Skin is an organ, too

In the quest for healthy living, many of us tend to overlook our largest organ: our skin.  It’s true that beauty starts from within, so if you have noticed an improvement in your skin since changing your diet, you may find less of a need for beauty products in general.  But for those of us who like nice lotions and potions, it’s important to read labels of those products as well.  What you put on your body can be just as important as what you put in your body.
Some of the chemicals to be on the lookout for are: sodium lauryl sulfate (a foaming agent found in anything from shampoo to toothpaste), propylene glycol (alters your skin to better absorb chemicals), and parabens (preservatives).  For a more complete listing, see thisarticle.
So where can you find toiletries and cleansers that are safe for your skin AND effective?  Below is a listing of some of my favorites:

 

Method

Green Works

Holy Cow

Hugo Naturals

Burt's Bees (their products DO contain honey)

 

 

More and more companies are offering natural alternatives to their already popular lines; just be sure to check the label for hidden toxins.
Another great product is the crystal deodorant -- made from mineral salts, it allows your body to sweat but neutralizes odor.  Sweating is good for you and releases toxins from the body -- the crystal prevents staining also, as your sweat is free of bacteria.  The crystal is inexpensive and can last up to ten years!  The only thing I would add is to make sure you don’t break it or chip it -- if you do, run warm water over it to erode the sharp edges.  Other companies have started making crystal-based deodorants (Sprouts and Tom's of Maine, for example).  I find I need to rotate several kinds for optimal effectivenes.  Just be sure to read the full ingredient list; some companies only add mineral salts to their already chemical-based products.

One thing to remember -- natural products have shorter shelf lives once opened, so be sure to buy accordingly.

(It’s been rather controversial as to whether or not parabens can cause cancer -- see this article for more information.)