Saturday, 14 January 2012

If Bacteria Won't Eat It...

by Linda from The Witches Kitchen

I read an article this week with the headline "Cosmetic Chemical Hinders Brain Development in Tadpoles". The study, by the very credible Brown University, found that a chemical called methylisothiazolinone, commonly used in shampoo, cosmetics, skin care products, cleaning products, even baby wipes, caused defects in the neurological development of tadpoles, even at very low concentrations. The Good Guide has a list of products that contain methylisothiazolinone, and you will be surprised how familiar they are.

It's been known for ages that methylisothiazolinone is nasty in high concentrations, and for that reason you're not allowed to have more than 100 ppm in cosmetics. It's also been known for over a decade that it causes damage to rat brain cells in tissue culture. But this study found (in their lovely scientific language) that it caused "deficits both in behavior and in basic brain development" in tadpoles, even in concentrations 0.015 of that allowed in cosmetics, and over just 10 days of exposure.

And though I know it's a fair distance between making tadpoles intellectually disabled or damaging rat brain cells when they're not even in a rat, and being dangerous to humans, I'd prefer not to test just how big a distance.

I looked down the Good Guide list. There's a lot of products there. I don't use hair dye but I do use shampoo occasionally. Mostly I find that just rinsing my hair in plain warm water works well - it doesn't need soap of any kind. Aloe vera is so easy to grow and a great hair conditioner. I don't use cosmetics but I do use sunscreen, not daily - I've always been a bit suspicious about it - but at the beach or the swimming pool. I've sometimes wondered if I use it too little. I have lots of sun damage to my skin. But I think I'll go for the slip and slap and skip the slop.

I've read blog comments - not here of course - where people get really scathing about using food products as face mask and cosmetics. It seems bizarre to me. A fresh organic avocado in season from a Farmer's Market is a fraction of the cost of a tiny jar of moisturiser, has no nasty chemicals in it, has done no environmental damage in the production of it, and works a hundred times better both in and on your skin. My Macadamia, Olive Leaf, Aloe and Avocado Face Mask doesn't have or need any methylisothiazolinone.

I don't use many industrial cleaning products. I use my home-made soap, and liquid soap made from it for bathing and hand washing, and cleaning vinegar for floors. Lemon juice and rind for shower and sinks and anything metal. Metho and newspaper for windows. Our toilet is a composting one.

But there's a big list there of products to avoid, and I really am much too busy to read labels that much. I don't want to be that diligent. It really is much easier to just apply my blanket rule: if it doesn't go off, if even bacteria and funghi won't eat it, be suspicious, be very suspicious.


Sue said...

That probably includes some fast food food too!

LindaG said...

What do you use to untangle your hair? Just patience? (Which I lack, haha. )
I haven't looked over the list yet, but I'd be ready to give up my shampoo whether it's on there or not.

Thanks for the thoughtful post!

Sarah said...

Apple Cider Vinegar with a little honey (esp manuka) is a fantastic hair conditioner, especially if you have dark hair. Just a tablespoon in a litre of warm water will do. Lemon juice works just as well for blonde hair.

It's very hard to find baby wipes that don't contain nasties - many have parabens or alcohol too. I try to use plain cloth and water, with WotNot wipes (australian made!) for when I need something quick.

Linda Woodrow said...

Hi LindaG, I have hair that tends to be "witch-like" - dry and tangly. I use aloe vera from the garden. A handful of gel, massaged through and rinsed out, just like conditioner. Works brilliantly.

Faeryfay said...

Love your advice! Fabulous! Love the avocado mask too.

Jenny said...

OK, we're sympatico - I don't like sun screen either. Nasty stuff, stings your eyes. I tried to use it when my kids were little, but I'd rather they and I stay out of the sun more at peak times and cover up if necessary. I have skin damage, too, so far just age spots. Too late now for me, damage done. It's too nice today to think about it.
No disrespect meant for those affected by the terrible damage the sun can do. I'm lucky so far.

thekitchensgarden said...

I have a rule that covers fresh food. If it won't go off in 7 days I don't want it unless I bottled it myself. I clean my kitchen with pure white vinegar in a spray bottle. It really does work for all the surfaces! And thank you for taking me across to the site, i did not know about it! Suits my sustainable Farmy life out here on the prairies! c

Joanne said...

Except for honey, of course! It's natural, healthy and doesn't decay. Not meaning to contradict because I do agree with your post and prefer natural products, but even some natural substances can be highly toxic and potentially harmful in all but the smallest amounts so other factors besides potential toxicity should also be weighed carefully.