What you should be looking for on the labels of your products

This post is sponsored by Brandless, and there’s an awesome giveaway in it, so don’t miss it.

Why is it that we go to school for so long to learn random stuff we don’t need to know, but nobody teaches us how to read the labels of the products we will put on and into our bodies for the rest of our lives? Beats me.

Most of you know that I started taking a good hard look at the things I was eating about three years ago when I started my journey to heal my hormones. As I learned more and more, and I eventually got pregnant, I realized I also needed to take a hard look at the things I was putting on my body and using in my environment as well. And it’s not the easiest thing to do, but it’s a worthy investment of your time and effort. Believe me!

More and more studies are coming up about endocrine disruptors, and how ingredients in our foods and home and body products can actually be causing us to get sick and mess with our systems, even if these ingredients are totally legal. We need to be empowered to make better choices for ourselves.

Checking out the Brandless labels by A Lady Goes West -- January 2019

I’ve mentioned the Brandless company to you a few times, and I’m happy to share that not only does Brandless.com make it easy for you to buy a variety of healthy and clean products with the click of a button at an incredibly low price, but Brandless.com also takes the guess-work out by only selling food, personal care and household products (they also just started offering baby and pet products too) that have better ingredients. None of the junk. I’m excited to be partnering with Brandless on this post, which I hope you find helpful …

While I know it can seem overwhelming to swap out everything you are currently using, you can do it little by little. So let’s walk through a mini tutorial on ingredients to look out for on your labels.

What you should be looking for on the labels of your products

What you should be looking for on the labels of your products by A Lady Goes West

Cleaning products

Avoid: phthalates, ammonia, chlorine and triclosan (there are more, but we’ll start with these)

Phthalates are chemical compounds used to soften plastics, which have been linked to disrupting hormones and causing illnesses (some say these are the number-one offenders in household and personal care products). Ammonia and chlorine are gases, which have been known to cause respiratory and other issues. Finally, triclosan is an antibacterial agent that also kills good bacteria, which has been linked to disrupting the endocrine and reproductive systems and is toxic to marine environments. So sad.

When you clean your house with chemicals, you inevitably ingest those chemicals. It may be hard to part with your go-to Lysol spray and wipes, but there’s growing research saying that you need to.

So, while you don’t have to throw out everything you’re currently using, it’s a good idea to make a few swaps and keep your eyes out for phthalate, ammonia, chlorine or triclosan free on labels in the future.

Brandless cleaning products by A Lady Goes West -- January 2019

The good news is that Brandless has quality and safe household products like surface cleaning wipes, glass cleaner, dish soap, tub and tile cleaner, multi-surface cleaner and granite and stone cleaner and more.

Fun fact: Check the label of your toilet paper, because it shouldn’t have chlorine in it either. Chlorine is often used in paper products to whiten them, and so you need to be on the look-out for “chlorine-free” on the packaging in the future. Brandless sells chlorine-free toilet paper too.

Personal care products

Avoid: parabens, formaldehyde, sodium laurel (and laureth) sulfate, triclosan and phthalates 

Parabens are preservatives found in many personal care products that prevent bacteria and mold. Parabens can also soak into your skin and system and disrupt your hormones and they have been linked to cancer and reproductive issues too (look for methylparaben, isobutylparaben propylparaben and more). Formaldehyde is a preservative, which is also a known carcinogen linked to asthma and developmental toxicity. Finally, sodium laurel sulfate is a chemical used in a lot of hair and body products, which can cause skin irritation and trigger allergies.

What you put on your body gets ingested into your largest organ, your skin, so you have to make sure you’re checking the labels of your products for these harmful ingredients. And even though something is made by a well-known brand, doesn’t mean that it is safe for you, so it’s up to you to make the choice with your purchasing power.

Brandless personal care products by A Lady Goes West -- January 2019

If you want it to be easy and affordable, Brandless has some awesome mouthwash, shave gel, body lotion, organic cotton balls and of course, you can use the Brandless organic coconut oil for just about everything. And did I mention they sell organic feminine hygiene supplies too?

