Healthier Toiletries Real People Can Actually Afford
Trying to balance healthy personal care products on a Joe the plumber budget? Wanting to make healthy choices on the home front without driving your line item allotments into the ditch? I hear you. Following is a breakdown of reasonably affordable products available to regular Joe's. Bonus? Many of these are products you can actually score coupons for. Read on.
Now that we are transitioning back into some sort of functioning household after six long months of flood recovery (and still counting), some hard choices are going to have to be made as we balance green and healthy with the very real priority of replenishing our emergency savings. Prior to this situation, we still budgeted cautiously and still clipped coupons. However, we had reached a point where paying a little more for higher quality soaps, cosmetics and other products wasn't a huge issue. Until we have rebuilt our savings however, that will absolutely have to change.
With the current economy, I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume I'm not alone. If you too are looking for affordable versions of these types of products that fall within a reasonable set of health boundaries, I invite you to share the research I've done for my own household. Here are several of the basic products I was able to find information on, via the skin deep cosmetics database.
For those of you who haven't tried it out yet, the toxicity levels of various personal products are rated on a scale of zero to ten, with level ten being the highest level of hazard. Zero-two is considered on the extremely low level of the hazard scale, three-six a mid range risk, and seven-ten levels represent a high hazard risk. Many products just aren't available in the zero-two range, but I was able to find options in all categories listed for this article that at least fell in the lower end of the moderate range, according to the database's parameters. Here are the results:
- Almay. Several kinds came out as only a three, which is one of the healthier options I found. And it's a brand you actually see coupons for from time to time. You definitely have to click through a few pages to see the ones from Almay that aren't on the higher end of the toxicity scale, but there are definitely several that rate at a three, a couple of them even waterproof varieties. Their “one coat” version ( a couple of colors of which still came out at a personally acceptable level ) is also one of the free items at Walgreens this month. Score!
- L'Oreal also made a rock star showing with their Double Extend Waterproof Lash Fortifier and Extender Mascara landing solidly in the green zone with a level 2 rating. Thanks, L'Oreal!
- Maybelline's Expert Eyes Moisturizing Mascara Remover (related product) lands in the green zone as well with a rating of one. Their Volume Express Turbo Boost mascara line lands at a three, comparable with Almay.
- Jason brand mouthwash had several rated at a two, and I've at least seen this stuff at Target, so it's making a mainstream effort.
- Listerine's antiseptic mouthwash. The fresh burst and original are each rated a three, and there were a couple of other versions of it as well that rated equally low. There are definitely coupon options for this brand, as evidenced by the regular Sunday newspaper inserts.
- Several of the Rembrandt ones were rated at three. Not as many coupons for this one, but I have seen them.
- Scope's cool peppermint, peppermint, and smooth mint also made a rating of three. As all of you alpha shoppers are aware, this brand has coupons galore.
- Several of the Tom's of Maine flavors came out as low as a one, but their flavors, as I've stated before, can leave a bit to be desired. Still, I have occasionally seen a Rite Aid coupon for Tom's, and they do tend to make it to a lot of chain store shelves. Don't know if they exactly fall into the budget category, but at least they have a decent rating on the index.
- Burt's Bees. Many of these listed came out as a one on the scale. Not a ton of coupons that I've seen, but I'm starting to see this brand on the shelves of mainstream discount department stores. (So we can at least cross our fingers that coupon options will be available in the future.)
- Jason's has a strawberry and banana toddler toothpaste which comes out as a one on the database index.
- Several of the Tom's of Maine toothpastes came out on the low end of the scale as well.
- As far as major brands with loads of coupon and budget potential, nothing really indexed in the zero-two range. However, there were a few options that listed at a level three. First, Pepsodent's anticavity toothpaste. This excites me, because I know I've seen it at numerous discount stores for around a buck. With or without a coupon, that's excellent news. Colgate, Plus White and Sensodyne all had varieties listed at a level three as well, although you'll want to check carefully as there are many varieties available. All other major brands I recognized were indexed at a level four or above, at least at the time of this article's posting.
- Crystal deodorants in general come out at a zero rating for toxicity. Although there aren't many coupon options out there for these that I've seen, they do at least last for an extremely long time. So that's a help on the budget front.
- Almay antiperspirant and deodorants in the unscented clear gels and roll-ons came out at a rating of one, and many of their other deodorant formulas overall came out pretty low. A few however came out at the moderate end of the toxicity rating, so be sure to check which ones work for you.
- Arm and Hammer's invisible solid white stick (unscented ) indexed reasonably as well, but not so with several of their other varieties.
- Arrid XX Solid antiperspirant & deodorant unscented is well within the green zone, with a rating of one.
- Ban's antiperspirant-deodorant invisible solid, unscented, as well as their antiperspirant-deodorant unscented original roll-on indexed low at a level one risk. Also making the cut for the Ban folks was their Classic Clear Gel unscented antiperspirant and deodorant.
- Mitchum's clear unscented gels also made a splash in the green zone, with several of them also scoring an EWG index rating of level one. Guys, you didn't think I'd forget about you, did ya?
