7 Common Ingredients to Avoid in Personal Care Products

For today’s #FeaturedFriday,  we’re pleased to hand it over to Amanda Koch of My Well Balanced Life to get insight on what we should be avoiding (like the plague!) in our personal care products.
Take it away, Amanda!

Reading labels on food items is nothing new, but are you reading the labels on your personal care products as well?

It may shock most people that the beauty industry in America is highly unregulated.  In fact, the last major federal law passed by the US government to regulate the cosmetics industry occurred in 1938.  While the European Union bans approximately 1400 ingredients from personal care products, America only bans eleven which are deemed as harmful.

While not all chemicals are bad (water is a chemical after all!), the toxic chemicals are the ones to be concerned about.  Toxic chemicals can negatively impact our bodies in areas to include endocrine and hormonal disruption, neurological damage, biological system impairment, and significant damage to cells and organs. It is no secret that problems such as infertility, asthma, allergies, developmental issues, autoimmune diseases and cancer are on the rise in this country. And considering it takes only 26 seconds for the ingredients from cosmetics and personal care products to enter our bloodstream after application, we should take notice of the most common offenders and make efforts to avoid them.

Here are seven common ingredients to avoid when selecting beauty and personal care products:


Parabens are very common and found in many beauty and skincare products because they increase shelf life. Aside from their anti-bacterial properties, they act as preservatives which allow products to last much longer.  This is a plus for beauty companies, but definitely a negative for our bodies. It is important to avoid parabens because of their damaging effects on the endocrine system.  Parabens mimic estrogen in the body.  In other words, our bodies recognize parabens the same way they recognize estrogen — so in essence as a “fake estrogen”.  An excess of parabens can result in high estrogen levels in the body which have been linked to breast cancer, skin cancer, decreased sperm count, as well as hormonal imbalances and reproductive issues.


When you see the word phthalates, think plastic.  Phthalates are plasticizing chemicals which help lubricate other substances, help lotions and makeup penetrate and soften the skin, and help fragrances last longer. It’s quite obvious why companies would want to use these little chemical plasticizers, but rather alarming to think of these substances in our bloodstreams. In recent years, phthalates have been linked to an array of troubling issues to include asthma, ADHD, breast cancer, obesity and type II diabetes, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioral issues, autism spectrum disorders, endocrine disruption, impaired reproductive development and male fertility issues.


This one is rather misleading as fragrance is a rather pleasant sounding thing. However, companies are able to disguise an alarming amount of chemicals by listing this single ingredient. Unfortunately, these cryptic “fragrances” which are found in many creams and hair products are largely linked to allergies (both food and environmental), skin issues, respiratory problems, hormone disruption and reproductive issues.


Sodium lauryl sulfate is a synthetic soap which creates a foamy lather as it cleans, and it is present in most body washes, soaps, shampoos, toothpastes and laundry detergent.  Since people have grown accustomed to its presence, many feel as if products MUST have significant lather or they do not work. That is not the case.  SLS/SLES has been known to be an irritant to the skin and eyes, and helps other chemicals get into the body because of its identification as a penetration enhancer. It has also been linked to allergies, which have become so common and prevalent these days.


BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are synthetic antioxidants which are used as preservatives in lipsticks and moisturizers, among other cosmetics. You can also find these widely used as food preservatives.  It is obviously cost effective for companies to use ingredients which make their products last longer, but it is disturbing when it is at the cost of our health.  BHA and BHT are linked to skin irritation, hormone disruption, and liver damage, and they also have been identified as carcinogens.


It is common knowledge that lead is very harmful, though most associate it only with paint. Yet more than 60% of all lipsticks and lip glosses contain this neurotoxin, in addition to other makeup items.  Neurotoxins are toxins that are poisonous or destructive to nerve tissue. With women applying lipstick multiple times a day, this leads to significant exposure over time. Lead exposure is extremely dangerous as it has been linked to many negative issues which are becoming more and more common, such as learning disabilities, behavior issues, menstrual irregularities, and infertility.


Though this one is not found as much in makeup or traditional skin care, it is in a few products which most people use every day. Triclosan is a widely used antimicrobial chemical which can be found in toothpastes, antibacterial soaps, and deodorants.  Triclosan is a known endocrine disruptor (especially harmful to thyroid and reproductive hormones) and a skin irritant.

An excellent resource is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database. You can look up over 60,000 products to see detailed ingredient information as well as an overall rating system. Aim to choose products with a rating of 1 or 2 to significantly lower your toxic exposure.

