Greening Your Hive


Reading about the following chemicals may seem overwhelming. For me, the most important changes were to switch my kids’ products and my own products that get the most skin time. Your skin is your biggest organ, and what you put on your skin may get absorbed into your blood stream. That means that all of these chemicals can potentially course through your body. So for me, changing my lotion, soaps, and body washes were my first priority. Skincare (face), shampoos, conditioners, make-up and household products were more gradual. Luckily, I have found natural and organic products that I love just as much if not more than what I was using before. That is why I started this blog, to share my discoveries.

There are a few items that I still use that contain some of these chemicals, and most of them tend to be perfume and makeup. But it’s sparingly and I have found my comfort zone with their use. And ultimately that’s what we need to do as consumers, educate ourselves, and then decide what we are comfortable with purchasing and using. Be a savvy consumer, and know that just because a product has “Natural” or “Organic” on its label, does not mean that it is free of petrochemicals, phthalates or parabens. If you read a product’s list of ingredients and do not feel good about them, then don’t buy it for yourself or your family. But above all, have fun greening up your hive! There are so many great products to explore and enjoy. ~Trish

Petrochemicals: Ingredients derived from petroleum. Mineral oil is an example of a ubiquitous petrochemical used in the cosmetic industry and according to wikipedia, “is a by-product in the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline and other petroleum based products from crude oil”. Other examples of petrochemicals are petrotalum, isopropyl alcohol, butylene glycol, propylene glycol, phthalates, and paraffin. Be aware that petrochemicals might not be listed as an ingredient in your products, but may have been used to treat the ingredients in them. The most common example of this is ethoxylation which provides mildness to harsh ingredients and requires the use of the cancer-causing petrochemical ethylene oxide, which generates 1,4-dioxane, a toxic by-product. According to the Organic Consumers Association, to avoid 1,4-dioxane, search ingredient lists for indications of ethoxylation including: myreth, oleth, laureth, ceteareth, any other “eth,” “PEG,”  polyethylene,  polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, or oxynol, in ingredient names. Other examples of ethoxylated ingredients include Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium cocoyl isethionate, Cetereath-20, Polysorbate (-20, 40, 60, 80), and phenoxyethanol.

Phthalates (Di-ethyl phthalate “DEP”, Di-n-butyl phthalate “DBP”) : these are petrochemicals used as plasticizers to soften toys and added to perfumes, air fresheners, shampoos, lotions, soaps, (you name it) to enhance fragrance. Phthalates have been shown to be endocrine disrupters, which means they have the ability to mimic or block hormones, potentially stimulating, halting or altering the body’s functions and potentially affecting fetal development. Most often phthalates are not listed as a specific ingredient but hidden in the ingredient list as “fragrance”. So if you want to avoid phthalates be sure the label says “phthalate-free”, or “fragrance from essential oils”.

Parabens: (methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben): Preservatives used in cosmetics and sometimes food. The concern with parabens is they too have been shown to be endocrine disruptors that have estrogenic activity in the human body.

Other ingredients to watch out for: DMDM Hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, and Diazolidinyl urea: All are preservatives that release formaldehyde. That’s right, formaldehyde! FD&C color pigments: these are made from coal tar. Triclosan is another one to avoid as it is an anti-bacterial ingredient that is contributing to antibiotic resistant bacteria and may also interfere with hormone function.

Here are some useful links:

-Simple guidelines on what ingredients to avoid in relation to breast cancer

Phone App! 



25 thoughts on “Greening Your Hive

  1. hola. cool. posting a comment. can’t wait to scour the site for good non-chemical perfume and eye makeup recommendations. i have been looking for mascara for some time now. xoxoxoxoxo ha

  2. Hi Trish,
    Great website. I enjoy both your writing and the topic. I have the same concerns about products. So I see what ingredients NOT to have above, but what have you found that is both good and reasonably priced for kids; hair wash, lotions, “owie” stuff (rather than Neosporin or petroleum), sun lotion (SPF__?)?

