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Would you wash your hair with Persil also?

Type of tool: 
Activity
Duration: 
90-120 min
Topics addressed: 
Environment

The aim is to raise awareness about the impact ingredients from household chemicals, especially personal hygienic products and cosmetics have on human health. It also provides the possibility to identify alternative options for personal care products.

Aim: 

The activity aims at raising awareness about the impact ingredients from household chemicals, including most of the personal hygienic products and cosmetics have on human health. It also provides the possibility to identify alternative options for personal care products used on a daily basis. The “Would you wash your hair with Persil also?” interactive tool is excellent in preceding a home-made cosmetics workshop.

Methodology: 

group work, facilitated discussions, online research and participative presentations

Step by step process: 

The participants are asked to bring their own personal care products to the session.

The session begins with a short explanation of what INCI ingredients are. Knowing that chemical compounds absorb twice as fast through the skin as through the digestive system, a list of ~ 110 highly toxic substances commonly found in personal hygienic products and cosmetics are given to participants.
In the first part of the activity, participants are working in small groups of 3-5 people. They are asked to check the INCI ingredients of the products which create foam during their usage (toothpastes, shampoos, shaving creams, etc.) and mark those ingredients which can be found on the list of highly toxic substances.
In the next step, an online search for products containing the identified ingredients is carried out, using the so-called Material Safety Data Sheets from the governmental database of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Participants are supposed to identify the same foaming agents in different household cleansing products (detergents for laundry and dishes, floor cleaners, car wash soaps, engine degreasers, etc.) as the INCI ingredients of their foaming personal hygienic products.
The toxic influence of mentioned surfactants (SLS, SLES, ALS, ALES) can be checked and discussed at the end of this part, or a short video watched.

Continuing the assessment of chemicals found in personal care products, the participants are divided into three groups, each of these groups being provided the original stickers of mainstream, bio-labeled, eco- and BDIH-certified (1.) dental care, (2.) skin care and (3.) antiperspirant products. The task of each group is to determine which product would be the best option, explain why and search for other, easily attainable solutions or home-made alternatives. Groups are supposed to present the results of their research at the end of the session to their fellows.

Materials and resources: 

- personal care products of the participants
- a list of ~ 110 highly toxic substances commonly found in personal hygienic products and cosmetics
- original stickers of mainstream, bio-labeled, eco- and BDIH-certified dental care, skin care and antiperspirant products
- laptop for each 2-3 participant
- internet connection
- video projector

Outcomes: 

The activity is expected to result in a better understanding of:
- what the main toxic ingredients of personal hygienic products are;
- how they interfere with human health;
- how to avoid these ingredients.

Evaluation: 

The involvement of participants is indicative of their interest in the topic.
The presentation of online research results at the end of the second session is useful in assessing whether the objectives were met and the expected learning outcomes reached.

Notes for further use: 

A list of the toxic ingredients has not been uploaded yet.

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