Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies and everything we put on it gets absorbed within seconds, including toxins.
We are constantly bombarded to use the latest shampoo if we want to have voluminous and shiny hair, fragrant deodorant to attract the ladies or gents, or creams that will make our skin “healthy” and clear.
We buy all these products thinking they are “good” for us and apply them daily, trusting that the long and unpronounceable list of ingredients are not hiding anything that could potentially harm us.
But, do you really know what is your soap, shampoo, moisturizer, makeup, deodorant and lipstick? Do you know what you are applying to your body daily?
Let’s take a look at some of the most common and potentially dangerous ingredients that are hiding in our everyday personal care products:
1- Parabens (Methyl, Propyl, Butyl and Ethyl Paraben):
Parabens are one of the most common cosmetic preservatives, they are used to inhibit microbial growth and extend shelf life. Unfortunately it can cause skin rashes, and most importantly, it has been found in great concentrations in human breast tumors. There are no studies yet that confirm that parabens can cause cancer. But the fact that some cosmetic firms are stopping the use of this ingredient and labeling their products “pareben free” makes me want to get very far away from them.
Fragrances used in cosmetics are usually synthetic and can have as many as 200 ingredients even though we just see “fragrance” in the label. Synthetic fragrances can cause severe or chronic headaches, allergies, dizziness, rash, coughing, skin irritation and hyperpigmentation.
Phthalates are found in many soft and flexible plastics as well as in many care products such as shampoo or nail polish. They are usually a “hidden” ingredient in “fragrance” and can be identified as DBP (di-n-butyl Phthalate) or DEP (diethyl Phtalate) in a cosmetic ingredient list.
Phtalates have been found to be hormonal disruptors (specially in men). They cause infertility, low sperm count and structural abnormalities in animal’s reproductive organs. Some studies also link phthalates to liver cancer (the U.S. Center for Disease Control).
4-Imidazolidinyl Urea And DMDM Hydantoin
Often used as preservatives. Both chemicals release formaldehyde, which can be toxic. They can be found in shampoos, conditioners, bubble baths, baby wipes and other skin care products. They may be listed as 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, Diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, Quaternium 15, etc.
Exposure to formaldehyde may cause allergic reactions, hormonal disruption, affect the reproductive health, nervous system damage and suppressed immune system among others.
Triclosan is a common antimicrobial agent that is found in antibacterial soaps, many deodorants, toothpaste and other cosmetics.
It has been linked to hormone disruption and the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Along with its negative health effects, triclosan also impacts the environment, ending up in lakes, rivers and other water sources, where it is toxic to aquatic life.
Triclosan has proved to be both dangerous and unnecessary. In 2005, the FDA found no evidence that antibacterial washes containing triclosan were superior to plain soap and water for protecting consumers from bacteria.
Triclosan also accumulates in fatty tissues. Studies have found concentrations of triclosan in three out of five human milk samples as a result of exposure through personal care products containing triclosan.
6-DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine)
These are used as foaming and emulsifying agents in lotions, shampoos, facial cleaners, conditioners, gels, moisturizer and soaps. They are used for the consistency and texture they give to these products even though they can be highly toxic.
They can cause allergic reactions, eye irritation, dryness of the hair and skin. But most importantly, there are numerous studies that associate DEA and TEA with various types of cancer in lab animals.
Look out for Cocamide DEA, Cocamide Diethanolamine, DEA Lauryl Sulfate, Diethanolamine Lauryl Sulfate, Lauramide DEA, Lauramide Diethanolamine, Linoleamide DEA, Linoleamide Diethanolamine, Oleamide DEA, Oleamide Diethanolamine, TEA or Triethanolamine on product labels.
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), “There is sufficient evidence of a carcinogenic effect of N-nitrosodiethanolamine — .” IARC recommends that NEA should be treated as if it were a carcinogen in humans. The National Toxicology Program similarly concluded: “There is sufficient evidence for the carcinogenicity of N-nitrosodiethanolamine in experimental animals.”
Mercury is also present in many eye shadows and mascaras but no detailed studies have been conducted yet.
Also, many deodorants and anti-prespirants still use aluminum which has been linked to breast cancer in numerous studies. Please look up your deodorant’s ingredient list and if it has any aluminum based compounds replace it for an aluminum free alternative (there are many available everywhere and are just as effective).
These are just a few of the “hidden” toxic ingredients in our every day personal care products, and just like with everything that we eat and drink, we must read ingredient labels before putting anything in our bodies.
Applying some of these chemicals everyday for 5, 10, 20 or more years must have some negative consequence to our health. We should be less trusting of ingredients that we can’t recognize or understand.