes; and chlorine-free feminine care products, including organic cotton tampons.
Health Benefit: Their products save natural resources, reduce pollution and keep toxic chemicals out of the environment and your home.

Cast iron cookwareCast Iron or Stainless Steel Cookware. If you need to buy cookware, **avoid "non-stick" at all costs**.
Background: "In two to five minutes on a conventional stove, cookware coated with Teflon and other non-stick surfaces can exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases linked to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pet bird deaths and an unknown number of human illnesses each year," according to the Environmental Working Group.
Health Benefit: The above ought to convince you.


Do it yourself perfumeDo It Yourself Perfume
Background: 95% of scented products on the market are made largely or entirely of synthetic chemicals, usually derived from petroleum or coal tar, thought to be endocrine disruptors, which can interfere with hormones, puberty and growth and even cause birth defects and cancer.
Health Benefit: You'll encourage your loved ones to wear a safer alternative, reducing their health risks. Plus, they'll smell great!

lipstickNontoxic Cosmetics
Background: Like perfume, cosmetics are not regulated by the FDA. The chemicals they contain, such as lead in lipstick, have been linked to various cancers, developmental/reproductive toxicity, and endocrine disruption.
Health Benefit: You'll not only protect your loved ones by making their gifts with safe ingredients, but you'll educate them on the ugly side of the beauty industry.

PETS--Why leave out Fido and Sparky?

animal toySafe Squeaky Toys for Dogs
Why It’s Green: Made from 100% organic cotton and natural dyes from plants and minerals.
Health Benefit: Certified non-toxic, chemical-free, saliva resistant and has a reduced allergy level.

Dog bedEco Nap
Why It’s Green: Made from 100% Post Consumer recycled plastic.
Comfort Perk: Eco Nap has inner stuffing for added comfort and top stitching for added support.

Why It’s Green:
Made from 100% recycled materials.
Usability Perk: Clear, side-release adjustment at the handle makes it easy to clip around anything.

Eco me CatEco me cat
Why It’s Green: Made from 100% natural, everyday kitchen ingredients and essential oils like rosemary, citronella and lemongrass.
Health Benefit:
Unlike traditional flea remedies which use toxic chemicals and have which have been linked to thousands of animal poisonings and deaths, this is safe for your pets health.


solar powered bagVoltaic Daypack Backpacks
Why It’s Green: Keeps your electronics charge through solar power.
How It Works: It charges your mobile phone, camera, MP3 player or PDA by using waterproof solar panels.  An internal Li-Ion battery pack stores the power power.

flashlight Crank Powered Radio/Flashlight
Why It’s Green: Generates power by hand crank, instead of batteries or wall plug.
Usability: Great for power outages and outdoor activities, like camping.

Other Websites and shopping guides:


*Bubble and Bee Organic
*Campaign for Save Cosmetics
*Environmental Working Group
*Ethical Shopper

*Seventh Generation
*Tree Hugger  and their holiday gift guide
*Uncommon Goods

Posted by on December 14th, 2009 7 Comments

Homemade Cosmetics

Lately I’ve been thinking about that old saying, “if you want something done right, do it yourself.”  After reading so much about chemicals in shampoo, soap and make-up, I’d had enough.   But I have good news for all you gals out there who like to take matters into your own hands: you can make your own safe, chemical free hand scrub!

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has several recipes for you to experiment with!  Here’s one that’s easy to make (although it’ll be tough not scarfing down all the strawberries!):


Strawberry Hand and Foot Exfoliate


8-10 strawberries

2 tablespoons apricot oil (you may substitute olive oil)

1 teaspoon of coarse salt, such as Kosher salt or sea salt


Mix together all ingredients, massage into hands and feet, rinse and pat dry. Strawberries contain a natural fruit acid, which aids in exfoliation.

Care to share any recipes of your own?

Posted by on May 28th, 2009 1 Comment