Fun fact: There are chemicals in feminine hygiene supplies, so choose organic and chlorine-free whenever you can to avoid as many of those chemical as possible. Think about it, the average woman will use maybe 10,000 tampons in her life, and those tampons are inside your body — definitely worth buying better versions.


Avoid: vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup, sodium nitrates, sodium benzoate, MSG, shortening and artificial colors 

Vegetable oils are completely processed cheap oils, which promote all sorts of unhealthy things in the body. High fructose corn syrup is chemically processed sugar, which wrecks havoc on your system. Sodium nitrate is a salt used to preserve food, which you don’t want to consume too much of. Sodium benzoate is another preservative used in food, which has been linked to causing allergic reactions in people. MSG is a food additive used to enhance flavor, which has been linked to causing headaches, nausea and more. Shortening is baking fat, or trans fat, which nobody needs in their bodies. Finally, artificial colors are food dye chemical compounds, which have been linked to a host of issues in adults and especially children. Yuck.

Basically, when you are buying packaged food, you want to check the ingredients label first before checking the nutritional info (and truth be told, I never look at the nutritional info, only the ingredients).

Brandless foods by A Lady Goes West -- January 2019

For instance, if you are searching for the right peanut butter or almond butter, when you look at the label, go straight to the ingredients list to see what is there. You should see nothing but peanuts and maybe some sea salt (or almonds for almond butter). That’s it. If there are additional ingredients, they have been added to the peanut butter and are likely unnecessary. 

Brandless peanut butter label A Lady Goes West -- January 2019

When you are looking at baby food, go straight to the ingredients list and make sure no fillers have been added. Applesauces should have nothing in it but apples. You know?

Brady has been loving these organic applesauce pouches from Brandless, by the way. And I actually squeezed one into an oatmeal bake a while back, and it made it moist and delicious. The ingredients list says organic apples, and that’s it.

Brandless apple sauce label by A Lady Goes West -- January 2019

Brandless also has trail mixes and nuts with clean ingredients lists, organic honey, organic green tea, organic quick cook rolled oats and so much more in the food section. Our pantry is basically a walking ad for Brandless right now, and I’m loving it!

Fun fact: You don’t always have to choose organic with your food, but it’s great to choose organic oats whenever you can, because recent studies showed that chemicals used in pesticides have made their way into some conventional oat products. Uncool.

You don’t have to be perfect, every little bit helps

I know when I realized I needed to be looking at the labels of the foods I was eating and products I was using, I decided to take a laid-back approach. I didn’t go through my house and toss every conventional product. But as I needed new versions of things, I searched for better and cleaner options. And unfortunately, I still have some crap in my house, and it will never been 100 percent chemical free.

Yet, you have to be realistic about what you can control too. If I’m at a friend’s house and I see her clean her counters with bad chemicals, I’m not going to walk out because I may ingest traces of the product. And if I feel like eating packaged candy, I’m definitely not looking at the ingredients list. You have to choose when and where you are consciously consuming and buying things, and it’s not an all-or-nothing quest at all. In fact, every little bit helps, so don’t forget that.

More about Brandless

Brandless was started in San Francisco just a few years ago, and the goal of the company is to get better and more affordable products into the hands of more people, by wiping out the middleman. And when you order from Brandless, they donate a meal to Feed America too — which is a cause I can totally get behind. How about you? 

Brandless haul by A Lady Goes West -- January 2019

And did I mention the Brandless product labels are super simple and tell you just what you need to know, including calling out organic, paraben free, chlorine free and more? Love it!


**This giveaway is now closed!

One lucky person will win a $50 gift credit to use on Brandless.com. And because almost everything is $3 (with some new items going for $9) and there’s free shipping for orders of more than $39, you can get a lot with that.

Brandless products by A Lady Goes West -- January 2019

Here’s how to enter …

  1. Follow A Lady Goes West and Brandless on Instagram.
  2. Leave a comment on this blog post, answering any of the questions at the end of the post.

