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We read cleaning and cosmetic labels so you don't have to. But you might really want to.

What you don't know might, at the very least, make you itchy.

We read cleaning and cosmetic labels so you don't have to. But you might really want to.
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Seventh Generation

Skin is pretty incredible.

It's the largest organ of the human body and one of the first lines of defense for keeping pollutants and irritants from making us sick.

We put a lot of stuff on our skin, one of our favorite and most common being makeup. Thankfully, we usually can find out pretty easily what's in it, if we have sensitivities to certain ingredients or there are ones we want to avoid.


But we don't always know what's in another item that our skin comes in frequent contact with: cleaning products. What gives?

Starting with the passing of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938, government regulators have approved almost everything for sale in American drugstores.

The act requires cosmetic companies to put their full ingredient lists directly on their products so purchasers know exactly what they're buying. It's the same deal for drug companies and food manufacturers.

Taking care of it isn't just necessary, it can also be pretty fun. Is there anything more satisfying than a peel-off face mask?

But it's a bit strange that the same kind of regulation doesn't happen for household cleaners, which often come into contact with our skin too.

What's so different about the product that washes your body and the one that washes your clothes? Only one of them is required to tell you its ingredients.

Not-so-fun fact: This body wash is not gluten-free. Better fact: Aveeno is legally required to share that information. Image by Heather Libby/Welcometoterranova.

Both of these products are going to touch your body either on a washcloth in the shower or in residue adhering to your clean clothes.

But unlike body wash, detergents don't have to share anything about what's in their product — even if it contains known irritants.

See the "CAUTION: MAY IRRITATE EYES" on the laundry detergent label? Current regulations do not require companies to share what that chemical additive actually is — just that it might cause harm. That doesn't mean that cleaning products are unsafe or that cosmetics are, but it does mean that you can't really avoid certain ingredients in cleaning products if you want to because you have no way of knowing if they're there.

One of these products lists an "active ingredient." Is it also the one that may irritate your eyes? We don't know.

Image by Heather Libby/Welcometoterranova.

Unless you're super serious about only using rubber gloves when you wash dishes, your hands are probably coming in contact with dish soap almost every day.

This dish soap isn't totally secretive about what its ingredients are. It does note that it contains 0.5% salicylic acid (better known as the stuff you put on zits to dry them out) as an "active ingredient." It also notes that the product itself might irritate eyes if it comes in contact with them. Both of those are good things to know, but they also raise some questions. Is the 0.5% salicylic acid the ingredient that may irritate eyes? If it isn't, we're interested in finding out what the other ingredients in this soap might be.

Both of these products are required to post ingredient lists. Why? Because they're classified as "drugs."

Image by Heather Libby/Welcometoterranova.

This is one of the rare times when cleaners and cosmetics overlap. The Food and Drug Administration classifies sunscreen and hand sanitizers as "drugs" because they are "articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease." Under that classification, they have to share a detailed ingredient list on their packaging.

But did you note the one area on the hand sanitizer label that's still pretty vague? Hint: It's "fragrance."

Current regulations don't require companies to say what's in their scented products, so there's still a chance an allergen or a chemical you'd prefer not to have on your person might sneak in the ingredient list.

I know what you're thinking: "All these labels are too confusing! I'm going to move to the woods, give up bathing and cleaning, and become Sasquatch!"

A bit overdramatic, but I get it.

"Laters, soap!"

Makeup and cleaners play a big part in keeping us — and our homes — fresh and happy. But not knowing what's in cleaners can be frustrating, especially if you or someone you love has allergies or sensitivities.

Some consumers and companies are advocating for manufacturers to have to disclose all their ingredients on the labels, but the product makers say that's proprietary information and it could hurt their business to share it.

We can understand both sides of the argument; for now, the best bet for consumers who want to be in the know is to look for companies that voluntarily disclose their ingredients or to call the manufacturer and ask them questions directly.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.