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Are those chemicals and toxins lurking in your skin care products causing you to age or develop medical conditions such as breast cancer? Read on…..
Every day we learn about chemicals and toxins in our food and water we need to avoid. But there is a multi-million dollar a year industry that pumps chemicals and toxins into their products without regulation, that many of us probably never think twice about. The cosmetics industry.
Cosmetics and personal hygiene products are the least regulated by the FDA and while many other countries have cracked down on companies in this sector, the US is FAR behind.
“Personal care products companies do not have to register with FDA, provide FDA ingredient statements, adopt Good Manufacturing Practices, or GMPs, report adverse events to FDA, or provide FDA access to safety records.”
Nearly 600 of the industry-leading cosmetic manufacturers have reported using 88 chemicals that have been linked to birth defects, cancer, reproductive issues. These damaging toxins are found in over 73,000 products.
That’s a whole lot of contaminated products. A handful of which are probably sitting on your bathroom counter right now. What we may not realize is that on average, US women use about 12 different personal care and cosmetic items a day. These 12 items contain at least 168 different harmful chemicals.
What kind of toxins are we talking about?
Some of the most common toxins found in cosmetics are:
- Pre & Polyfluoroalkyl substances
But with a list in the thousands of chemicals and toxins to avoid, how can you keep track of all of them? We will bust up this list into parent toxins with names you can quickly scan for on the back of the container.
Sulfates can come in a handful of forms like sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, but they are most commonly known for giving your soap that sudsy quality. Adding sulfates to a cleaning product creates a better lather and subconsciously makes us feel like the product can clean better.
Common products containing sulfates:
- Liquid dish/hand soaps
- Dishwasher detergent
- Body Wash
- Bubble Bath and bath bombs
Where do sulfates come from?
Most sulfates come from compounds in petroleum and a few plant sources like palm and coconut.
Why are sulfates bad for you?
Sulfates slowly build up in our bodies and while long-term effects are still being studied, there are several more immediate consequences:
- Skin and eye irritation
- Clogged pores
The longer the product stays on your skin the worse the damage on your health it can be.
Formaldehyde is used mainly for its preservative quality and manufacturers will use a “preservative system” made up of several chemicals that when added to water form formaldehyde.
- DMDM Hydantoin
- Diazolidinyl urea
- Imidazolidinyl urea
These will be listed on the labels.
Common products containing formaldehyde:
- Nail polish
- Nail polish remover
- Keratin treatments (hair straightening products)
- Eyelash glue
- Baby shampoo
- Body soap/wash
Why is formaldehyde bad for you?
Formaldehyde has been labeled a carcinogen and has been linked to cancer and leukemia, in the worst case, and linked to a handful of irritations:
- Allergic reactions
- Hair loss
- Nose bleeds
While you most likely won’t see the ‘formaldehyde’ label on the product itself, it’s important to do some research before shopping to avoid these products.
Like sulfates, parabens have a handful of different names:
However, they will all end in paraben, which will make scanning your ingredient list a little easier.
Common products containing parabens:
Where do parabens come from?
Parabens are synthetically made chemical compounds used to extend the shelf-life of products and eliminate the growth of bacteria.
Why are parabens bad for you?
What makes parabens the most dangerous is that they are considered hormone disrupters. In both men and women, parabens disrupt our normal hormone balance which puts us at an increased risk of reproductive issues and breast cancer.
“Parabens mimic estrogen by binding to estrogen receptors on cells. Research has shown that the perceived influx of estrogen beyond normal levels can in some cases trigger reactions such as increasing breast cell division and the growth of tumors.” – Campaign for Safe Cosmetics in scientificamerican.com
While parabens are prevalent in most of our cosmetics, there are organic cosmetic manufacturers producing safer, paraben-free alternatives. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has compiled a database of cosmetic products you can search to find out who is and isn’t paraben free
For well over two decades, phthalates have been used in cosmetics to moisturize and soften our skin and nails.
Common products containing phthalates:
- Fragrance lotions
- Body washes
- Haircare products
- Nail polish
Where do phthalates come from?
Phthalates are chemical compounds often called dibutyl phthalate and di-2-ethylhexylphthalate.
Why are phthalates bad for you?
Phthalates are endocrine disruptors and cause developmental and reproductive issues and have been linked to cancer. Phthalates tend to disrupt the male reproductive system more than a woman’s. Some common effects in men are:
- Damage to the prostate gland
- Testicular atrophy
- Reduced sperm count
- Malformed or absent epididymis
- Higher rates of testicular cancer
While all the counties in the European Union have banned phthalates, the United States still has very little restriction on their use.
Our skin is our biggest organ, and one that directly impacts our bloodstream. When we apply toner or fragrance lotion to our skin, we are giving these toxins a direct link to our bloodstream. Once our skin absorbs the chemicals, they are free to flow throughout our bodies. Whether the chemicals get rubbed onto your skin or ingested with food – they have the same detrimental effect
on your long-term health. Until the FDA starts enforcing stricter policies on chemicals allowed in cosmetics, use the EWG’s Skin Deep database to learn about, research, and find safe, chemical-free products.