This giveaway will close on Saturday 2/3, and is only open to those in the contiguous U.S. (which is where Brandless currently ships to). Good luck and thanks for reading! Now go check your labels! 🙂 

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Brandless. I received compensation and free product, but all opinions and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the great brands that we work with on A Lady Goes West.

Enter to win by leaving a comment below! And you have to enter your email address to comment, but it will not be shared publicly.

Questions of the day

Which products do you need to swap out in your life?

What would you most like to buy on Brandless?

What’s one good thing you are looking forward to this week?



  1. Ashley, What a great post full of important info! I need to,focus on swapping out my household cleaners/supplies for better quality ones. Sounds like Brandless is spot on! Thanks for another great post!

  2. I keep seeing this brand pop up and would love to try a few things, especially since I’m running low on a few cleaning products. I’d also like to try out their nut butters 🙂

  3. I continue to hear great things about Brandless! I would definitely try out some new cleaning products. I have recently been switching things up in that regard so this would be a great way to try some new household cleaners.

  4. Great article! Good to know that there is such a company out there making simple safe products. I am looking forward to SUNSHINE this week ! An inversion has been hanging out here for a few days. I’d be most interested in trying household cleaning supplies.

    1. Hi Angie! Hope you get some sunshine this week (us too) and yessss, it’s awesome Brandless makes it really easy to get good stuff. Thanks for saying hi!

  5. My husband and I love Brandless! We use a lot of their products (both food and cleaning) but could definitely transition more of our personal hygiene products to be cleaner.

  6. I’ve done my research swapping out makeup and personal care stuff, but I haven’t tried swapping out cleaning stuff – that was more overwhelming to figure out what would still clean/disinfect well and be safer, while the makeup/personal stuff was kind of fun to experiment with.

  7. Oh I love this post and having everything food, beauty, and cleaning product ingredients to look for in one place. I have heard great things about Brandless, but have yet to try it. I’m with you on food labels, I don’t look at nutrition facts, just ingredients! And I’m working on going through all my cleaning products now and trying to convince my parents to do the same, which is tough!

    1. Hi Patricia! It’s soooo tough to get people to realize that what they buy in stores is not necessarily safe! That’s great you are working on your parents hehehe! Good luck!

  8. Ah, love love love this! We’ve switched to chemical free cleaning products, hair products etc and I love finding new brands that do that– had no idea Brandless was one of them! I appreciate you laying out the specific chemicals/additives that we should avoid.

  9. Oh I’ve never heard of this company. Love the prices! What do you do about your house cleaner & the products they use? Our cleaner brings her own stuff, but I realized maybe I should ask her to use my stuff (I’ve been slowly switching over). I feel so picky asking her to do that though. Would love to know what you do. Also, do you use a company or an individual person?

    1. Our cleaners use a lot of what we have on hand, so I try not to worry about it — especially because they only come once a month. I think they probably like using our stuff, so they don’t have to waste theirs. We use a company for our cleaners.

    1. Hi Jen! Nothing is safe hahah! Not to scare you, but seriously, we’re all just getting so much smarter at finding out what is in everything we use now!

  10. I have heard soo many good things about Brandless, so I am dying to try some of their products out–especially the cleaning and personal care products! I am looking forward to my barre classes this week over lunch!

  11. I am so good about looking at what I put IN my body, but not as good about what I put ON it. I need to make some improvements in that area, and it sounds like Brandless might be the place to start.

  12. Which products do you need to swap out in your life?
    Food Products 🙂
    What would you most like to buy on Brandless?
    The Peanut Butter
    What’s one good thing you are looking forward to this week?
    Making new friends among my classmates at college this week.

  13. This week will be snowy and cold so would look forward to getting things shipped to me. Like the almond butter pouches they have

  14. I’ve been slowly transitioning our house over (when one is empty, we replace). Our cleaning supplies and beauty products have come along away (although I will say the hubby is reluctant on some things like deodorant), but I haven’t really thought of feminine products. Thanks for bringing it up.

