Toxin Free Product Review

*Update: I've grown a lot on my knowledge & understanding of "non-toxic" and "natural" since posting this, and have found better products/brands (in my opinion) to replace almost all of these products/brands. I still use the handmade soap, the dessert essence floss, and the crystal deodorant stick and still highly recommend them as about as some of the safest AND effective options I've come across and tested!!!

A few weeks ago, Joey and I ran out of basically all our "personal care" products. A quick trip to Wal Mart solved that. We stocked up on shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, face scrub, and toothpaste. Later that evening, however, I had a conversation with Joey's older sister, Audrey. The topic? The crazy stuff (and by crazy stuff I mean toxic stuff) that's in essentially all our cosmetics/personal care items. Some chemical names were thrown around (not that I recognized them- who can even pronounce half the ingredients on the typical container of anything?) and eventually did some research of my own. I ultimately decided to become more selective about the products that I use, and of what my baby will (eventually!) use. The researching began, some products were ordered (yay, I love new stuff!) and the testing of the more natural personal care items began. 

I will say this now: I am NOT an expert on matters of potential toxins in personal care items. I am not trying to conclusively tell you that the products you use on a daily basis are harmful, or that you should stop using them. The point of this blog post is simply to say that I found some of the concerns over the ingredients in essentially all the products I use to be, well, concerning, especially in relation to how they impact pregnant women, unborn babies, and children. My one tip of advice is READ THE INGREDIENT LIST! Some companies have 100% great products, which others have only a few truly acceptable products, while others that claim to be "natural" are loaded with the things you might be trying to avoid!

Here are a few ingredients I've decided to try to avoid in the products I use:

Sulfates (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)): see article here
Synthetic Fragrance: see articles here & here
Triclosan: see article here
Parabens: see article here
Phthalates: see article here
Toluene (a.k.a. Phenylmethane, Methylbenzene, Toluol): see article here
Imidazolidinyl Urea & DMDM Hydantoin: see article here
DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine): see article here
Artificial Colors... still doing research on these!
Propylene Glycol (PG): see article here
Isopropyl Alcohol: see article here
Mineral Oil/Petrolatum: see article here
Hydroquinone: see article here
PEG Compounds: see article here
BHA & BHT: see article here
Dibutyl Phthalate: see article here
Cyclomethicone & Ingredients Ending in -siloxane: see article here
Lead: see article here
Floride: see article here
Aluminum: see article here
Talc: see article here
Chemical Sunscreens: see article here

Yes, that is a pretty extensive list of ingredients (and I'm sure it's not exhaustive), and maybe I'm a little TOO paranoid. I recognize that there's only so much I can do to limit my exposure to harmful or potentially harmful ingredients both in my cosmetic products and in general (let's not even get into food ingredients right now), and that is where I leave it in the Lord's hands-- Proverbs 16:33 says, "We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall (NLT)." I truly believe that God is good, and that all things are within His perfect purpose and timing, whether we in our limited human understanding perceive them as "good" or "bad." In short, I'm going to do what I can to take care of myself and this little baby (and my husband Joey, too!) by trying to use "safer" products, but I'm not going to get too caught up in trying to escape the reality of this world- that as humans we are fleeting creatures, all moving towards the same reality of bodily death. My spiritual vitality & ultimate journey is not impacted by toxins or any earthly matter, and I find rest in this joyful truth :)

And now... product reviews! 

Above, my Ava Anderson "stash." My friend Emily Alley introduced me to their products over a year ago and even gave me some as a gift, but I've only just started using and appreciating them! Find out more about the company and their goals here.

My facial care set. The exfoliator is to replace my old St. Ives Scrub. The Ava version is much creamier, smells YUMMY, and has much fewer & much bigger apricot kernel "exfoliants." When I first switched, my skin started to look amazing, right away. I'm currently experiencing some minor breakouts, but I can't tell if it's just the natural cycle of my skin or a result of a new product! The lip balm is a little grainy- I usually put it on my finger before spreading on my lips, but it works great and smells nice! The face moisturizer is my least favorite. I'm used to the texture of my old Aveeno moisturizer, so I think I just need to give the Ava version a chance! It's a little harder to rub in and doesn't smell the best, but it gets the job done! I might search elsewhere for different variations of the three products above, just to see what else is out there.

