Sophie Uliano, Julia Roberts and Oprah

How much do you know about the beauty products you use every day? Maybe not as much as you think. According to Consumer Reports, only 11 percent of ingredients in personal care products are tested for safety in the United States. The Environmental Working Group says one in 13 women are exposed to known or probable carcinogens in these products every day.

Green expert Sophie Uliano says these types of chemicals in products like shampoo and body lotions could be harming our environment because they are washed down the drain into our water supplies. Our bodies are also absorbing these chemicals. "Our body's a living organ, and it absorbs almost everything you put on it, so we really need to take care of that," she says.

So how do you know which products contain chemicals or additives? Sophie says it comes down to simply reading labels and knowing what to look for.

It's a process she taught friend and actress Julia Roberts. "I got rid of half my stuff," Julia says. "When you look at the ingredients and you can't pronounce them? That's a really strong indication that you don't want to put it on your lips."
Look for paraben-free products.

When browsing the beauty aisle, Sophie says to look for "paraben-free" products, like those pictured above. "Parabens are preservatives, and they can be hormone disrupters," she says. "Parabens are in everything. They're in shampoos, body lotions, face creams. … There's conflicting advice, but I stay away."

Sophie says brands like Method are a good option, but if you're not sure whether a product is paraben-free, just check the ingredients list. Parabens are always present if "ethyl parabens" or "methyl parabens" are listed.
Consider fragrance-free products.

Another thing Sophie recommends avoiding is anything that lists fragrance or parfum. "Fragrance is a term that is ubiquitously used to mask a number of chemicals—dodgy chemicals—that may be in your products," Sophie says.

A group of these chemicals called phthalates are used to make plastic soft and gives lotion its creamy texture, Sophie says. "Phthalates are also hormone disrupters and are pretty toxic," she says. "So, again, you want to try and avoid them."

Not sure which brands are fragrance-free? Try Aubrey Organics or Burt's Bees. "Two fantastic companies," Sophie says. "Can't go wrong with either of them."
Sophie Uliano, Julia Roberts and Oprah talk about deodorant.

Your antiperspirant may be keeping you dry, but you might start sweating a little more when you find out about the chemicals that could be in it. Sophie says trace amounts of aluminum are found in antiperspirant only—not necessarily all deodorants. "I stay away from it because it's a neurotoxin," she says.

Sophie's favorite alternative is called Herbal Magic. Julia, however, uses nothing. "I don't, no," she says. "But sometimes midday at work I freshen up."

"You always smell so good," Oprah says. "What do you do?"

"I can't give away all my movie secrets," Julia jokes.
Sophie Uliano, Julia Roberts and Oprah talk about deodorant.

Read the label before you reapply your face cream. If it has germall as an ingredient, you might want to think twice. "This releases toxic gases from the formaldehyde," Sophie says.

Looking for a new face-friendly moisturizer? Sophie recommends trying brands like Dr. Hauschka and Suki.
Sophie Uliano says to watch out for sodium lauryl sulfate.

The final ingredient to watch for is another hormone disrupter called sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS. "[It's] a foaming ingredient which is used in toothpastes and in shampoos, and it's also used in antifreeze and in car shops," Sophie says. "[It's] a good idea to try and stay away from that."

If you can't remember what you should be looking out for while choosing a product, Sophie has an easy shopping strategy for you to use. "If you see a long list of ingredients with lots of numbers and names that you can't pronounce, you probably need to be looking for something else."
FROM: Oprah's Earth Day Event
Published on January 01, 2006


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