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    The Dirty on Getting Clean

    Life is about balance. Yes, I eat organic as much as I can, but oh how I love a martini. In a world that sadly is growing ever more toxic by the day, we like to be smart where we can. I was shocked to realize that the U.S. government really doesn't regulate the toxic chemicals we all use everyday, on our bodies and in our homes. Many of the "clean" products I proudly use (and have even touted on goop) have turned out to be a product of marketing, rather than actually safe. Today, we go hardcore on the subject with Gregg Renfrew, founder of one of my favorite new lines, Beautycounter. As she says, if the government isn't going to regulate for our safety, she will. I will never give up my perfume, but maybe I can switch to greener and unscented laundry detergent, and remove some of the hand soaps I thought were great until I checked them on EWG.org… Food for thought.

    With love and jet lag from Hong Kong,
    gp

    This week's goop collaboration

    Cushnie et Ochs for goop
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    The Dirty On Getting Clean
     
    Seeing as the United States is a country that knows how to regulate everything, we were pretty shocked—actually, floored—to learn that the federal government has not passed a law to regulate the personal care industry since 1938. In 1976, Congress passed broad federal regulation on how chemicals enter the marketplace (including those used in cleaning products)—it hasn't been updated since. This seems ironic in a country where it's difficult to get a new drug to market, but products we use in our homes, and on our bodies, every single day can skip right onto supermarket shelves. Something about this didn't sit right with Gregg Renfrew, who found that the more she learned, the more she realized what she didn't know—and the more scared, and angry, she became. "80% of the chemicals in personal care products have never been tested for safety," she explains. "It's an unconscionable fact, and we all deserve better."
     
    And so Renfrew decided to do something about it: She launched a gorgeous skincare and cosmetics company called Beautycounter, almost exactly a year ago, where they're "setting a new health and safety standard, because if our government won't protect us from toxic chemicals in the products we use everyday, then we will." While the E.U. has banned or regulated more than 1,300 ingredients in personal care products, the U.S. has only banned 11, a fact that left our jaws on the floor. In response, Beautycounter has identified more than 1,500 chemicals and counting that they won't use, either because the chemical is known to be harmful, or in their eyes, what might be even worse: The chemical and its long-term effects on health are completely unknown. "You'd be shocked at the amount of chemicals that are used in the products we use everyday—in our homes and on our bodies—where no safety data exists…essentially, companies are experimenting on us." While the FDA theoretically governs personal care products, and the EPA oversees chemicals in general (including those used in household cleaners), according to Renfrew, "neither agency is resourced or empowered to demand safety data or require studies around long-term health impacts—ultimately, it's completely legal for companies to use known carcinogens."  
     
    WHAT'S AN ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR?
     
     
     
     
     
    Stripped
     
    Two Exciting New Beauty Openings
     
    George Northwood Salon   Côte
     
    LONDON:
    George Northwood Salon
    44 20 7580 8195


    Our go-to London hairdresser, George Northwood, has finally opened his own salon in central London, where he's keeping it all in the family: While George cuts, his sister—well-known in her own right—heads up color, and his mom stops by routinely with home-baked treats. The space feels more like a cozy living room than an antiseptic salon, as his favorite books line the shelves, art from his own collection dots the walls, and there's space to work at your laptop while your color sets. What's better, he offers healthy snacks along with “George's Marvelous Medicine,” a juice packed with hair-healthy nutrients.
      LOS ANGELES:
    Côte
    11714 San Vicente Blvd. | 310.820.0906


    While Los Angeles is a veritable sea of nail salons for on-the-fly manicures, there aren't many non-spa spots that feel particularly luxurious. Enter Côte, a serene, grey-washed space that looks like it belongs in Harbour Island—not on one of L.A.'s busiest drags. The best part though is that Côte—and its collection of 109 polish shades—is completely five-free (no formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, camphor, or formaldehyde resin). It's a winning, and well-executed combination (there's also a sweet little shop in the front, full of finds from the French countryside)—we'd be surprised if the city isn't blanketed with Côte outposts soon.
     
     
     
    Effects on Long-Term Health
     
    According to Renfrew, the incidence of cancer, ADHD, allergies, and autism is on the rise. "One in two men, and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer," Renfrew explains, "while one in three kids will be diagnosed with ADHD, asthma, autism, or allergies.” She goes on to add: “What's happening in our genes, physical environment, food supply chain, and cosmetics is a complicated dance. But our skin is our largest organ—it's silly to assume that toxic chemicals we already know are linked to health problems, or chemicals that are understudied, aren't having profound effect on our health, especially when so many illnesses are on the rise." In a recent study, common cosmetic preservatives called parabens were found in biopsies of breast cancer tumors at levels that are similar to their concentrations use in personal care products. "We can't control everything," Renfrew adds, "but the products that we bring into our homes and put on our bodies every single day is a good place to start."
     
