A few years ago, I was approached by a salesperson in Sam’s Club promoting a new line of makeup and skin lotions. She pitched all the usual benefits to me—the concealer would hide dark circles, the bronzer would give me a summer glow, the lotion would provide anti-aging protection—and offered to let me sample anything I wanted. I picked up a bottle of lotion and scanned the ingredients list. “What kinds of chemicals are in your products?” I asked, even though I already knew the answer. The salesperson hedged for a moment and then admitted that she didn’t know what most of the words on the label meant. Handing the bottle back to her, I smiled and continued on my way.
Shortly before this encounter, my dermatologist confirmed that I am allergic to fragrances. He gave me a long list of chemicals and their multiple alternative names that were to be avoided at all costs. This list was my guide as I relearned to navigate the aisles of my favorite stores. Paying attention for the first time to the ingredients in commercial products, I was shocked to see how many of them were synthetic. Researching their side effects, I realized that I had been absorbing poisons for a long time.
“Perfumes, colognes, and many other scented products contain an abundance of harmful chemicals, many of which are listed on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste List. They also include numerous carcinogenic chemicals, neurotoxins, respiratory irritants, solvents, aldehydes, hundreds of untested and unregulated petrochemicals, phthalates (which can act as hormone disrupters), narcotics, and much more.” — Connie Pitts as cited in the “Fragrance Free Zone” by the Invisible Disabilities Association.
As I searched for products free of synthetics, I became frustrated at the limited choices that were often far beyond my college-student budget. So I started experimenting with producing my own soap, skin creams, shampoo and laundry detergent. After many bad batches and one or two successes, I gave up. I didn’t have the time, patience or skills necessary to create these products for myself.
Fortunately there are people out there who have the craftsmanship and passion to make high quality, all-natural, affordable skincare products. Five such businesses are in the Kentucky Crafted Program: Misty Mountain Top INC., LuciaSoapsEtc., Anna EsSCENTials Bodycare, Vintage Body Spa LLC and SoapWerks
A common thread in all of their stories is the recognition that synthetic chemicals are harmful to the body. As Sharon Lombardo of Anna EsSCENTials Bodycare writes in her online statement:
“The natural bodycare industry has become broadly recognized in the last few years, as people become more aware of the dangers of applying chemicals used in commercial skincare to the outside of their bodies. Quality handcrafted products offer wonderful and effective alternatives.”
So break from the mass-produced soaps and lotions made with unpronounceable, toxic ingredients. Visit the websites of these artisans (available on their Kentucky Crafted directory pages linked above) and order a few samples. Give the gift of safe, natural products this holiday season (and tweet about it #giveagiftfromky). Come to the Kentucky Crafted Market in Lexington, Ky., on March 3 – 4, 2012, and talk to them in person. Like me, you’ll appreciate that they know and care about the ingredients in their products.
Heidi Caudill, adminstrative associate
*Information taken from “What’s In Your Products?” on the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website. “What’s In Your Products?”