- Aveeno Active Naturals Daily Moisturizing Lotion – (level 2), and Aveeno Anti-Itch Concentrated Lotion with Natural Colloidal Oatmeal (level 1). Their basic daily moisturizing lotion is also a level 2. Several of Aveeno's lotions were higher on the scale however, so you may definitely want to research your full range of options.
- Old Spice Hi Endurance aftershave lotion (level 1).
- Rite Aid calamine lotion skin protectant (level one).
- Coppertone's oil free sunblock lotion for sensitive skin and their spectra3 sunblock lotion (level 2).
- Numerous Curel lotions also came out at the level of two.
- Score one for the generic corner, CVS's daily moisturizing lotion with colloidal oatmeal was also a level two.
- My hero Dr. Bronner had a few in the low range as well. Haven't ever seen coupons for those products, although I have started seeing them on the shelves at Target.
- Neutragena's healthy defense oil free sunblock and their sensitive skin sunblock lotion also came out in the green zone.
- Sea & Ski's Platinum Sunscreen Lotion (2006 formulation) and their faces sensitive skin sunscreen lotion (also in the 2006 formulation ) both came out around a two as well.
- Also, Walgreen's sunscreen lotion spf 70 was a level two! Let's have another cheer for the generic brands!
- Burt's Bees grapefruit and Sugar Beet shampoo and their rosemary mint shampoo bar with oat protein and pro vitamin B5 are both rated level one.
- Pantene Pro-V Red Expressions color enhancing shampoo (auburn to burgundy) is also a level one, although many of their other varieties fell in the moderate range.
- CVS maximum strength therapeutic shampoo (level 2).
- Neutragena's T Sal shampoos for dandruff and scalp treatments were rated at level three.
- Suave also had a few in the four range, and Garnier Fructis and Head & Shoulders at least made it to the middle, with several from each brand making a five, as did many of the Infusium 23 varieties.
- My favorite salon-style bargain brand, Tresemme (moisture rich) , also fell in the moderate range with a score of five. (Phew!)
Other than the Clinique Non Aerosol and another brand I'd never heard of (both rating a one), nothing really landed in the green zone in this category. It seems to be right up there with mascara as something that's difficult to do safely. There were however, several in the moderate range that were also easy on the budget. Making the lowest I could find, level four cut?
- Clairol Herbal Essence, flexible hold, non aerosol spray.
- Final Net non aerosol extra hold unscented.
- Suave's non aerosol extra hold and max hold unscented, as well as the passion flower scent from the naturals line.
Nail products were a tough category to find much of anything falling in the low range of the EWG scale. Perhaps the best you can hope for here is to use the lower rated base coat when you do actually opt to put color on your nails, so you'll have the extra layer of protection. Of course the fumes are still there, and of course, girls will be girls. Your call.
- Revlon's nail whitener pencil (level one).
- L'Oreal's pro manicure top coat (level 2).
- Revlon extra life no chip top coat (level 2).
- Sally Hansen 2 in 1 nail white pencil and vitamin E nail and cuticle oil (both level 2).
- Revlon's professional firma nail extra strength base and top coat (level 3).
- Sally Hansen shea butter rapid finish nail color dryer (level 3).
- Several OPI shades made it to level four as did several of the Revlon nail enamel products. And several of Sally Hansen's nail shades made it to the low level of the moderate range, rating a score of 4 as well.
Again, I want to reiterate that even with certain brands having several product varieties landing in the low to moderate ranges in the database, I definitely saw products from some of those same brands landing in the high hazard range. So please keep that in mind as you shop, and research further as you see fit. I'm thinking my approach will be to list the individual items from the budget brands I like in a personal shopping list that I can carry with me when I'm out and about. Then if I have a question about how to best use a coupon or take advantage of a sale, I'll have the resource. The brands I pointed out in this article were the ones that jumped out at me as being recognizable, easy to access via regular discount department stores, and were (as much as possible) brands I thought folks might have a prayer of finding coupons for. Some other articles from Wise Bread you might consider combining with this article's information for maximum savings?
- Six Ways to Get Cheap or Free Toiletries.
- How to Shop for Free at Walgreens.
- Savings Ideas for CVS.
- DIY Beauty Products at Home.
- Personal Grocery Shopping Strategies.
- Bulk Buying 101.
- Shop in Stores with Concrete Floors.
The database changes regularly, with new products being submitted all the time. If you find one that falls into the budget category as well as the green zone (or as close as possible), and certainly if a company changes formulas and falls further down the scale, please feel free to post your information below in the comment section.
Extra commentary: I've been wondering why it's been so difficult to find similar information on cleaning products. This discussion featuring the EWG and Seventh Generation definitely filled me in. Look for a follow up post on this topic in the near future.
Additional disclaimer? I'm no chemist. I am a full blown human being, however, who has done her best to cross reference the database appropriately and provide product links that matched the product titles as I understood them. Please use any of these product links at your own discretion / risk, and do any additional personal research you see fit.