Tuesday, May 17, 2011

GF Playdough...& Ingredients to Avoid

Found this recipe for GF Playdough:


• 1/2 cup rice flour
• 1/2 cup corn starch
• 1/2 cup salt
• 2 tsp cream of tarter
• 1 cup water
• 1 tsp cooking oil
• Food coloring, if desired

Mix ingredients. Cook and stir on low heat for 3 minutes or until mixture forms a ball. Cool completely before storing in a sealable plastic bag.

I created this list for a friend whose daughter has eczema.  Thought I'd share it on the blog.  These are ideas for people just starting out, not meant to be the end-all list, so don't yell at me that 'x' isn't on the list. We do more than this at home, and some of the items aren't the best options, but all are easily available at Target and Vitamin Shoppe, and are a good place to start from scratch. (Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor or health professional and this is not medical advice, just ideas from a mom.) : )

Allergy-free To-do List

Purchase at Target:

Arm and Hammer Free Detergent
Seventh Generation Cleaners: Or just use Dawn!
Alba soap-free face wash
Loreal sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner, or Alba brand
Lubriderm hand lotion: sensitive or fragrance free
Burt’s Bee’s Whitening Toothpaste: fluoride free

Purchase at Vitamin Shoppe:

Vitamin Shoppe brand Multi-Enzyme ($18 for 300). Take one with each meal, or two for a large meal or something you know you’re allergic to.

Barlean’s brand Flax Oil or Fish Oil (cold liquid). Once a day or even every few days.

Probiotics: preferably cold. At least 10 billion. Once a day. I take all my supplements at night before bed.

To Do:

No candles, plug ins, or other scents. Throw them away. Natural oils only.

No bleach: only on hot loads if needed, ¼ cup, double rinse (rinse until you don’t smell bleach. If you smell it, it’s getting on your skin.) You shouldn’t need bleach unless something has body fluids or mildew on it.

Instead of bleach I add some Oxy Clean to each load, and a bit extra to the hot loads. It's better for your skin than bleach.

Use ½ the amount of detergent recommended. Smell your clothes when they come out of the wash, and adjust if needed. I add more soap for muddy socks. If you see bubbles in the water when the washer starts, you’ve got too much soap.

Use Dawn to wash your bathroom instead of strong-smelling cleaners. If the cleaner smells strongly, that’s bad for allergies and asthma. Dawn does just as good a job and doesn’t have bad chemicals to get in your skin and lungs.

Everyone in your house should start taking the enzymes, probiotics, and fish oil. Even if you don’t do it every day (we don’t), you’ll start feeling better in just a few days.


When I first started trying to "go natural" with our soaps and cleaners a year ago, I kept reading that you should avoid this or that product because it had 'x' chemical in it.  But I had a hard time finding an actual list of chemicals that were bad.  I'm pretty sure I found the following list on the Skin Deep website. http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/  This site is really cool. You can search for or put in your product name (Ivory liquid soap, Cover Girl mascara, etc.) and it will give the product a rating based on its published ingredients. This helped me pick new products to use at home.  It's hard to find products that
a. have a good rating
b. are available at nearby stores (or any store)
c. are not $15 a bottle (literally).
d. have a good rating but actually work

I've therefore decided to compromise on some products, do a few expensive items at a time, and add to my arsenal as I go.  Here's the list of common ingredients to avoid. When I look at labels, easy words I look for to avoid are "sulfate, fragrance, propyl, butyl, and paraben." Or, look for "paraben free" and "sulfate free."

Benzalkonium chloride: Biocide, preservative and surfactant associated with severe skin, eye, and respiratory irritation and allergies, … read more benzalkonium chloride is a sensitizer especially dangerous for people with asthma or skin conditions like eczema. It is found in many household disinfectants and cleaning supplies. Regular use of products containing antimicrobials such as benzalkonium chloride could lead to development of resistant bacteria.

BHA: The National Toxicology Program classifies butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” … read more It can cause skin depigmentation. In animal studies, BHA produces liver damage and causes stomach cancers such as papillomas and carcinomas and interferes with normal reproductive system development and thyroid hormone levels. The European Union considers it unsafe in fragrance. It is found in food, food packaging, and personal care products sold in the U.S.

Coal tar hair dyes and other coal tar ingredients (including Aminophenol, Diaminobenzene, Phenylenediamine): Coal tar, a byproduct of coal processing, is a known human carcinogen… read more, according to the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Hair stylists and other professionals are exposed to these chemicals in hair dye almost daily. While FDA sanctions coal tar in specialty products such as dandruff and psoriasis shampoos, the long-term safety of these products has not been demonstrated.

DMDM hydantoin & bronopol (2-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol): Cosmetics preservatives that decompose and release formaldehyde… read more, which the International Agency on Research on Cancer lists as a known human carcinogen. The preservatives and their decomposition products, including formaldehyde, can trigger allergic reactions. About one-fifth of U.S. cosmetics and personal care products contain a chemical that releases formaldehyde. Not surprisingly, more Americans develop contact allergies to these ingredients than Europeans.

