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The Importance of Reading Product Labels

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I read the labels on EVERYTHING. I find that when I’m lazy, I get burned and buy products that I regret buying. In the last 6 years I’ve learned so much about good health. And one of the most important things I’ve learned is to read labels and be aware of what I’m putting into my body and what I’m giving my family.

When I look at a label, I want to ensure that I understand what the ingredients are. I want to be able to pronounce them and understand what they are used for. If I don’t know I ask or look it up on-line.

You cannot rely on the outside package of a product either. So don’t be misled by the words “Natural” or “Organic” appearing on a product’s label. Do the research to make sure it really contains good ingredients.

As I started on my health journey, I remember reading various articles on personal care products. There were certain ingredients to avoid in lipstick- like lead, and there’s the dirty dozen to avoid in personal care products, including parabens and sodium lauryl sulphates. So I made a list of all of the ingredients to avoid. I then read another article in this health and wellness magazine that was recommending several personal care products.

I was looking for a lotion to replace the Vaseline lotion I had used for years, because it is petroleum based. I decided to try one that was recommended in the article. I was absolutely floored when I picked up the lotion at the store and read the ingredients – it contained parabens. How could the magazine in one article say that you should avoid these ingredients, then in another article recommend a product that contains some of the nasty ingredients.

Get into the habit of reading the ingredients on the products you buy. Your body will thank you for it!

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EmpowHER Guest

Thanks for bringing attention to this issue. One of the most upsetting things about some of the chemicals that are widely used in cosmetics in this country is that they are banned in other countries, like Canada, Japan and in the EU, for being known sensitizers, carcinogens, or hormone disruptors, for example. I own a small company that specializes in handmade, natural skin care,(wilava.com ) and often speak to women's groups and people who have had cancer about how to make wise decisions about the products we use. The first thing I usually tell them is that unless you are willing to move to a remote area and be completely self-sufficient, you are going to come into contact with potentially harmful chemicals. We can't avoid it. The key is not to panic, and to know what changes (easily) make the best impact in your daily life, such as forgoing Teflon pans in favor of Stainless Steel pans for cooking, or skipping Scotchguard treatments on your furniture which releases toxins into your home for years to come. But when it comes to buying cosmetics, the information can be more confusing. The terms 'natural' and 'organic' aren't regulated in the cosmetics industry. Some products that use mostly synthetic ingredients, or even natural ingredients like petroleum byproducts that have contamination concerns, but one organic ingredient, may call their product organic, even though by most people's standards, it is most definitely not. It's up to the consumer to read ingredients and know what ingredients to watch out for. There is growing evidence that chemicals in products we put on our bodies may have more impact than products that we eat that contain those same chemicals. The bottom line is that the cosmetics consumer needs to be aware of what they're putting on their bodies, read ingredient labels, and avoid highly toxic ingredients when they can.
Melanie, Owner/Founder
Wilava: For Premium Skin

December 31, 2009 - 10:00am
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Melanie - Thanks so much for your comments and suggestions. Do you have any recommendations for us on how we can become better informed about cosmetic ingredients, especially those that are toxic? Pat

December 31, 2009 - 6:00pm

This is so true! Reading labels is of crucial importance, and I'm glad to see people emphasizing this!

I have been researching a lot about tea lately in the course of working on RateTea.net, and I've encountered a few matters of concern in the tea world as well. A lot of teas (both those in the supermarket and those available from specialty stores and by mail-order) are marketed so as to present them as all natural or "healthy", and yet many contain artificial flavoring, usually to mask a lack of fresh natural ingredients (since fresher, high-quality ingredients are more aromatic and don't require artificial additives).

Also, and perhaps more seriously, some wellness teas, including many available inexpensively and in supermarkets and health food stores, contain powerful herbs, some of which have side-effects or potential health risks...ranging from drowsiness (which can be a problem if you're driving) to cancer risk or liver damage with prolonged use. Yet another issue with tea is allergies...flavored teas can contain a whole bunch of ingredients, including common allergens such as nuts or chamomile.

Reading labels (and sometimes, going above and beyond to ask for ingredient lists when they are not given) is really important!

December 30, 2009 - 11:49am
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger (reply to cazort)

Hi cazort - What a helpful and interesting concept. What inspired you to start your website, and what's been the reaction? Do you find that most people really don't think about the ingredients in their tea? Pat

December 31, 2009 - 5:57pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.