Most daily routines contain a lot of skin-absorbing products: moisturizers, sun screens, cosmetics, deodorants, shampoo, toothpaste. And according to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, “more than 1 in 5 personal care products contain chemicals linked to cancer, 80 percent contain ingredients that commonly contain hazardous impurities, and 56 percent contain penetration enhancers that help deliver ingredients deeper into the skin.” The speed and amount of absorption by the skin (and into the bloodstream) depends on a variety of factors, such as a chemical’s composition and where it’s applied (thinner skin—such as armpits and around the genitalia—are more absorbing). Exposure to certain chemicals may cause uncomfortable rashes and skin allergies externally, while regular exposure—and absorption—can build-up the toxins internally. These build-ups hinder the body’s natural detoxification process and potentially result in serious issues such as increased risk for cancers, infertility, reproductive problems, and birth defects.
With the abundance of toxins in so many products—and their known risks—there are plenty of good reasons to pursue a chemical-free lifestyle. Need more motivation to detoxify? How about the unknown toxic risks and the government’s lack of strict product regulations? The fact is, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not pre-approve product labeling or require manufacturers to run specific tests proving product and ingredient safety, nor do their Fair Packaging and Labeling Act require individual ingredients to be listed. This means our health is in the hands of those whose goal it is to drive revenue and appease stockholders, which puts a lot of faith and trust in people who may not place our health as high a priority as we do.
But lucky for us, knowledge is power. If you’re equipped to make informed decisions in choosing what products to use, then you’ve already won half the battle—and we’re here to help. Following are some of the more prominent and potentially hazardous ingredients found in many personal-care products: Bookmark it, print it, or remember it, because once you detoxify your bathroom shelves, you’ll whoohoo to the new chemical-free you!
|Ingredient||Product purpose||Potential hazards and risks||What to look for on labels|
|Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) & Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)||Antioxidant and preservative||Endocrine disruption, organ-system toxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, cancer, irritation, allergies and immunotoxicity, bioaccumulation; the EU banned BHA||BHA and BHT|
|FD&C Color pigments||Color||May cause allergic reactions, itching, hives; often made from coal tar, which animal tests have shown to be a carcinogenic; tests linked to tumors||Shortened name (e.g., Yellow No. 6), a five-digit color index number, or as “FD&C” or “D&C” and a number; may also be referred to as “tartrazine” and “P-phenylenediamine” (in hair dyes)|
|Formaldehyde||Preservative, stabilizer, solvent, disinfectant||Carcinogenic absorbed through skin or as a vapor; weakens immune system, irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and skin, nausea, asthma, and headaches||Formaldehyde-releasing ingredients, such as Diazolidinyl urea, Imidazolidinyl urea, Dimethyl-dimethyl hydantoin, DMD hydentoin, Quaternium-15, Bronopol|
|Fragrance (Phthalates)||Prolongs fragrance; a plasticizer||Consists of many carcinogenic or toxic compounds; can induce headaches, dizziness, rashes, skin discoloration, violent coughing, vomiting, and allergic skin irritation; exposure can affect the central nervous system; the EU restricted the use of phthalates||Fragrance|
|Isopropyl Alcohol||dissolvent and denaturant||Inhalation may cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting||Isopropyl alcohol, isopropynol|
|Mineral Oil||Conditioning agent for skin and hair, solvent||Clogs the skin, impeding detoxification and potentially liver function; slows cell development leading to premature aging||Baby oil|
|Nitrosamines||A resulting impurity when nitrates and amino acids combine||Highly toxic and readily absorbed; studies link it to cancer; disrupts hormones; both the EU and Canada banned cosmetic use of nitrosamines||Listed in conjunction with ingredient being neutralized; any word containing DEA, MEA or TEA, or the word Triethanolamine|
|Parabens||Preservative||Contributing to cancer development (especially breast cancer); dermatitis (skin inflammation); decreased sperm quality||Look for paraben in the name (methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, benzylparaben, isobutylparaben, butylparaben as well as alkyl parahydroxybenzoate), E216 or diazolidinyl urea|
|Propylene Glycol (PG)||Solvent, stabilizer, emulsifier, moisturizer||Ability to quickly be absorbed by skin; dry skin over time; skin allergies; negative cell growth; direct contact may lead to brain, liver and kidney abnormalities (EPA requires workers wear protective clothing when handling)||Propylene Glycol (PG)|
|Sulfates (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES))||Product foam and lather||Skin irritations, eye damage, depression, difficulty breathing, diarrhea; immune system damage, especially within skin; combined with other chemicals it can remain in body for up to five days; maintains residual levels in the heart, the liver, the lungs and brain.||Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLES), Anhydrous Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Irium.|
|Talc||Anti-caking agent, absorbing agent||Testing produced mixed results between cancer and asbestos-free talc; the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) stated, “based on limited evidence from human studies, IARC classifies the perineal (genital) use of talc-based body powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans””||Talc|
|Triclosan||Anti-bacterial||Hormone, sexual function and fertility disruption; promotes cancer growth, antibiotic resistance, and birth defects; paralysis, brain hemorrhages, and heart problems||Anti-bacterial and anti-microbial|
Sources: www.collective-evolution.com, www.drfranklipman.com, www.fda.gov, www.mindbodygreen.com, www.naturalhealthway.com, www.naturalnews.com, www.nrdc.org, www.safecosmetics.org, www.scotsman.com, www.storyofcosmetics.org