Healthy Body Care #1: Why You Need to Be Careful with Personal Care Products

I’ve considered myself green for many years, but becoming the CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World and then becoming a father has certainly increased the hue. Everyday is a learning experience, whether I’m researching issues that pertain directly to being a father or I’m watching the headlines for breaking news or the latest studies at work. One area of environmental health that never ceases to shock or exasperate me is personal care products.

Allow me to share some of the jaw dropping statistics about the products you rub into your scalp and skin and trust on your baby’s body and even use to clean your mouth every day:

  • Even though the average person uses about ten products a day constituting hundreds of individual ingredients, safety testing of these products is voluntary and conducted by the product manufacturers.
  • Eighty-nine percent of the 10,500 ingredients used in personal care products have never been evaluated for safety by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) panel, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or any other institution.
  • The FDA has banned only nine personal care product ingredients. For comparison, the European Union has banned over 1100.

For me, for my wife, for my son, this is entirely unacceptable. Luckily, we’ve found safer products we love, we know the tricks to reduce exposures in general, and you can learn how to do exactly the same thing.

Over the coming week, I’ll be covering the details of natural body care for you and your children, with tips from my new book Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home, as well as from our website To kick things off, here is the Golden Rule to remember in order to reduce unnecessary exposures to chemicals in care products:

Use fewer products in smaller amounts.

Published on: September 29, 2008
About the Author
Photo of Christopher Gavigan
Christopher Gavigan is Chief Executive Officer of Healthy Child Healthy World. For more than a decade, he has dedicated himself to improving the lives of children and families. He holds degrees in environmental science and geography from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and has extensive graduate training in child psychology and education.
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