How often do you think about the products you use on a daily basis? Not just what they’re meant to do, but what they’re actually made of. How many products do you use on yourself, on your family, and in your home?
For many people, the answers are seldom, and dozens.
There was a time when I paid little to no attention to the products I used. If it smelled good, or worked well, all was fine by me. But somewhere along the way, probably around the time my first son was born, my perspective changed. Something clicked. I realized that the products we put on our bodies, the products we use in our homes, and the hundreds of chemicals they contain, can be just as influential to our health and well being as the food we eat.
The other day someone asked me where do you even start when considering this topic for the first time. Great question. And the first thing that came to mind wasn’t advice about buying this, or avoiding that. The first thing that came to mind was the idea of mindset.
The concept of pretty in Clean Pretty Wise actually has a double meaning. Of course I want to tell you about safer products that make you look and feel fabulous. But the word pretty also means fairly, or to a moderately high degree. Meaning, it’s not about perfection. It’s about making better choices when you can, where you can. Doing your best, and forgetting the rest if you will.
So that’s Clean Mindset Tip #1. Don’t worry about being perfect.
But DO hold the right mindset – being that the products and ingredients you choose matter a great deal to you and your family’s health. That’s half the battle right there. If it’s important enough to you, you will start to make better choices. We know that exposure to toxic ingredients adds up. So even a few safer swaps (that you stick with over the long run) can make a big difference.
Beyond this, there’s a few other things I tell people who are starting to really think about their products for the first time.
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Clean Mindset tip #2 – Keep it simple.
I focus a lot on products on this site. Products of all sorts – for you, your home, your family. The science behind them and the knowledge you need to make safer choices. But whenever possible, I want you to think about the good old concept of less is more. Because although I love sampling new products, testing and comparing, my daily routines are pretty simple.
Ok in truth, I would use more beauty products if my kids let me have a moment in the bathroom to myself, but I digress.
When possible, I want you to try to simplify too. Don’t use four cleaning products when one will get the job done. I use this one simple product to clean and disinfect pretty much everywhere in my house and it’s been a game changer for me.
Don’t use fabric softeners and dryer sheets packed with harmful chemicals and toxic fragrances when a little vinegar in your rinse cycle, or a wool dryer ball will work just as well (and save you money).
And maybe the hand cream with three ingredients will moisturize just as nicely as the one with thirty. The point is, minimalism and multitasking can be your friends when it comes to making safer choices.
Clean mindset tip #3 – Focus on safety.
We hear so many words being tossed around these days. Pure, natural, botanical, green…but really, what does it mean? Don’t get hung up on these words. Because when it comes down to it, what you really want are safe products for you and your loved ones, am I right? Sure, natural ingredients are often great. But even more important than being all natural, in my opinion, is being safe.
I’m a big fan of Beautycounter, a benefit corporation leading the mission to make the entire health and beauty industry safer (and they just so happen to make killer products too). They’re one of the companies stepping up and getting it right when it comes to protecting your health. Click here if you want to learn more about what safety really means when it comes to product ingredients.
I also think the idea of clean health and beauty, much like the concept of clean eating, is going to continue to grow. For me, clean products are simply those without harmful or unnecessary ingredients. It all circles back to safety. Cleaner = safer.
Clean mindset tip #4 – Knowledge is power
So how do you know what is a safer choice? I get it, you don’t have time to study ingredient labels and comb through research papers. But you’ve probably got a smartphone. Do yourself a favor and download the Environmental Working Group’s Healthy Living app. I also use and really like the Think Dirty app.
Both allow you to scan a product’s barcode with your phone and get an instant rating on overall and individual ingredient safety, as well as find suggestions for better choices. The Healthy Living app rates products from 1-10 while Think Dirty rates from 0-10. Just remember that lower scores indicate safer products. I generally try to use products with a rating of 2 or less.
While you won’t find everything in these databases, they can be incredibly useful when you’re at the store and want to get a quick sense of how safe a product is (or isn’t as the case may be). You can also make things easier on yourself and stick with brands that are committed to making cleaner, safer products. Here are a few to start with.
So with that in mind I send you out to make the world a cleaner, prettier and wiser place. We can do it.
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This site is intended to share my own experiences and opinions in an effort to help people more easily find safer products. It should not be considered health or medical advice. Always do your own research and due diligence before trying out new products.