Your Beauty Questions Answered Part 2

David Suzuki’s Queen of Green on healthy deodorant, organic skincare and the safety of Vaseline and sunscreens

Click here for Part 1 of Your Beauty Questions Answered.

  1. Do natural beauty products really work?
  2. I get headaches from fragrances. How can I get my office to go scent-free?
  3. What is Cocomide MEA? 
  4. How can I safely dispose of medications?
  5. What’s the safest sunscreen?
  6. Is Vaseline safe for my kids?

1. Do natural cosmetic products work?

There are safer cosmetics products on the market that work well, but not every product works for every person’s individual body chemistry. You’ll need to try a few different brands and formulations before you find one that works for you. If possible, try a sample or travel sizes of a product first. Then if something doesn’t agree with you, you won’t have wasted the money.

Part of being a savvy consumer is letting a manufacturer know what you think of its product. Don’t be afraid to put pen to paper, or send an e-mail, to let a company know what you think. If a safer product doesn’t work for you, consider donating it to an agency or charity who can make sure it gets to someone in need. 

2. I often get headaches at work because of the fragrances used in my work place. How can I get my office to go scent-free?

Fragrance” or “Parfum” is an ingredient found in most personal care products, from deodorant to traditional perfumes. It also made our Dirty Dozen list of chemical ingredients to avoid. Headaches are just one of the side affects people can experience from these. They are also problematic for those with allergies or asthma.

The David Suzuki Foundation office is scent-free and we’ve designed a green your office toolkit to help anyone go green at work. Going scent-free is just one of our many suggestions. Best of luck and I think your co-workers will thank you. 

3. What is Cocamide MEA?

Cocamide MEA is made from the fatty acids in coconut oils, which have foam-boosting properties. The Skin Deep website elaborates:

“Cocamide MEA is a mixture of ethanolamides of Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Acid (q.v.). Itconforms generally to the formula: where RCO- represents the fatty acids derived from Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil (q.v.).”

They note that this ingredient has concerns with respect to contamination and identify some restrictions and warnings with respect to its usage in cosmetic products. 

4. I’ve done some research and realized my medicine cabinet is full of suspicious ingredients. How do I get rid of medications? 

Unused or expired prescription medication that gets flushed down the toilet will eventually finds its way into streams and rivers — also known as our drinking water. So don’t flush unused medicines. Not only are you eliminating the risk of an accidental poisoning in your home, but you’re also playing a role in keeping our oceans and landfills free of pollution. Instead, take old meds and over-the-counter health care products back to your local pharmacy for safe disposal. 

5. Do I need to worry about the Dirty Dozen ingredients in sunscreens? What’s the safest sunscreen to use? 

The U.S. Environmental Working Group found that most are filled with chemicals hazardous to your health. Not only that, but some were harmful to the environment and considered to be the culprits killing coral reefs around the world.

EWG’s findings showed that 80 per cent of sunscreens do a poor job of protecting your skin from damaging UV rays. But there’s good news, they’ve created their annual listing of the best sunscreens. And because we all make the mistake of staying out too long or not applying a high enough SPF, check out some of these recipes to soothe a burn. 

6. I read about the dirty dozen chemicals on your website and it prompted me to throw out everything in our medicine cabinets. I bought new organic, fair trade products from a local store instead. I have two young children (in cloth diapers): is Vaseline bad for their health? 

So glad you found the information useful. It can be quite an awakening realizing that you can reduce your exposure to toxins, especially in your own home. Check the ingredient list on Vaseline- you’ll probably find two, petrolatum and fragrance. Both made our Dirty Dozen list of ingredients to avoid. So, yes, baby products are not all created equal. Visit Skin Deep to see what they say and check out the safety reviews of other baby products too.