     
    The Short List Of Chemicals To Avoid
     
     
    1
     
    2
     
    3
     
    4
     
    5
     
     
    As Renfrew has learned more over the years, she's kicked an ever-growing list of unhealthy products out of her own house, from her non-stick pans, to her fragranced laundry detergent, to her kids' mattresses, which (like the vast majority) contained chemical flame retardants. And while she counts herself on the extreme end of the spectrum ("My kids want to kill me because I don't let them eat blue M&Ms anymore, though keep in mind that this is about progress and not perfection”), we thought she'd be the perfect steward to lead us on an audit of our own kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. "The most essential step is to flip that bottle around and check the ingredient label." And perhaps more importantly, Renfrew advises to look behind the marketing: "Terms like natural, pure, hypoallergenic, botanical, and green are unregulated and sadly don't mean anything," she explains, "and even if a product includes some organic ingredients, there's certainly no guarantee that they're not packaged with a toxic preservative or surfactant." She also pointed us to the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database for skincare and beauty products (they just launched a handy, barcode-scanning app, and rank products on a numerical scale with 1s and 2s being the cleanest), and the EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning for everything else, which uses a standard alphabetical grading system. "These are the best working tools out there right now for general home detox," she adds, "and you'll see that many companies score all over map, so it's really important to take a product-by-product view." And it's not all bad news, either: "If enough of us vote with our wallets, there will soon be a day when our kids won't have to check the labels on the products they use everyday—we can absolutely change the market."
     
     
     
    Stripped
     
    New Food Trend:
    Chefs Embrace Carrots

    Across the NYC restaurant-scape carrots are sprouting up on menus—and not just as novel appetizers: Narcissa offers Carrot Fries and a Carrot Wellington; at Estela's, Pickled Carrots fly out of the kitchen; The Monarch Room offers Carrot Toast; Gato (Bobby Flay's new joint) has a Charred Carrot appetizer with harissa, mint, and yogurt; and at All'onda, you'll find a delicious carrot starter with ricotta, cumin, and ginger vinaigrette. Here's to improved eyesight and a longer-preserved tan.
      Chefs Say Yes To Carrots
     
     
     
    Our Room-By-Room Detox
     
    We took Renfrew's marching orders and looked through our own cabinets, cross-checking with the EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning as we went. It was time-intensive and laborious, and pretty disappointing: While we thought we were making good-to-decent choices, most of the products in our homes missed the mark, at least according to the EWG.
     
    Kitchen

    Illustration by: Alessandra Olanow

    Kitchen

    "One of the biggest concerns in the kitchen is anything antimicrobial," explains Renfrew. "While it makes sense that people want to destroy germs, it also makes sense that things that kill mold and bacteria are potentially harmful to larger life forms as well—antibacterials and preservatives should be used with caution."

    "Most antibacterial soaps and hand-sanitizers contain nasty triclosan, a petrochemical that's devastating to the environment, along with sodium laureth sulfate (likely contaminated with 1,4- dioxane, a known carcinogen), the preservative methylisothiazolinone (this can cause allergies), and fragrances and dyes," according to Renfrew. These two final ingredients are trade secrets, and accordingly, companies are not required to reveal their contents. "Ironic that the chemical and ingredient manufacturers' are protected, isn't it?” adds Renfrew. “The good news: There are great, safe hand soaps and cleaners that do not contain triclosan on the market, though, that actually work."

    Dish Soap

    What we WERE using at goop:
    • Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Lemon Verbena Liquid Dish Soap

      Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Lemon
      Verbena Liquid Dish Soap

      EWG GRADE:
      C
    • Method Dish Soap in Cucumber

      Method Dish Soap
      in Cucumber

      EWG GRADE:
      F
    • Green Works Naturally Derived Dishwashing Liquid

      Green Works Naturally
      Derived Dishwashing Liquid

      EWG GRADE:
      F
    What we ARE using now:

    Dishwasher Detergent

    What we WERE using at goop:
    • Finish Dishwasher Detergent Gel in Lemon

      Finish Dishwasher Detergent
      Gel in Lemon

      EWG GRADE:
      D
    • Palmolive Eco+ Gel Dishwasher Detergent

      Palmolive Eco+ Gel
      Dishwasher Detergent

      EWG GRADE:
      F
    • Method Smarty Dish Dishwasher Detergent Tabs in Pink Grapefruit

      Method Smarty Dish Dishwasher
      Detergent Tabs in Pink Grapefruit

      EWG GRADE:
      C
    What we ARE using now:

    All-Purpose Cleaner

    What we WERE using at goop:
    • Method All-Purpose Surface Cleaner in French Lavender

      Method All-Purpose Surface
      Cleaner in French Lavender

      EWG GRADE:
      C
    • Green Works Naturally Derived All-Purpose Cleaner in Lemon

      Green Works Naturally Derived
      All-Purpose Cleaner in Lemon

      EWG GRADE:
      F
    • The Honest Company All-Purpose Cleaner

      The Honest Company
      All-Purpose Cleaner

      EWG GRADE:
      C
    What we ARE using now:
    Kitchen

    Illustration by: Alessandra Olanow

    Bathroom

    "Fragrance runs rampant in hand soap,” Renfrew explains, “along with any number of toxic surfactants and preservatives." And skip the chlorine: "There are many great non-chlorine bleaches out there that are just as effective, and much less toxic! Also, basic vinegar and lemon makes an excellent cleaner, and it's easy on the wallet and the environment."

    Hand Soap

    What we WERE using at goop:
    • Molton Brown Thai Vert Fine Liquid Hand Wash

      Molton Brown Thai Vert
      Fine Liquid Hand Wash

      EWG SCORE:
      7

    • Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap in Basil

      Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day
      Liquid Hand Soap in Basil

      EWG SCORE:
      4

    • Method Foaming Hand Wash in Sweet Water

      Method Foaming
      Hand Wash in Sweet Water

      EWG SCORE:
      5

    What we ARE using now:
    Laundry Room

    Illustration by: Alessandra Olanow

    Laundry Room

    When it comes to laundry, we're all pretty familiar with the allure of a great scent, but just as with other products, fragrance in laundry detergent can harbor many toxins. "The phthalate load can be intense," Renfrew explains, "since the fragrance in laundry detergent is engineered to cling to clothes. In addition, steer clear of optical brighteners, which are terrible for the environment and can irritate skin." (If you want to be extra-kind to the environment, wash your clothes on the cold cycle.) And sadly, for the dryer sheet loving amongst us, these are particularly toxic: "According to a recent study in Science Daily, analysis revealed 25 VOCs in dryer sheets, including two known carcinogens, acetaldehyde and benzene."

    Laundry Detergent

    What we WERE using at goop:
    What we ARE using now:

    Fabric Softener & Dryer Sheets

    What we WERE using at goop:
    • Downy Ultra Liquid Fabric Softener in Clean Breeze

      Downy Ultra Liquid Fabric
      Softener in Clean Breeze

      EWG GRADE:
      D
    • Downy Ultra Liquid Fabric Softener in Clean Breeze

      Downy Ultra Liquid Fabric
      Softener in Clean Breeze

      EWG GRADE:
      D
    What we ARE
    using now:

    Ready to learn more?

    "These excellent books will give anyone a next-level education in the toxins that surround us—and more importantly, what we can do about them!," says Renfrew.

    • Healthy Child, Healthy World, Christopher Gavigan

      Healthy Child, Healthy World,
      Christopher Gavigan

    • Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry, Stacy Malkan

      Not Just a Pretty Face:
      The Ugly Side of the
      Beauty Industry,
      Stacy Malkan

    • Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in the Age of Environmental Crisis, Sandra Steingraber

      Raising Elijah: Protecting
      Our Children in the Age of
      Environmental Crisis,
      Sandra Steingraber

    • No More Dirty Looks, Siobhan O'Connor & Alexandra Spunt

      No More Dirty Looks,
      Siobhan O'Connor &
      Alexandra Spunt

    • Dr. Bronner's Organic Fair Trade Shikakai Hand Soap in Spearment Peppermint

      Our Stolen Future: Are We
      Threatening Our Fertility,
      Intelligence, and Survival?,
      Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski,
      and John Peter Meyers

    Checklist

    Since it's hard to keep everything straight, we made an easy-to-use shopping checklist with all the products we're using now.

    Checklist

    This week's goop collaboration

    Cushnie et Ochs for goop
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    Also available on goop

    light fruit rashguard

    Light Fruit Rashguard

    Cynthia Rowley

    exclusive spring look collection

    Exclusive Spring Look Collection

    Vapour Beauty for goop

    light fruit bikini

    Light Fruit Bikini

    Cynthia Rowley

    exclusive le cut off short in blanc

    Exclusive Le Cut Off Short in Blanc

    Frame for goop

    exclusive triple wrap ebony bracelet with diamond fleur de lis tag

    Exclusive Triple Wrap Ebony Bracelet With Diamond Fleur De Lis Tag

    Sheryl Lowe for goop

    Blue East Hampton Pant

    Blue East Hampton Pant

    Nili Lotan

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    The goop collection

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