    1. That’s the way to do it with the swapping — little by little hehehe and I don’t think I could ever get Dave to use natural deodorant hahah Thanks, Amanda! 🙂

  15. Ohhh, exciting to see someone I know trying out Brandless. I’m so tempted and would love to swap cleaning products, and maybe even some food items (had no idea they did food) too. 🙂

    1. Hi Amanda! Yup! I’m pretty familiar with the brand, have ordered a ton and worked with them on several campaigns and went to an event they hosted — they are the real deal! Hope you give Brandless a shot!! And I hope all is well, lady! 🙂

  16. I love to learn about ways to prevent endocrine issues since I suffer j with graves disease, which is an autoimmune disorder. It is very helpful to learn of good products that are available without the added things that are not good for our health. Thank you for the info. I will be trying some of your body care and food items.

    1. Hi Nancy! It’s so scary to see that so many of our products have chemicals that can make autoimmune disorders flare up! Sorry you have to deal with that, but glad you know to check the labels! 🙂

  17. This post came at the perfect time! I have really been trying to read ingredient labels more and more. I wanted to learn more about Brandless and now I have. I love that they are from SF I live there and love supporting local business! Thanks for such a great post!!

    1. Hi Maddie! Glad to hear it! I think you will be able to find all sorts of good things on Brandless, and we are lucky that so many great companies are based here in SF! 🙂

  18. I’ve never heard of this company and it is a fabulous idea!!! I definitely need to swap out for some natural cleaning products for my home to be healthier!
    Thank you!

  19. Great post! This is the first I’ve heard of Brandless. I’ve been trying to make some switches with cleaning products as we are expecting our second, do those would be the products I’d be most interested in trying. As many moms, I put myself on the back burner, so I should probably try switching some of my personal products too 🙂

    1. Hi Abbie! Yes, now’s a great time to make switches are you’re growing a baby and already caring for one — whatever is on you gets on them too! 🙂 Hope your pregnancy is going well, momma!

  20. I’d try some new nutritious food items as this would be a great New Year initiative to clean out my kitchen pantry.

  21. I definitely need to swap out some of my cleaning products and my tinted moisturizer. I’m looking forward to the Super Bowl this weekend. I’m not a fan of either team, but I love to cook and entertain while enjoying my favorite sport!

    1. Hi Tori! I feel like watching football on TV is so boring — in person is way better hahah! Guess we’re not getting tickets to the Super Bowl though? Anyhow, glad you have making some healthy swaps on your radar for your products!

  22. I’d enjoy trying some new cleaning products that don’t have the harsh chemicals. Brandless sounds like a fabulous company!

  23. I’d love to try some new cleaning products that don’t have harsh chemicals.. I’ve been putting this goal off for far too long now!

  24. longtime reader but new comment or here ?.

    I’ve just recently heard of brand less from various blogs… I really need to try their food items! I need to swap out many of my food/pantry staples b.c I know many aren’t the best quality (ingredient wise)… especially my skippy/jiff/peter pan peanu butters… yes I have ALL of those and all opened in our pantry!

    I have 3 kids 6 and under so I know I need to do better!

    1. Hi Lindsay! Thanks for reading and for saying HI! 🙂 Three kiddos under 6? Hey, momma, you are doing your best I’m sure, but little changes could help — definitely the PB — the cleaner versions taste JUST as good, if not better. Hope you give Brandless a shot! 🙂

  25. I need to change my cleaning products. I’ve made some changes already in food choices but there is still room for improvement. Personal products is another area that I need to change.

  26. I have just been thinking about switching up my cleaning supplies and going more natural…especially now that I have a child! Brandless seems like a good option to try out some new cleaners!

    1. Hi Meagen! It’s amazing how having another little consumer around makes us think about the things we have on and around us more. Same here! 🙂 Thanks for saying hi!

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