For many, a commitment to health sounds more like a commitment to a life of paranoia and deprivation. The most common argument I hear is that it isn’t “healthy” to spend a life in fear of every product that is out there. For those with a busy lifestyle, it sure may seem overwhelming to think of adding more things to watch out for on top of our existing concerns. While I understand this perspective, I am writing this article to make it simpler for you. Remove the words paranoia, deprivation and concern from your vocabulary, and replace them with “Being Informed”.
Being informed will simply allow you to make more intelligent and conscious choices for yourself, your family, and the planet as a whole. You might lose a couple of seconds of your life while looking for detrimental chemicals on product labels, but is that any match for the healthier years you’ll add to your life, the illnesses you’ll avoid, and the example you will be in support of a more sustainable world?
The truth is, many of the ingredients in personal care and beauty products aren’t so pretty. U.S. researchers have found that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in cosmetic and personal care products are hazardous industrial chemicals. This means that 10,500 industrial chemicals are used as cosmetic ingredients, many of which are carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors, plasticizers (chemicals that keep concrete soft), degreasers (used to get grime off auto parts) and surfactants (they reduce surface tension in water, like in paint and inks). And these go on our skin and into the environment…
Did you know that everyday chemical exposure is among the leading causes of the most common cases of chronic disease in America? (Click HERE to learn more)
Below is a brilliant video that examines the pervasive use of toxic chemicals in our everyday personal care products.
Below is a list of chemicals you will want to look out for to minimize your exposure to toxic chemicals.
HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS TO AVOID IN COSMETIC AND PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS:
Used in makeup, moisturizers, shampoos etc. May interfere with hormone function. Associated with breast cancer. Look out for ingredients with “pararaben” in their name (methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben). Widely used even though they are known to be toxic.
2. DEA, cocamide DEA and lauramide DEA (Related chemicals: MEA and TEA)
In creamy and foaming products such as moisturizer, shampoo. Can react to form cancer-causing nitrosamines. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
3. Dibutyl Phthalate or DBP
In nail products and some hair sprays. Toxic to reproduction and may interfere with hormone function. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
4. BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)
In moisturizer, makeup, etc. Can cause cancer and interfere with hormone function. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
5. Coal Tar Dyes
Look for P-PHENYLENEDIAMINE in hair dyes and colours identified as “C.I.” followed by five digits in other products. Potential to cause cancer and can be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain.
6. Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives
Look for DMDM HYDANTOIN, DIAZOLIDINYL UREA, IMIDAZOLIDINYL UREA, METHENAMINE, or QUARTERNIUM-15. Widely used in hair products, moisturizers, etc. Formaldehyde causes cancer.
7. Synthetic fragrances and Parfum
Widely used even in some products marketed as “unscented” (often the last ingredient). Mixture of chemicals that can trigger allergies and asthma. Some linked to cancer and neurotoxicity. Some harmful to fish and other wildlife.
Widely used in conditioners, moisturizers, deodorants, etc. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which can cause cancer.
In hair products, lip balm/lipstick, skin care products. Petroleum product that can be contaminated with
10. Mineral Oil (Most harmful when poorly refined)
In many other care products such as baby oil, body lotions, soap and makeup. Mineral oil is a petroleum by-product which cloggs the pores and interferes with the skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders. Slows down skin function and cell development, resulting in premature aging. May be contaminated with PAHs (carcinogens).
11. Siloxanes (Cyclomethicone and ingredients ending in “siloxane” (e.g., cyclotetrasiloxane)
Widely used in moisturizer, makeup, hair products, etc. Can interfere with hormone function and damage the liver. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
12. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
In products that foam such as shampoo, cleansers, bubble bath. SLES can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. SLS may damage liver. Irritates skin, eyes and respiratory tract. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
In “anti-bacterial” products such as toothpaste, soaps, hand sanitizers. May interfere with hormone function. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
14. Chemical Sunscreens (with Retinyl Palmitate, Oxybenzone and Octyl Methoxycinnamate)
When many of the chemicals used in popular sunscreens are exposed to sunlight, reactions occur between the sunscreen’s active and inactive ingredients and the epidermis. Toxic reactions include inflammation, dermalogical effects, allergic reactions and photogenotoxic (DNA altering) effects. Chemical sunscreens have ingredients that actually promote cancer.
Natural sunscreens with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are safer alternatives.
P.S. Sunscreen does NOT allow the body to absorb any vitamin D from sunlight. So if you plan on being outside for a short period of time, skip the sunscreen and feed your body the vitamin D that will keep it healthy.
Aluminum is a common ingredient in deodorant and mostly antiperspirant. It is often linked to Alzheimer’s and brain disorders and is a possible risk factor in breast cancer. Aluminum-based compounds in antiperspirants form a temporary plug within the sweat duct that stops the flow of sweat to the skin’s surface, which forces toxins to flow back into the bloodstream.
16. Heavy Metals: Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Arsenic, Nickel and More
Heavy metals can build up in the body over time and are known to cause varied health problems, which can include: cancer, reproductive and developmental disorders, neurological problems; memory loss; mood swings; nerve, joint and muscle disorders; cardiovascular, skeletal, blood, immune system, kidney and renal problems; headaches; vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea; lung damage; contact dermatitis; and brittle hair and hair loss. Many are suspected hormone disruptors and respiratory toxins, and for some like lead, there is no known safe blood level.
Click HERE to learn how to test your lipstick or other cosmetic products for heavy metals.
Commonly found in baby powders, face powders, body powders. Talc is a known carcinogen and is a major cause of ovarian cancer. It can be harmful if inhaled as it can lodge in the lungs, causing respiratory disorders. Since the early 1980s, records show that several thousand infants each year have died or become seriously ill following accidental inhalation of baby powder.