i just found the Environmental Working Group's Cosmetic Safety Database, called Skin Deep. it's amazing! it tests most all of our cosmetics, skin and hair care products (including soap, toothpaste, and eyedrops) to tell us what all those chemical names on the back actually mean, which ones are safer, which ones are more and most dangerous, and why. it's fun ~ type in your favorite eye shadow or lotion, and see where it ranks and why. eye-opening for sure b/c, as most of us know by now, what a company touts on its label doesn't necessarily hold true.
environmental toxins and body care products have been my recent light-bulb awakening in self-care. our skin is our largest organ. i have been so mindful of what i put in my mouth, where it comes from, and what it does for/against me. i was so far behind in being aware of what i wear on my skin, expose it to, or hold my drinks in (like plastics). toxic chemicals manage to incorporate themselves into cells all over our bodies, and wreak curious and unsuspected damage. nerves, hormones, organs, and systems can all be affected. and because babies and children are still developing, the same toxins can have exponentially detrimental results on their tiny systems.
there are so many toxins in our environment that we simply can't do anything about, if we even know about them.
here's a way we can be informed, and lighten our load (mentally and physically).
check it out and see for yourself ~ http://skindeep.ewg.org/
here's their "Safer Shopping Tips":
~Use our What Not To Buy list to avoid especially problematic ingredients — like mercury, lead, and placenta — and the products that contain them.
~Use fewer products. Is there something you can cut from your daily routine, or a product you can use less often? By cutting down on the number of chemicals contacting your skin every day, you will reduce any potential health risks associated with your products.
~Use the "Advanced Search" feature of Skin Deep to find products that have fewer potential health issues. Choose a product category and exclude the hazardous ingredients — carcinogens and neurotoxins, for instance — and Skin Deep will generate a custom shopping list for you.
~Read labels. Marketing claims on personal care products are not defined under the law, and can mean anything or nothing at all, including claims like organic, natural, hypoallergenic, animal cruelty free, and fragrance free. Read the ingredient label carefully to find evidence that the claims are true.
~Use milder soaps. Soap removes dirt and grease from the surface of your skin, but also strips away your body's own natural skin oils. Choosing a milder soap may reduce skin dryness and your need for moisturizers to replace oils your skin can provide naturally.
~Minimize your use of dark hair dyes. Many contain coal tar ingredients that have been linked to cancer in some studies.
~Cut down on your use of powders; avoid the use of baby powder on newborns and infants. A number of ingredients common in powder have been linked to cancer and other lung problems when they are inhaled. FDA warns that powders may cause lung damage if inhaled regularly.
~Choose products that are "fragrance"-free. Fragrances can cause allergic reactions. Products that claim to be "fragrance free" on the packaging may not be. They could contain masking fragrances that give off a neutral odor. Read the ingredient label — in products truly free of fragrance, the word "fragrance" will not appear there. Find "fragrance"-free products with our advanced search.
~Reduce your use of nail polish. It's one of the few types of products that routinely contains ingredients linked to birth defects. Paint your toenails and skip the fingernails. Paint nails in a well-ventilated room, or outside, or avoid using nail polish altogether, particularly when you are pregnant. Browse our custom shopping guide for advice on nail polishes that contain fewer ingredients of concern.
i also found this list, on Motherlove's website ~ Body Care Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy, that has some nice specific words you can look for in those ingredients lists. i don't think this needs to be exclusive to mommies-to-be.