    1. Hi Jane!
      Reasonably priced for the boys I use Dr. Bronnner’s unscented “baby-mild” castile soap. Diluted goes a long way! And then for their hair, I use Weleda Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash. It’s more expensive, but it’s really gentle and you only need about a nickel size amount to wash their hair. As for SPF, I am still looking for the perfect one. Actually, I have found it….but it is costly, so it’s not quite perfect. It’s Soleo Organics and you can get it here:

      We don’t use a lot of lotions for the boys. And as for “owies” to clean I use soap and water and then have to admit to using neosporin still. I think calendula is supposed to be good for healing. I need to do more research on that. I am still using my tube of neosporin that I have had for years!

      Thanks for visiting,

  3. This is such a usefull information. Actually I also changed my products gradually, so now I am using ecological detergents etc. By the way Le labo has a detergent Rose 31 !! But this kind of luxury goes too far for my wallet!
    Thanks so much for the mascara info as well, I will cheque the Hauchka. And of course the bath bubble bath stuff, I try to cheque the ingredients also the shampoos, I use Aveda and they are also the best for the hair.

    1. Thanks for reading Air! Definitely check out the Dr. Hauschka mascara, it really is my favorite.

      But be sure to always read those labels 😉 Aveda is not always all-natural. Many of their shampoos contain petrol derived chemicals, synthetics, and parabens.

      All the best!

  4. This is great info, Trish! And timely since I was just starting to go down this road myself. I appreciate the specific product recommendations of what TO USE…. any others you discover and want to share would be great. Thanks again!

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by Karen! 🙂 If you can’t find a review of something you are looking for, I can definitely let you know what I use and love.

      Thanks again!

  5. Hi Trish,
    Great site! I have been looking for a deodorant for me which will work well. I have not had much luck with Toms of Maine which is the only “natural” one I have tried.
    Will also need deodorant for my son Jackson in a year or so (eeek!), so will be picking your brain on that soon too.
    Loving your site, can’t wait to read more.

  6. Just read this..I like your balanced stand (mostly because I am like that too..:P)..I have more or less ‘greened’ my skin/body/hair care as well as food. Like you, I am not too strict when it comes to perfume, but did experiment with blending natural perfume (Essence and Alchemy and Anya’s yahoo group were super helpful resources) to explore safer, more eco firendly smells. Your blog is a lovley resource – Thanks!

    1. Lavanya,

      I am so glad you found this page helpful. It’s all about finding what works for you and to feel good about it. Thanks for reading and commenting, I always enjoy your input. 🙂


  7. Hi there! I wondered if you have any recs for body lotion and facial moisturizer w/spf? I’m trying to find some that aren’t too pricey and having a hard time. I may try Cetaphil lotion which is fragrance free and paraben free, but I found an “eth” in the ingredients.

  8. this article is quite a revelation to me. I use hand-made soap but that is about it as to conscious consuming. Thank you to write this and make it available for persons like me quite hard-headed and resistant to change to intimate level like home products,.

  9. Funny way I found you – looking for poetry about peonies . . . was so delighted to see you’re all about “greening you hive” I have been working on this for some time now but mostly through browsing shops and supermarkets and reading every last bit of fine print on labels sometimes requiring a magnifying glass. This week my sister and I had a long chat on phone about products. She told me about Dr. Bronner’s and many other good tips too. I have had much success for my face and very sensitive skin around my eyes with Burt’s Bees but very expensive here in Canada.

    Very happy to find all the wonderful info. you have on . . . and above – my webpage ( where I put the poem I found on by Mary Oliver – absolutely love it. It’s so me wandering barefoot very early in the morning loving the flower garden. Thank you very much for your wonderful website.

    1. Thank you Ruth! I have not been posting lately as I’ve been really busy remodeling my house, but I do appreciate your kind words and am so glad you found Scent Hive.


    1. Thank you so much for that heads up regarding that link! My favorite is Weleda’s Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash. My boys are no longer babies, but they still use it, and so do I! I love it as a shave cream. It’s wonderful stuff!

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