Monday, October 27, 2008

Raising Kids Outside of the Box: Paraben Parables

Readers, I have to admit to you a flaw of mine. I like to collect information. But only part of the information. And sometimes I forget to go back and collect, as Paul Harvey would say, "The rest of the story." Just two days ago I was caught in a situation where I, ashamedly, did not know "the rest of the story" and decided that, not only would I read up on the answer to my question but that I would share it with you as well.

So, my kids and I got sunburns at the beach while we were in sunny Tampa, Florida this past weekend. After we realized that simple aloe gel (which I had brought with me for an entirely different reason) was not going to do the job, we went to the local Whole Foods and bought some aloe moisturizer and some tea tree oil ointment for affected skin. The stuff was probably working just fine... that is not the point. The point was that the rubbing of the creams were making He-Man and me very sore and very whiny. I mentioned to the Captain that it would be nice to find something for pain relief/healing purposes that was in a spray can. Apparently there is such a product on the market. We go inside of a Walgreens, he shows me the section and I start reading ingredients. Each can had various parabens listed so I exclaimed, "This is no good. They all have parabens" to which he responded, "What's a paraben?" I stopped. I had NO earthly idea how to answer. "Ummm... they're bad" was about all I could muster. (For the record we found some without parabens and it worked really well.) Anyway, when I realized that I had no idea why a product was bad but just that it was bad... well... it made me think of politics and I was pretty ticked at myself!

Tonight I have read about parabens and about why we should avoid them. Apparently they are a chemical (often plant-based) that help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in cosmetics. There is no significant proof that parabens are causing breast cancer or any of the other claims that have been made agains them. However, I typically try to err on the side of caution and make more all-natural choices anyway, regardless of the research.

So, what's so bad about your typical beauty product that has us spending ten bucks on a bottle of California Baby shampoo? Seemingly, it's these little guys called Phthalates. Well, shoot, I've been looking for the wrong ingredients. But I'm glad to know that, according to this reasearch, when I told my husband's relatives that I didn't like them washing the donut's hair in baby shampoo and they did it anyway, I had reason to be upset.

How do I avoid these chemicals? Well, we don't let anyone else bathe our kids for one thing. But mostly we just don't really use soap or cleansers on them. They shower with us and take baths but only about once every two weeks do we actually use soap on their little bodies. And then it's Dr. Bronner's or a conditioner from Whole Foods (for the Donut's tangles). Some people look at us like we are crazy when we say that we don't use soap on our kids (I don't use it regularly myself) but the truth is that they are clean. They don't smell. And they are gorgeous. And until this sunburn issue, they had flawless skin (and will again, I've been assured. Sniff.)

Whether you use soap or not, please take a moment to read the ingredients in your products. And when you begin to argue that the healthier products are more costly... stop and remember that no soap at all is the most cost efficient way to go. No arguement there!

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