Above: shower gel, conditioner, and shampoo. So far I love all three. I will admit that I think the smell of the shower gel reminds me of a bathroom cleaner- I think it's the citrusy smell- but it's definitely not something that bothers me a lot, and the really sudsy formula makes up for the smell! It cleans great and leaves my skin feeling fresh and smooth. The shampoo was definitely an adjustment. It foams less than my old shampoo and doesn't make my hair feel very soft- I've actually broken quite a few nails trying to wash my hair! But I think it actually CLEANS my hair without stripping it, which is a huge plus, and the conditioner makes it feel soft and smooth, which balances the shampoo. I've noticed that my hair has more natural oil in it- I'm assuming (again) this is because the shampoo doesn't strip my hair with harsh chemicals. I'll definitely keep using the shampoo and conditioner (which have a citrus smell), but would look into other body washes just for a change of scent (even though I LOVE the consistency).

SO, if you'll notice, our toothpaste is "Fennel" flavored. In other words, it tastes like black licorice. It was definitely a mistake on my part- for some reason I thought the bottle looked "minty" (so I didn't bother to see if it actually was) and who would think there'd even be a market for "fennel" flavored toothpaste!? But once I get past the flavor (which isn't easy), I realize that my teeth feel REALLY clean when I'm done brushing! The floss has a yummy MINT flavor and a nice "gritty" texture, so it's perfectly fine for me! The mouth rinse (it's not typical mouthwash that protects and tarter and such) helps rinse away the gross fennel flavor, but I'm not really convinced it has any actual benefits! 

The bar soap is made by the mother of Joey's close friend ( They all contain minimal ingredients, and some are made with natural fragrances, so I'm pretty sure they're a good pick for us! I tried this lotion from Avalon Organics and so far really like it, although I'm a little sick of all my citrus smells (the lotion is "Grapefruit & Geranium"). It rubs in nicely and moisturizes well. I'd definitely try more from the Avalon Organics company (maybe in a different scent) as they seem to be solidly committed to avoiding the toxins I listed above, although they do use the slightly controversial Sodium Benzoate as a preservative (though I'm not too worried about it).

Finally, deodorant! I got this at Wal Mart. It's a "mineral stick" and you have to either wet your underarms or the stick itself before applying. I don't sweat/smell a lot normally, but since switching from my old Degree deodorant & antiperspirant I have noticed a slight increase in the amount that I sweat, which makes sense because this natural bar is supposed to deal with the smell of sweat, not with actually preventing you from sweating... I hope I'm not revealing TOO much info. about my body here! So in short, I'm going to keep using this (it's also incredibly inexpensive in comparison to my old deodorant, coming in at under $3- the brand is "Naturally Fresh") since I think deodorant/antiperspirant is probably one of the most toxic things out there, especially for girls. Think about it- you take a shower & open your pores, shave your armpits & expose the area even more, and then layer on a mixture of perfume & some strange metal chemical to cover any smell and block your pores from releasing sweat! That just sounds unnatural to me, and I know I have it easy because I don't have a problem with sweat, but I'm thankful I can stop repeating THAT cycle!

Well, this brings us to a close for today... I just ordered some hand soap, dish detergent, baby powder, and laundry detergent, so check back soon for more reviews!


Justin Case said...

Thanks for the post, I'm impressed with your thorough research, and just heard about a couple brands I wasn't familiar with! Will definitely be looking at the "Ava" brand stuff today. :)
Theresa M.

Elizabeth said...

Baking Soda to clean your hair.
Apple cider vinegar to condition it.

It's outrageously cheap, you don't have to do further research, and it's completely natural.

Tierney Cyanne said...

I've actually heard about the vinegar rinse! A lot of "natural" shampoo companies don't make conditioner because the shampoo doesn't strip your hair, so you don't really need it- instead they recommended the vinegar rinse. I've also heard of coconut oil- yum :) Smells SO good and has extra moisture for those of us (me) with straw hair!

Tierney Cyanne said...

Theresa- careful with the Ava, they tend to be much better than most companies but still have some weird things in their products- preservatives they try to disguise with different names and weird stuff like that! They're "baby" line is pretty good ingredient-wise, the diaper cream (don't ask why I own their diaper cream...) smells SO so so good, I want to order the baby lotion and baby wash to see if it smells the same way :)

Tierney Cyanne said...

And I totally used they wrong "their." Fail!