Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Giving up the Johnson's

When I found out I was pregnant I began doing research and looking into the most natural/organic methods of all things parenting. I chose cloth diapers over disposables, I made all of my own baby food from organic fruits and vegetables and I breastfed as much as I could (I had low supply issues :(). I didn't, however, give much thought to soap and lotion. I'm not sure why, and looking back now, I'm kicking myself. I mean, my parents used Johnson's on me and I turned out OK, didn't I?

What I didn't know then, but do know now is that toxins found in everyday household products can build up in skin and organs. I have to wonder....is it just coincidence that there is a much higher rate of cancer, neurological and other health problems today than in years past (before massive amounts of synthetic chemicals and preservatives were routinely added to health and beauty products)? Probably not!

I was so excited to discover the Environmental Working Group's cosmetics database. It's so cool! You can look up a particular product or an ingredient and find out if there are health risks associated with them. I'm a pretty cynical consumer and I question almost everything. That's why I love that the database is completely unbiased and research based. I was shocked to find out some of the main ingredients in Johnson's bedtime wash and lotion, which is what I used on Emma for a few months (I LOVE the way it smells!), are toxic and linked to developmental/reproductive toxicity, allergies/immunotoxicity and neurotoxicity, Endocrine disruption, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Miscellaneous, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Enhanced skin absorption, Contamination concerns, Occupational hazards, Biochemical or cellular level changes . Wow! That's a lot of concerns!

Not to mention the ingredient list. In the past few years, I've changed my diet to include more whole foods, organic produce and simple ingredient meals. When buying packaged foods, a good rule to follow is: the simpler, the better. It never really occurred to me to read the ingredient list on the soap and lotion I was using on my baby, but of course I should have been doing it! Baby's skin is so much more sensitive and porous, absorbing almost everything put on it, than adults. That's why it is so important to read labels and choose products wisely. I'm happy to report that I'm now an avid label reader for EVERYTHING concerning my child and I've switched to all natural, organic bath and body products. Not only do I feel better about this change, but my daughter doesn't have skin issues, like yeast infections, anymore.

Just compare the ingredient lists of Johnson's bedtime wash to that of another popular organic children's hair and body wash:

Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Sodium Chloride, Acrylates Copolymer, Sodium Hydroxide, Fragrance, Glycol Distearate, Glycerin, Laureth-4, Lauryl Methyl Gluceth-10, Hydroxypropyldimonium Chloride, Tetrasodium EDTA, Quaternium-15, Tocopheryl Acetate, Aloe barbadensis Leaf Juice.

Saponified Cocos nucifera (organic coconut) oil, Saponified Olea europaea (organic olive) oil, Aloe barbadensis (organic aloe) leaf juice, Vanilla planifolia (organic vanilla) bean extract, Citrus sinensis (organic orange) oil, Kosher vegetable glycerin, Potassium citrate, Butyrospermun parkii (organic shea) butter, Calendula officinalis (organic calendula) extract
I would much rather use the product whose ingredients I can actually pronounce and know what they are. There is even a warning on the Johnson's bottle: "Keep out of reach of children. Do not use without consulting a doctor if child has asthma or allergies or if there is a family history of either. Serious breathing problems could occur." Yikes!
While I actually switched to all natural products a while ago, I've had a stash of Johnson's in the closet. Today is the day I'm setting it all free.

I didn't want to give it up because I just LOVED the way it smelled and I hate wasting, but I didn't want to use it because of all the health risks/concerns. So, it's just been sitting in the closet. I gave it all away to my neighbor (who also loves the way it smells). I don't judge and I realize that millions (I'd guess) of people use Johnson's products and most are probably just fine. But, It's just not the right choice for my family.

I'd encourage all parents to read labels and use the EWG's cosmetic database for products relating to your children. What do you have to loose?

1 comment:

Janine said...

I hate Johnson's as well! What got me interested was reading somewhere that the tear-free shampoo is only tear free because they ADD an ingredient to make it that way - It is actual full of chemicals that are far from gentle. The Cosmetics Database is a great resource and every baby wash type product on my registry was Earth Mama Angel Baby, which scores a 0 on the Database for every single item. =)

I'm sure J&J products were used on me and I turned out fine, but why take the risk when you don't have to? I've also been using a combo of water and lavender oil in a spritz bottle and loving it for a toxin-free pick-me-up. (Tea tree oil is another favorite, and also has antibacterial properties.)

(Not a spam link, I promise, but I wrote a post about this awhile back too - http://alternativehousewife.com/importance-of-organic-beauty-products/)