And fortunately, there are companies out there making better, safer, and healthier products which are of high quality and effectiveness.  Check out the following links to Beautycounter and Go Beyond Natural, companies working hard to make safe products available to everyone, as well as fighting for better regulation of our products.

Lightening your toxic load is a very realistic thing you can do to help yourself and your family live healthier lives. I have spent the last three years switching over all of our products to be as clean and toxic-free as possible, while still effective. As someone who spent years struggling with fertility and multiple miscarriages, I feel very strongly about avoiding these harmful ingredients and have made it a priority for my family.  It may take a bit of time to make changes, but it is 100% worth it. You cannot avoid every toxic chemical out there, but all the little changes add up to big results and better health overall.

Amanda Koch is a Nutritional Therapy Consultant, Pilates Master Trainer, and Safe Skincare Educator.  After dealing with personal health challenges to include infertility, multiple miscarriages, chronic pain, depression and anxiety, she made healing changes in her life with real food, healthy movement, and clean products.  She strives to provide resources for women to live well balanced lives which are realistic and effective.  She currently lives in Alaska with her Air Force husband and two boys, happy and well. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter!

Keep Your Skin Flawless This Cold Season!



I am so excited to share with you some new natural products that I just discovered for Fall. I don’t know if you are like me but I have very dry skin around my legs, hands and the area around my nose. That is probably the reason why I love summer! My skin finally gets a break from all this dryness in the summer. I also have very sensitive skin that is easy to break out so it is a real mission to find a product that can help hydrate and protect my skin. Then, I was introduced to Vo Bath & Co. If you live in Canada and haven’t heard of this brand before, you seriously need to check them out.

The story of how Vo Bath & Co was started is also one inspiring journey itself but that is for another post 🙂


So the products that I want to share with you today is the sampler trio of Vo Bath & Co Lotion Body Scrubs. They come in three recyclable glass jars that are perfect for travelling and when you are out and about.


The sampler trio comes in three scents Citrine, Bloom and Bare. I know that at times I might be super skeptical with products with scents as I have super sensitive skin. However, when it comes to these three, they are all my favourite.

The unique part about Vo Bath & Co Lotion Body Scrubs is the fact that they are lotion and scrubs in one jar. How brilliant is that?

We all know that we need to frequently exfoliate our skin but sometimes the scrubs that we use can remove a great amount of natural oil on the skin and leave it very tight and dry. But, don’t worry! These scrubs won’t do that to your skin. I have put them all on the test!

How does it work?

These jars  right here contain many small tiny scrubs that are made of organic sugar and actually dissolve and become liquid lotion once you apply on wet skin. They remove your dead skin, cleanse your pores and leave your skin super smooth and silky.

The best part is, they are 100% natural and handmade! They are also super affordable (only $25 for one set of sampler trio)


First scent: BARE

I love love love the fact that the brand never fails to consider people with the most sensitive skin when creating their products and this is one of the evidence.  BARE is the unscented one that is perfect for people like me. It is suitable or all skin type, even the most sensitive types.


I actually tested it out and used it as a facial scrubs and it feels amazing! If you are scared to try the other two scents as facial scrubs, BARE is the way to go. I recently had my nose pierced and as suggested, I could not use any harsh scrubs or scrubs that contain salicylic acid on my face and around the piercing to avoid irritation and infection. However, my nose got really dry for the next couple of days with lots of dead skin built up and since BARE is unscented, I gave it a try and it did a wonderful job in moisturizing and removing the flakiness on my nose.

This product will be your best friend during those cold & dry winter days so prepare for it!

Second scent: BLOOM

This is one interesting scent. It is a combination of peony, rose geranium combined with hibiscus petals. It has a light floral scent that is quite pleasant. I like to apply this one after shower  and before going to bed because it is very relaxing and soothing.


Third scent: CITRINE

This is so far my favourite one out of the three. It is a combination of lemon, tangerine and grapefruit that is very energizing and gets you in the right mood to start the day or wakes you up after a long tiring day.


I heard that CITRINE is also great for fading scars and healing red spots. If you have experienced back acne in the past, this is a perfect body scrubs and lotion for you to treat acne marks and remove dead skin on your body without drying out your skin.

Besides the few ingredients that I just mentioned, these trio are also packed with cocoa butter, shea butter, vitamin E, jojoba oil and grape seed extract. These are well-known natural ingredients that people have been using for years to maintain healthy and beautiful skin.

If you would like to try out this Sampler Trio and make sure your skin is well taken care of for this coming winter, you can use the code below to get 10% on your order. You can also get FREE SHIPPING when apply CANADA SHIPPING at CHECK OUT.


Have a wonderful week ahead and I can’t wait to hear about your experience on these products!