The Chemical Challenge

Photo Credit: Ambro

As a teenager, I didn’t have the greatest skin by any means. I wondered what I could do to clear up my acne, and although I’m sure a lot of it was due to genetics and teenage hormones, my use of popular brands of hair gel, body wash, shampoo, deodorants, and body spray most likely didn’t help. But hey – a high school guy has got to look (and smell) good, right? Well, what I didn’t know then (and do now, thanks to the documentary Chemerical) is that these products can have worse consequences than just getting acne – there’s skin and eye irritation, changes in your body at a cellular level, and bioaccumulation (the gradual build-up of a chemical in your body) to name a few.

My initial reaction upon learning this was: I’ve been using these products for years now and I seem fine, so how can they be bad for me?  Well, just because these effects aren’t immediate and glaringly obvious doesn’t mean I’m immune. We may wonder why some people get sick – allergies, respiratory problems, low-sperm counts, cancer – yet we assume everything we consume is perfectly safe, which is a mistake. There is, however, good news: healthier, more natural alternatives are not as hard to identify as you might think. Most products that can be found in stores can also be found on, a database detailing the safety of cosmetic products that can help a person decide what products they should avoid.

This is why I’ve decided to challenge myself when it comes to the everyday products I use – I’ve already abandoned my bottle of name brand body wash and switched to good ol’ bar soap! Now, this doesn’t only apply to hygiene and cosmetics, but to cleaning materials as well, such as dish soap, dishwasher detergent, and all purpose cleaner.  What safer alternatives are out there? It’s my job to find out.

I can’t say how easy a transition this will be, but I do know that it’s an important step to at least be aware of what is in the products I use and to know that there are alternatives.  Let the challenge begin!


One Response to The Chemical Challenge

  1. Alia says:

    Good for you for taking on this challenge, Phil! Skin Deep is a great resource. You can also check out the Good Guide website for product ratings. Good luck!

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