Growing up, I didn't hear anything about organic food vs. genetically modified food, and terms like "parabens" and "enzymes" were foreign to me.
My sister and I were raised in a home where coupon-clipping went hand-in-hand with grocery list-making. Healthy snacks were always on hand, and balanced food groups were emphasized at mealtime. My mother's meal planning priority was to provide wholesome, nutritious food and to stay within the monetary budget. Back then, reading labels was not usually a pre-purchase habit.
Similarly, we never gave much thought to researching skincare products and laundry detergents. Some big-name brands were purchased when the price was right but mostly we used generic brands. The ingredients list was glanced over sometimes but I don't recall seeing people intently reading the labels. At that time, there was no apparent need to....but that changed when one of our family members had an allergic reaction to a laundry soap. Suddenly, pinpointing the rash-causing culprit was the new mission, and avoiding irritating products became an absolute priority.
Admittedly, in my late teens and early twenties, I didn't pay much attention to what was in the makeup and body products that I bought and used. I would say that my lifestyle was healthy: Plenty of exercise, drank enough water to offset my coffee intake, no drugs and rarely touched alcohol, and I ate more than enough fruits and vegetables. (I thought rinsing them off first made them safe to eat, and knew nothing of GMO's) Now that I'm raising small children, I have an even higher standard of what is safe and healthy.
The upside: This wave of information is prompting companies to respond to a market demand and provide purer, safer products for parents with priorities! New companies devoted to organic foods, and improved lines of allergen-free cosmetics, are cropping up rapidly. Customers are seeking out companies that give clear and simple descriptions of their production process. The back of the packaging is more important than the front.
All natural, organic, grass fed, cage free, hormone free, paraben free, BPA free - these buying options are available in every store that I walk into.
The downside is that these products are often priced higher than the others.
Is it worth it? According to information that we've gathered and surveys we've posted online, consumers with children are more likely to pay more for natural & safe products. Some have said that they can justify spending more on things that are organic or allergen-free if it's something that their baby or child will be consuming/using, but they are not as likely to pay more on their own personal products. This way of thinking gives less preference to things like organic coffee and hypoallergenic cosmetics, but places the focus on things like organic fruits & veggies, clothing made from natural textiles and free of chemicals, and dye-free soaps & bubble bath.
Months ago, I received a box in the mail from Arbonne Independant Consultant Debbie Ericson. When I opened the box, I saw a package containing five different products from the ABC Arbonne Baby Care line: Sunscreen SPF 30+, Hair & Body Wash, Body Lotion, Body Oil, and Herbal Diaper Rash Cream. I was not previously familiar with the Arbonne name, but I spoke with the natural skincare experts at The Bee Well, who confirmed that Arbonne products are high quality and great for sensitive skin.
Since I have two little boys who love to play outside, bath time is a very necessary event! I lathered them up with soapy bubbles created from the Body Wash, and used the Body Oil after they were towel dried. The Body Oil was very light and absorbed quickly. I noticed that there was little (if any) frangrance to the products which was an adjustment, but it was actually quite nice to know that extra chemicals were not just thrown into the products to make them potentially more sellable.
Generally, my sons do not have allergic reactions to generic brand varieties or big name body products, but I am extremely aware of toxic additives like formaldehyde, and I set out to buy products with simple and understandable ingredients listed on the back. I will gladly pay a couple dollars more for a purer, skincare product. Finding Soaps and Lotions that are Dye-free, Paraben-free and Allergen-free is even more important when your child's skin reacts to additives that are present in most items on the shelf.
My two year old nephew has extremely sensitive skin and he was diagnosed with eczema last summer. For this reason, I gave my sister the five products so she could test them out and see how they worked for my nephew.
The Diaper Rash Cream was useful for my youngest nephew (9 months old, at the time) although the cream was noticeably thinner than other ointments. All of the products were practically odorless. Most options on the market have bothersome fragrances, according to my sister, and this product line did not cause her a headache.
The consumer's role has changed tremendously since I was a child, and new information is readily available through resources like healthy eating magazines, nutrition websites and reports on what is going IN OUR FOOD. I now know that MOST of what is offered inside of a supermarket is not worthy of being ingested, least of all worthy of offering to a small child.
If you see the importance of knowing what is in your food, you probably are also thoughtful about the ingredients in skincare products. Since skin is an organ and our pores absorb whatever formulas we rub onto our skin, it's fair to say that what is going ON your body is just as important as what is going IN your body. Like many of you, the more I read, the more questions I have. I am grateful for the educational resources that I have tapped into, and for the people in my life who keep themselves informed on these topics.