Formaldehyde: A potent preservative considered a known human carcinogen by the International Agency on Research on Cancer.… read more Formaldehyde, also an asthmagen, neurotoxicant and developmental toxicant, was once mixed into to many personal care products as antiseptic. This use has declined. But some hair straighteners are based on formaldehyde’s hair-stiffening action and release substantial amounts of the chemical. Many common preservatives also release formaldehyde into products (like DMDM hydantoin, quaternium, and urea compounds).

Fragrance: It may help sell products from face cream to laundry detergent, but do you know what’s in it? … read more Fragrances are in everything from shampoo to deodorant to lotion. Federal law doesn’t require companies to list on product labels any of the chemicals in their fragrance mixture. Recent research from EWG and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found an average of 14 chemicals in 17 name brand fragrance products, none of them listed on the label. Fragrances can contain hormone disruptors and are among the top 5 allergens in the world. Our advice? Buy fragrance free.

Hydroquinone: A skin bleaching chemical that can cause a skin disease … read more called ochronosis, with blue-black lesions that in the worst cases become permanent black caviar-size bumps. In animal studies, hydroquinone has caused tumor development. The National Toxicology Program is conducting reproductive toxicity and dermal carcinogenicity studies of this chemical.

Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone: Preservatives, commonly used together in personal care products, among the most common irritants, sensitizers and causes of contact allergy … read more Lab studies on mammalian brain cells suggest that methylisothiazolinone may be neurotoxic.

Oxybenzone: Sunscreen agent and ultraviolet light absorber, found in nearly all Americans… read more, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In human epidemiological studies, oxybenzone has been linked to irritation, sensitization and allergies. A study of 404 New York City women in the third trimester of pregnancy associated higher maternal concentration of oxybenzone with a decreased birth weight among newborn baby girls but with greater birth weight in newborn boys. Studies on cells and laboratory animals indicate that oxybenzone and its metabolites may disrupt the hormone system.

Parabens (Propyl, Isopropyl, Butyl, and Isobutylparabens): Parabens are estrogen-mimicking preservatives, read more found in breast cancer tumors of 19 of 20 women studied. The CDC has detected parabens in virtually all Americans surveyed. According to the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products, longer chain parabens like propyl and butyl paraben and their branched counterparts, isopropyl and isobutylparabens, may disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive and developmental disorders.

PEG/Ceteareth/Polyethylene compounds: These synthetic chemicals are frequently contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which the U.S. government considers a probably human carcinogen and which readily penetrates the skin. … read more Cosmetics makers could easily remove 1,4-dioxane from ingredients, but tests documenting its common presence in products show that they often don’t.

Petroleum distillates: Petroleum-extracted cosmetics ingredients, commonly found in mascara. … read more They may cause contact dermatitis and are often contaminated with cancer-causing impurities. They are produced in oil refineries at the same time as automobile fuel, heating oil and chemical feedstocks.

Phthalates: A growing number of studies link this chemical to male reproductive system disorders. Pregnant women should avoid nail polish containing dibutyl phathalate. Everyone should avoid products with “fragrance” indicating a chemical mixture that may contain phthalates.

Resorcinol: Common ingredient in hair color and bleaching products; skin irritant, toxic to the immune system and frequent cause of hair dye allergy. … read more In animal studies, resorcinol can disrupt normal thyroid function. The federal government regulates exposures to resorcinol in the workplace, but its use is not restricted in personal care products.

Retinyl palmitate and retinol (Vitamin A): Vitamin A is an essential nutrient, but excessive amounts can cause severe birth defects if women are exposed during pregnancy… read more New evidence shows that when applied to sun-exposed skin, for instance, in sunscreens, lip products and daytime moisturizers, these compounds can break down and produce toxic free radicals that can damage DNA and cause skin cancer. Recent date from the federal Food and Drug Administration indicate that when retinyl palmitate is applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, it speeds the development of skin tumors and lesions.

Toluene: Volatile petrochemical solvent and paint thinner and potent neurotoxicant that acts as an irritant, impairs breathing and causes nausea … read more A pregnant woman’s exposure to toluene vapors during pregnancy may impair fetal development. In human epidemiological and animal studies, toluene has been associated with toxicity to the immune system. Some evidence suggests a link to malignant lymphoma.

Triclosan & Triclocarban: Antimicrobial pesticides in liquid soap (triclosan) or soap bars (triclocarban), very toxic to the aquatic environment….read more often found as contaminants in people due to widespread use of antimicrobial cleaning products. Triclosan disrupts thyroid function and reproductive hormones. American Medical Association and the American Academy of Microbiology say that soap and water serves just as well to prevent spread of infections and reduce bacteria on the skin. Overuse may promote the development of bacterial resistance.


Linda said...

THe degree to which we've surrounded ourselves with dangerous chemicals is depressing. We are going to kill ourselves and everything around us.

Sheila said...

Yeah, it's funny, once I started trying to avoid chemicals, how difficult it really is to do. They're everywhere.