Label Reading: Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

I recently read a good article from Mamavation here, which has inspired this post. In it she says

“I’ll simply pose the following question to you: Have you priced cancer treatments lately? Read. Research. Rethink your habits...our life depends on it.”

Mamavation refers to some of the recent studies that have come out about the unsafe ingredients in products we use...about how they enter our bodies and can cause havoc. Maybe that havoc is obvious immediately (headaches, skin issues, etc), but most likely you will see its destruction years from now, in more serious health forms.

When it comes to beauty, personal care, baby & kids products, I felt like initially I was chasing my tail. Products aren’t labeled well, if at all. Many ingredients are hidden, most not tested for safety and all with such little regulation. Digging into each company & brand are almost as essential as reading labels - but who has time for that?!

When it comes to food, I personally don’t look at calories, I don’t look at fat. I don’t get on a scale everyday (maybe a few times a year) and I don’t believe in the calories in vs calories out concept. That concept is not teaching people to eat healthy and lead healthier lives. Learning about ingredients that make up your food and learning to read labels helps people to truly understand what they are putting in their bodies and the nutritional consequences...good or bad.

It can feel overwhelming. And it is. It’s our responsibility to look out for ourselves (because the government is certainly not doing it for us). And, I don’t know about you, but I don’t really need something else on my plate right now. However, what I’ve learned, is that taking the time to understand ingredients is essential...for my health, the health of my kids...and even their kids. And 10 years from now, I don’t want to wish that I would have spent just a little more time to understand all of this.


Start by understanding a few ingredients to stay away from.

Remember, your goal is to understand the consequences of these ingredients and then make your daily decision on whether or not you choose to use them. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing when you are starting out. One step at a time.

Here are a couple ingredients to get you started.

"Stay Away From" Starter Lists


  1. Enriched

  2. Natural Flavor

  3. Artificial Colors (ie: Red #3, Yellow #5 #6)

  4. Carmel Color

  5. MSG: Monosodium Glutamate

  6. When you are ready to move onto Level 2 Label Reading, here are some hidden names for MSG.

  7. GMO: Genetically Modified Ingredients

  8. When you are ready to move onto Level 2 Label Reading, here are some hidden names for GMO.

  9. Partially Hydronated Oils Here is a great example of why you need to skip the marketing and read the labels: “Beware that even if a product is labeled “0 grams of Trans Fat” it’s permitted to contain up to .5 grams of trans fat per serving”

  10. Animal Fed Growth Hormones: For my dairy & meat eaters

Skincare/Beauty/Baby/Personal Care:

  1. Fragrance

  2. Triclosan

  3. Parabans

  4. PEGs

  5. Vitamin A (listed as: retinol, retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate)

  6. BHA: Butylated Hydroxyanisole

  7. Oxybenzone (typically found in sunscreens)

  8. Phthalates

  9. Formaldehyde (& Formaldehyde releasers – Bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, Diazolidinyl urea, Imidzaolidinyl urea and Quaternium-15)

In addition, EWG has laid out some Tips Here!

Ready to graduate yourself to the next level of Personal Care & Beauty Label Reading. Check out our Never List (message me if you want a wallet size copy to carry around with you.)