When it comes to health, not only what we put in our bodies is important but what we put ON our bodies as well. We may go out of our way to buy organic foods to avoid all those toxic chemicals, but what about our lotions, toothpaste, deodorants and most personal care products? They are often loaded with toxic ingredients. I’m sure you have heard it said before that if you can’t eat it don’t put it on your skin. Why is that? This is because the skin is the largest organ in the body, so anything we put on it is absorbed into our system and bloodstream. Once absorbed in the body, these toxins can cause a variety of problems, even passing on to a fetus. Thus, any toxins in the products we use are directly absorbed just as if we were to eat them. For example, anything put on our lips is ingested, even when we inhale sprays or powders, these toxins enter the body and cause harm. So, you can see the importance of choosing carefully your personal care products and makeup.
What is the harm if you just use these products in small amounts? Well, on the average, consumers use about ten products containing 126 ingredients per day! Many chemicals accumulate in the body and repeated exposure can cause you to develop allergies, among other effects on your health.(source)
Even products that claim to be organic or natural aren’t always safe. For example, I was using a particular toothpaste for the longest time, because it claims to be natural. One day I decided to read the label and saw it had almost all the same ingredients as any other regular toothpaste! If it is organic it must be certified organic. Always be sure to read the labels.
Ingredients to Be Aware Of:
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS or SLES): commonly used in soaps, detergents and toothpaste, children’s soaps, and many hair products. It is used as a foaming agent. It actually dissolves grease on car engines! So imagine the effect on our skin. One of the main side effects is creating hormone imbalance, which can be responsible for dropping fertility rates, breast cancer, skin corrosion and skin and eye irritations.
Fluoride: commonly found in toothpaste and added to tap water. Fluoride has been linked to headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, neurological problems and cancers. It is especially dangerous for children if swallowed, which they can easily do while brushing their teeth. Studies have shown that it can reduce thyroid activity, and increase risk for bone fracture.
Propylene Glycol(PG or PEG): used as a skin conditioning agent found in shampoo, makeup, soap and after shaves. Interestingly enough it is also found in degreaser, paint, wallpaper stripper, antifreeze and rubber cleaner! Known health effects are skin irritation, swelling, kidney problems and headaches, just to mention a few. This substance is actually listed on the FDA government website as a known carcinogen!(source)
Parabens (methyl, propyl, butyl, & ethyl): a commonly used preservative found in nearly 25,000 cosmetics and personal care products. They can disrupt the endocrine system (hormones) and were found in 19 of 20 women studied who had cancerous breast tumors. It is also shown to cause allergic reactions and skin rashes.
Formaldehyde: found in nail polish, soap, sunblock, toothpaste, shampoos and shaving creams. Found to cause birth and developmental defects, headaches, nausea, asthmatic attacks, effect reproduction and fertility, and even leukemia.
Dioxane: commonly found in cosmetics, dish soaps, shower gels, etc.. A known carcinogen (cancer causing), may also have negative effects on the kidneys and the nervous system. Many products claiming to be “Natural” contain this ingredient.
Aluminum: found in most antiperspirants and deodorants. This has been linked to neurological disorders (i.e. Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease), poor memory and concentration, studies show it is detrimental to bone health and even linked to cancer.
These are just some of the main ones. However, you can check products for chemicals at the Environmental Workers Group Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database. There they have a list of many products, safety ratings and health information about the products you use.
Doing a little research on toxic ingredients, and reading the labels you will be sure to avoid these harmful products. There are many companies now that are creating high quality non-toxic skin and hair products and makeup. My rule of thumb is if you can’t pronounce the ingredients on the label, chances are it’s not natural.
Do you have any natural personal care products that you love? If so, please share!